If you’re a vegetarian and wondering about what to put in an onigiri, this recipe has the answer for you! You’ll find 23 delicious vegetarian fillings right here!
Onigiri, traditional Japanese rice balls, are made with Japanese rice, nori seaweed, and a variety of fillings. While the traditional fillings are typically fish-based, in this recipe, I’ve gathered an array of delicious vegetarian options for your Onigiri!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love Onigiri (Japanese rice balls).
- You want to make vegetarian onigiri.
- You are looking for vegetarian onigiri fillings.
Let’s get started!
🍙Vegetarian Onigiri With Nori Seaweed
These are classic-style Onigiri with nori seaweed, and you’ll find 9 variations in this section. Let’s take a look at each ingredient.
1. Ume Onigiri
Umeboshi is pickled plum, which is sour and salty and goes well with plain Japanese rice.
How to prepare the filling: Remove the seed and chop with a knife to make the paste. See the umeboshi onigiri recipe for more details.
Kombu tsukudani is a flavorful kombu (seaweed) side dish. You can make it, but people usually buy it at a store.
How to prepare the filling: Simmer kombu with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce until tender, or use a store-bought one. See the kombu onigiri recipe for more details.
Takana-zuke is pickled Japanese mustard green. It’s crunchy, salty, and flavorful. Not only for onigiri filling, it’s also an excellent addition to pasta and fried rice!
How to prepare the filling: Cut takana-zuke into small pieces.
4. Negi Miso
How to prepare the filling: Chop scallion and mix with miso paste.
Takuan is a Japanese radish that’s pickled, crunchy, and sweet with a vinegary kick.
How to prepare the filling: Cut takuan into small pieces.
6. Nori Tsukudani
Nori tsukudani is a traditional condiment made of seaweed simmered in soy sauce. It has a rich and complex flavor, which goes well with Japanese rice. This Nori tsukudani brand is the most famous one.
How to prepare the filling: No preparation is required.
7. Tofu Crumbles
The last one is tofu! Tofu combined with soy sauce makes for a delicious onigiri filling.
How to prepare the filling: Stir fry tofu with soy sauce and mirin until lightly crispy.
Nitamago is a flavored egg made by marinating it in a savory sauce. Try this if you’re looking for new ways to enjoy your onigiri!
How to prepare: Simmer soy sauce, mirin, and sugar to make a marinated sauce. Put the sauce and boiled egg in a freezer bag and rest in the fridge for several hours.
Make This Recipe: Egg Onigiri
The perfect comfort food. Cheese and rice, you can imagine what that tastes like! Pick your favorite cheese, then put it in the fluffy rice.
How to prepare: Cut some cheese into small pieces.
🍙 Vegetarian Onigiri without Nori Seaweed
These easy Onigiri without nori seaweed are simple rice balls where you mix your favorite ingredients into the rice and shape them into balls. If you don’t have nori or prefer a quick Onigiri preparation, give these fillings a try!
Note: The amount of ingredients is just a guide; you can tweak it to your liking.
10. Wakame Seaweed
It’s 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 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.
It’s visually appealing! Edamame brings a nice green color to your Onigiri.
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.
The best Onigiri for summer! Mix in some fresh corn for an extra crunchy texture. The sweetness of corn brings a delicious flavor.
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 and add to your rice, and mix. (You can try this corn rice recipe too!)
13. Shio Kombu
Shio kombu seaweed is an ingredient that I use in 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.
Furikake is an easy way to add some flavor to your rice. You can choose from many options, so pick the one with vegetables, seaweed, or umeboshi for vegetarian 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 various flavor such as vegetables, seaweed, fish and many more.
15. Curry and Veggies
If you love curry, try this curry-flavored Onigiri. Mix in some veggies to bring more color to the Onigiri.
How to prepare: Add 2 tbsp of mixed vegetables and 1 tbsp of curry powder to your rice and mix.
16. Potato Chips and Aonori
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!
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!
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.
18. Simmered koyadofu
Koya dofu is a traditional ingredient for Japanese simmering dishes. You can substitute Koya dofu with firm tofu.
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.
19. 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.
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.
20. 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.
21. Cheese Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Ball)
Yaki onigiri or grilled rice balls are also popular. This one is with cheese. The aroma of freshly baked rice and melting cheese will certainly appeal to your appetite!
How to prepare: Mix soy sauce with rice, add cheese, form a triangle shape, and cook on a pan until browned. See the yaki onigiri recipe for more details.
Sekihan is a classic Japanese dish made from glutinous rice and azuki beans. The rice is sticky and perfect for making rice balls.
How to prepare: See the sekihan recipe for more details.
23. Brown rice
If you want a healthier option, make Onigiri with brown rice. Brown rice gives you more nutrients than white rice.
How to prepare: See the brown rice recipe for more details.
Onigiri Fillings eBook
If you enjoy these onigiri filling ideas and wish to have them all in one convenient place, be sure to grab my eBook: 36 Fun and Flavorful Onigiri. This eBook is a treasure trove of onigiri fillings, featuring all the tasty fillings I have already introduced and a range of creative options. This book has it all!
Now that you know what to put in Onigiri, let’s move on to creating your own Onigiri! Here are the ingredients (amounts are in the recipe card below).
- Cooked Rice (Japanese short-grain rice)
- Nori Seaweed
- Filling of your choice (pick one or more!)
If you are new to cooking Japanese rice, check this recipe: How to Cook Japanese Rice on a Stove.
How to prepare the fillings is described in each onigiri section above. Please scroll up and make sure of their instructions.
Now, let’s move on to the instructions. For a more detailed demonstration, watch the video in the recipe card below.
- Cut the nori sheet into three equal pieces.
- Prepare salt, a bowl of water, cooked rice, a nori sheet, and a filling of your choice.
- In a small bowl, put rice and add filling in the center of the rice.
- Wet both hands, put salt on your palm, and form a triangular shape.
- Form it by pressing gently with your palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
- Wrap it with a nori sheet.
Learn additional step-by-step instructions for shaping onigiri on Onigiri Recipe with 6 Different Fillings.
Here you go! Just grab it and enjoy! Shaping rice might require a little practice, so if you have difficulty making a triangular shape, you can use an onigiri mold!
The triangle is the most common shape, but you can also make round onigiri or cylinder onigiri.
What to Serve With
No idea what to serve with? You can do it with any main or side dish to make a complete meal. Here’s what I had the other day for lunch!
- Corn onigiri
- Stir-fried tofu and broccoli
- Pickled vegetables
- Miso soup
When it comes to storing onigiri for later enjoyment, follow this guideline:
- Wrap each onigiri tightly in plastic wrap to preserve its moisture.
- You can keep them at room temperature for up to half a day.
- In the fridge, they’ll stay fresh for a couple of days.
- For longer-term storage, freeze them for up to one month. When freezing, refrain from wrapping the nori sheet. Reheat them in a microwave before consuming them to maintain their delicious texture. Avoid thawing at room temperature to prevent dryness.
Thanks For Stopping By!
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.
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Vegetarian Onigiri Fillings (Japanese Rice Balls)Print Pin Save
- Prepare ingredients: Cut a nori sheet into three equal pieces. Set aside a small ball of water, a small plate of salt, cooked rice, the nori sheet and filling of your choice.
- Add filling: In a small bowl, put rice and make a small dent in the center, then add 1 or 2 teaspoons of your filling.
- Put water and salt on your hands: Wet both hands with water, put salt (2 fingertips of salt) on your palm, and rub between your hands.
- Shape rice: Place the rice on your hand, hold it with both hands, form a triangle shape (or round shape) by pressing gently with your both palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
- Wrap: Wrap it in the nori sheet.
- Equipment: Small bowl (This oxo tot small bawl 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.
- Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is best for making onigiri. If you are new to cooking rice, check this recipe: “How to cook Japanese rice on the stove.”
- The filling amount is up to you, so feel free to add as much or little according to your preference.