Umeboshi Onigiri (Japanese Pickled Plum Rice Balls)

Learn how to make tasty Umeboshi Onigiri at home! With a range of customization options, this recipe serves as the perfect introduction to this rice ball. Give it a try today!

Looking for more onigiri recipes? Try my Kombu Onigiri, Egg Onigiri, or Furikake Onigiri!

two ume onigiri on a plate with a few slices of takuan.

When I think of onigiri rice balls, these umeboshi onigiri come to my mind first! The sour, salted, pickled plum adds a nice punch to simple rice balls. These refreshing and savory treats are perfect for when you’re on the go and are sure to make your mouth water!

    This recipe is for you if:
  • You love onigiri (rice balls).
  • You want to make umeboshi onigiri.
  • You are looking for umeboshi onigiri variations.

Let me walk you through the ingredients and the instructions. If you want to check the recipe, jump to the recipe. Let’s get started!

Why This Recipe Works

  • This recipe works because it’s entirely plant-based, making it an ideal choice for vegans and vegetarians.
  • This recipe combines the salty and tangy taste of umeboshi with the mildness of Japanese short-grain rice. The result is a delicious and refreshing flavor that everyone can enjoy.
  • You can easily make this recipe your own by adding your favorite fillings, as I show in Variations.

📋 Ingredients

Here are the ingredients for ume onigiri (amounts are in the recipe card below).

ume onigiri ingredients.

Let’s go over each ingredient in the following section.

Japanese Short-grain Rice (Sushi rice)

Cooked Japanese rice in a pot

What kind of rice is best for Onigiri? The answer is Japanese short-grain rice. It can hold the shape of an onigiri as It’s pretty sticky.

Long-grain rice like Jasmine and Basmati would fall apart as they don’t have the right stickiness to hold the rice together, so I recommend picking Koshihikari or sushi rice.

You can prepare Japanese rice using a regular pot if you don’t own a rice cooker. Learn the straightforward method in my guide on How to Cook Japanese Rice on The Stove.

Nori Seaweed

nori sheet.

Nori 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.

Umeboshi (Pickled Plum)


Umeboshi, a Japanese pickled plum, is a traditional preserved food in Japan, which is made from unripe plums that have been pickled with salt and dried under the sun. It’s common to pickle with red shiso leaves (That’s where the color comes from). It has a sour and salty taste, which goes well with plain Japanese rice.

Where to Buy Japanese Ingredients

If you live in the US, you can find Japanese ingredients in the list below.

  • Japanese market: Mitsuwa MarketplaceMarukai
  • Asian market
  • Whole Foods Market
  • Health food stores
  • Online stores: Instacart, Walmart, Amazon


Now, let’s move on to the instructions. For a more detailed demonstration, watch the video in the recipe card below.

Umeboshi without the seed.
  1. Grill a salmon fillet until it’s cooked through. Once cooled, break the salmon into flakes.
Nori sheets.

2. Divide a Nori sheet into three equal pieces.

Instructions on umeboshi onigiri.

3. Gather cooked Japanese rice, the nori sheets, the salmon, a bowl of water, and salt. I use a small bowl to measure the rice.

Instructions on umeboshi onigiri.

4. Fill a small bowl halfway with rice, create a small dent in the center, and add the salmon flakes.

Instructions on umeboshi onigiri.

5. Fill the rest of the bowl with more rice.

Instructions on umeboshi onigiri.

6. Wet both hands and add a little salt to your palm.

Instructions on umeboshi onigiri.

7. 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.

Instructions on umeboshi onigiri.

8. Wrap the triangular rice with nori.

ume onigiri rice balls on a white 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!

Learn additional step-by-step instructions for shaping onigiri on Onigiri Recipe with 6 Different Fillings.

ume onigiri on a plate.

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.

two ume onigiri on a plate with a few slices of takuan.

I recommend placing the ingredients on top of an Onigiri, like the picture above. It’s not only easy for you to see what’s inside, but it also looks so cute!


5 ume onigiri variations.

Are you looking for variations? Here are five ways to customize your ume onigiri if you’re looking for more creative ideas!

  1. Ume Wakame Onigiri: Combine umeboshi, wakame, and rice.
  2. Ume Goma Onigiri: Combine umeboshi, toasted sesame seeds, and rice.
  3. Ume Agedama Onigiri: Combine umeboshi, agedama (tempura bits), and rice.
  4. Ume Takuan Onigiri: Combine umeboshi, takuan (pickled daikon radish), and rice.
  5. Ume Miso Yaki Onigiri: Combine umeboshi and miso, spread it on onigiri rice, and toast it for a couple of minutes.
5 ume onigiri on a plate.

Which one would you like to try? My favorite one is ume agedama onigiri! I hope you will enjoy the variations!

If you want more, you can explore plenty of Onigiri filling ideas in this recipe: 17 Easy Onigiri Recipes Without Nori Seaweed or 16 Best Onigiri Fillings.

What to Serve With

Onigiri pairs well with anything, such as grilled fish, tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelet), stir-fried vegetables, and simmered dishes. Here is a sample light lunch menu for you!

Onigiri Filling eBook

6 popular onigiri, each one is on each plate side by side.

If you love Onigiri and are constantly looking for what to put in it, check out my eBook: 36 Fun and Flavorful Onigiri. Discover a world of Onigiri fillings, from classics like tuna mayo, umeboshi, and tarako to creative options. This eBook has it all!


7 onigiri wrapped in plastic wrap.

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.

Thanks For Stopping By!

Holding a ume and agedama onigiri.
Ume Agedama Onigiri

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡ . If you’ve tried this recipe (or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!

Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!

Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares 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

two ume onigiri on a plate with two slices of takuan.

Umeboshi Onigiri (Japanese Pickled Plum Rice Balls)

5 from 6 votes
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Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 onigiri
Author: JURI
Learn how to make a popular Japanese rice ball, Ume onigiri! The perfect snack for when you're on the go, these refreshing tastes will make your mouth water!



  • Prepare ume paste: Remove the seed from inside the umeboshi.
  • Nori sheet: Divide a Nori sheet into three equal pieces.
  • Collect ingredients: Gather cooked Japanese rice, the nori sheets, the umeboshi, a bowl of water, and salt
  • Rice and umeboshi: Fill a small bowl halfway with rice, create a small dent in the center, and add the umeboshi. 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 of salt) 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 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.
  • Variations: See the “Variations” section for more ume onigiri ideas.
  • Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are new to cooking rice, see “How to cook Japanese stove on the stove.”
  • The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to tweak it for your preference.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 213kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 134mg | Sugar: 0.01g
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: onigiri, ume
Did You Make this recipe?Please Leave a star rating!

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