Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri)

    50 minutes

    Onigiri (Japanese rice balls) are fun to make and are a staple of Japanese lunchboxes (bento). You can put almost anything in an onigiri; try substituting grilled salmon, pickled plums, beef, pork, turkey or tuna with mayonnaise.

    51 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 4 cups (800g) uncooked short-grain white rice
    • 4 1/2 cups (1.2L) water
    • 1 cup (250ml) water
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup (60g) bonito flakes
    • 2 sheets nori (dry seaweed), cut into 1cm strips
    • 2 tablespoons (30g) sesame seeds

    Preparation:20min  ›  Cook:30min  ›  Ready in:50min 

    1. Wash the rice in a mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Combine washed rice and 4 1/2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover. Simmer rice until the water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rice rest, for 15 minutes to allow the rice to continue to steam and become tender. Allow cooked rice to cool.
    2. Combine 1 cup water with the salt in a small bowl. Use this water to dampen hands before handling the rice. Divide the cooked rice into 8 equal portions. Use one portion of rice for each onigiri.
    3. Divide one portion of rice in two. Create a dimple in the rice and fill with a heaping teaspoon of bonito flakes. Cover with the remaining portion of rice and press lightly to enclose filling inside rice ball. Gently press the rice to shape into a triangle. Wrap shaped onigiri with a strip of nori. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat to make a total of 8 onigiri.

    Bonito Flakes

    Find Bonito Flakes in Asian supermarkets

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    Reviews in English (33)


    It turned out horrible!¡!¡!¡!  -  21 Nov 2016


    very simple, i love making these either to snack on or for a dinner. my only change is i make a solution of white vinegar, about a cup, and 2 table spoons of sugar, and mix this with the rice before i begin. It adds just the right amount of flavor to the rice, so its not so over whelming. after adding the vinegar, just wet you hands and shape like always :D  -  09 Apr 2010  (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)


    I made this recipe for rice balls for my daughters international night. They turned out great! I made the mini balls and put canned salmon bits and spiced ginger in the center. I rolled them in black and white seseme seeds and put dried seaweed on others. The teens at the school loved them. I found great directions in the internet for rolling and twisting them in wet salted plastic wrap which took all the air out and made them nice and firm. (then take them out of the plastic wrap)The key is to always handle them with wet hands.  -  02 Mar 2010  (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)