Dragon Roll Recipe

Print RecipeJump To Recipe

Dragon Roll | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Some people asked what is my favorite sushi roll, and the answer is Dragon Roll (my favorite nigiri sushi is salmon).  I really love the crunchy texture of shrimp tempura in dragon roll.  Today I am going to share how to make the dragon roll at home!

Dragon Roll | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

The main ingredient for Dragon Roll includes shrimp tempura AND/OR unagi.  The one I like just has shrimp tempura in it, but it’s really up to you how you want to make it.  When I first came to the US, I was surprised the many non-traditional rolls offered in Japanese restaurants, such as Philadelphia roll with cream cheese and salmon.  However I’ve grown to enjoy many of the rolls and even make them at home sometimes.

To cut down on prep time, I used pre-cooked frozen shrimp tempura from Trader Joe’s.  If you like to make it from scratch, you can follow my Shrimp Tempura recipe.  You will need extra time to prepare shrimp tempura, but homemade tempura is always the best.

I hope I’ve inspired you to start making sushi rolls at home.  It’s fun to prepare and eat sushi with your friends and family.  If you are still not comfortable making your own sushi roll, remember there is an option of Temaki Sushi (Hand Roll) which is much easier version of sushi roll.

Dragon Roll | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

I will spend this summer in Japan.  Follow my instagram “justonecookbook” to see what I’m up to in Japan!  I’m hoping to update you with some bits and pieces from my trip whenever I get a chance. :)

Other Sushi Recipes:

Don’t want to miss a recipe? Sign up for the FREE Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates. Thank you so much for reading, and till next time!

Dragon Roll
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 8 Dragon Rolls
  • About 6 cups prepared sushi rice
  • 1 Japanese cucumber
  • 4 avocados
  • ½ lemon
  • 4 nori sheets, cut in half crosswise
  • 16 shrimp tempura* (See the recipe here)
  • ⅛ cup (20oz) Tobiko
  • Unagi (eel) - optional
For toppings
  • Spicy Mayo (recipe here)
  • Unagi Sauce (recipe here)
  • Black sesame seeds (optional)
Vinegar water for dipping hands (Tezu)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tsp. rice vinegar
Things you will need
  • Bamboo sushi mat
  • Plastic wrap
  1. Cut cucumber lengthwise into thin strips. Discard the core (seeds).
  2. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise around the seed and twist the two halves until they separate. Hack the knife edge into the pit. Hold the skin of the avocado with the other hand and twist in counter directions. The pit will come out smoothly.
  3. Remove the skin and slice the avocado widthwise with the tip of knife.
  4. Gently press the avocado slices with your fingers and then keep pressing gently and evenly with the side of knife until the length of avocado is about the length of sushi roll (length of nori seaweed). Squeeze lemon over the avocado to prevent from changing color.
  5. Wrap the bamboo mat with plastic wrap and place half of the nori sheet, shiny side down. Dip your hands in tezu (vinegar water) and spread the rice over the nori sheet.
  6. Turn it over and put the shrimp tempura, cucumber strips, and tobiko at the bottom end of the nori sheet. If you like to put unagi, place inside here as well.
  7. From the bottom end, start rolling nori sheet over the filling tightly and firmly with bamboo mat until the bottom end reaches the nori sheet. Lift the bamboo mat and roll over.
  8. Place the bamboo mat over the roll and tightly squeeze the roll.
  9. Using the side of knife, place the avocado on top of the roll.
  10. Place plastic wrap over the roll and then put bamboo mat over. Tightly squeeze the roll until the avocado slices wrap around the sushi. Be gentle so you won’t break the avocado slices.
  11. Cut the roll into 8 pieces with knife. Clean knife with wet towel after each cut. Remove the plastic wrap on top of the sushi and transfer to a serving plate.
  12. Put tobiko on top and drizzle spicy mayo and unagi sauce. Sprinkle black sesame seeds if you like. Enjoy!
Sushi rice is “vinegared” rice, specially used for sushi, not the regular steamed rice.

If you are new to making sushi roll, cut off ⅓ of nori sheet and use ⅔ sheet of nori instead of half (Note: you will need more sushi rice).

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

Enjoy It? Share it!

Never miss another new recipe!

Sign up and receive the Just One Cookbook email newsletter.

Disclosure: Just One Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published - required fields are marked *

  1. I love Dragon rolls though I don’t usually see the tobiko and other granishes on top.

    Coincidentally, I bought some sushi grade ahi (yellow fin) tuna a few days ago and made maki, nigiri, gunkan and temaki sushi with it today. It has been quite a while since I tried to make nigiri but I’m working on it. :)

  2. Oh my, Nami! Your Dragon Roll looks fabulous. It looks better than some of the rolls that I’ve seen in restaurants. This really makes me want to make my own. Pinned and sharing this on my Facebook page. Have a wonderful evening!

  3. Malli

    When I first saw these sushi rolls I was astounded by the photos. They look gorgeous Nami. your instructions are truly inspiring me to make them at home too… I love sushi and avocado!!!Thnks:)

  4. Michelle

    Any ideas for substituting nori? Will it roll without it? Maybe rice paper? I’m allergic to everything from the water that doesn’t have a fin on it. I thought I’d try making this with a tempura fish, but I’ve never rolled sushi before. Please advise!

  5. I’m now following you on Instagram and will look forward to viewing Japan in the summer through your eyes. What a colourful sushi. It’s so pretty Nami, it’s stunning xx

  6. Jayne

    You should open your own little Japanese cafe. You’d do so well in Malaysia for real. Love how delicious and aesthetically pleasing this roll is! I really should invest in a sushi mat, right? I’ve tried making sushi several times without the mat. They hold together OK but I feel they could be tighter and more compact.

  7. Nami I love the Dragon Roll. My family always orders them and although I teach sushi I’ve never taught this one before. Now I just might. I love how you demonstrate the way to wrap the avocado. I haven’t done that before but will definitely try this now – great technique. Great post. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Your dragon roll looks absolutely perfect, Nami! I’m a big fan of it as well!
    Have a safe and wonderful time in Japan this summer – wow! It sounds amazing and I can’t wait to hear and see all about it! : )

    • Beautiful! Although it’s funny, every place I’ve been to here in Southern California would call this a caterpillar roll, and a dragon roll would be a uramaki roll (usually california roll) topped with unagi.

      I googled “dragon roll” and saw that it seems about 50/50, whether it is unagi or avocado on top, sometimes both! Isn’t funny what regional differences there are, even in something as simple as a dragon roll? For the record, the dragon roll is also my favorite roll, although I guess it means something different here 😀

  9. Nami, this is one of my favorites, though I figured it was unauthentic — but I feel better knowing you eat it too! lol The tempura-only one is my favorite too. Your presentation is always so beautiful. Have fun in Japan!

  10. Oh wow! That is a lovely treat indeed! I just love shrimps tempura! I can just imagine the taste, crispy tempura shrimps blending with smooth avocado and crunchy cucumber! yum!

  11. Nami, it’s one of the most beautiful maki sushi I have ever seen! It does look a bit like a dragon indeed 😉 It contains all my beloved ingredients, so I’m bookmarking it, though there is little chance I will manage it… It looks quite delicate for someone as clumsy as me. Actually I have never seen such a roll in Europe. The only roll they prepare here is also “reversed” (seaweed inside) but with ebi fry inside, mayonnaise and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I love it.
    Have a wonderful trip and bring us back many delicious ideas and photos!

  12. This looks SOOO good, Nami!! Dragon rolls are my favourite too :). I am glad that you didn’t use unagi, because I am just not into eels – they remind me too much of snakes ;). Anyway, great post as usual, so sorry if I haven’t been commenting regularly lately, life just has been quite crazy over here…!

  13. We love love love sushi and this dragon roll is one of our favorites. I don’t make it, though because I think the Chefs at restaurants do a better job. YOu just made me more brave to try. Thanks for sharing, Nami!

  14. Eri

    OMG Nami, I cant thank you enough, this post is precious with the dragon rolls and all the links to other sushi recipes, Super pinned!
    I hope you are well and that you;re having fun.
    Hugs and Kisses

  15. I have spotted suchi rice (not easy to find in Mumbai, except gourmet and online stores) in a supermarket in Mumbai, and from there itself, I bought some nori sheets too! I have most of the ingredients with me as well. So I can make this.
    And, this tempura-stuffed sushi is really looking special…wonderful clicks, Nami. A lovely post!

  16. I think I had this before – not sure if it went by this name, but it’s so delicious. I have to admit though… I’m really not a fan of tobiko. The consistency always seems so weird to me, but all the rest of the ingredients I love! Spicy mayo too… mmm!

  17. Orchidea

    This looks amazingly good! I think this is my favorite sushi roll too… I tasted it at a JApanese restaurant when living in Singapore… I remember the crunchy shrimp tempura in the middle is divine! As soon as I can eat sushi again I will try making this at home. Thanks for this recipe and have a nice vacation in Japan. We are also flyign to Italy soon for our summer vacation… I am looking forward to it.

  18. なるほど。そういうふうに作るのかあ。まったくわかってなかったわ、私。なみちゃんのテクニックすごいですね。とてもきれいです。 めちゃおいしそう!Looks awesome!

  19. Wow…this looks fantastic!!! I am so going to Trader Joe’s to check out the shrimp tempura!! I love this sushi and you did such a beautiful job!

  20. I wish I could make such a beautiful sushi Nami but I can’t, so I will just admire yours which is delicious! Have a wonderful time in your homeland and come back with many new and more delicious Japanese meals!

  21. Nami-san, this is one beautiful roll. I find these types of rolls a bit more difficult than the standard sushi roll because it is like wearing your coat inside out. However you did a beautiful job of shaping your roll. Have a wonderful time back home in Yokohama. Don’t forget your “傘”!!!! Take care, BAM

  22. One of the best sushi rolls I have seen till date! Definitely better than the restaurants. Yummy! Nami, I wish I lived closer to your place.

  23. So glad I’m not the only one who was a bit shocked to see sushi with cream cheese. And like you, over the years I’ve come to accept and like non-traditional temakis…including the Dragon Roll. Thank you for sharing your recipe, Nami-san!

  24. Your photos of the finished product are beautiful! My absolute favourite sushi rolls are salmon rolls, but Dragon rolls are a close runner up. I might try to make this one day when I’m feeling ambitious.

  25. Linda | The Urban Mrs

    Yummyyy! I love all kinds of sushi and sashimi, but when we go out we never fail to order dragon roll. I love your pics and how neat they are. Have fun in Japan!

  26. I am COMPLETELY inspired. This is my summer project – learn how to make sushi from you. Seriously, this is great stuff. Thank you Nami for taking out your precious time to show how it is really done. I love the step by step pictures – it makes it look relatively easy. Bookmarking.

  27. This looks so beautiful and tasty. I need to start making my own sushi. I admit I haven’t tried it yet but you keep inspiring me to give it a try… Thanks :-)

  28. You know I love sushi and I’m always so blown away by how beautiful you get yours to look. When we make it at home, it’s delicious, but doesn’t look nearly as pretty. The dragon roll is one of my favorites too. We ordered a dragon roll this week from a new sushi place and oh was I disappointed. We’ll be going back to our old place for sure! :)

  29. So thrilled to see dragon roll recipe on your site, Nami! It is my favorite sushi too since it features both avocado & shrimp tempura (LOVE them!). The spicy mayo & unagi sauce toppings make your dragon rolls extra good looking. I can eat this everyday!

  30. I love dragon rolls! I absolutely love shrimp tempura so a sushi roll with shrimp tempura in it will obviously be my favorite as well. I`m glad I have this recipe in my arsenal! :) I think it`ll take me many tries before I can make them as pretty as yours!

  31. Tracy Lou

    Hi Nami,

    I love your beautiful website with all these amazing food/pictures. I am so glad to find out about your website by accident. I am going to find time to try out your food recipe when I get the chance. I see you make a lot of salad dressing, I wonder if you make sauces for roll sushi besides the unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and ponzu sauce. Any suggestions would be helpful, thank you

    Texas mom

    • Hi Tracy! Thank you so much for your kind compliment. :) I’m so glad you found my site!

      What kind of sauces have you tasted before and what kind of rolls? Sorry I usually eat more traditional nigiri sushi and don’t eat too many rolls, so I’m not too familiar with the kind of sauces for rolls (we don’t have this in Japan). Hope I can help you.

  32. PandaMamma

    Would you know where to find real unagi filets? Or would using frozen ones come out the same?
    Do you have suggestions on how to prepare it so that it comes out yummy?

  33. joanne

    I live in Tokyo and was surprised to see that “Dragon Roll” “Philly Roll” “Rainbow Roll” did not exist in Japan! It was after some thought that I realized that these creations were uniquely American, that is, fusion sushi. Now there are fusion sushi found everywhere, but not in Japan (except for California Roll)!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can get all the ingredients fresh here in Tokyo. I looooooved this Dragon Roll, it was perfect!!

    • Hi Joanne! For me it was an opposite experience – I was so surprised that Americans think of sushi as more of sushi rolls rather than nigiri. 😀 I love dragon roll mainly because of crispy shrimp tempura in it. I hope one day Japan will get these “American” sushi rolls.

      But I think a lot of people like to eat at more traditional sushi place and if they serve “American” style, maybe customers feel they are not authentic enough? Maybe good quality sashimi being eaten with other ingredients (with lots of sauces) is sort of against the concept of simplicity, quality of ingredients, and all the virtue of Japanese cuisine (washoku). Well, California roll made it! :) Thank you for your feedback!

  34. Ohhh yummmm….this looks legit (of course), and so good! My favorite rolls are the ones with crazy explosive flavors, meaning that they have to have spice in them. Or just plain rainbow roll because it’s so unbelievably fresh. :)

    • Hi Tiffany! Thank you so much for reading my posts and for your request. :) I’ve been thinking of sushi tutorials and hope to start working on them soon. :)

  35. Ann

    I love your blog. The pictures and recipes are easy to follow. Best of all, the results are yummy! Please keep on blogging.

  36. Patrick

    I love this roll and tried making it for the first time last night. It turned out great but my spicy mayo was a little thin, I used the Kewpie and Sriracha sauce. For flavor, it worked great, but made the presentation look like I put pink gravy on it. Do you have a suggestion for thickening the sauce?

    • Hi Patrick! First of all, thank you so much for trying this recipe! I am not 100% sure as I wasn’t there, but it looks like your sriracha portion was more as sriracha is more watery than the QP mayo. Mine holds a little bit rather than too watery (as you see in the photo). But then you lose some of the spiciness if you cut down on sriracha and not sure that’s what you prefer… I’ve never tried or heard to thicken the sauce without damaging the flavor, but do you think corn starch/potato starch would work to make it thick…?! I am not too sure… I’d just reduce the amount of sriracha and decorate, but keep it out for extra spicy option. Hope that helps. :)

      • Patrick

        That answers my question, Thank you. I did put a little more sriracha sauce and knew that was my main problem, but the color looked right and the spiciness was good for me. I imagine slowly adding cornstarch might do it, I would be afraid of clumps. I will try it and see how it works.

        Tonight I am trying your Spicy Tuna recipe


        • If you will try with corn starch, make sure to mix a small portion of water and corn starch in a bowl first (make corn starch completely dissolved) before adding to mayo/sriracha mix. Hope you enjoy the spicy tuna roll! :)

  37. Nina

    Hi there

    Is there a way to make this vegetarian and rather than wrapping it putting the ingredients into a bowl? I am not coordinated enough to make sushi just yet but have had this before in a restaurant with mango and loved it

    • Hi Nina! Dragon Roll includes Shrimp Tempura, but you can omit shrimp tempura and add other veggies you like. You can make it into rice bowl dish (deconstructed version of roll). :)

    • Hello Chef Devaux! Thank you so much for your kind compliment. My dragon rolls are nothing like yours! I just saw your video and really love the “dragon” on the sushi roll you made! How wonderful that you are sharing your amazing sushi making skills with the world! :)

    • Hi Bri! Thank you so much for your kind words! As I am not a registered dietitian, I am not comfortable sharing nutritional information for any of my recipes. Please use online calorie counters to obtain the information. So sorry!

  38. Covarrubias

    You have done a fantastic job not only on the presentation but also the easy explanations of each recipe..thank you…all is very precious..

  39. mari

    hey there- we are making these tonite. my question is actually about your sushi rice directions. I was wondering how specific to a rice maker the directions are – for example, i never soak my sushi rice after soaking & b4 cooking in a pan – would you do if you weren’t using your rice maker? actually, i have a rice maker (http://www.brevilleusa.com/gourmet-rice-cooker.html) and i stopped using it – i couldn’t seem to get it right…

    • Hi Mari! I just got back from my trip and I apologize for my late response. It does not matter what device you use (Japanese rice cooker or other rice cooker or regular pot), but as long as you use Japanese short grain rice, it’s recommended to soak the rice first before cooking. However when I don’t have time I totally skip soaking… but when I don’t soak, I usually add a bit more water when I cook the rice. Also, the brand of rice matters as well. For some rice brand I have to put just a little bit more water than usual. So I’d suggest to experiment the amount of water. If you don’t use a rice cooker, it helps if you record the amount of rice and water so it will be perfect every time. Hope this helps…

  40. mari

    update: made these last nite – they were **wonderful!** Thank you! i think they came out a little big though b/c we used a whole sheet of nori???
    up next: takoyaki, following your instruxns, of course (after i hunt down the octopus – have all the other ingreds!) :-)

  41. Alex S

    I rarely leave comments, but your simple, solid approach to show and tell in a cuisine that is very leftfield for many was perfect. We had an amazing first effort and are now inspired (though the wife will do the rolling!).

    Just FYI for those out there, the unagi sauce recipe ROCKS and you can use smoked eel if that’s all you can find (just take the skin off and cook gently in the sauce).

    Also the tempura recipe, if you want it gluten free, works perfectly well with an equal ratio substitution of corn flour, rice flour, tapioca flour and glutinous rice flour. Doesn’t quite colour as well as the wheat flour probably, but I’m working on this (and boy is it a tasty job!)

    • Hi Alex! Thank you so much for taking your time to write your kind feedback. I’m really happy to hear you enjoy my recipes. :) Thank you for sharing GF option for the tempura recipe so that others can give it a try! Thank you for your support and love! :)