How to Make Onigiri

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Onigiri, also known as Japanese rice balls, are a popular staple in Japanese (bento) lunch boxes. This savoury snack is perfect for on-the-go eating and is highly versatile. Onigiri is traditionally made with cooked Japanese short-grain rice wrapped with nori seaweed. The rice balls can contain a wide range of fillings and seasonings to achieve unique flavour combinations.

Traditional onigiri fillings include salted salmon, umeboshi (salted plum), seasoned katsuobushi (dried skipjack tuna flakes), and tarako (cod roe). While there is generally salt in the centre of the ball, it’s also a good idea to salt the outside using high-quality sea salt. The nori wrapper allows you to pick up the onigiri without getting rice on your fingers. It also infuses some flavour into the ball.
Onigiri dates back more than 2,000 years in Japan and has seen many variations over the decades. Making this tasty treat requires some skill and practice wrapping the nori sheets.

Learn how to make onigiri using common ingredients. These rice balls are stuffed with many delicious flavours and fillings that are perfect for a quick snack or a light lunch.

Onigiri Ingredients


For Steamed Rice

To Make Onigiri

  • 2 Sheets nori
  • 1 Umeboshi (Japanese Salted Plum)
  • Salted Salmon
  • Okaka
  • Sea salt
  • Tuna mayo
  • Seasoned Kombu
  • Toasted black and white sesame seeds (garnish)

To Make Seasoned Kombu

To Make Salted Salmon

  • ½ fillet salmon
  • Sea salt

To Make Okaka

  • 1 package katsuobushi
  • 7ml soy sauce

To Make Tuna Mayo

Forming Onigiri Rice Balls


  1. Prepare the steamed rice.
  2. Prepare the salted salmon filling by sprinkling kosher salt on both sides of the fillet. Bake the salmon at 220°C (425°F) for 10 to 20 minutes. Break up the salmon into flakes and set aside. Alternatively, you can use tinned salmon.
  3. Place the umeboshi onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap and squeeze to remove the seeds from the umeboshi. Discard the seeds.
  4. Prepare the okaka filling by putting katsuobushi into a bowl and adding soy sauce. Mix to combine.
  5. Prepare the tuna mayo filling by draining the canned tuna and putting it into a bowl. Add Japanese mayonnaise and soy sauce. Mix to combine.
  6. Prepare the seasoned kombu filling by putting the prepared seasoned kombu into a bowl. Set aside.
  7. Cut the nori sheets into thirds.
  8. Dip your hands into water and then apply some salt to your hands.
  9. Scoop a handful of rice into your hand and create a well in the centre of the ball. Place a small amount of one type of filling into the well, then mould the rice to cover the filling. Form the rice ball into a triangle shape. Press just enough so that the rice triangle does not fall apart but not too much to prevent dense rice.
  10. Wrap the rice triangle with one-third of the nori sheet.
  11. Place a small amount of each filling onto the top of the onigiri.

Wrapping Onigiri

February 04, 2021 0 Comments

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