Vegetarian Sushi and 5 Tips For Great Sushi At Home
Recipe type: Gluten-free, vegetarian, easily made vegan
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: makes 7-10 rolls
Making sushi at home can be daunting the first time or two, but gets easier the more you do it. It's also a tricky thing to explain in a recipe. For a more detailed explanation (and some helpful photos to walk you through) check out my in-depth Sushi 101 post, HERE. Once you've got the hang of it, making sushi is a fantastic weekend activity to do with friends!
For the rice:
  • 2 cups dry sushi rice (this recipe is written for white rice, but you can also use brown rice if you wish. See recipe notes.)
  • 2 cups + 2 TBSP water, plus more for rinsing
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP sugar (this amount can vary based on taste)
  • ½ tsp. salt
For the hand vinegar / te-zu (this will keep the rice from sticking to your fingers):
  • 1 cup water + 1 TBSP rice vinegar
For the rolls (use as many or as few of these as you like):
  • small amount of as many different types of veggies as you like (for instance, ½ red bell pepper cut into thin slices, 1 carrot cut into matchsticks, half an avocado, etc.) Other suggestions: english cucumber, bean sprouts, burdock root, green beans, raw beets, leafy greens, radishes, etc.
  • small amount of pickled veggies like beets, chard stems, or carrots
  • small amount of cooked ingredients like sweet potato, tofu, or sauted mushrooms
  • a little bit of fresh herbs like cilantro, if you like
  • sauces like spicy mayo (mayo or vegan mayo, mixed with chili oil or sriracha, to taste)
  • sheets of nori seaweed, for rolling
  • sesame seeds, for garnish, optional
For serving:
  • soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
  • pickled ginger
  • wasabi paste
Special equipment:
  • You will need a bamboo mat for rolling
  • A large, non-metalic bowl, like this one
  • A flexible rubber spatula, or a rice paddle
  • A long sharp knife -- you can use a chef's knife, or a specilaized sushi knife. This is the one I use
  • You will also want some plastic wrap for wrapping your bamboo mat, and a clean damp washcloth nearby for wiping your hands or the blade of your knife if they get sticky from the rice
For the sushi rice:
  1. Place the dry rice in a large bowl and cover with cool water. Run your hands through the rice, swishing the grains around between your fingers. The water will become very milky. Tip the bowl to one side to drain off the water, then scrunch the rice around with your hands. You don't need to squeeze hard, just rub the grains together a bit. Fill the bowl with water again, and repeat the swishing, draining, scrunching 2-3 more times, or until the water you drain off the grains is mostly clear. (Washing away the powdery starches on the outside of the grain is an important step that will keep the rice (once cooked) from turning into a gluey mess, so don't skip it!) When you're done, drain the rice completely.
  2. Transfer the washed rice to a medium saucepan, and add 2 cups plus 2 TBSP fresh water. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil, uncovered. As soon as the water begins to boil, cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to it’s lowest possible setting. Set a timer and let the rice cook for 15 minutes. No peaking! Do not remove the lid during this time! When the timer goes off, turn off the heat completely and let the rice stand for another 10 minutes, again, without removing the lid.
  3. While the rice cooks, stir together the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Warm the mixture in a small saucepan, or the microwave. If possible, try not to let the mixture boil -- you just want it warm enough to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  4. When the rice is finished cooking, transfer it to the largest bowl you have (preferably non-metallic, like glass or wood). Grab a rubber spatula, or a rice paddle if you have one. Pour about ¾ of the vinegar mixture over the rice, and use the edge of the spatula to cut down into the rice in slashing motions. The idea is to mix the vinegar into the rice without crushing the grains and mashing them together too much, so use the edge of the spatula as much as you can. If you want to get really technical, you can fan the rice with one hand (I just grab the package of nori and use it as a fan) while cutting/folding the rice with the other. This fanning will help the rice cool faster, and give it a slightly better texture for working with. Once the vinegar is evenly coating the rice, give it a taste, and if you feel it needs more flavor, add the remaining vinegar mixture and continue cutting/folding until it is evenly mixed in, and the rice is warm but no longer hot.
  5. Sushi rice is best used fresh, as it can dry out easily. However, you can put a warm, damp tea towel over the bowl and set it aside for up to an hour or so, while you prep your other ingredients.
For the rolls:
  1. Slice and prepare as many ingredients as you would like. You will only need a small amount of each, as it doesn't take much to fill each roll. When I have leftover ingredients at the end of making sushi, I store them in a small tupperware in the fridge, and put them over (regular) rice another day as a kind of "sushi salad." You can use as many or as few ingredients as you like, but I suggest mixing it up with different kinds to keep your rolls interesting.
  2. Before rolling your sushi, I recommend wrapping your bamboo rolling mat in plastic wrap to keep rice from sticking to it. You should also have a small bowl of water plus a splash of vinegar nearby (this is called hand vinegar, or te-zu) and a clean, damp washcloth for wiping your hands, or the blade of your knife, when they get sticky.
  3. Cut or tear a full sheet of nori in half, and place one half onto your prepared rolling mat, at the edge of the mat closest to you. The nori should be rough-side up, shiny-side down.
  4. Dip your fingers in the te-zu, and rub your hands together so they are damp but not dripping. Grab a small handful of sushi rice, and begin spreading it into a thin, even layer over the nori.
  5. If you want to make rolls with the nori on the outside, rice on the inside: leave about a ½ inch gap (no rice) at the top and bottom edge of the rectangle of nori. Begin adding your ingredients -- I suggest sticking to just a few, so the roll isn't too full to close. Dampen a finger, and run it along the exposed edge of nori furthest from you (this will work like sealing an envelope). Hold the roll with your fingers on the ingredients to keep them in place, and your thumbs under the edge of the mat. Using your thumbs, begin rolling, holding the ingredients in place and keeping the roll tight as you go. Once one side of the roll meats the other, give the roll a gentle but firm squeeze to make sure it's sealed. If necessary, dampen your fingers and use them to tap the ends of the roll to keep anything from spilling out the sides. Unwrap the rolling mat, and ta-da! (If the roll doesn't seal properly, it's usually due to too many ingredients. I say gobble this one up and try again -- mm, tasty mistakes!)
  6. To make rolls with the nori on the inside, rice on the outside: spread the rice all the way to the edges of the nori, leaving no gaps. Before adding your ingredients, gently flip the sheet of nori, rice and all, over, so the rice is on the bottom and the nori is on the top. Now add your ingredients, and roll as before. (With this method, there is no need to wet the edge of the nori -- just roll it up, and the rice will stick to itself and seal the roll shut.)
  7. To cut the rolls: use a long, very sharp, not serrated knife. Dip the tip of the knife into the te-zu, and let the water roll down the blade -- this will help keep the knife from snagging on the sticky rice and nori. Gently cut the roll in half, using as little downward pressure as possible. Then line up the two halves of the roll so you are cutting through both at once, and slice the halves into thirds. You should now have six equal, bite-sized pieces.
  8. Optional: before slicing, rolls can be rolled around in a shallow plate of sesame seeds / sprinkled with sesame seeds, or otherwise garnished (I've seen people use fried cilantro leaves, crushed up and sprinkled over the rolls for a pop of color). You can also sprinkle with sesame seeds or other garnishes after slicing -- it's totally up to you.
  9. Repeat until all the rice is gone. I typically get about 7-10 rolls out of a batch of rice. You'll get more if you make rolls with the nori on the outside, less if you make rolls with the rice on the outside.
  10. Serve rolls with a small dish of soy sauce or tamari, and pickled ginger and wasabi on the side. Devour immediately, and revel in how awesome it is that you just made some badass sushi at home!
The ingredients you use in your rolls are totally up to you. I've included some suggestions in this recipe, but you can find more detailed information about ingredients in the body of this blog post.

You can also find my super in-depth tutorial on making sushi at home (with photos, which are helpful because it's hard to explain with just words) here:

Sushi can be made with brown rice in place of the rice. If you can find brown rice labeled as sushi rice, follow the directions on the package for preparation. Otherwise, you can use other short-grain varieties of brown rice. These will not need to be rinsed as thoroughly, and can be cooked following your preferred method, or following THESE DIRECTIONS. Once cooked, be sure to season the rice with the vinegar mixture as you would regular sushi rice, so that it becomes sticky enough to hold the rolls together.
Recipe by Will Cook For Friends at