Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)


This easy onigiri recipe is also fun to make! These rice balls are a staple of Japanese lunchboxes (bento). You can put almost anything in these rice balls; try substituting grilled salmon, pickled plums, beef, pork, turkey, or tuna with mayonnaise.

close up on a few onigiri on a cutting board
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Additional Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
8 onigiri


  • 4 cups uncooked short-grain white rice

  • 5 ½ cups water, divided

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup bonito shavings (dry fish flakes)

  • 2 sheets nori (dry seaweed), cut into 1/2-inch strips

  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds


  1. Wash rice in a mesh strainer until water runs clear. Combine washed rice and 4 1/2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cover, and simmer rice until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Let rice rest for 15 minutes to continue to steam and become tender. Allow cooked rice to cool.

  2. Combine remaining 1 cup water with salt in a small bowl; use to dampen hands before handling rice. Divide cooked rice into 8 equal portions. Use one portion of rice for each onigiri.

  3. Divide one portion of rice in two. Create a dimple in rice and fill with a heaping teaspoon of bonito flakes. Cover with remaining portion of rice and press lightly to enclose filling inside rice ball. Gently press rice to shape into a triangle; wrap with a strip of nori and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Repeat with remaining portions of rice.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

744 Calories
3g Fat
159g Carbs
14g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 744
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Sodium 160mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 159g 58%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 14g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 61mg 5%
Iron 9mg 51%
Potassium 181mg 4%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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