Simple Rice Balls





Introduction: Simple Rice Balls

About: I like crafting things.

A relatively easy and mess-free way to make basic filled rice balls (onigiri). I believe that traditional onigiri are made in triangular or ball shapes and are formed in the palms of your hands, then covered with a strip of nori. You can also find cute little molds to make bunny or cat shapes to make these tasty treats even more appealing to children of all ages. This technique uses a sheet of plastic wrap to help you form the rice balls without getting your hands too messy.

Update: I've received a lot of good comments about the traditional method of wetting your hands before working with the rice to keep it from sticking to your hands. The plastic wrap makes it easy for beginners to form the balls; once you're comfortable with that, you should definitely try the wet hands method for a more natural way of forming the rice balls.

Step 1: Lay Out the Ingredients

First you must make sticky rice. Use short-grained sushi rice and cook according to the directions. I like to add about 1/4 cup more water per cup of rice to make it stickier.

Place a couple tablespoons of the cooked rice in the center of the plastic wrap.

Place your desired fillings on top of the rice. In this example, I used common "Philly" roll ingredients: smoked salmon, cream cheese, and chopped chives (instead of scallions).

Step 2: Top With More Rice

Add about another tablespoon of rice on top of your fillings. Don't worry if it doesn't completely cover the fillings. The rice from the bottom will come up to cover the sides when you form the rice ball.

It doesn't really matter how much rice you use. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Step 3: Form the Rice Ball

Gather up the plastic wrap and gently twist the top tight with one hand while shaping the ball in the palm of your other hand.

Step 4: Unwrap the Rice Ball

Open up the plastic wrap. Presto! Easy rice ball.

Step 5: Dress the Rice Ball

Add whatever toppings you like. In this example, I added salmon furikake and toasted sesame seeds. Furikake is an all-purpose seasoning blend of salt, sesame seeds, seaweed, and other spices. Most asian food stores will have a variety of furikake available. You could also wrap the ball with a strip of nori.

Pop these into your mouth and enjoy!



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    Could leftover cooked white rice or fried rice be used? I don't get rice much outside the local Chinese takeout and sushi joint.

    Could you use brown rice, for nutrition and convenience (I don't want to go guy a new rice)???

    1 reply

    I'm sure you could. You might need to add a little extra water (start w/ +1 Tbsp) to make the rice sticky, or mix in a bit of rice vinegar to the cooked rice and fan it. I recently made sushi rolls using black rice--that was delicious and I believe it packed more nutrition than white rice.

    cool instructable, but, rice balls are supposed to be flat, triangles,  not balls, but thats just presentation

    5 replies

    Actually rice balls can be any shape. A triangle is traditional, but there's no right or wrong way to shape them.

    sorry rice balls are formed to be balls I put one ume in center and form the ball with a sheet of nori seaweed.

    Did you happen to read my intro to this instructable? ;)

    ^ feels really stupid, i skip intros and gt to the nitty gritty haha


    I love these little guys too, think the pics are great, but... At the core, aren't we talking here about wasting non-recyclable plastic sheet to avoid washing your hands?

    5 replies

    That's a good point. I used the plastic wrap for convenience because my hands get rather messy when working with the rice. I'll have to find out what tricks sushi chefs use when shaping rice for nigiri and use that for these balls.

    Wet hands, definitely. I always make my sticky rice with sweetened rice vinegar (you can buy sushi vinegar or you can use rice vinegar and add sugar), so I use cold water with a bit of my sushi vinegar in for flavoring instead of salt, since any toppings I add are likely to be salty anyway.

    Ice cold salted water. If you dip your hands in that before each ball it seasons the ball perfectly and makes the rice not stick to your hands at all. I at first thought it was Japanese nonsense but I couldn't do without this technique now.


    I want to say my mom used to dampen her hands slightly to prevent the rice from sticking...

    it's true. wet hands, and practice. you could salt them too if you like the flavor.

    Looks fun! Do you allow the rice to cool before shaping?

    Super simple, I loved it! I used salmon, green onion, cream cheese, and a spicy bamboo shoot mix I made, turned out wonderfully! Thank you!

    Do you think fine mesh (like a very fine tulle or something like that) might be a suitably green alternative to plastic wrap? That way you can wash and reuse it - maybe even use it as a liner on a sushi rolling mat? Nylon is pretty safe stuff from what I understand and it has worked for reusable produce bags elsewhere on instructables.

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