Are you looking for easy onigiri recipes (Japanese rice balls)? Here are the perfect recipes that you can try today. It simply mixes your favorite ingredients into Japanese steamed rice and shapes without nori seaweed. I'll show you how to make it with these 17 variations.
Onigiri (rice ball) is a traditional Japanese staple that we eat daily at any time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or between meals.
Common Onigiri is wrapped in a nori sheet (black seaweed), but we don't use it in this recipe. We will make it simple without it.
If you have small children, you will love these rice balls because they are easy for small children to eat on their own (It's hard to bite nori sheets for them).
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love onigiri (Japanese rice balls).
- You are looking for easy onigiri recipes.
- You wonder what to put in your onigiri.
- You want to learn how to make onigiri rice balls.
I hope you are getting excited to dive in! Let's get started!
- About this recipe
- 🍙17 easy onigiri recipes without nori seaweed
- 📋 Ingredients
- How to store
- Have you got questions about Onigiri? I've got the answers!
- Pick up your favorite ingredient, and make Onigiri with this easy method!
- Let's grab Onigiri and go for a walk!
- What do you eat with rice balls?
- Thanks for Stopping By
- 📖 Recipe
- Easy Onigiri Recipes (Japanese Rice Balls)
- 💬 Comments
About this recipe
- Japanese rice balls wrapped without nori seaweed
- 17 easy onigiri recipes
- Include vegan/vegetarian Onigiri
- How to make Onigiri step by step
🍙17 easy onigiri recipes without nori seaweed
I will show you all the varieties of onigiri rice balls, from common ingredients like salmon and wakame seaweed to slightly unusual choices.
With 17 different variations, 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)
A classic onigiri seasoning. Just buy wakame seaweed seasoning at a grocery store and mix it in. Using wakame seasoning is the easiest way to make your Onigiri.
How to prepare: Add 1 to 2 teaspoon 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)
It's 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 ½ fresh corn and microwave it for 5 minutes or steam it for 10 minutes. Remove corn from the cob and add to your rice, and mix. (You can try this corn rice recipe too!)
4. Shio kombu onigiri (vegan)
Shio kombu seaweed is an ingredient that can be used in many dishes. It has a rich flavor, perfect for adding some depth to your Onigiri!
How to prepare: Add 1 tablespoon 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 onigiri
Furikake is usually for a rice bowl but is also perfect for onigiri seasoning. Same as wakame, this is the easiest way to make your Onigiri. Pick your favorite flavor!
How to prepare: Add 1 tablespoon 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
Salmon flakes and Sesame seeds are other classic ingredients for Onigiri. It's delicious, and many people enjoy salmon onigiri.
How to prepare: Add 2 tablespoon of salmon flakes and 2 teaspoon of sesame seeds to your rice and mix.
7. Scrambled egg onigiri (vegetarian)
Scrambled egg and mayonnaise are a tasty combination for white rice. Kids love this Onigiri. You can also add ketchup instead of mayonnaise.
How to prepare: Beat one egg in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and microwave for 40 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon 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 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
Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes), a popular ingredient for rice balls, is tasty. You can enjoy the rich flavor of Katsuobushi.
How to prepare: Add 2 teaspoon of soy sauce to the 3 tablespoon 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 tablespoon of mixed vegetables and 1 tablespoon 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. And the sourness of the umeboshi adds a deliciousness that you won't get tired of eating.
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 a common ingredient 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 tablespoon of potato chips with your hands, add the potato chips and ½ teaspoon 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 ½ 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
Hijiki seaweed salad is a classic Japanese side dish, simmered with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi (Hijiki seaweed salad recipe). The rice soaks up the rich and savory flavor of the umami, making it a gentle-tasting onigiri.
How to prepare: Add 2 tablespoon 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 teaspoon 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!
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 tablespoon 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!
I bought this one at Lowson, a Japanese convenience store. If you don't feel like preparing ingredients, try Shio onigiri!
Now that you know what ingredients to mix in. Let's move on to creating your own Onigiri!
Here are the ingredients for Onigiri (amounts are in the recipe card below).
- Japanese white rice (Japanese short-grain rice)
- Ingredients to mix
If you are unfamiliar with cooking Japanese rice and want to learn further, please see: How to cook Japanese short-grain rice. It's different from long-grain rice, clingy, sticky, and perfect for making a shape.
Ingredients to mix in rice
How to prepare the ingredients is described in each onigiri section above. Please scroll up and make sure the instructions.
Let me walk you through how to make it step by step. These steps are the same for any ingredient. You can also watch how to make it in the video.
- Mix rice and ingredients: Put cooked rice in a bowl, add the ingredient 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 your palm, and rub it between your hands.
- Spread the salt: You can see the salt spread on the entire palm.
- Rice on your palm: Put ⅓ (small size) or ½ (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).
Form onigiri using plastic wrap
If you are in one of the situations below, forming 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.
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 rice on plastic wrap.
- Form a shape by pressing gently with both your palms and fingers.
- There you go!
It's the same process but without salt and water.
Without salt, you may feel the taste is light. In that case, feel free to sprinkle a pinch of salt over it to add more flavor.
How to store
If you don't eat the Onigiri right away, please wrap it with plastic, as the surface will dry.
It's ok to leave them at room temperature for half a day but if it's longer, keep them in the fridge or freezer.
Then last in the fridge for a couple of days and one month in the freezer.
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.
Same for the freezer, heat up right before you eat it (not thaw it at room temperature as it will get dry).
Have you got questions about Onigiri? I've got the answers!
What is Onigiri?
Onigiri, omusubi, or rice balls, 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 snacks 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 great snack between meals, especially for hungry kids.
What should I put in my Onigiri?
The classic and popular filling is salmon, tuna, Umeboshi (pickled plum), Katsuobushi (bonito flakes), 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.
I will give you lots of ideas in this recipe, but you can also check my other recipe: 14 best onigiri fillings. I'm sure you will enjoy it!
What kind of rice should I use for Onigiri?
It will help if you use Japanese short-grain rice or sticky rice to form the rice balls.
Long-grain rice like Jasmine rice and basmati rice will fall apart as they are not sticky enough.
I recommend using Koshihikari or sushi rice. If you are unsure how to cook Japanese rice, check here; how to cook Japanese rice on the stove, where I teach the simple method.
Do you eat onigiri cold?
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.
Should rice be hot or cold when making Onigiri?
Hot rice is the best for 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 perfect fluffy texture.
Why is the onigiri triangle?
The triangular Onigiri mimics the shape of the mountain. 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.
I showed you how to make a triangle onigiri in this recipe but feel free to try other shapes.
Pick up your favorite ingredient, and make Onigiri with this easy method!
I've shared a variety of onigiri recipes so far. Did you find anything you are ready to try?
They are primarily Japanese ingredients; I hope you can easily find them at your local grocery store.
If you don't have some ingredients listed in this recipe, no worries, you can try something in your pantry. Something with a salty and savory flavor can go well with plain white rice.
And if you try, please leave a comment below and share your experience!
Let's grab 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!
What do you eat with rice balls?
Onigiri pairs well with almost anything, such as grilled fish, tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet), stir-fried vegetables, and simmered dishes.
This one example is perfect if you like to have a light meal. It includes Corn onigiri, stir-fried tofu & broccoli, pickled vegetables, and salad! Miso soup would be an excellent addition to this.
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.
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.
I like to eat it at room temperature, not cold or not hot. It's a personal preference, though.
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.
Thanks for Stopping By
I shared how to make Onigiri easy in 17 different ways. I hope this recipe serves you well!
Onigiri is easy and fun. I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as I do!
Thanks for visiting my site! Please make comments below if you have any questions!
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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.
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Easy Onigiri Recipes (Japanese Rice Balls)Print Pin Rate
- 7 oz Cooked Japanese rice, 200g or 2 small bowls of rice
- A little Salt
Mix in ingredients of your choice
- 3.5 ounce Edamame (100g), remove the pod
- 1 tablespoon Shio kombu
- 1 tablespoon Furikake
- 3 tablespoon Katsuobushi (5g) and 2 teaspoon Soy sauce, mix them together
- 2 tablespoon Salmon flakes and 2 teaspoon Sesame seeds, mix them together
- See the variation section above for other ingredients
- Choose the mix in ingredients
- Combine: Put rice in a 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 ½ of the rice in the bowl on your palm.
- Form: 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.
My wife makes smaller sized onigiri without nori for our younger grandchildren with furikake or leftover salmon. The grandchildren call it “grandma’s special rice.”
Hi Rick! That's perfect! Thanks for sharing and your onigiri story reminds me of my grandma's, too! "grandma's special rice" sounds so lovely 🙂
Lovely to look at, convenient and very tasty. Thank you for sharing these recipes! It helps me not miss Japan so much... 🙂
You are very welcome, Christine! I'm so happy to hear that!
Excellent, simple and easy to make!
Thank you, Jenny! I'm glad you like the recipe!