How to Make Sushi: 7 Steps to the Perfect Sushi Recipe

12 mins read
how to make sushi
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Did somebody say sushi?! Yes, we did! Sushi can be expensive, and it may rightfully be so. But if you love sushi, you must’ve wondered how to make sushi at home.

We all tend to go on a drooling spree when we think about sushi, but we often find that it isn’t so easy on our wallets. Sushi caning may also be an art in itself, and there’s a reason why chefs spend years trying to perfect it.

However, if you are a sushi lover, you’re going to be delighted to know that you can always learn how to make sushi at home, and they’re going to be just as delicious.

There is a tendency to aim for perfection when it comes to sushi. From perfect sushi rice to perfectly cut sushi-grade fish, the list goes on. But perfection comes with time, and having a little fun and messing it up is perfectly fine while making homemade sushi.

You can gorge on a large amount of sushi for the same price you would pay at high-end restaurants for a plate or two, which sounds like a good deal.

But before we dive into the recipe and the steps on how to make sushi, why don’t we take a glimpse of what sushi is and what the different types of sushi are?

1. Different Types of Sushi

Yes, you read that right. Typically think about raw fish when we think about sushi, but sushi is not raw fish. Yes, I don’t even need to have fish or seafood in it.

Sushi is vinegared rice mixed with other ingredients. It may or may not have fish as its ingredient. Sushi also doesn’t have to be made with raw fish. Many varieties have cooked fish or cooked seafood in them.

Interesting, isn’t it? So, while we are learning how to make sushi, let’s also take a slight detour and learn a little more about the different types of sushi.

There are five main types of traditional sushi. Here’s what they are.

1.1. Nigiri

It is the most traditional sushi you’ll find on the menu. It has a single topping placed on a rectangular mound of sushi rice.

The most typical topping is sashimi, a thinly sliced sushi-grade fish. However, Tamago Nigiri has a special kind of egg that is sweet as the topping.

nigiri sushi
Image by towfiq007 on Unlimphotos

Other toppings include cooked eel and cooked shrimp, cooked and then combined with rice.

1.2. Sashimi

Sashimi is thinly sliced raw meat, typically a fish like salmon or tuna, and it is served without rice.

Sashimi is made chiefly from saltwater fish because freshwater fish has higher chances of containing parasites.

Image by doraclub on Unlimphotos

Sashimi is not considered a type of sushi because the main ingredient of sushi is vinegared rice.

1.3. Maki

Maki is the most common type of sushi. It comprises fish, veggies, or other ingredients wrapped up in a nori sheet and sushi rice.

maki sushi
Image by tan4ikk1 on Unlimphotos

It is also sprinkled with sesame seed, fish roe, and other such ingredients on the outside.

1.4. Uramaki

Uramaki means “inside out” roll. It is the same as Maki, except that it is the rice on the outside and wraps the other ingredients on the inside instead of the nori sheet.

urumaki sushi
Image by charlotteLake on Unlimphotos

1.5. Temaki

Temaki is also known as hand-rolled sushi. It is similar to Maki, but it is rolled into a cone shape using half nori sheets.

Temaki Sushi
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It is one of the most straightforward sushi to make as it can be rolled easily without a bamboo mat and does not require fine skills.

2. How to Make Sushi?

Now that we know what the different types of sushi are let us learn how to make sushi, in particular, Maki sushi.

To begin with, here is a list of materials or tools you will require to make sushi.

2.1. Materials Required

Here are a few tools you will require to make sushi at home.

  • Bamboo mat
  • Plastic wrap
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board

If you don’t have a sushi mat, you can also use plastic wrap or parchment paper to roll the sushi. However, if you are planning to make sushi regularly, it is best to have one as you can purchase it on Amazon for a price as low as $2, which makes it a good investment.

It is also a lot easier to roll the sushi rolls with a mat as it helps to get tighter rolls and better results.

A sharp knife is also handy for clean-cut sushi rolls. It will prevent the stuffing from falling apart while cutting.

2.2. Ingredients

The list of ingredients can vary over a wide range depending on the type of sushi you want to make. This is also an advantage if you are learning how to make sushi at home, as you have the freedom to add whatever you like to the sushi roll.

Here are the essential ingredients you will need if you prepare how to make sushi at home.


  • Sushi Rice
  • Nori sheet
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Fresh Veggies
  • Protein

2.2.1. Sushi Rice

Sushi rice is a must if you plan how to make sushi rolls. You cannot use regular rice for making sushi as sushi rice is a unique rice that is sticky, which is needed to hold the ingredients together in a roll. It is cooked and flavored with rice vinegar, salt, and sugar.

2.2.2. Nori Sheet

Nori sheet is a traditional seaweed sheet used for making sushi. If you want to make sturdy sushi rolls, you need thicker seaweed sheets. The thinner ones are flimsy and are mostly taken as snacks.

2.2.3. Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar is used for seasoning sushi rice. You can also go for a pre-seasoned variety of sushi rice if you do not have rice vinegar.

2.2.4. Fresh Veggies

Fresh veggies add so much taste and flavor to the sushi rolls, and you have so many varieties to choose from. Depending on the type of sushi you are making, you can make your veggie selection.

Cucumber, avocado, carrots, jalapeno, radish, sweet potato, and the list goes on. You can even opt for fruits like pineapple, pear, and even apples.

2.2.5. Proteins

Proteins can include shrimp tempura, sashimi-grade tuna, and salmon. It depends on your preference and the type of sushi you are planning to make.

If you plan to use raw salmon, tuna, or any other fish, make sure that you only buy sushi-grade fish. It means that they are safe to be eaten raw.

3. How to Make Sushi: Steps

The steps to making homemade sushi rolls are relatively simple. It mainly involves assembling the ingredients, placing them on the seaweed sheets, and rolling them up.

Here are the steps in detail on how to make sushi rolls.

3.1. Cook the Rice

Add 2 cups of water to 1 and a half cups of sushi rice and boil it. When it begins to boil, bring the heat down to low or medium and let it simmers for about 20 minutes with the lid on.

After 20 minutes, take the heat off and let it rest for another 10 minutes or so with the lid on. This is to ensure that the rice is cooked correctly.

Fluffy and medium sticky sushi rice is what you need for the best results. Rolling sushi with crunchy rice is the way to ruin the sushi rolls. So, you want to make sure that it is fully cooked.

If you aren’t fond of stoves, you can also cook the rice in a rice cooker or an instant pot. They give equally good results.

Cooking the rice and letting it cool is the only time to take a step. So, if you are planning to make sushi, you can prepare it about an hour or two ahead and keep it ready to roll.

Perfect sushi rice is essential if you are planning how to make sushi. A little practice will get you there.

3.2. Season the Rice

After the rice is cooked, the next step is rice seasoning. You can also skip this step by using a pre-seasoned variety of sushi rice. However, if you have rice vinegar at hand, you can season it manually, which is also super easy.

Take 1/3 cup of rice vinegar and add a teaspoon of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt. Add this to the cooked sushi rice and mix well. Taste and add salt and sugar as per your preference.

Once mixed, remove the rice from the pot and pour it into a large bowl. Cover with a paper towel and set it aside.

3.3. Prep Your Ingredients

Gather the fillings for the sushi roll and chop them into thin strips on a cutting board. Avocados, cucumbers, and carrots make delicious fillings for sushi rolls.

Cut your choice of protein as well into strips and keep them aside to roll.

While we’re at this, you need to know that you don’t need to have sushi-grade raw fish to make sushi rolls.

If fresh seafood isn’t readily available, you can always opt for cooked seafood, like shrimp, crab, or smoked salmon. They can still make fantastic sushi for you to enjoy at home.

3.4. Place the Fillings on the Nori Sheet

Firstly, place the bamboo mat so that the stripes run horizontally to you. You can place a plastic sheet over the mat to avoid messing with the mat. Take a sheet or half a sheet of the nori sheet and place it on the mat.

Take the rice and spread it evenly into a thin layer over the sheet, leaving a small strip of space, about an inch, at the top of the nori sheet to seal the roll at the end. Gently press the rice using a rice paddle, do not mash it too hard. Do make sure you don’t put too much rice in it.

Keep a small bowl of cold water near you if you use your hands to press the rice. This will prevent the rice from sticking to your fingers and make it easier to spread over the sheet.

how to make sushi
Image by doble.d on Unlimphotos

Now arrange the fillings around the center of the nori sheet covered with rice. Don’t add too many fillings and overpack it.

3.5. Roll the Sushi

Once you finish placing the fillings, gently lift one edge of the mat and roll it over the sushi.

Gently squeeze while rolling to pack the ingredients tightly into the roll. Do not squeeze it too hard either so that your ingredients do not come oozing out of the roll.

Roll the sushi
Image by doble.d on Unlimphotos

Continue rolling in this manner until you reach the nori sheet’s edge. Dap some water with your fingers over the thin strip of nori at the edge, and finally, roll it to seal the sushi roll.

3.6. Cut the Sushi

Place the sushi rolls on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the sushi rolls into bite-sized pieces. Cut it using a gentle sewing motion to prevent the sushi from falling apart.

It also helps to wipe the knife with a clean damp kitchen towel each time you make a slice so that the rice doesn’t stick to the knife. This will help you get a nice and clean cut.

3.7. Add Toppings and Serve

Add some toppings to the sushi. There are a variety of toppings that will complement the sushi, such as chia seeds, sesame seeds, thin slices of fish, and even avocado.

Sushi also tastes fantastic with some sauce on the side. Serve the sushi with a sauce or two on the side to give it the extra oomph!

4. Sushi Sauces for Your Sushi Rolls

Sushi is incomplete without some sauce on the side. So, if you are learning how to make sushi rolls, you should also consider trying out these excellent yet simple sauces to go with your sushi. It accentuates the taste and brings the whole thing together.

4.1. Spicy Mayo Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Sriracha Sauce

Mix them up in a small bowl and serve them next to your sushi. You can also adjust the heat level by adjusting the amount of sriracha chili sauce.

4.2. Soy Sauce

  • Shoyu Soy Sauce

The best soy sauce to side the sushi is called Shoyu. It is the traditional soy sauce used in Japan and plays an essential role in sushi.

Image by Zahard on Unlimphotos

It is also recommended to opt for soy sauce with less sodium to enhance the taste of sushi best.

4.3. Eel Sauce

  • 1/4 Cup Japanese White Wine
  • 1/4 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar

Add the Japanese white wine (mirin), low sodium soy sauce, and about 2 tablespoons of sugar to the saucepan.

Put the saucepan over medium heat and whisk continuously for about 10 minutes till the sauce thickens.

4.4. Japanese Ginger Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Light Mayonnaise
  • 2 Teaspoons of Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons of Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon of Stir Fry Seasoning

Grate the fresh ginger and mix all the ingredients in a bowl by whisking continuously to combine them well.

4.5. Tossa Shoyu

  • 1/3 Teaspoon of Dashi Powder
  • 3 Tablespoons of Water
  • 3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sake
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Japanese White Wine

Add all the ingredients to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then bring the heat to medium and allow it to simmer for about 2 minutes.

4.6. Pickled Ginger and Wasabi Paste

This isn’t a sauce, but they are the most common side served with sushi. Pickled ginger is a palate cleanser, and taking a bite of it in between different courses of sushi help to distinguish and relish the distinct flavors of different fish in the sushi.

pickled ginger
Image by Angorius on Unlimphotos

Pickled ginger and wasabi paste pair well with sushi. So, if you are planning how to make sushi, you may also want to look into the pickled ginger and wasabi paste recipe.

5. How to Make Inside-Out Rolls?

Inside-out rolls are known as Uramaki Sushi, in which the sushi rice is on the outside and is wrapped around the ingredients.

The steps for making Uramaki sushi are the same except for the placement of the ingredients. Here’s how it’s done.

  1. Place the nori sheet over the plastic wrap covering the bamboo mat. Now spread the sushi rice evenly and press it gently. You can also sprinkle some sesame seeds over the rice.
  2. Now flip the sheet over so that the layer of rice is below and the nori sheet is facing above.
  3. Now, place the ingredients on the nori sheet and arrange them in a line.
  4. Start rolling the sushi roll by lifting the edge of the mat and rolling it over the sushi. Remember to press the roll gently while rolling to get a firm and steady sushi roll.
  5. Cut the sushi rolls into bite-sized pieces with a sharp knife and serve with pickled ginger and wasabi paste or some sauce on the side.

6. Some of the Best Sushi Rolls to Try Out

The list of fantastic sushi is almost never-ending, but here are some famous sushi rolls you may want to try recreating at home.

6.1. Rainbow Roll

The Rainbow roll is a California roll that got a little more adventurous. It has the usual avocado and crab combo, and occasionally you may find some cream cheese there.

This sushi roll got its name because of the variety of toppings it wears, like raw salmon, avocado, and raw tuna.

Rainbow roll
Image by starush on Unlimphotos

It is also visually appealing and looks terrific on the platter.

6.2. California Roll

California roll is a trendy sushi roll and is a favorite of many. It has cooked crab with avocado and some cucumber.

Sometimes it may have cooked shrimp instead of crab, and some may even add a few carrots. It is usually topped with sesame seeds or some fish roe.

6.3. Spicy Tuna

This is a simple-looking sushi roll but does not be deceived by its appearance because this one is a keeper. The combination of tuna with spicy mayo will leave you wanting more.

It is also easy to make at home. So, if you are planning how to make sushi at home, you have to try this one out.

6.4. Shrimp Tempura Roll

Shrimp Tempura is a California roll, but the shrimp inside is battered and deep-fried, making it crunchy.

Often, you will find that the shrimp tempura roll has its exterior deep-fried as well. That adds some extra crunchiness to it, which we all love.

6.5. Dragon Roll

It may not have the most appetizing name, but you only get to give it a score once you’ve tasted it. The dragon roll is a seafood hub packed with Unagi (eel), cucumber, and even crab.

Some versions also include tuna and top it off with flying fish roe.

dragon roll
Image by rusak on Unlimphotos

Apart from its delectable taste, you will also enjoy its plating as it is usually arranged in twists and turns in a long train, just like the dragons you see in Japanese art.

Final Note

So now that you know how to make sushi, you must be eager to hit the stores and get the ingredients. Start simple, but also feel free to venture out and be adventurous with the ingredients in the sushi.

If you like making homemade versions of different types of food, you can also try some fun recipes like homemade kimchi or even homemade French fries because, why not? It’s always good to enjoy making food you love in the comfort of your home.

Sushi making is entertaining. It will take a few trials, but you’ll keep getting better. Do not worry about making them look perfect. Just enjoy the process of making your sushi rolls.

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