15 Onigiri Recipes (+ Finest Japanese Rice Ball Fillings)
Try these onigiri recipes for a true taste of Japan!
In Japan, onigiri is a popular snack in convenience stores and bento boxes.
Think of onigiri as Japan’s take on the sandwich. Not only are they delicious and surprisingly filling, but they’re so much fun to make!
Classic onigiri incorporates salty and savory fillings wrapped with a sheet of nori for easy handling.
They’re oh-so-pretty and allow you to get creative with fillings.
Check out these simple and satisfying onigiri recipes below to stuff inside your bento box.
1. Spicy Tuna Onigiri
While many onigiri recipes require a trip to the Asian market, these spicy tuna rolls don’t require hard-to-find ingredients.
It pairs sushi-grade rice and nori with a can of tuna and spicy seasoning. That’s it!
Making the filling is easier than making tuna salad. It earns a meaty flavor from tuna and a spicy kick from a little (or a lot) of sriracha.
To get fancy, coat your white rice balls with black sesame seeds that pop!
2. Kombu Tsukudani Onigiri (Simmered Kelp “Tsukadini” Rice Ball
If you have ever made dashi for ramen, there is likely a container of kombu in your pantry somewhere.
Kombu is dried sea kelp and has a similar ocean-like flavor to nori.
What makes kombu different from nori is that it’s thicker and has a stricter texture that’s almost meaty.
The flavors are excellent when paired with sweet and salty seasoning like soy sauce, mirin, and sake.
Kombu Tsukudani is a great vegan option that still imparts fishy flavors without the fish.
3. Plum Rice Ball
I have tried and failed, on many occasions, stuffing onigiri.
It’s harder than you think! These plum rice balls are a must-try if tedious stuffing isn’t your thing.
This recipe incorporates pickled ume plums that are incredibly salty!
A little goes a long way in this dish.
If you have a salt tooth (like me!), the unique salty flavors of ume plums are the perfect pairing with sticky rice.
Plus, there’s no need to stuff them! Stir the plum mixture and rice together, and the red dots offer a stunning finished product.
4. Charred Corn Onigiri
What I love most about these charred corn onigiri is they’re simple and packed with so much flavor.
Charring corn offers sweet umami flavors that pair perfectly with steamed rice.
Plus, there’s no need for stuffing! The charred corn mixes directly into the steamed sticky rice.
You can opt to wrap it in a sheet of nori or skip that step.
These charred corn onigiris are worth checking out if you aren’t a fan of fishy flavors.
5. Chicken Katsu Onigirazu
Chicken katsu translates to breaded chicken cutlets.
While most onigiri makes a perfect snack, these hearty onigirazu work as an entire meal.
Think of this recipe as a Japanese sandwich.
It pairs shredded cabbage with a perfectly tender chicken katsu cutlet and wraps it in a bed of sticky rice.
It’s tedious but well worth the final result.
Once wrapped in a sheet of nori, it’s the ultimate treat to take with you on the go!
6. Salmon Onigiri
If you love salmon sushi, you’ll love this delicious salmon onigiri! Don’t worry, you don’t need sushi-grade salmon.
Since it uses cooked salmon, any store-bought salmon fillet will do.
What’s great about this super simple recipe is that all ingredients shine independently.
Stuff perfectly-cooked, sushi-grade rice with tender flakes of salmon, and pair it with your favorite onigiri fixings.
7. Yaki Onigiri
Are you scrolling furiously, looking for cheese? Look no further!
These grilled yaki onigiris are cheesy, grilled, and melt in your mouth.
This recipe utilizes Japanese 6P cheese, which might be hard to find.
If you can’t get your hands on it, opt for a salty semi-hard substitute like Gouda, Parmesan, or cheddar.
Grilling them to perfection on the stove creates a crunchy exterior with gooey insides. Is your mouth watering yet?
8. Kimchi Cheese Rice Balls
These kimchi cheese rice balls have a little bit of everything. They’re spicy, cheesy, crunchy, gooey, and slightly sweet.
It’s the perfect snack that is surprisingly filling.
Kimchi is one of my favorite things to add to rice because it packs a little heat with delightful sour and savory notes.
When combined with cheese, the flavors are out of this world.
Plus, since it doesn’t incorporate ingredients like nori, it’s the perfect option for those who aren’t fans of fishy flavors.
9. Mentaiko Mayo Yaki Onigiri
Mentaiko is marinated cod roe or pollock with a gentle flavor that isn’t overpowering.
Mentaiko mayo is rich and flavorful, and it pairs perfectly with rice.
They’re lightly grilled on the stovetop to create a crunchy outside with a tender interior that melts in your mouth.
Make a big batch, and store them in the fridge when you need a quick lunch or a tasty midnight snack.
10. Miso Grilled Onigiri with Green Tea (Ochazuke Style)
I love miso. It’s bright and salty with just a touch of sweetness.
These miso-grilled onigiri balls are crunchy and sweet on the outside, with tender, savory umami flavors on the inside.
But it doesn’t stop there.
For Ochazuke style onigiri, our green tea over the top of your rice balls just before serving.
It provides terrific earthy flavors that work so well with sweet miso flavors.
11. Karashi Mentaiko Onigiri (Spicy Cod Roe Rice Ball)
This karashi mentaiko onigiri recipe is simple. It doesn’t require many ingredients, and it’s easy to whip together in a flash.
The trick to this tasty recipe lies in the karashi mentaiko.
Karashi mentaiko is a spicy salted cod or pollock roe that packs a flavorful punch.
It’s a bit tedious wrapping all those rice balls, but it’s worth the extra effort.
12.“Okaka Onigiri” Bonito Flake Rice Ball
What I love about Okaka onigiri is that it boasts bold, smoky flavors without the need for meat.
Bonito flakes are dried fish grated into thin flakes and pack a powerful smoky and salty punch.
When seasoned with soy sauce adds a touch of sweetness to these and helps the bonito flakes’ smokey flavors shine.
Plus, there’s no need to stuff these balls. They’re smokey, salty, sweet, and 100 percent addictive.
13. Tenmusu (Shrimp Tempura Rice Ball)
Tempura shrimp inside a rice ball? Yes, please!
Serving crispy tempura shrimp inside tender rice doesn’t sound like it works, but it does!
The shrimp flavors with the crunchy tempura batter wrapped around seasoned rice are something out of a dream.
Seriously, these shrimp tempura rice balls are addictive.
14. Chicken Soboro Onigiri (Japanese Ground Chicken Rice Ball)
While seafood often plays a central role in onigiri, chicken works just as well.
The best part of this recipe is that all the components mix in one bowl, so there’s no need for tedious stuffing.
They infuse bright Japanese flavors from minced chicken, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake.
Wrap them in nori for added umami flavors, or omit the nori if you don’t care for fishy flavors.
15. Spam Onigirazu
Yes, I’m talking about Spam, the American canned lunch meat.
Even if Spam isn’t exactly your thing, this recipe gives this tired lunch meat new life.
The salty and meaty flavors of Spam pair so perfectly with a soft egg (with a runny yolk!) wrapped around tender rice.
Even if you are a Spam-skeptic, this delicious dish is worth a try!