Onigiri recipe (How to make Japanese rice ball) – Recipe and my childhood


When you travel to Japan, you may have many chances to see Onigiri (Japanese rice ball) at convenience stores or Onigiri shops or the markets. Onigiri (sometimes called Omusubi) are rice balls with tasty fillings. I guess Onigiri is not so famous in foreign countries but it’s a very popular food for local people and I really love them!

We’re very familiar with Onigiri from our childhood. They’re very portable so Japanese moms often make them for their kids(maybe for husbands, too) as lunches or snacks. I remember my mom making several kinds of Onigiri when my family went on hikes or to the sea for shell gathering. Also she made for me some for school outings. I was looking forward the lunch time and I still can not forget the taste of them.

As Wikipedia, Onigiri has their long history- at 11th century, Japanese people’s already ate them, mostly when people go out. After I read it, I kind of get the point that why we are so attached to Onigiri somehow.

If you want to make Onigiri, they must be made with sticky, short- or medium-grain rice like Japanese rice. As for the fillings, there’re many kinds we eat. Popular Onigiri fillings are salted salmon, pickled plum(Ume), tuna with mayonnaise, Konbu(seaweed) etc. At Okinawa, which is located in south Japan and there’s U.S. base at, they even use SPAM for Onigiri because they’re influenced by American culture.

They are really yummy and easy to make, so I hope you enjoy them, too!

Ingredients (4 servings):

4 cups of hot cooked rice (medium-grain rice or Japanese rice)

4 sheets of Nori seaweed



-Umeboshi (pickled plum)

-Shake(cooked salted salmon flake)

-Katsuo(bonito flakes moistened with soy sauce)

-Tuna(tuna flake mixed with mayonnaise)

1.  Wet hands with cold water and sprinkle them with salt.

2.  Place one cup of rice on one hand, make a dent in the center, and put in the filling in it.

3.  Wrap the rice around the filling and form into triangle or ball shape.

4.  Wrap the rice ball with Nori seaweed.


33 thoughts on “Onigiri recipe (How to make Japanese rice ball) – Recipe and my childhood

  1. Salting salmon is a way of preserving it – it’s not quite as dry as dried fish (“himono”) but quite salty and keeps outside the refrigerator. In Japan it’s sold in the shops. As Mari says, it’s often cooked to take out some of the salt.

  2. I love Onigiris, I just ate a konbu one 2 days ago! And this blog is really brilliant and interesting! Keep up with the good work 🙂

  3. Lol I remember when I first came to Japan more than 20 years ago. I couldn’t speak much Japanese or read it. I bought onigiri at the convenience store across from my apartment. Since I couldn’t read, I didn’t know which kind I was buying, so it was always a surprise when I bit into them. I love onigiri. My favorite are sake(salmon), ume (pickled plum) and mentaiko (spicey fish eggs). I think of onigiri like sandwiches in America. Instead of mom making you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your bag lunch, Japanese moms might stick in a tuna and mayo onigiri. The price is right too. You can buy most onigiri for about a dollar or so, and 2 is enough to fill you up.

    • Wow, it is a interesting storyvery long ago . Thnak you for your message. I totally agree with you that the Onigiri is just the taste pffered by moms in Japan. Though there are various kinds of Onigiri at the conveniensstore recently, the basic onigiri is not changed as like tuna/ Okaka/ Umeboshi/ konbu.

  4. Hi Mari. I just found your blog today, and am enjoying looking through it. My wife and I lived in Japan for 13 years, and will always miss the food. I certainly miss being able to pick up おにぎり at the 7-Eleven when I’m out cycling or want a quick lunch (especially 梅しそ). We make it at home, but it’s not quite the same as just being able to grab one on the go. Thanks for sharing all these great recipes.

  5. I’m glad I found this recipe. I’ve always wanted to try making onigiri. I think I’ll make the pickled plum ones since I don’t eat meat or fish, but those sound delicious as well. Maybe i’ll make some of those for my family. Do you have any other suggestions for any other non-meat/fish fillings I could use?
    Thanks so much.

    • Thank you for your comment! Actually you can use anything as filling for Onigiri 🙂 I like Miso paste with something, pickles, pickled seeweed etc. You will find many pickles at japanese market too!

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