Discover easy Onigiri Recipes (Japanese rice balls) right here! Mix your favorite ingredients into Japanese rice, shape them, and enjoy! Learn how to make them with 17 delicious variations!
Onigiri, a traditional Japanese staple, is enjoyed daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anytime in Japan. While standard Onigiri is wrapped in a nori sheet (black seaweed), this recipe keeps it simple without it.
Perfect for small children, these rice balls are easy for them to eat on their own, as biting nori sheets can be challenging for little ones.
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love onigiri (Japanese rice balls).
- You are looking for an easy onigiri recipe.
- You wonder what to put in your onigiri.
- You want to learn how to make onigiri rice balls.
Let me walk you through the ingredients and instructions. This recipe is a long post, so if you want to skip to “Easy Onigiri Recipe,” go ahead and skip to the recipe.
Why This Recipe Works
- You have the freedom to select from 17 different fillings, including vegan and vegetarian options.
- Enjoy Onigiri without the hassle of nori seaweed sheets.
- Our step-by-step instructions are easy to follow, making the process a breeze.
What Is Onigiri?
Onigiri, omusubi, or rice ball; this small ball is a Japanese food made of steamed Japanese rice filled with ingredients, formed into a triangle shape, and wrapped in nori seaweed.
I can say that It’s our comfort food! We Japanese people all grew up eating it!
Onigiri is perfect for Obento (lunch box) or a tasty snack on the go. You can hold it in one hand like a sandwich so you can eat it easily at the park, school, office, or train. Also, it’s a quick snack between meals, especially for hungry kids.
🍙17 Easy Onigiri Recipes
I will show you a wide array of onigiri rice balls without nori sheets, ranging from classic ingredients like salmon and wakame seaweed to more unique options.
With 17 different fillings, you’re sure to find the one you love!
Note: The amount of ingredients is just a guide; you can tweak it to your liking.
1. Wakame Seaweed Onigiri (Vegan)
This wakame onigiri is the easiest way to make Onigiri. Just buy wakame seaweed onigiri seasoning at a grocery store and mix it into your rice. When I’m in a hurry, this seasoning helps me a lot.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with wakame seaweed, using it for Onigiri is incredibly easy. Give it a try and discover the delightful flavors it brings to your Onigiri!
How to prepare: Add 1 to 2 tsp of wakame seaweed seasoning to the rice and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: WakameWakame is a type of edible seaweed. It is healthy, rich in minerals, and often used for miso soup, salad and rice dishes. Dried wakame is more common than raw wakeme.
2. Edamame Onigiri (Vegan)
This Onigiri is visually appealing! Edamame brings a nice green color to your Onigiri. Adding shio kombu, katsuobushi, or cheese is a great idea for extra savory flavor!
How to prepare: Take 3.5ounce/100g edamame from the pod, add to your rice, and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: EdamameEdamame is immature soybeans which is harvested when they are still green. These become soybeans when matured. It’s common to boil it and eat it as a snack or appetizer.
3. Corn Onigiri (Vegan)
The best Onigiri for summer! Mix in some seasonal corn for an extra crunchy texture. The sweetness of corn and rice brings a delicious flavor you won’t stop eating!
How to prepare: Prepare 1/2 fresh corn and microwave it for 5 minutes or steam it for 10 minutes. Remove corn from the cob, add to your rice and mix. (You can try this corn rice recipe too!)
4. Shio Kombu Onigiri (Vegan)
Shio kombu seaweed is a savory ingredient that I use for many dishes. It has a rich flavor, perfect for adding some depth to your Onigiri!
How to prepare: Add 1 tbsp of shio kombu to your rice and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: Shio kombuShio kombu is seasoned kombu seaweed. A flavorful seasoning that goes well with any dish, such as salads, rice dishes, and stir-fries.
5. Furikake Seasoning Onigiri
How to prepare: Add 1 tbsp of furikake to your rice and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: FurikakeFurikake is Japanese rice seasoning. Add on top of the rice for additional flavor. There are many variations of flavor such as salmon, katsuobushi, egg and many more.
6. Salmon Onigiri
How to prepare: Add 2 tbsp of salmon flakes and 2 tsp of sesame seeds to your rice and mix.
7. Scrambled Egg Onigiri (Vegetarian)
Scrambled egg and Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise are a tasty combination for white rice. Our kids love this Onigiri. You can also add ketchup instead of mayonnaise. By the way, if you enjoy seasoned eggs, you might like this Egg onigiri as well!
How to prepare: Put the beaten egg in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40 seconds. Add 1 tbsp of mayo and mix. Add the egg mixture to your rice and mix.
8. Cheese Onigiri (Vegetarian)
The slightly salty cheese is a great addition to plain, simple steamed rice. And the shiso leaves add a refreshing fragrance to Onigiri. You can substitute shiso with parsley or scallions.
How to prepare: Chop 1 ounce/30g cheese and two shiso leaves into small pieces, add to your rice, and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: ShisoShiso is a Japanese herb with a refreshing aroma. It’s used to add some flavor for salads or place on top of dishes for garnish.
9. Katsuobushi Onigiri
If you are looking for savory fillings, this Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes) is a good choice. It’s one of the popular fillings that bring you a rich, umami flavor.
How to prepare: Add 2 tsp of soy sauce to the 3 tbsp of katsuobushi (0.2ounce/5g) and mix, then add to your rice and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: KatsuobushiKatsuobushi is bonito flakes and one of the main sources of Japanese dashi (stock).
10. Curry Onigiri (Vegan)
You already know that curry and rice are a perfect match. It’s also delicious as a rice ball! Enjoy curry-flavored Onigiri with lots of vegetables!
How to prepare: Add 2 tbsp of mixed vegetables and 1 tbsp of curry powder to your rice and mix.
11. Takuan & Umeboshi Onigiri (Vegan)
This Onigiri is made with pickles. Takuan, which is pickled daikon, goes well with plain white rice. The sourness of the umeboshi (Japanese plums) adds a deliciousness that you won’t get tired of eating. It would be great to add black sesame seeds, too.
How to prepare: Cut three slices of takuan into small pieces, remove the seeds from an umeboshi, make a paste, add to the rice, and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: TakuanTakuan is a type of Japanese pickled daikon and has a sweet and mild flavor. It’s often served as side dishes with rice.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: UmeboshiUmeboshi is a type of pickled plum and is pretty sour. It’s often served as side dishes with rice.
12. Potato Chips Onigiri (Vegan)
Potato chips are not common for Onigiri, but they add a nice crunchy texture and are the perfect addition to your rice balls! Pick your favorite flavor!
How to prepare: Crumble 2 tbsp of potato chips with your hands, add the potato chips and 1/2 tsp of aonori (green seaweed) to your rice, and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: AonoriAonori is a type of edible seaweed, which is dried and processed into powder form. The bright green color and unique ocean aroma make Aonori a tasty addition to any dish. It is often used as toppings for okonomiyaki and yakisoba noodles!
13. Ochazuke Onigiri (Vegan)
Ochazuke mix is also an excellent seasoning for Onigiri! The green tea powder in it adds a savory flavor.
How to prepare: Add 1/2 package of Ochazuke mix to your rice and mix. (Cut Arare into small pieces if it’s too crunchy)
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: OchazukeOchazuke mix helps to make Ochazuke quickly. It contains Arare (crunchy rice cracker), shredded nori seaweed, and green tea powder. All you need to do is putting ochazuke mix over the rice and pouring some hot water.
14. Hijiki Seaweed Salad Onigiri
How to prepare: Add 2 tbsp of hijiki salad to your rice and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: HijikiHijiki is a type of Japanese seaweed that’s rich in dietary fiber and iron. The most popular recipe using hijiki is this hijiki salads.
15. Dried Shrimp Onigiri
Dried shrimp is rich in minerals. The bright pink color and fragrant aroma stimulate your appetite. Add salt to your liking.
How to prepare: Add 4 tsp of dried shrimp to your rice and mix.
16. Anchovy Onigiri
This Onigiri is full of flavor with anchovies and seasoned nori seaweed. The seaweed provides a delicious crunch, while the anchovies give it some extra saltiness you can’t resist! It would be nice to add some green onions as well.
How to prepare: Drain the oil from the anchovies and cut five pieces of anchovies (20g) into small pieces or make them into a paste. Tear nori seaweed into small pieces. Add anchovies and nori seaweed to your rice and mix.
17. Simmered Koyadofu Onigiri (Vegan)
Koya dofu is frozen-dried tofu and is excellent for Japanese simmering dishes. The sweet and salty flavor enhances your simple white rice taste. You can replace Koya dofu with tofu or ground meat.
How to prepare: Finely chop eggplant (or other vegetables) and Koya tofu, add equal amounts of water, sugar, soy sauce, and mirin, and boil until thickened. Cool down, add 3 tbsp to your rice, and mix.
- Japanese Ingredient Explained: Koya dofuKoya dofu is frozen-dried tofu and is often used in simmered dishes. Also used as a protein source for vegetarians.
18. Shio Onigiri (Bonus)
This Shio onigiri, or plain salt onigiri, is the simplest one made with salt, no filling, and no nori sheet! If you don’t feel like preparing any fillings, try this Shio Onigiri!
You can easily make this Onigiri on your own, and it is also one of the popular options readily available at Japanese convenience stores.
How to Make Onigiri Step-by-step
Now that you know what ingredients to mix in. Let’s move on to creating your own Onigiri! I will show you the ingredients and step-by-step instructions in the following section!
Here are the ingredients for Onigiri (amounts are in the recipe card below).
- Cooked Japanese rice (Japanese short-grain rice): See below
- Fillings of your choice: See below
Japanese Short-grain Rice
The best rice for Onigiri is Japanese short-grain rice (or Japonica rice), which is more starchy than long-grain type and is easy to stick together and keep shape when making Onigiri. Long-grain rice like Jasmine rice and basmati rice will fall apart as they are not sticky enough.
Koshihikari rice is the most famous and popular brand of Japanese rice. Or you can use the one labeled “sushi rice” on the packaging.
While standard Onigiri is typically made with white plain rice, you can also opt for brown rice if you prefer a more nutritious option.
How to Cook Rice
A rice cooker is easy and convenient to cook rice; however, I like the traditional method – using just a pot! You can find helpful tips, equipment to use, and step-by-step instructions in this Japanese rice recipe.
Pick your favorite filling from the above! How to prepare it is described in each section. Please scroll up and make sure the instructions are.
Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients
If you live in the US, you can find Japanese ingredients in the list below.
- Japanese market: Mitsuwa Marketplace, Marukai
- Asian market
- Whole Foods Market
- Health food stores
- Online stores: Instacart, Walmart, Amazon
Let me walk you through how to make it step by step. These steps are the same for any ingredient. Click here to watch the How to Make Onigiri recipe video.
- Mix rice and ingredients: Put cooked rice in a large bowl, add the ingredients of your choice, and mix.
- Wet hands: Set aside a small bowl of water and a small plate of salt, and wet both hands with water.
- Add some salt: Put salt on your finger (I usually dip two fingers), place it on the palm of your hand, and rub it between your hands.
- Spread the salt: You can see the salt spread on the entire palm.
- Rice on your palm: Put 1/3 (small size) or 1/2 (regular size) of rice on your hand.
- Form: Hold the rice with both hands to make it stick together. Then, form a triangle shape (or round shape) by pressing gently with your palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
It is hard to show how to form in the picture, so please watch the video: “How to Make Simple Onigiri” for the actual forming movement.
There you go! Here are five onigiri variations for you! Which one is appealing to you?
With these colorful rice balls, it would be fun to have an onigiri party (our kids love it).
🔪Instructions: Using Plastic Wrap
Using plastic wrap is a super easy and quick way to shape Onigiri. Also, it’s safer, as holding rice with wet hands will increase germs over time.
- Place the cooked rice onto a plastic wrap. Lightly sprinkle a pinch of salt evenly over the rice.
- Wrap the rice.
- Using both your palms and fingers, gently apply pressure to shape the rice into a triangular form.
If you are in one of the situations below, shaping rice with plastic wrap is a good idea.
- You want to take Onigiri as a bento (lunch box).
- You want to store Onigiri in the freezer to eat later.
- You are in a furry.
- The rice is too hot to hold.
If you find it difficult to form Onigiri by hand, don’t worry! You can use a tool like Onigiri molds or Onigiri press to make the process easier and more consistent.
If you don’t eat the Onigiri immediately, wrap each with plastic and store them in an airtight container.
- Room temperature: You can store the wrapped Onigiri at room temperature for half a day if it’s not a hot summer day.
- Refrigerate: You can store the wrapped Onigiri in the refrigerator for a couple of days. But if you keep it in the fridge, the rice will be dried out and get hard. So I recommend heating it in a microwave oven to have a more fluffy texture before you eat it.
- Freeze: You can store the wrapped Onigiri in the freezer for up to one month. When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen Onigiri, heat them in a microwave oven just before consuming them. Avoid thawing them at room temperature as it may cause them to become dry.
What to Serve With
This one example is perfect if you like to have a light meal.
- Corn Onigiri
- Stir-fried Tofu and Broccoli
- Pickled Cucumbers
- Daikon Salad with Sesame Dressing
- Kabocha miso soup would be an excellent addition to this.
Let’s Grab an Onigiri and Go for a Walk!
While the weather is nice, grabbing one or two rice balls and going for a walk would be nice!
When taking your Onigiri or obento outside, it’s common to wrap them up in a handkerchief like this in Japan.
This picture is my children’s obento; they always enjoy eating these rice balls!
This “16 Best Onigiri Fillings” recipe features the classic Onigiri wrapped with nori sheets and offers a wide variety of fillings. If you’re looking for more variations, I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy trying them out!
The popular fillings are salmon, tuna, Umeboshi (pickled plum), Katsuobushi (bonito flakes), tarako (cod roe), and Kombu (seaweed). There are tons of variations on what to put in, but it’s usually some pickles, seasoned seaweed, fish, and seafood. Since the rice is simple, so intensely flavored ingredients go very well.
Japanese short-grain rice (such as koshihikari) is the best for Onigiri as it’s sticky when cooked. Long-grain rice might be hard to make and hold a shape as they are not sticky enough.
Japanese short-grain rice is starchy and sticky, so if you use Japanese rice, it’s easy to make Onigiri stick together.
A couple of days. But keep in mind that keeping Onigiri in the fridge makes it dry, so better to heat it before eating.
Onigiri is often eaten on the go or while traveling, so most people eat it cold or at room temperature. Many people say that it tastes better when it’s cold. But, of course, this is a personal preference, so some people like to eat it warm. You can reheat it in a microwave.
Yes. Like a sandwich, you can grab and eat it with your hands. Onigiri is a super simple dish and the perfect food on the go.
Hot or warm rice is better for making Onigiri. Cold rice makes it difficult to shape and maintain the stickiness of Onigiri, so they fall apart when you eat them.
If you make Onigiri with hot rice, you will have a firm but perfectly fluffy texture.
The triangular Onigiri mimics the shape of the mountain. Japanese people believed that the gods dwelled in the hills, so triangular rice balls were used as offerings to the gods. Nowadays, there are various shapes, and you can make Onigiri in balls, rounds, and cylinders, but triangular Onigiri is the most common.
Thanks for Stopping By!
I’ve shared 17 easy ways to make Onigiri, and I hope these recipes are helpful for you!
You can enjoy these balls of rice as a delicious appetizer or light meal. So, try these recipes and enjoy the delicious taste of homemade Onigiri!
Thanks for visiting my site! Please make comments below if you have any questions!
ONIGIRI IDEA EBOOK
Unlock a world of onigiri with this ebook! Packed with delicious filling ideas, it’s your ultimate go-to resource for exploring the incredible onigiri variations!
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Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog sharing simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes, including vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.
More Onigiri Recipes You Might Like
Easy Japanese Onigiri Recipes Without Nori SeaweedPrint Pin Save
- 7 oz Cooked Japanese rice, 200g or 2 small bowls of rice
- A little Salt
- Choose the filling ingredient
- Combine: Put rice in a large bowl, add the ingredient of your choice, and combine.
- Prepare water and salt: Set aside a small ball of water and a small plate of salt.
- Put water and salt on your hands: Wet both hands with water, put some salt (2 fingertips of salt) on your palm and rub between your hands.
- Place rice on your palm: Place 1/2 of the rice in the bowl on your palm.
- Shape: First, hold the rice with both hands, then form a triangle shape (or round shape) by pressing gently with your both palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
- Storage: Wrap each one with plastic wrap, put it in a container, and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days and one month in the freezer.
- See: How to cook Japanese rice on the stove
- This recipe will make three small Onigiri for kids or two regular Onigiri for adults.
- The amount of the ingredients are just a guide and can be adjusted to your liking.