Use of this website is subject to mandatory arbitration and other terms and conditions, select this link to read those agreements.

Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Ball) 焼きおにぎり

Jump to Recipe Discussion
  • This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy for details. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

    A favorite at Izakaya restaurants, Yaki Onigiri are Japanese grilled rice balls covered in savory soy sauce. With a crispy crust on the outside and soft sticky rice on the inside, these rice balls are simply irresistible and easy to make at home!

    A Japanese blue and white plate containing Yaki Onigiri - Japanese Grilled Rice Balls).

    Today I’m going to share Yaki Onigiri (焼きおにぎり) recipe. Yaki means “grilled” in Japanese (you probably heard enough from my blog – Teriyaki, Yakisoba, Yakiniku, Yakitori, etc), and onigiri means “rice ball.”

    Onigiri (recipe here) is made of white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes. Inside these rice balls, you can find fillings such as Japanese pickled plum (umeboshi), salted salmon, katsuobushi (or sometimes called okaka), simmered kombu, or spicy cod roe (mentaiko). On the outside, they are often wrapped in the dried and crispy nori seaweed.

    Today’s onigiri is grilled, typically on a frying pan or over a barbecue grill.

    A Japanese blue and white plate containing Yaki Onigiri - Japanese Grilled Rice Balls).

    Making Yaki Onigiri at Home

    Traditionally, Yaki Onigiri is grilled over charcoal, which lends the rice balls a hint of woodsy, smoky flavor that is truly hard to resist. To make Yaki Onigiri at home, I use a cast iron pan to grill the rice balls instead. This helps to create similar crispiness to how it would taste when cooked over the BBQ grill. But if you don’t mind setting up a charcoal grill, go ahead!

    These grilled rice balls can be made with or without fillings, but it is more often prepared with plain rice. Because it’s all about simplicity, you want to start with quality Japanese short-grain rice. Forming the onigiri is not something too challenging. I’ve shared step-by-step pictures and tips on how to form the rice balls in the recipe section below, so you will master it in no time. Once your onigiri is formed and placed on the grill, brushed with the sauce and left to crisp up.

    A Japanese blue and white plate containing Yaki Onigiri - Japanese Grilled Rice Balls).

    Savory Sauce for Yaki Onigiri

    Although most Yaki Onigiri is commonly glazed with soy sauce or miso (I have Miso Yaki Onigiri recipe), I actually love using my Homemade Unagi Sauce. The unagi sauce is a sweet caramelized soy sauce and the savory aroma of the sauce blends perfectly with white rice. You can also purchase Unagi Sauce from Japanese/Asian grocery stores.

    When onigiri are grilled until crisp up with a toasty delicious crust, and the rice in the center is still tender and sticky, you know it’s time to savor these perfect treats. They are such a wonderful snack for children and adults.

    If you live near a Japanese supermarket, you can probably find conveniently packaged pre-made Yaki Onigiri in the freezer section. But, really, Yaki Onigiri is so easy to make from scratch that I hope you will give it a try. Especially it’s barbecue season now, this can be a unique addition to your Asian-style barbecue menus. Enjoy!

    A Japanese blue and white plate containing Yaki Onigiri - Japanese Grilled Rice Balls).

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

    Sign up for the free Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch with me on FacebookPinterestYouTube, and Instagram for all the latest updates.

    4.48 from 21 votes
    A Japanese blue and white plate containing Yaki Onigiri - Japanese Grilled Rice Balls).
    Yaki Onigiri
    Prep Time
    15 mins
    Cook Time
    15 mins
    Total Time
    30 mins
     

    A favorite at Izakaya restaurants, Yaki Onigiri are Japanese grilled rice balls covered in savory soy sauce. With a crispy crust on the outside and soft sticky rice on the inside, these rice balls are simply irresistible and easy to make at home!

    Course: Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: rice ball, roasted rice ball
    Servings: 6 grilled rice balls
    Author: Namiko Chen
    Ingredients
    Instructions
    1. Gather all the ingredients. Cook the rice in the rice cooker, pot over the stove top or pressure cooker.

      Yaki Onigiri Ingredients
    2. Let the cooked rice cool a little bit until you can hold rice without burning your hands. Do not let the rice completely cool down.

    3. Make Onigiri into triangle shapes. First wet both of your hands with water so rice won't stick.
      Yaki Onigiri 1
    4. Then put some salt in your hands and rub to spread all around.
      Yaki Onigiri 2
    5. Scoop about a half cup of rice onto your palm.
      Yaki Onigiri 3
    6. Cover the rice with the other hand and gently form the rice into a triangle.
      Yaki Onigiri 4
    7. Make sure covering hand (my right hand) should be forming a triangle shape. When forming the onigiri shape, your hands should be just firm enough so the onigiri doesn't fall apart. You don't want to squeeze the rice too tight.
      Yaki Onigiri 5
    8. I use three fingers (thumb, index finger, middle finger) to cover the area to make a nice triangle shape. Then rotate onigiri to make a perfect triangle.
      Yaki Onigiri 6
    9. While you squeeze onigiri firmly with both hands, one of your hand (my left hand) has to press onigiri to keep a nice form. Left photo is before squeezing and right photo is after.
      Yaki Onigiri 7
    10. Gently squeeze the center of triangle on both sides so there is a slight indentation (for grilling onigiri). Now onigiri is ready! You can tell I’m not a good onigiri maker – no matter how many years I have been practicing.
      Yaki Onigiri 8
    11. Lightly oil a cast iron skillet and put it on medium heat.
      Yaki Onigiri 9
    12. Grill onigiri until all sides are crispy and lightly browned. Don't turn it around. Just work on one side at a time and avoid turning over frequently.
      Yaki Onigiri 10
    13. Lower heat to medium low and brush all sides with soy sauce (unagi sauce). Rotate to make sure all sides become crispy. Be careful not to burn onigiri after you brush it with the sauce.
      Yaki Onigiri 11
    To Store
    1. Rice gets hard when you refrigerate. You can individually wrap the Yaki Onigiri in plastic wrap and cover them with kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The towel will prevent the rice from getting too cold and keep the food stay cool but not cold. When you're ready to eat, bring it back to room temperature and reheat in microwave or frying pan.

    Recipe Notes

    Unagi Sauce: Homemade recipe, click here.

     

    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.

    Make It Into A Meal

    Leave A Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating




    What type of comment do you have?

    Discussion

  • Sonia wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Christophor wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Isabel wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Marcee wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Mahalia wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Lucy wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • LoraA wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Erik wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Joel wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Freja wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
  • Matti wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Vicky M wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Jennifer Kennedy wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Sadso James Hilsrio wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Patrick wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Maggie Cheung wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
      • Maggie Cheung wrote:
        • Nami wrote:
          • Maggie Cheung wrote:
            • Nami wrote:
  • Dan wrote:
    • Nami wrote:
  • Janice wrote:
    • Namiko Chen wrote:
      • Janice wrote:
        • Naomi @ Just One Cookbook wrote:
  • Gyoza served on a plate.
    Just One Cookbook logo
    Just One Cookbook logo

    free email series

    5 Secrets to Japanese Cooking

    Making flavorful Japanese food is

    EASIER than you think.

    You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.