Yaki Onigiri (Japanese Grilled Rice Ball)

5 from 5 votes

The Yaki Onigiri with cheese is crunchy outside and gooey inside, which will make your taste buds happy. Wondering how to make the perfect Japanese grilled rice ball? Let’s dive in!

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

4 yaki onigiri on a plate

The yaki onigiri, or grilled rice balls, is a popular Japanese snack that’s great for any time of the day and bento box! Mix soy sauce with rice, add cheese, form a triangle shape, and cook until browned. The aroma of freshly baked rice and melting cheese will appeal to your appetite for sure!!

    This recipe is for you if:
  • You love onigiri (rice balls).
  • You are looking for how to make yaki onigiri
  • You are looking for an easy yaki onigiri recipe.

About This Recipe

  • Simple grilled Onigiri recipe
  • Japanese rice balls
  • Stuffed with cheese
  • Ready in under 10 minutes

What is Yaki Onigiri?

Yaki onigiri is a grilled version of Japanese rice balls. They are usually mixed or brushed with savory soy sauce and cooked in a frying pan. The savory soy sauce turns onigiri into a golden brown color and adds an extra layer of flavor. Grilling also creates a nice crunchy exterior. You can have a different texture from regular onigiri. I add cheese to this recipe, but you can make yaki onigiri with or without filling.

📋 Ingredients

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

japanese rice, soy sauce, and cheese
  • Cooked Japanese rice: We use short-grain rice in Japanese cooking. See below for more info.
  • Soy sauce: Regular soy sauce to season and add flavor.
  • Cheese: I use Japanese 6P cheese (disk-shaped processed cheese), but you can use any salty semi-hard cheese.
  • Oil: I use sesame oil, but any oil is ok.
  • Katuobushi (bonito flakes): It’s optional. Katsuobushi adds a nice flavor.

What types of rice should I use?

Uncooked Japanese short-grain rice on a round plate

Japanese rice or Japonica rice is the best for making rice balls:

  • Short-grain rice
  • Sticky texture
  • More starch than long-grain rice
  • Easy to stick together

If you use long-grain rice like Jasmine rice, your onigiri will fall apart, so I don’t recommend using it. We use plain white rice for onigiri, but you can also use brown rice. You can find Japanese short-grain rice at a Japanese supermarket, Asian grocery stores, or online stores.

How to Cook Japanese Rice

If you are unfamiliar with cooking Japanese rice, please see How to Cook Japanese Short-grain rice on a Stove Top. You can find useful tips, equipment to use, and step-by-step instructions.

Can I use “Sushi rice” for yaki onigiri?

Let me be clear about Sushi Rice because there are two usages:

  • A: Sushi rice – It’s vinegar rice, seasoned cooked white short-grain rice with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. This rice is for making sushi.
  • B: Sushi Rice – The seller labels Japanese rice like this. This rice is not only for sushi but for any rice dish.

We usually don’t use A: Sushi rice for regular onigiri or yaki onigiri; it’s for making sushi.

If you mean B: Sushi Rice, and yes, it’s regular uncooked Japanese rice, so you can use it.


Let me show you how to make Yaki onigiri! You can also watch this recipe video.

how to make yaki onigiri
  1. Combine rice add soy sauce in a large bowl
  2. Put the rice in a small bowl and add cheese in the center
  3. Wet your hands and place the rice on your hand
  4. Form a triangle shape
  5. Add a little oil, place onigiri, and cook until browned on medium heat
  6. Flip them over and cook until browned
yaki onigiri on a plate

There you go! The outside is golden brown and crunchy, while the inside has a gooey cheesy texture that will make you want another bite!

Cooking tips

  • Shaping rice might require a little practice, so if you have difficulty making a triangular shape, you can use an onigiri mold! It’s easy to shape onigiri!
  • The triangle shape is the most common, but you can also form shapes like round and cylinders.
  • You can cook it in a toaster oven or grill instead of a frying pan.


Wrap each one with plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge or freezer. A couple of days in the fridge 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 (do not throw it at room temperature as it will get dry).

Vegan adaptable

If you are a vegan, feel free to omit the cheese and make your vegan onigiri!

What to serve with

yaki onigiri, edamame, cherry tomatoes, and kabocha soup

Why don’t you make a quick and easy lunch by making Yaki onigiri? Add soup and some veggies, and you’ll have a nice, healthy lunch!

More ways to Enjoy yaki onigiri

4 yaki onigiri on a plate

This yaki onigiri is a simple recipe, so the possibilities are endless for what you could do with them! Here are some delicious ideas:

  • Miso yaki onigiri: Make a sweet miso sauce with miso and honey, spread it on onigiri, and bake in an oven. It smells so good!
  • Teriyaki yaki onigiri: Spread teriyaki sauce on onigiri and bake in an oven.
  • Change filling: You can add umeboshi (pickled plum), salmon flakes, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), or anything that goes well with rice instead of cheese.
  • Add to a soup: Put it in a soup like miso soup, tomato soup, and egg soup to make it Zosui (Japanese rice soup)
  • Make Ochazuke: Add a little dashi stock, pour hot water, and add some toppings like chopped green onion, shredded nori, and sesame seeds to make Ochazuke.
  • Rice Okonomiyaki: It’s no longer an onigiri, but this recipe is for fun! Spread the rice mixed with soy sauce on a frying pan, cook both sides, and top it with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (bonito flakes).

Frozen Yaki onigiri

A frozen yaki onigiri is a great option when you don’t feel like cooking or want something quick and easy. You can make a batch or buy it to save time! I buy them like the picture above sometimes at a store, and they are great time savers for busy weeknights! If you can find it at your local Asian grocery store, grab it and enjoy it!

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

bite shot of yaki onigiri that you can see cheese inside

More Onigiri Recipes You Might Like

Leave a Rating!

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

4 yaki onigiri on a plate

Yaki Onigiri (Japanese Grilled Rice Ball)

5 from 5 votes
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Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 7 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 rice balls
Author: Juri Austin
The yaki onigiri, or grilled rice ball, is a Japanese popular dish that's great for lunch! The aroma of freshly baked rice and melting cheese will appeal to your appetite for sure!!


  • 13 oz Cooked Japanese rice, 360g, 4 small bowls of rice
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1.5 oz Cheese, 40g, 2 Japanese 6P cheese (Cut into small pieces)
  • Oil for cooking
  • Katsuobushi, optional


  • Combine: Put cooked rice in a large bowl, add soy sauce, and combine.
  • Add cheese: Put the rice in a small bowl and cheese in the center.
  • Form onigiri: Wet both hands with water, place the rice on your hand and form a triangle shape (or round shape) by pressing gently with your palms and fingers while rolling it several times.
  • Cook in a frying pan: Heat a frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil, place the onigiri and cook for about 3 minutes until browned.
  • Cook the other side: Flip them over and cook for another 3 minutes.



  • Equipment: Frying pan (26cm/10 inch), Small bowl.
  • Substitute: I use Japanese 6P cheese (disk-shaped processed cheese) but you can use any cheese of your choice or you can omit it.
  • 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.
  • You can cook them in an oven instead of using a frying pan.
  • Japanese short-grain rice (starchy and sticky) is ideal for making onigiri. If you are new to the rice, see “How to cook Japanese stove on the stove


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 32.1g | Protein: 5.8g | Sodium: 182mg
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Vegetarian, yaki onigiri
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    1. Yes, you can use cold leftover rice! Warming the rice a little in the microwave will make it easier to shape into onigiri. I hope you like the recipe:)