A step-by-step guide to making easy sushi at home for beginners and learning how to buy sushi-grade fresh fish.
For years, I enjoyed sushi at restaurants but the thought of making sushi for myself seemed too intimidating. Learning how to make homemade sushi had to be way too complicated, right?
As it turns out, learning how to make a beginner-friendly sushi roll wasn’t as complicated as I’d imagined. Now enjoy homemade sushi on a regular basis. If I can do it, I promise so can you!
Making Sushi at Home is Budget Friendly
I absolutely love sushi. Crave it on a weekly basis. There was a time when I would buy sushi a couple times a week for lunch or dinner. Until I looked at my bank account.
My tummy loved sushi. My wallet did not.
So I was faced with three options:
- Whittle away at my life savings by indulging in my weekly sushi cravings
- Whittle away at at my soul by ignoring my weekly sushi cravings
- Learn to make sushi at home to feed my cravings without starving my bank account
I chose to pursue option 3 and decided to teach myself how to make sushi at home.
As it turns out, creating a simple sushi roll really wasn’t as complicated as I’d feared and I now enjoy easy homemade sushi on a regular basis.
After talking about making my own sushi on Instagram, I had some followers express interest in a simple sushi making blog tutorial. I’m definitely no sushi expert (I’m more of a sushi peasant, if anything), but I’m willing and happy to share what I know.
So here is how to make sushi at home step by step for beginners!
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The Right Tools for Making Sushi
If you’re going to learn how to make easy sushi at home, you’ll need a few things to get started. First and foremost, you gotta have a sushi rolling mat. Just gotta, you guys.
But the good news is that it’s super cheap and easy to find rolling mats and full beginner sushi making kits online. This one from Amazon has all the basics to get started and it’s like, 10 bucks. How can you beat that, amiright?
Special Ingredients for Making Sushi
And we learn how to make sushi at home step by step, we also need a few specialty ingredients to get started. Some ingredients can be found in the international aisle at your local grocery store, or you can order them online (which is great if you’re a lazy mole person like me, who doesn’t like to leave home to run errands).
Short-Grained Sushi Rice
Using the right type of rice is PIVOTAL. You MUST use a medium grained, stick rice. Other types of rice ain’t gonna cut it. There will be no stick. There will be no roll. Your sushi will be a sad pile of nothing. Get thyself the right kind of rice.
This stuff right here will be the secret ingredient in your rice vinegar dressing. It keeps practically forever and is also great in a variety of other vinaigrette salad dressings.
Nori Seaweed Sheets
And of course, you gotta have some Nori seaweed sheets. These little guys are the vessel on which all the rolling magic will happen. Any full sized Nori sheets will work, but’s a solid brand to try on Amazon.
A Note On Salt
Our family made the switch to less processed salts after doing some research to learn that not all salt is made (or processed) equally. Many brands of refined salt are depleted of much of their mineral and nutritional value.
Furthermore, we learned that 90 percent of common table salts (including sea, lake and rock salts) may contain microplastics (i.e. little bits of plastic).
We’ve made the switch to salt brands known for higher purity with less processing to retain more of their nutritional value. They’re fantastic for all kinds of cooking!
How to Buy Sushi Grade Raw Fish
When I first started making sushi at home a couple years ago, I was intimidated by the idea of incorporating raw fish. So I stuck with creating veggie rolls or sushi rolls with cooked meat.
In this tutorial, I’m demonstrating a simple veggie roll. But this year, I branched out and began incorporating raw fish into my sushi rolls. It wasn’t as scary or complicated process to find fresh, sushi-grade fish near me as I had imagined.
Now I actually buy raw fish once or twice a week! I’ve written an detailed step-by-step guide on how to buy sushi-grade raw fish which you can find here.
How to Prepare Your Sushi Work Station
I like to prepare my sushi in the following work order:
- Clean and cook the rice
- Prepare the dressing (as the rice cooks
- Chop the filler ingredients (as the rice cooks)
- Assemble the sushi rolls
While the rice cooks you can make your dressing and get your rolling station set up. I use a simple bamboo rolling mat wrapped in plastic wrap.
I’ve found the plastic makes for easier cleanup. That rice is sticky and not easy to clean out from within the mat. It also helps there be less less issue with rice sticking as you roll it (especially for inside-out sushi rolls).
Once the rice is cooking, I prep my dressing and chop any ingredients I intend to use for the filling.
(Also, for some reason at the time of photographing this recipe post, I felt very lead to wear copious amounts of blue jewelry to match my headband. So, please enjoy looking at nearly every blue accessory I own in this tutorial. #yourewelcome)
How to Prepare Sushi Rice
Washing the Rice:
Traditionally sushi rice is washed very thoroughly several times before cooking. Put your rice in a big bowl and wash it several times, changing out the water until it’s clear.
Use a strainer to drain and allow rice to sit for one hour before cooking. If you’re short on time, you can also opt to soak the rice in cold water for 10-15 minutes, then drain and cook.
Cooking the Rice:
I use a 1 and 3/4 cup of rice to 2 cups of water ratio. In a large saucepan, combine rice and water. Cover and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.
Being careful not to lift the lid, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.
Making Your Rice Vinegar Dressing
While your rice is cooking, it’s time to make your rice vinegar dressing. You will be using this to coat your rice when the rice is finished cooking.
(The full list of ingredients will also be listed at the bottom of the post, but I’m going to include it step-by-step here as we go so you don’t have to constantly scroll back/forth).
Rice Vinegar Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Teaspoons sea salt
Combine all ingredients, mixing together in a small bowl and set aside.
How to add Dressing to Sushi Rice
When rice is ready, transfer it to a large, wide bowl. You’ll want to avoid using a metal bowl since you will be working with the rice while it is still hot (otherwise, ouch).
A wooden bowl is optimal, but a ceramic bowl works fine as well. Pour your rice vinegar sauce over top.
(If you’re curious what those spots on my shoulder are, click here to find out.)
Using a flat spatula, move it quickly in sharp, chopping motions through the rice from a side angle.
You don’t want to mix the rice together in a circular motion. The rice is sticky and the sauce won’t disperse well that way.
If the rice is especially hot, I will sometimes mix with one hand and use a paper plate to fan the rice with the other hand to help cool it as I mix.
Get Ready to Roll
Okay. We’re almost there. Almost to the rolling. (And do you like my bracelets? I wore them just for you.)
Let’s get our sushi rolling station squared away first.
Lay your Nori seaweed sheet down with the shiny side down and the rough side face-up (the rice sticks better to the rough side).
How to Avoid Sticky Hands
Now, this part is important: Keep a little dish of water nearby. (Not just to keep that blingy engagement ring clean, if you chose to wear it at the most impractically messy moment.)
Wet your hands with water before handling the rice to help prevent it from sticking to you. Continue wetting your hands as needed in handling the rice, because the rice will be very sticky.
Distribute the rice evenly over the Nori sheet. It can be hard to distribute if you dump a big clumb on there. I add portions of rice in different corners the sheet and work the rice out into an even layer with my fingers. If there are any bald spots left, I add in little bits to fill them in.
(Also, yes ladies, those are my real, natural nails. I used to have terrible, flimsy nails until I started drinking collagen every day. Now they’re long, strong and amaaaazing in polish.)
How to Portion Rice for Counting Macros
I count macros throughout the week and weigh and measure my food to know precise portions. Since I like loading up on carbs for good pre-workout energy in the gym, I like a big, thick sushi roll.
I use a ratio of one cup of rice per Nori sheet, but you can use less for a thinner roll. You can also cut the Nori sheet in half, then turn and roll sideways for a smaller, leaner roll. It’s really quite customizable, so I say unto you: Follow your heart and roll what makes you (and your macros) happy.
Sushi Rolling Techniques
Okay. Here it is. The moment you’ve been waiting for; possibly even dreading. Rolling everything together.
Don’t panic. It’s not that bad. We will get through this together.
Add your filling ingredients onto one edge of the sheet. I usually just keep it simple with some fresh veggies cut into long, thin slices. Here I’m using carrots and avocado. But you really can go wild and toss just about anything in there.
Pick up the edge of the rolling mat from the side nearest you, using your fingers to help keep the filling ingredients in place as you lift it up.
Begin rolling the mat over to meet the other side, carefully keeping the rice inside the Nori sheet.
Lift up the top edge of the bamboo mat (so that it doesn’t get stuck inside the roll) and gently press and roll the cylinder together every so slightly to join.
Continue rolling in the fashion (you’re doing great!).
At the end of the roll, I like to give a gentle squeeze to the whole roll. You don’t want to squish it, just firm up the final shape a bit.
And there is it. Your big, beautiful sushi roll! Take a moment to perform a small victory dance.
Now, if you wanted to stop right here, you could just eat the whole roll burrito-style. That’s quite often what I do since I like sushi as a portable afternoon meal or snack when I’m on the go.
But if you wanted to get all fancy and use eating utensils like a more civilized human being, you can slice it up.
In the same manner you wet your hands, wet a large, sharp knife with a splash of water to help prevent the rice from sticking.
Using a gentle pressure, slide the blade through the roll, taking care not to smash it as you do. Don’t feel too bad about that first piece if it doesn’t look ultra glamorous.
The end piece of a sushi roll is kind of ugly, anyway. Like that first unsightly pancake in an in a big stack of flapjacks, you can just hide it at the bottom of the pile or eat any unsightly evidence.
See what I mean? Look how pretty it is inside!
Keep on slicing, wiping and wetting your knife as needed, to complete the whole roll.
And there you have it! How to make an easy sushi roll!
In hindsight, I definitely could have stuffed more ingredients into this sushi roll. But that’s the beauty of learning a new skill. You get to learn and experiment over time and get better each time you do!
Full Recipe for Easy Sushi
- 1 3/4 Cups Medium Grain Sushi Rice
- 1 Pack Organic Nori Seaweed Sheets
- 3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar (I used coconut sugar)
- Your favorite veggies, cut into long, thin slices
- 2 Teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt
- 2 Cups water
- 1 Bamboo rolling mat
- Small bowl of water
Place rice in large bowl and rinse thoroughly, changing out the water several times until the water is clear. Use a strainer to drain and allow to sit for one hour before cooking. If you’re short on time, soak the rice in cold water for 10-15 minutes, then drain.
In a large saucepan, combine rice and water. Cover and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes. Being careful not to lift the lid, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.
While rice cools, combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl, mixing together well. When rice is ready, transfer it to a large, wide bowl and pour your rice vinegar sauce over top.
Using a flat spatula, mix rice and dressing together with quick chopping motions from a side angle until everything is well combined (don’t mix it together in a circular fashion). If the rice it especially hot, simultaneously mix with one hand and use a paper plate to fan the rice with the other hand to help cool as you mix.
You can run the Nori sheet over a low gas flame or electric hot plate for a few seconds to give it a quick toast and bring out the flavor and give it a crisp texture before adding the rice. Lay your Nori sheet down on your bamboo rolling sheet with the shiny side down and the rough side face-up.
Wet your hands in the small bowl of water, and take a handful of rice and mold it into a long log-like shape. Place it in the center of the Nori sheet and use our fingers to spread it out evenly over the mat (wet your hands in the water as needed to prevent rice from sticking). Add your filling ingredients to the edge of the sheet closest to you and roll the sushi according to the steps listed in the above post.
Video: Sushi Making Demo in American Sign Language
Final Thoughts on How to Make Easy Sushi
Since I started making sushi at home, I’ve really enjoyed incorporating it into my weekly nutrition routine. It’s become one of my favorite comfort foods and wasn’t as tricky to make as I’d imagined at one point.
I’m certainly no sushi expert. And that’s good news for you, because it means can almost guarantee that if I can make homemade sushi, you can make sushi at home as a beginner too.
Do you love to make sushi? As a newbie to the sushi making world, I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you have learned along the way!
Feel free to share your wisdom in the comment section!
Related Informative Nutrition Articles
- How Collagen Supplements Transformed My Health
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- How to Eat Chocolate Everyday for Big Benefits
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More Recipes with American Sign Language Video Tutorials:
- How to Make Almond Milk
- Pina Colada Smoothie
- Apple Pie Protein Smoothie
- Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
- Bone Broth French Onion Soup
- How to Make Perfect Baked Asparagus
- How to Make Oat Milk from Scratch
All writing and images copyright © 2020 Rachel Elise Weems Woods. Originally published 4-16-18. Updated 9-1-2020.