This Sushi Rice Recipe is really sticky and slightly sweet, which makes it perfect for making your own sushi rolls or sashimi at home. This perfectly sticky rice is easy to make and lasts for days in the refrigerator. Instant Pot instructions included! I will teach you how to make sticky rice for sushi, along with all the tips and tricks. Don’t even think about skipping tip #3, even though I know you will try.
Why I Love This Recipe
Sushi is one of my all-time favorite foods. That statement is newer for me because I never thought I was a sushi type of gal, but I am completely obsessed with it. Now, the price of a quality, handmade sushi roll is what keeps me from eating it as often as I would like, but I’ve spent some serious time learning how to make my own at home. Now I make it all the time!
This recipe is the only one I use because the seasoning is spot on and the end result is super sticky, which is a must to make the perfect sushi or sashimi roll at home.
There are a couple of key points for making a killer sushi rice and this one hits them all. Don’t be afraid of trying to make your own sushi or sashimi because you will be amazed at how easy it is. Plus, if you get a bit too intimidated by rolling sushi, you can always opt for an equally delicious sushi bowl instead.
What is Sushi Rice?
Despite being able to find bags labeled “sushi rice” at the store, sushi rice isn’t a specific variety of rice grown by farmers. The title “sushi rice” doesn’t refer directly to the grain itself but only to how the rice is prepared: by steaming until the grain is fully cooked, then adding rice vinegar, sugar, and salt as the seasoning.
Just because there isn’t officially a “sushi rice” grain doesn’t mean any type of rice works in a sushi rice recipe. Traditionally, sushi rice uses a short grain Japanese white rice called uruchimai. There are a couple of other types of Japanese rice but uruchimai is specifically for sushi rice.
How to Make Sushi Rice?
Honestly, learning how to cook sushi rice is only one extra step more compared to making any other type of white rice so don’t be intimidated! Just follow each of these easy steps for the best sushi rice every time:
- Rinse the rice well. If you are in the states, this might be an odd practice. But rinsing is an imperative step to make rice for sushi. Either rinse the uncooked grain in a bowl of cool water, or in a mesh colander, until the water runs clear. Be sure to drain off any excess water before cooking.
- Cook the rice. You can make it on the stove, in a rice cooker, or in an Instant Pot. The cooking tool is completely a personal choice. One is not better than another. Use the kitchen tool already on hand and you’re familiar using when cooking rice. Again, this is very simple so no need to complicate it with new equipment.
- Season the cooked rice. The seasoning for sushi rice is what truly sets it apart as unique. Transfer the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl to begin cooling, then heat rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves. Pour the seasoning mixture over the rice. Gently fold the sushi vinegar mixture into the rice evenly using a large rubber spatula.
- Cool the rice. Here’s the hardest step of it all…waiting until the seasoned sushi rice comes to room temperature. The cooling process is where the stickiness develops so do not try skipping this step. To speed up the cooling process, spread the finished rice onto a half-sheet pan and cover it with a damp towel so it doesn’t dry out.
Full instructions and measurements are in the recipe card below. I hope this quick rundown helps remove those first feelings of intimidation about making sushi at home.
Tips to Make a Sticky Sushi Rice Recipe
If the finished sushi rice isn’t a sticky sushi rice, it will be useless when trying to make sushi rolls. It will still taste delicious but you’ll have to settle for a sushi bowl instead.
- Only use Japanese sushi rice. Sushi rice is a form of short grain rice and its starch is what makes it so sticky once it cools. (This brand is my personal favorite). Don’t try to use the standard long grain rice you already have in your cupboard or your roll will not work. At all. Not to mention the texture will be much too mushy.
- Rinse your uncooked sushi rice well. It may seem odd or an unnecessary step, but be sure you rinse your rice until the water runs clear. You’ll consider skipping this step if you are in a rush. But if you do, you will end up with more of a rice paste than anything. Nasty!
- Sticky sushi rice becomes sticky as it cools. Allow the finished rice to come to room temperature before using it. As the finished rice cools, it becomes even stickier so don’t rush this process. If you are in a rush, you can always transfer your cooked sushi rice into a shallow pan and allow it to cool faster.
How to make Instant Pot sushi rice
The only difference in making sushi rice in an Instant Pot is simply the cooking vessel. All the measurements in the recipe are exactly the same. Cook the rinsed rice and water on low pressure for 12 minutes, then release the pressure naturally. You will then follow the seasoning and cooling steps as shown in the recipe below.
Can sushi rice be made with regular rice?
Just because technically you can do something doesn’t mean you should 🙂 If you prepare this recipe with standard long grain rice, the results will be very different in both taste and texture. It will turn out quite mushy and without much texture distinction between each grain of rice. So please, use Japanese sushi rice. The short grain size enhances the stickiness of the finished rice without losing its texture as a regular long grain rice would.
Why does sushi rice need rice vinegar?
If sushi rice isn’t seasoned with rice vinegar, along with the sugar and kosher salt, once it is finished cooking, the end result would be an extremely bland piece of sushi. The subtle tang from the rice vinegar, along with the hint of sweetness and salt make for a perfect bite of sushi. In fact, the Japanese name for sushi rice translates to “vinegar rice.” It doesn’t require a lot of vinegar but if you want the best-tasting sushi roll, don’t skip out on it!
Why is sushi rice sticky?
This short-grain rice has a ton of starch in it, which is why you have to rinse it well before cooking or you end up with rice paste. Even after you rinse the starch off the uncooked sushi rice grain, more starch releases while it cooks. Then, as it cools, those starches act like the perfect glue to hold the rice together. Without the rinsing step that comes first, you would end up with too much “glue” in the sushi rice.
Is sushi rice the same as sticky rice?
Sushi rice and sticky rice are made from two completely different types of grains and have different textures and flavors. A sushi rice recipe uses a type of short-grain rice from Japan that becomes sticky when prepared properly. It is used for sushi and sashimi rolls. Sticky rice is from Thailand and is a round grain that becomes extremely sticky when cooked and is often used in desserts when it is sweetened with coconut milk, sugar, or condensed milk.
What to Serve with Sushi Rice
Now that you have your perfect sticky rice for sushi, how are you going to serve it? Obviously, rice is not usually the main star of a meal but a side dish. I’ve included suggestions on how to use this amazing sushi rice recipe so it truly shines.
- Make sushi rolls or sashimi. Don’t make this too complicated and try to go crazy, especially if you are new to making sushi at home. Pick one protein along with one or two vegetables/fruits from the list below to put inside the rolls.
- Raw proteins: tuna, salmon, yellowtail, or halibut
- Cooked proteins: shrimp, crab, smoked salmon
- Vegetables: cucumber, pepper, mushroom, carrot
- Fruits: avocado, mango
- Make sushi bowls. If the thought of rolling sushi at home is going a step too far, opt for the sushi bowl instead. This take on a sushi roll is especially useful when serving more than just a few people. A sushi bowl allows everyone to create their own customized bowl with the all toppings they love.
- Make poke. Bring this whole sticky rice recipe to Hawaii instead of Japan and go for the poke bowl. Similar to a sushi bowl, a poke bowl differs by the large number and variety of ingredients added on top of the sticky rice and protein. And the finishing touch is 3-4 different sauces.
If you are new to making sushi, you will need a Basic Sushi Making Kit and I love this one because it is only a few bucks and has everything you need. There are more expensive or fancier ones out there, but unless you are planning to become a sushi master, this is perfect for the home cook like you! Just click on the picture to grab your own!
Looking for More Asian Flavors?
Don’t miss out on these other great recipes that provide all those regional flavors you love in sushi.Print
Sushi Rice Recipe
Sushi rice recipe that is easy to make, super sticky and perfect for homemade sushi and sashimi. Instant pot or stovetop recipes included!
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 cups 1x
- 2 C sushi rice
- 2 C water, plus more for rinsing
- 2 Tb rice vinegar
- 2 Tb sugar
- 1 Tb kosher salt
- Cook: Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Use your hands to be sure all the grains are rinsed well. Place the rinsed rice into a medium pan or rice cooker with the 2 cups of water over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to the very lowest setting. Cook for 15 minutes. Once the rice has finished cooking, remove from the heat, leave the lid on and let it sit for another 10 minutes.
- Combine: the vinegar, sugar and kosher salt in a small microwave safe cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Once the rice has sat for 10 minutes, fold in the seasoning liquid with a large rubber spatula.
- Allow the rice to come to room temperature before using. It becomes sticky as it cools off. You can speed this process up by spreading it onto a baking sheet to cool. Store leftover rice in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.
Click here for Instant Pot Sushi Rice Instructions
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Boiled
- Cuisine: Asian
- Serving Size: 1/4 C
- Calories: 128
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 207 mg
- Fat: 9 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 6 g
- Trans Fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 11 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 1 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: sushi rice recipe, Instant Pot sushi rice
it s very good
Thank you! It is the only recipe I use
Tia Marie Gettler-Ward says
What sort of rice vinegar do you use? The kind that I have available to me already has some sugar/seasoning in it which makes me worried that if I add more sugar it will make the rice sickly sweet.
Hey there Tia! I use just standard rice vinegar, not the seasoned rice vinegar. It is a sweeter vinegar but I promise that the level of sweetness is perfect for sushi. Without any sweetness, the sushi roll would be very bland
How do you reheat the rice after being in the fridge?
Hey there Wendy! For sushi, you don’t want warm or hot rice. It needs to be nice and cold so it sticks together for your sushi or sashimi.
Sarah Wenger says
would any vinegar be sufficient? I have red wine vinegar, ACV or regular.
Hey there Sarah! For the most authentic recipe, you really do need rice vinegar. However, if you are going to make a substitution, the apple cider vinegar would be best since it is the sweetest.
Hi! So if I use the apple cider vinegar instead, will the sugar be no longer necessary? Thanks in advance.
Hi Cindy! I would stick with the rice vinegar as stated. The apple cider vinegar will be too strong and overpower the sushi.
Dieter Juhnke says
I am using this recipe for ten years now. So it is really not a novelty.
Hey Dieter! It is a great, classic recipe which is why I love it.
It is for me, being a beginner..
This recipe is PERFECTION!
I am so glad you loved it too Sandy!
Thanks so much for the.perfect recipe! I will use it often. Happy sushi eating!
You are very welcome Lydia!
really cant wait to try this out!
so far the best and well detailed recept! 😉
It is awesome! I would love to hear how it works for you when you do give it a try 🙂
The sushi was really great, we loved the texture and the taste. Seems like Homemade Sushi is gonna stay in the menu for a while
That makes me very happy to hear Amira!
Marjorie Buchanan says
Very easy to follow recipe. Delicious
I’m glad you enjoyed it Marjorie!
Have you ever frozen your sushi? I’d like to make a very large batch and freeze. Any suggestions?
Hey Michele! I have never frozen sushi but worry a bit about how it would work. I have refrigerated it with each roll wrapped tight in plastic wrap before cutting it.
Hey, Carole. I’m learning to make sushi and I used this recipe today. The result was yummy. Thanks for sharing.
I am so glad you loved it Rafael! Learning to make sushi is a fun way to start of the new year.
Ok! So this is my second time using this recipe and it’s a winner! The first time I used it I promised my kids veg sushi rolls for afternoon snack.. that was before I read to let the rice cool all the way down. . Not to be out done, I threw the rice in a couple of bowls and into the freezer for about ten minutes stirring every so often to get it to cool!! Ha! My ten year old caught a glimpse of what I was doing and was intrigued, although somewhat baffled.. We laughed later as I assured him sushi isn’t *really* made that way lol! Needless to say we went threw the entire pack of Nori (10 sheets!) and my last roll was only filled halfway with rice due to my *ahem* taste testing!
This time around I’m excited to be making veg sushi rolls again for lunch on the road so I decided to prep the rice ahead. I just finished cooking my rice only to realize that I’m all out of sugar!! AGAIN!, not to be outdone a second time, I subbed confectioners sugar a little at a time until I got what reminded me of the previous batch. The struggle!! Anyway.. I love this recipe and I’m committing it to memory so I can make it for years to come! Thanks so much for sharing!
That is awesome Nichole! Thank you for coming back and sharing it with me.
Can you use a rice cooker instead?
Hi Shane! That is a great question and I think it would work fine but I don’t have any experience with a rice cooker.
I have used my rice cooker and it worked out fine! I followed the rice cookers amount of rice and water recommended.
Thank you so much for this recipe!! It came out so perfect and was so delicious!! We plan to make it often!!
I love to hear comments like this Bunnie!
How many rolls does this usually make?!
How many rolls do you get from 2 cups rice. I’m making for 10 persons. And thanks for your guidance
It makes around 10 roll or so Kiki.
melanie Vandermeer says
made this in my instant pot, followed as instructions stated except I didn’t rinse the rice. used the rice setting. turned out awesome!
Thanks Melanie for sharing!
Thanks for sharing this recipe! We are hosting a sushi making party with some friends and I’m wondering if I can make the rice in the afternoon and then keep it in my fridge so it’s ready to go when everyone comes over. Is this adviseable? Will it compromise the texture?
Hi Carley! It will work, but it just doesn’t work quite as well as freshly made.
Thank you for the recipe! I am trying it now with a rice cooker. I will let you know about the results later tonight. So excited to try this as I got a sushi rolling kit as a gift and wanted to try it out.
Hi All, I tried this using a rice cooker and it came out great! Will definitely use it in the future since I love my rice cooker!
I do need to work on rolling sushi, but not bad for my first time. Love the recipe, it’s a keeper!
Hey there Tamela! Rolling sushi is a challenge and still a bit frustrating for me 🙂
Hi Carole! OK – can I use regular salt with this recipe instead of Kosher? I made it once (with the wrong kind of vinegar so it was a wash anyway) and I used 1 TBSP regular table salt and it was SO salty. Would I do say half a TBSP, if you’re using coarse Kosher salt? Thank you!
Hi Ally! Yes, if you use regular salt, you need to reduce the amount of salt considerably. Kosher salt is light and flaky so it doesn’t take much to fill up a tablespoon.
Ashley Vu says
Hey Carole! Can you give me some advice on how to combine the rice vinegar and the rice without smashing the rice? I have to say that I am a beginner at this and I can’t distribute the vinegar well enough without destroying the beautiful rice kernels. Thanks!
Hi Ashley! It sounds like your rice might be a bit overcooked if it is getting smashed when you toss in the seasoning liquid. Be sure your liquid measurement is precise using a liquid measuring cup. If that isn’t the problem, try fluffing the rice with a fork before tossing in the seasoning liquid.
I want to try making sushi. I’m new to eating sushi. My granddaughter loves sushi. I looked in my regular grocery store for sushi rice and couldn’t find it. Where do you buy your rice?
Hello Linda! It is a fun skill to learn. If your local grocery store doesn’t carry it, you can always order it from Amazon or another online retailer!
I love this recipe, I use it often. Just one question. Why microwave or cook the vinegar mixture before using it?I’m not a huge fan of the overpowering vinegar smell I get from doing that
Great question Courtney. The warm vinegar will help the sugar dissolve so when you toss it into the rice, it evenly mixes in the seasonings.
Can you use Rice Wine instead of rice vinegar?
Hi Shannen. No, that really isn’t the same substitution. You need that acidity from the vinegar.
Can I use Mirin instead of sugar if so would this improve the flavor or do you prefer the flavor of the sugar
I’ve never tried Mirin in this recipe so i can’t say for sure. The sugar flavor is very slight. Just enough sweetness to balance the nori.
This recipe sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try it. As far as mixing…. In my experience, it’s better to kind of “slice and fold” rather than stir the rice. If that makes sense. Hope this helps.
Thanks Tally for your great tip!
Great recipe! I only have a technical issue. I found your font to be to small for comfortable reading. Age could not possibly be a factor!
Glad you liked the recipe Stan, and boy can I understand about the struggles of small fonts! Isn’t aging so great 🙂
Oh my this was incredibly unedible. I’m unsure if it’s a typo, but 1 whole Tablespoon (Tb) of salt was too salty! We had to throw the rice out it was so bad. (Yes we cooked 2 cups of rice)
We will try again using a teaspoon (tsp).
Sad this recipe seemed to have good reviews, unless those before me didn’t use the listed amount of salt, I can’t imagine how they ate it.
Hey Rose! Bummer that this didn’t work out but did you use Kosher salt or regular table salt? Kosher salt is a flaky salt so 1 Tb really isn’t that much. If you used regular table salt, then yes, I am sure this was waaaayyyy too salty. Give it a try again using the proper salt and you will perfect!
This recipe turned out SO tasty and it was so incredibly easy! I rolled mine up using a silicone baking mat, which was perfect for flexibility and sturdiness, all while reducing waste by not using plastic wrap! I also didn t quite chop up the veggies. I instead cut them up into little slivers which I think helped the veggies stay in place. I definitely can t wait to make this again!
I’m so glad it worked well for you and I love the idea of using my baking mat! Thanks for sharing that great tip!
I finally found the perfect sushi rice. It truly is the best
So glad you love it Anastasia!
I can’t wait to try this recipe. I do have one question though. I saw in a post that you responded to that “the sugar flavor is very slight. Just enough sweetness to balance the nori.”
However I don’t use nori or any other seaweed, I use soy wrap because I hate the taste of nori. So would adding the sugar in the rice seasoning, in this case, be to sweet?
Hey Theresa! It will be perfect for your soy wrap as well. Sushi rice really needs that bit of sweetness to balance all the other flavors. Please come back and let me know how it goes!
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Happy Roll says
Delicious!! I really thought making sushi would be harder, thanks for this super easy recipe!
Glad you loved it!
Mizz Kitty says
I’m a long time user of rice, growing up in the Mariana Islands, but never tried my hand at sushi. My 20 year old became fascinated with making homemade sushi and purchased a recipe book, a sushi kit and a sushi bazooka. GAME CHANGER!! I used unrinsed regular rice, just added a little extra water to ensure proper cooking while leaving it a little sticky. It worked out perfectly when fresh, not so much second day. Thanks for this recipe. It has just the right amount of tang and sweetness.
You are very welcome! Thanks for leaving your review 🙂
I’m not sure 1tbs of salt seems right. I followed this and my rice is way too salty. I had to throw it all away. Is it maybe 1tsp?
Hey Jillian! Did you use kosher salt or regular table salt? If you didn’t use kosher salt, that is why your rice was way too salty.
Made sushi bowls last week. idk why I thought it would be hard to make it myself. It was very easy.
Carole Jones says
Perfect! So glad you enjoyed it
Perfect both times I’ve made it.