Sushi Rice 酢飯の作り方

How To Make Sushi Rice | Easy Japanese Recipes at

One of the frequently asked questions that I receive from readers is about sushi rice.  When you hear “sushi rice“, what do you think it is?  Is it the short-grain Japanese rice, or rice used to make sushi?  Well, actually both answers are correct.

What is Sushi Rice?

In Japan, sushi rice means the steamed rice that’s flavored with vinegar based seasonings and we only use this vinegared rice when we make all kinds of sushi.

However, it gets a little tricky because some rice companies outside of Japan call their short grain Japanese rice “sushi rice”.  It definitely calls for attention especially if you are planning to make Japanese food, like sushi.

Sushi Rice Package

So when your sushi recipe says sushi rice, make sure to make “vinegared rice” with short grain Japanese rice.

In Japanese we call sushi rice Sushi-meshi 鮨飯, Su-meshi 酢飯, or shari 舎利.  It’s made of white, short-grain Japanese rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.  Brown rice is sometimes used outside of Japan, but it’s not common in sushi restaurants in Japan.

I highly recommend to get short-grain Japanese rice to make sushi rice because it has a consistency that differs from long-grain rice.  The stickiness is important for making sushi rice, but please note that short grain rice is NOT glutinous rice (that’s SUPER sticky).

Why do we season rice with vinegar to make sushi?

You might wonder why the Japanese season rice with vinegar.  It actually goes back to the origin of sushi.  The literal meaning of sushi means “sour flavor”.  Historically, the way people stored fish was by wrapping it in fermented rice.  When they were ready to enjoy the fish, the fermented rice was actually tossed away.  Some time between 1300 – 1500’s, the Japanese slowly stopped using fermented rice and instead added vinegar to the rice to further increase the shelf life.  The vinegar made the rice taste good as well so they started to eat the fish and the rice together, which evolved to today’s sushi.

These days with refrigeration there is no longer the issue of fish being spoiled, but the centuries of sushi rice’s umami flavor with the vinegar being added stayed.

Here’s the video on How To Make Sushi Rice on my YouTube Channel!  Enjoy!

For step-by-step recipe for Sushi Rice, please click here.

Sushi Rice Recipe Banner

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Editor’s Note: How To Make Sushi tutorial video is added in November 2014.

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  1. This is a very interesting and useful post Nami! I loved reading how to make sushi rice! I think these basic recipes are very important when you want to cook something you didn’t grow up with. And they are essential for a good final result. It is the same thing about cooking pasta the right way (and you said it)… no matter how tasty your sauce is, you pasta will not taste good if it is overcooked! :-)

  2. Thanks for the great tutorial. I’ve only mastered plain ol’ long grained rice, so it’s time to branch out! Happy Thursday, my friend~

  3. Excellent and informative post. Thanks for showing me exactly how rice should be cleaned and how to cook a perfect bowl of sushi rice. I love your rice bowl too!

  4. I wondering what is the name of the bowl where u put the rice Nami 😀
    I often see that on a cooking show named “chasing the yum” at afc, that is s typical bowl every time u want to make a sushi… right? or I’m wrong? Hehe he
    well… it’s cute anyway 😀

  5. Ohhh so the name is Hangiri!
    Now… where can I find a japanese rice?
    Hmmm… there will be a label “japanese rice” rice right on the brand?
    I think fron now on I have to check not only the seasoning row but also the rice row when I go to the supermarket 😀

    • Over here, we can find pretty good quality of Japanese rice (Koshihikari or Akitakomachi brand are the best) in Chinese and Japanese markets. There are some brand of Japanese rice at American supermarkets too but quality is not good enough for Japanese people who grew up with really delicious Japanese rice. Anyway…I hope you can find it in your supermarket!

    • Hi Kerry! Good timing! :-) I made onigiri the other day and took pictures. I am hoping to post soon as soon I edited pictures… Hopefully next week or two. :-)

    • Hi Jess! We use regular rice for Onigri (rice ball), and we only use sushi rice is for sushi (including all kinds of sushi – hand roll, sushi roll, inarizushi, etc). I’ll post my recent onigiri recipe soon. :-)

  6. Ooh I’m excited about tomorrow!! This is perfect timing because I’m doing a roll your own sushi party soon. Thanks Nami and thanks for the recent advice. I can always count on you to give me honest feedback.

  7. Thank you Nami,
    This is such a wonderful and useful post for all the sushi lovers I’m sure. I totally believe that making the perfect sushi rice is an art. I have tried many time but somehow never got the perfect texture. But I’m sure this post will help…
    Tell me does the vessel in which you mix the rice needs to be wooden, does it effects the final result?

    • Hangiri (The flat bottom wooden bowl) is necessary if you want to cool down A LOT of rice at once. It’s very hard to cool down quickly. As I wrote in the How To Page, you have to “cut” the rice instead of “mix”. That’s why we use the flat bottom bowl. Since Hangiri is wide open, the extra moisture will evaporate faster. The worst sushi rice is the rice sticks together and becomes a big chunk. Hope this helps. :-)

  8. Nami, this is an excellent idea! I see now I still have so much to learn about sushi rice. Ok, so I rinse the rice 3 times (I have noticed it tastes better and has a better texture if I rinse it in warm water, is it normal??? Am I committing a sacrilege?). I have never cooked konbu with it! Instead of sugar I usually put sake and mirin (is it weird???). I must try cooking it with konbu next time. Thank you, Nami. As always, you are a great teacher!
    The damp towel is so kawaii!!!!! I love it.

    • Hi Sissi! It’s known in Japan that we are not supposed to wash in warm water (but I cheat in cold winter time and wash with luke warm water). I search a bit and I found some article saying it’s okay as long as temp is 30-40C. Maybe that could be just one theory. When you wash rice in warm/hot water, starch from rice starts to gelatinize. So we need to wash with cold water. Also, make sure to add (cold) water in rice cooker. Rice cooker will shorten cooking time when you put warm water (smart huh), and inside of rice may not fully cooked. I’ll add this info in How To Page later. Thanks for asking!

      I’ve seen a recipe using sake and mirin, so it is not weird at all. Each family has different way to prepare, but the most common ingredient for sushi vinegar is rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. :-)

  9. What a fantastic blog, I just found you by chance. I’m Sicilian but my husband is Japanese and we live in Sicily. I love Japanese food but of course I don’t know how to cook it as well as you. I’m sure I can learn a lot from you. I’m going to tell my daughter ( to follow you too, she loves Japanese food. I’m following you from Rome, we’re here on holiday.

    • Welcome Ciccia! I hope you can find some recipes you like here and surprise your Japanese husband. 😉 I’ll also visit your daughter’s blog to say hi. :-)

    • Kankana, “sushi rice” is vinegar-flavored cooked rice and you have to make that especially for sushi. We don’t use regular steamed rice for sushi. I think you meant you have a package of Japanese rice?

  10. Awesome post Nami, I love the step by step instructions, so helpful..I never made sushi, and I love eating it so much. I have all the ingredients but somehow always ending up buying freshly made in front of me. Thanks for this post!!!

  11. Fascinating! This is so different from making basmati rice the Persian way. My mother-in-law is even on the rice cooker band wagon, but I love making it the old-fashioned way, with a pot. Maybe it’s because my cupboards are full and I have no room for another kitchen gadget?! Great lesson – thank you!

  12. We are lucky in Sydney because there are so many great Japanese restaurants and famous Japanese chefs (Tetsuya Wakuda being the most one of the most celebrated chefs in Australia) and we have a fantastic variety of Japanese food to choose from.

    Your recipe is fantastic Nami but I think no matter how I try, I will never be as good as the sushi chefs here in Sydney. We are also fortunate that seafood is so fresh and widely available here :)

  13. I make sushi rice quite often, but I use very little sugar, just a taste in fact, because I have too much sugar in my diet already :-). I have to confess that most Japanese recipes that require sugar (sometime it seems to me that most do!) end up being without sugar for me. They work fine to my taste, probably they end up being more ‘ancient’ from before sugar was introduced to the everyday diet in Japan. But it is the kombu that interests me here: I never used kombu for sushi rice, next time I will try and see! I always have kombu in the house :-)


    • Ciao Alessandra! You made me think about sugar in Japanese food. I agree – we use sugar or mirin in our seasoning all the time. But then I never thought Japanese sweets are as sweet as American sweets…maybe that’s our compromise there. haha. Adding konbu is pretty common or I think everyone does….some people use Konbucha (kobucha) instead. It gives nice aroma and taste. You will love it!

  14. Hi Nami: I’ve never used konbu, I’ll have to look into it. Your tutorial on how to make Sushi rice is excellent, so well written and all the supporting images. Looking forward to that guest post now that you’ve teased us with the Sushi rice tutorial. 😉

  15. What a great idea/post! I’ve always wanted to make sushi, but always worry that the rice won’t be sticky enough, etc. I will definitely come back to your site if I end up making some. :)

  16. Hi Nami-Your California rolls are the most beautiful, and perfect rolls I have ever seen.
    No wonder you made the #1 spot on Top 9.
    Congratulations, by sweet friend…well deserved!
    I will look into the instructions later…have never made sushi, but my son-in-law is an expert, and he even makes it at his Italian restaurant, as well!

    Thanks so much for your kind care and concern…I’m starting to be able to move, and even lift my arm, better!

  17. hi nami, nice to know your blog. I want to learn to make sushi, i have this idea of making it to some friends next week..not sure if i have time to do that. Would like to know besides a hangiri, can we transfer that cooked rice to a container instead? also i have no microwave, what can i do about that? is it alright not to microvave that seasoning? Thanks!

    • Hi Lena! It’s nice to have a hangiri, but of course you can make sushi rice without it. Try to use a large opening bowl so that rice will quickly cool off (and evaporate moisture) while you are mixing the sushi seasoning. The microwave method is a shortcut method. You want to make sure sugar is completely dissolved, so just use a small saucepan over stove top. :-) Enjoy making sushi!

  18. It’s likely a little unconventional, but I usually season the kids’ rice with vinegar. They love the sour flavor, especially when I serve it with a stir fry for them. :) Now you have me craving sushi too!

  19. I cook Japanese short-grain rice even if I’m not making sushi cause it’s a very good side dish when served with something with delicate flavours which I want to savour. Now I have a craving for inari sushi or onigiri.

  20. I cook Japanese short-grain rice even if I’m not making sushi cause it’s a very good side dish when served with something with delicate flavours which I want to savour.

    Now I have a craving for inari sushi or onigiri.

  21. 舎利の歴史は面白いですね。しかし、はっこしたご飯の使い方はお金持ちの方のみでしたか。確かに、米は大切で大名又は武士道のかたしか食べていませんでしたね。何れにしても、なみさんのご説明はとても重要で読者たちは勉強になります。

  22. cristina

    Hope you’re feeling better, Nami. Sushi rice…I didn’t even realize there was a sushi rice! I’m paying attention, as I want to put together a sushi recipe I recently came by and this is most timely for me. :) Have a good rest of the week and get better!

  23. Such an informative post, I love reading about how different cultures preserved food. I remember being surprised at the process of making rice for sushi the first time I prepared some. But good rice and the steps are well worth the effort.

  24. I’m sorry to hear you’ve not been well. Even though our weather is warm and lovely, I picked up a flu bug where I had an ongoing sore throat and dreadful cough for a couple of weeks. I’m still not quite right and it’s very annoying. I loved reading about the history of sushi rice xx

  25. Nami-san, great little video of how to make sushi rice. I love eating sushi rice fresh out of the bowl, even before I make onigiri or any rolls. I just love that sour taste. You are inspiring me to crack out the bento boxes this week for the kids lunches.

  26. Great lesson on sushi rice and love the video! Your video is getting more and more artistry and it’s a real pleasure to watch :)
    I only made sushi rice once but forgot the konbu. Need to make it again by follow your authentic recipe!

  27. Edwin Taniguchi

    Can brown medium grain extra fancy rice be substituted for the white rice that is used in your recipe for sushi rice? Brown rice measurements may vary depending on the kind of rice cooker that is used but the
    generic guideline is to use 3 cups of water for 2 cups of uncooked rice when cooking the brown rice in the rice cooker. What adjustments to your recipe must be made if medium grain brown rice is substituted for the white rice used in your recipe? Thanks in advance for answering my inquiry.

    • Hi Edwin! I wish I can answer to your question, but I don’t use brown rice and I am not sure about the measurement. However, I’ve seen many brown rice sushi rolls before and it should work just fine. Please try experimenting with more water (so at least it’s edible) and reduce the water as you try to find the correct measurement. I’m sorry, I wish I could help!

  28. emily gaddi

    Hi Nami, i just made the sushi rice and its really the best, and you’re true! the rice brings the entire taste of sushi.
    thank you!