Tarako Onigiri (Japanese Cod Roe Rice Ball)

5 from 4 votes

Learn how to make this popular rice ball, Tarako Onigiri. It’s perfect for a quick snack or lunch box when you’re on the go!

Looking for more onigiri recipes? Try my Tuna Mayo Onigiri, Salmon Onigiri, Egg Onigiri!

Tarako onigiri served on a plate.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

  • Tarako, or salted cod roe, adds a unique and savory taste that’s both briny and delicious.
  • This recipe works for busy individuals and families seeking a quick and satisfying snack or lunch option.
  • These straightforward steps make it accessible for anyone to create these onigiri at home.

I’ll walk you through the ingredients and step-by-step instructions. I hope you enjoy it!

Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

Onigiri is a Japanese food made of steamed rice filled with ingredients, formed into a triangle shape, and wrapped in seaweed. It’s perfect for a quick meal or snack, and the best part is you can easily customize it by choosing your favorite onigiri fillings.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Tarako Onigiri:

Ingredients for tarako onigiri.
  • We use Japanese short-grain rice for making onigiri as it’s sticky and can hold the shape of triangular shape.
  • Nori seaweed is a type of seaweed that’s dried, crispy, and sold in sheets like the picture above. Get this full-size nori sheet (8.3”x 7.5” or 21 x 19 cm in general) at a grocery store. This size is too large for onigiri (perfect for a sushi roll, though), so we are going to divide it into 3.
  • Tarako is a Japanese delicacy crafted from raw cod roe. The roe is salted to enhance flavor and extend its shelf life, resulting in a deliciously salty taste. Another variation of cod roe is called ‘karashi mentaiko,’ a spicy cod roe marinated with red chili pepper.

How To Make Tarako Onigiri: STEP BY STEP 

Here are some quick visual instructions! For the video and all the detailed ingredients and instructions, go to the printable recipe card below.

3 strips of nori sheet.

1. Cut the sheet of nori seaweed into three equal pieces.

Removing tarako skin.

2. Separate the tarako from its thin skin.

Instructions for tarako onigiri.

3. Put aside tarako, salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, and nori sheets.

Instructions for tarako onigiri.

4. Put rice in a small bowl and add 1 or 2 teaspoons of tarako in the center of the rice.

Instructions for tarako onigiri.

5. Wet both hands with water, put some salt (2 fingertips) on your palm and rub between your hands.

Instructions for tarako onigiri.

6. Place the rice on your hand, hold it with both hands, and form a triangle shape by pressing gently with both palms and fingers while rolling it several times.

Instructions for tarako onigiri.

7. Wrap it with the nori sheet.

Instructions for tarako onigiri.

8. Add a little tarako on top.

Tarako onigiri served on a plate.

Here you go! Eat right away if you like crispy nori seaweed. Or wait a few minutes for the softer texture, like the picture! Let’s take a peek inside!

A Different Way to Wrap Nori

How to wrap onigiri in nori seaweed step by step.

Here’s another method for wrapping the nori around the rice:

  1. Place the triangular-shaped rice in the center of the nori.
  2. Fold the nori on both sides diagonally.
  3. Fold the lower part of the nori toward the bottom of the rice.

With this technique, the rice is wrapped from both sides, so you don’t have to worry about the rice falling apart when eating.

Tarako onigiri served on a plate.

I recommend placing the tarako filling on top of an Onigiri, like in the picture above. It’s easy to see what’s inside, but it also looks cute!


Onigiri is best when freshly made, but if you need to store them for later, follow these guidelines:

  • Wrap each onigiri tightly in plastic wrap to maintain their moisture.
  • At room temperature, onigiri can be stored for up to half a day.
  • In the fridge, they can be kept for a couple of days.
  • If you plan for longer storage, freeze them for up to one month. When freezing, avoid wrapping the nori sheet. Reheat in a microwave just before eating to prevent dryness; do not thaw at room temperature.

What To Serve With

Onigiri pairs well with many different dishes! I suggest serving with vegetable tempura, tofu seaweed salad, and daikon miso soup.

Grab Your Onigiri Filling eBook!

Looking for more onigiri filling ideas? Check out our Onigiri eBook! From classics to creative options, all compiled conveniently in one place!

Onigiri filling ebook cover.

36 Fun and Flavorful Onigiri

Tarako onigiri served on a plate.

More Onigiri Recipes You Might Like

Leave a Rating!

I hope you enjoy this Tarako Onigiri! If you try it, don’t forget to leave a rating to share your thoughts—I love hearing from you!

Tarako onigiri served on a plate.

Tarako Onigiri (Japanese Cod Roe Rice Ball)

5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 onigiri
Author: Juri Austin
Learn how to make this popular rice ball, Tarako Onigiri. It's perfect for a quick snack or lunch box when you're on the go!



  • Prepare tarako: Cut the nori sheet into three equal pieces. Separate the tarako from its thin skin.
  • Nori sheet: Divide a Nori sheet into three equal pieces.
  • Collect ingredients: Gather cooked Japanese rice, the nori sheets, the tarako, a bowl of water, and salt.
  • Rice and tarako: Fill a small bowl halfway with rice, create a small dent in the center, and add the tarako. Fill the rest of the bowl with more rice.
  • Water and salt on your hands: Wet both hands with water, put some salt (2 fingertips) on your palm, and rub between your hands.
  • Shape rice: Place the rice on your hand and hold it with both hands. Form a triangle shape by pressing gently with both your palms and fingers while rolling it several times. 
  • Wrap: Wrap the triangular rice with nori.



  • Equipment: Small bowl (This oxo tot small bowl is perfect for small onigiri)
  • Storage: Wrap each onigiri with plastic wrap, put them in a container, and keep them in the fridge for a few days. (More details in Storage)
  • Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are unfamiliar with Japanese rice, see “How to cook Japanese rice on the stove.”
  • The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to tweak it for your preference.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: tarako onigiri
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Lately we’ve been making ours with karashi mentaiko. We also eat salmon once a week, and we make salmon onigiri for lunch with the leftover salmon. I absolutely crave the salmon mixed with Kewpie mayonnaise as a filling for my onigiri.