This easy homemade vegan sushi recipe is so fresh and is great for beginners to learn how to roll sushi. You can customize with your favorite ingredients and toppings for the perfect sushi night at home!
Why We Started Making Sushi at Home
Sushi is one of my family's favorite dinners. My three kids request sushi for dinner at least once a week. Honestly if it was up to them we would have it every other night. For our family of five our typical weekly take-out order of vegan sushi is around $75 from our local spot (nothing fancy - it just adds up for a family of five). We were spending over $300/month and almost $4,000/year on sushi - that is crazy right!? So I got to thinking, could I make it at home? Could this be a fun activity to do together with the kids? Obviously given I'm writing this post, the answer is happily yes.
I'm so grateful I decided to give it a try because homemade sushi night has quickly become a favorite night of the week in our household. The kids LOVE to select their fillings and make it their own. Everyone gets exactly what they want and everything honestly tastes so much fresher than what we were getting at our local restaurant. It really has turned dinnertime into so much more. And the best part? It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. This method is very doable for beginners. Below I'm sharing our favorite combinations and my tips for how to keep it simple and mess-free.
Homemade Vegan Sushi Ingredients
Once you stock your pantry with these items, you'll be able to make sushi on a whim!
For the sushi rice you'll need uncooked sushi rice, water, rice vinegar, maple syrup (which is a bit unconventional but it works so well here) and salt. I'll explain more about the maple syrup in the section below on how to make sushi rice.
You will need nori seaweed sheets, of course. And for the inside of the rolls you can choose your favorite fillings. Nothing from this list is required - this is just what we enjoy the most:
- English cucumber or mini cucumbers
- red bell peppers
You could also add tofu, vegan cream cheese, radishes, cooked or raw beets, cooked sweet potato, purple cabbage or really any veggie you enjoy.
Our three favorite vegan sushi roll combinations are simple:
- avocado roll
- avocado mango roll
- avocado cucumber roll
For serving I love to sprinkle toasted white sesame seeds on the outside of the roll. I think it adds amazing flavor to the roll. We serve with wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce or coconut aminos. And the kids absolutely love warm edamame with flaky salt, which gives this meal a protein boost too.
In terms of sauces, you could experiment by making a homemade version of whatever you like. We aren't huge sushi sauce lovers in our home but one easy combination you may enjoy is vegan mayo mixed with sriracha for a spicy mayo sauce that you can drizzle overtop the finished roll. Have fun with it and feel free to make it your own.
Preparing the Sushi Rice
How to Make Sushi Rice in the Instant Pot
I find making sushi in the Instant Pot is so easy and it comes out perfect every time. You'll want to rinse your rice well, allow it to drain and add it to the pot of your pressure cooker. Then, add water and cook on manual high pressure for 6 minutes. Allow it to naturally release for 10 minutes.
How to Make Sushi Rice on the Stovetop
Before cooking the rice, rinse it several times in cold water to remove excess starch and prevent it from becoming too sticky.
Once the rice is rinsed, use the ratio of adding 1.25 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. Bring the rice to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 18-20 minutes. Then, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Steps After the Sushi Rice is Cooked
Once the rice is cooked you can fluff with a fork and stir in your sushi rice seasoning. Traditionally, this is a combination of rice vinegar, granulated sugar and salt. You typically warm the mixture and whisk until the sugar dissolves, but I find it is so much easier to just add maple syrup. The syrup is sweet like granulated sugar but doesn't need to be dissolved since it is already liquid.
I tend to use less vinegar than most recipes just because I find too much vinegar overpowers the rice and my kids don't like it as much. You can play around with the ratios to fit your preference. I included our go-to measurements in the recipe card below. I find it adds just enough flavor without overpowering the sushi rice.
You'll add the sushi seasoning to the rice and stir it in just before using it to make your sushi rolls.
Tip: I recommend working with the sushi while it is still warm for best results. It starts to get extremely sticky and becomes more difficult to spread into an even layer the more it cools.
How to Make Vegan Sushi
I was intimidated by the process at first but it is actually really simple:
- Prepare the rice
- Place nori (shiny side down) on a bamboo mat
- Spread rice onto the nori
- Fill with your favorite fillings
- Roll and slice
With a couple tips and tricks, which I share below, you will find it is so quick and easy to make. I usually start the rice first and while the rice cooks I prepare my fillings. I like to slice everything thin and lay it out on a platter for the kids to make their own rolls. Everything comes together quickly once the rice is cooked and the veggies are prepped.
How to Roll Sushi Easily
One of my biggest tips is to cover your bamboo mat with plastic wrap. I recently found a sustainable brand of "plastic wrap" that is made out of upcycled materials (potato skins!). Either way, this wrap barrier prevents the rice from getting caught in the mat and makes clean up a breeze too.
If you are just starting out, you may want to start with your sushi rice on the inside of the roll (as shown in the pictures above). It is much easier to work with this way and is easier to slice as well. I personally like an inside-out roll style where the rice is on the outside. In the FAQs below I explain an incredible hack on exactly how to do this.
For rolling your sushi, I use the tuck and roll method. You will tuck, roll, untuck and repeat until it is fully rolled. I recommend using gentle pressure on the mat and evenly apply pressure throughout the roll for best results.
What to Serve with Sushi
I always find that my kids eat more when they can garnish and customize their food and really make it their own! Here are some of the sushi goodies I put out on the table so everyone can dress up their sushi roll just how they like them:
- toasted white sesame seeds
- wasabi - if you cannot find at your grocery store you can buy on Amazon
- pickled ginger - if you cannot find at your grocery store you can buy on Amazon
- soy sauce or coconut aminos - you can buy reduced sodium if you prefer
- edamame with flaky salt - you can buy fresh or frozen
- vegan mayo and sriracha - mix together for a fun drizzle overtop your roll
I was able to find everything at my local grocery store. If all else fails, you can search for some items on Amazon or check out your local Asian market. For convenience, I created an Amazon storefront with everything you need for a DIY sushi night at home.
Frequently Asked Questions
These FAQs are important to review for best results. Please comment on this blog post with any questions and I'm happy to help.
What if I can't find what I need? Where do I buy everything? Most major grocery stores have an Asian section where you can find your ingredients. You can also check out your local Asian markets for some of the specialty items. If you run into trouble, I put together links of everything you need to make sushi at home here.
How do you keep the rice from sticking everywhere? My biggest tip is to work with the cooked sushi rice while it is still warm. Once it cools too much, it becomes more difficult to work with. So work quickly and keep the unused rice covered until you are ready to work with it. It also helps to wet your fingers and use the wooden tools that come with your sushi set. Finally, line your bamboo mat with plastic wrap so the rice doesn't get stuck in the mat.
How do you get the sesame seeds on the outside of the roll? After you roll your sushi you can roll the log of sushi on a plate of sesame seeds and then slice. Alternatively, you can sprinkle the sesame seeds overtop the sushi log and gently rotate the sushi log to cover all sides.
How do you keep the fillings from falling out? Don't overstuff your roll. Try to limit the filling to one or two layers. Make a thin horizontal divot in the nori where you plan to place your fillings as this helps to hold them in place so they don't slip out as you roll it. I also recommend leaving a little space on either end of the nori sheet since the fillings will naturally spread to the ends of the roll as you apply pressure.
How do I keep the sushi from falling apart when I slice it? Use a sharp knife. A high quality knife that has been sharpened will help immensely here. It also helps to wet the knife and clean it between cuts. You can keep a wet kitchen towel next to you as you work to clean it between each cut. For slicing, I like to start at the center of the roll and then slice out from there.
How do I prevent my rice from drying out? Cover the sushi rice with a moistened tea towel to prevent the rice from drying out. You can also just leave it in the Instant Pot with the top sealed.
How much nori should I use? I recommend half a sheet of nori per roll. If you use too much it will be difficult to roll.
How do you spread the rice into one even thin layer? The key here is to wet your fingers, use the wooden paddle to help you spread the rice and work with the rice when it is still a bit warm. Once it cools or dries out it becomes more difficult to work with. I always recommend lining your bamboo mat.
How do I keep my sushi pieces from being full of too much rice? Use only half of the nori sheet per roll. Make sure to get the rice into one even layer.
How do you get the rice on the outside of the sushi roll? I prefer it this way and the trick is to lay the nori sheet shiny side down on a bamboo mat lined with plastic wrap. Place sushi rice overtop the nori sheet and spread into an even layer covering the nori. Then, gently flip the nori over so the rice is face down on the mat. Now, you can add your fillings and roll it as you normally would. Once rolled, the rice will be on the outside of your roll.
More Easy Homemade DIY Dinners
Skip takeout and make these easy homemade versions instead. I promise it tastes a million times better when you make it yourself. Plus, who doesn't love to customize things to their exact preferences? Bonus, you will save so much money by making it at home!
I also find it is fun to learn and master a new skill. It makes for a fun in-home date night activity or a way to engage in a food project with your family. Below are more recipes that we love to make at home instead of ordering takeout. They are all vegan, gluten-free and much healthier than delivery!
Homemade vegan sushi is made without fish, gluten or refined sugars. You could even make a soy-free version using coconut aminos in place of the soy sauce for dipping. I hope you make and love this fun meal. Tag me on Instagram so I can see your creations, and don't forget to drop a review below!Print
This easy homemade vegan sushi recipe is so fresh and perfect for beginners to learn how to roll sushi. You can customize with your favorite ingredients and toppings.
For the sushi rice
- 2 cups uncooked sushi rice, rinsed well
- 2 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
For the sushi
- 6 sheets of nori seaweed
- 3 firm but ripe avocados, pitted, skin removed and sliced
- 2 ripe yellow (Atulfo) mangos (not red mangos), pitted and skin removed, sliced
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced - remove center with seeds
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds remove, thinly sliced
- Additional filling options: tofu, vegan cream cheese, radishes, cooked beets, cooked sweet potato, purple cabbage or any veggie you enjoy
Optional for serving:
- toasted sesame seeds, for sprinkling on the outside
- pickled ginger
- soy sauce or coconut aminos
- edamame with flakey salt
- vegan mayo and sriracha
- Make the rice: Place rinsed and drained rice in the Instant Pot with the water and cook on manual high pressure for 6 minutes. Allow it to naturally release for 10 minutes and then fluff with a fork. See notes below for how to make sushi rice on the stovetop.
- Make the rice seasoning: While the rice cooks whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup and salt. Pour overtop the cooked rice and mix in well with a wooden sushi rice paddle.
- Stuff the sushi: Place a half sheet of nori shiny side down on a bamboo mat lined with plastic wrap.* Place one even thin layer of rice overtop the half sheet of nori. Use wet fingers and the wooden paddle to get the rice in one even thin layer. [For an inside out roll (with rice on the outside), gently flip the nori over so the rice is face down on the mat. Once rolled, the rice will be on the outside of your roll.] Make a thin horizontal divot about 1-inch from the side of the nori closest to you. Add your desired fillings in one row toward the end of the nori that is closest to you where you made the divot. Do not overstuff for best results.
- Roll the sushi: Use the bamboo sushi mat to roll the nori and shape the roll. Continue to roll and tuck the bamboo sushi mat until it is fulling rolled. Remove the rolling mat and sprinkle all sides of the formed sushi log with toasted white sesame seeds.
- Slice your sushi: Use a clean, sharp, wet knife to slice into 8 sushi pieces. Repeat with remaining nori and rice. This recipe makes about 12 rolls.
- Serving suggestions: Serve with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce or coconut aminos. Enjoy immediately with chop sticks.
* Plastic wrap is not required but it prevents rice from getting stuck in the mat and makes cleanup quicker. I recently found a sustainable brand of "plastic wrap" that is made from leftover potato skin. Make sure to wrap and cover the bamboo mat with plastic wrap on all sides in both directions for best results.
For convenience, I created an Amazon storefront with everything you need for a DIY sushi night at home.
I highly recommend reading the blog post above for my tips and tricks for at-home sushi success.
How to Make Sushi Rice on the Stovetop: Before cooking the rice, rinse it several times in cold water to remove excess starch and prevent it from becoming too sticky. Once the rice is rinsed, use the ratio of adding 1.25 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice. Bring the rice to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 18-20 minutes. Then, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 16
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Pressure Cooker
- Cuisine: Japanese
Keywords: homemade vegan sushi