What Is Sushi Rice?
Can we all agree that stellar sushi is only as good as the sushi rice it’s served with? You know what I’m talking about — that sticky, sweet, short-grain rice that is the backbone of so many great Japanese meals.
Lucky for us, sushi rice is easy to make at home! You’ll need to first cook perfect rice (made much easier by using a rice cooker or pressure cooker), then season with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and salt.
This sushi rice recipe will become the foundation of countless delicious homemade meals, including onigiri, hand rolls, poké bowls, and more!
Who’s ready to make some epic sushi rice?!
Ingredients for Homemade Sushi Rice
- Short grain sushi rice – do not substitute with longer grain rice, such as Basmati rice or Jasmine rice
- Rice vinegar – an essential ingredients that provides the flavor we all think of in sushi rice
- Sugar – we have read that you can replace the sugar with a natural ingredient, such as honey or coconut sugar, but have never tried this and would recommend sticking with sugar unless you have a dietary restriction
- Kosher salt – if you use table salt, be sure to use a tough less
Some people recommend adding a piece of kelp (konbu) to the pot of rice while it cooks to impart an umami flavor. Totally up to you. We skip this step, but we often add seaweed (nori) to completed dishes (ahi tuna poké bowls, soy sauce marinated eggs) before serving, which adds a similarly delicious umami flavor!
Best Rice for Sushi
Perfect sushi rice starts with selecting the right rice for the job! Use a short-grain Japanese rice. Longer grain rice, such as Basmati rice or Jasmine rice are not sticky enough and will lead to a different texture. The sushi will lose its shape if the rice is too dry.
Using a Rice Cooker
First, let’s get one thing out of the way: you need to thoroughly rinse rice under cool water before cooking. This is absolutely essential.
Why? This is done to rinse off any surface starch on the grains, which can affect the texture and turn the rice gummy while cooking. Take the extra step to make sure rice doesn’t stick together!
To rinse rice, place uncooked rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cool water until the water runs clear, about 1-2 minutes. The water will look murky or cloudy at first. Transfer rinsed rice to the bowl of a rice cooker, then cover with slight less water than is indicated for that amount of dry rice. Why? Remember, we’re adding the sushi rice vinegar at the end of cook time, and you want the rice still able to absorb the seasoning!
From here, it’s as easy as securing the lid, selecting the correct setting (in this case, “sushi rice”) then walking away. Within an hour, you’ll have perfect sushi rice, fluffy, light, and cooked beautifully.
We cannot recommend this Zojiroshi 3-cup rice cooker more! We use this every single week. It makes the most perfect rice every time.
All that remains is mixing in the sushi rice vinegar and seasoning!
How to Tell the Rice is Cooked
The cooked rice should be both sticky, but have a slight firmness to it. If the rice is mushy, that means it had too much water during steaming. If the rice is crunchy, you need to add more water and cook longer. (Note: undercooked rice is a thing of the past if you use a rice cooker or InstantPot!)
Sushi rice should be used within 3 days and can be stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator.
Do not place warm rice in refrigerator to cool. Simply allow to rest at room temperature until rice is warm, but not hot. Serve immediately.
To Make Sushi Vinegar Mixture
Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan, then heat over medium heat until dissolved. You do not need to bring to a boil.
Once dissolved, set aside to pour over hot sushi rice.
The traditional way to mix the seasoned vinegar into cooked rice is a bit more complicated. We defer to the experts, Chopstick Chronicles, on how to use a Japanese wooden tub to do so.
From experience, we can tell you it’s absolutely fine – albeit, untraditional – to simply use a rice spoon and a large mixing bowl to gently mix the seasoned vinegar into the cooked sushi rice. Be cautious not to squish the rice. And do not pour vinegar into your rice cooker bowl!
Making Sushi Rice on a Stovetop or InstantPot
Don’t have a rice cooker? No problem! You can make sushi rice — or any rice recipe, for that matter — in a pot on a stove top or in an InstantPot.
Remember, when making sushi rice, use slightly less water than is instructed as you will be adding a vinegar mixture at the end and want to make sure that absorbs.
To make sushi rice on a stove top: Combine rice and water in a large sauce pan, then cover. Bring heat up to medium-high and cook until water simmers. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cook an additional 15-18 minutes, or until rice is soft and tender and liquid has been absorbed. Once cooked, allow rice to rest off the heat, covered, for about 10 minutes before proceeding with recipe to mix in vinegar.
To make sushi rice in an Instant Pot: Combine rice and water in the bowl of an Instant Pot, then cover and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Use natural release before opening and proceeding with recipe to mix in vinegar.
Hopefully with this guide you feel a bit more confident about how to cook sushi rice. So let’s do this, guys, jump on the bandwagon! Homemade sushi rice is about to level up your sushi game in the best way possible.
If you make this Sushi Rice recipe, please let me know by leaving a rating and review below.
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For more delicious Japanese-inspired recipes, check out the following:
- 7 minute soy sauce marinated eggs
- Hawaiian tuna poke recipe
- How to make spicy mayo
- Spicy kani salad recipe
Perfectly Seasoned Sushi Rice
- 1 cup short-grain sushi rice
- 2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
To cook rice
- Place rice in a fine mesh strainer, then run under cool water to thoroughly rinse. At first water will look murky or cloudy, but after 1-2 minutes, water will run clear.
- Transfer rinsed rice to the bowl of a rice cooker, then fill to just under designated line with water. See note below. Cook rice according to machine instructions (set to 'sushi rice'), about 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the sushi vinegar.
To make suhsi vinegar
- In a small sauce pan, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then whisk until dissolved. Set aside until rice is cooked.
- Transfer cooked rice into a large mixing bowl, then pour sushi vinegar on top. Use a rice spoon or spatula to gently toss the rice with vinegar, being careful not to squish the rice. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then serve warm.
- Sushi rice will keep in an airtight storage container in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Do not substitute a long grain rice, such as Basmati or Jasmine rice, as the texture will not be the same. Long grain rice is dryer and will not become sticky the way that short grain white rice will.
- Do not place hot sushi rice in a refrigerator to cool down. Instead, allow it to rest at room temperature until warm, but not hot, before serving.
- To make sushi rice on a stove top: Combine rice and water in a large sauce pan, then cover. Bring heat up to medium-high and cook until water simmers. Reduce heat to medium-low, then cook an additional 15-18 minutes, or until rice is soft and tender and liquid has been absorbed. Once cooked, allow rice to rest off the heat, covered, for about 10 minutes before proceeding with recipe to mix in vinegar.
- To make sushi rice in an Instant Pot: Combine rice and water in the bowl of an Instant Pot, then cover and pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Use natural release before opening and proceeding with recipe to mix in vinegar.