Japanese Rice Balls Made Easy

Make the perfect onigiri with this step-by-step cookbook.

By VIZ Media May 18, 2022

When a snack stands the test of time, you know it’s good! Onigiri—balls of rice that can be served plain or stuffed with tuna, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and more—are one of the most delectable and convenient foods in Japanese cuisine. And now, the secret to this delicious snack is at your fingertips with Onigiri, Japanese rice balls made easy!

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With so much historical significance, it’s no wonder the task of creating these little rice balls can become a little tricky. Enjoy this step-by-step guide to perfecting the onigiri shape.

Shaping the Onigiri

Assemble the rice, water, salt, garnish, and nori sheet on your kitchen counter.

1. Lightly wet the palms of your hands (repeat this step for every onigiri).

2. Spread 2–3 pinches of salt on the palms of your hands. Quick tip: use less salt if you’re planning on serving and eating the onigiri immediately. If the garnish you prepared is only slightly salted, such as with tuna-mayo onigiri, then use three pinches of salt.

3. Take a portion of rice in one palm and form a small well.

4. Fill the hole with 1 tablespoon of garnish and cover with a smaller portion of rice.

5. Create a rough ball, and then start shaping a triangle little by little by leaving one hand flat and forming a 90-degree angle with your other hand. Turn the onigiri over three times to properly shape all three sides. During this step, it’s important to remember not to press too hard on the rice and to be consistent while using a light touch during the motions.

6. Try imagining the roof of a house when shaping your onigiri.

7. Place the nori sheet so that you can hold the onigiri without your fingers touching the rice. There are several ways to do this: you can choose to cover the onigiri entirely, or just with a strip of nori, or even wrap it as if it were a kimono.

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See more delicious recipes and order your copy of Onigiri here.