How Long to Cook Sushi Rice

Sushi, the beloved Japanese delicacy, is a culinary art form where each element plays a crucial role in achieving perfection. Sushi rice, also known as shari or sushi, is at the heart of every sushi creation. Cooking sushi rice with the right texture is fundamental in sushi preparation. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of cooking sushi rice, exploring the cooking time, techniques, and essential tips for achieving the ideal consistency for your sushi rolls, nigiri, and sashimi.

What is Sushi Rice

Sushi rice is not your typical white or brown Rice; it is a short-grain rice variety characterized by its stickiness and slightly sweet flavor. The two primary types of sushi rice are:

Japonica Rice: This is the preferred choice for sushi rice. Japonica rice is known for its high starch content, which contributes to its stickiness, making it ideal for forming sushi rolls and nigiri.

Calrose Rice: Calrose Rice is a medium-grain rice variety commonly used in the United States for sushi. While it is not the traditional choice, it can produce satisfactory results for homemade sushi.

Preparing Sushi Rice: Rinse and Soak

Before cooking sushi rice, it’s essential to rinse and soak it to remove excess surface starch, which can cause the Rice to become gummy. Here’s the process:

Rinse: Place the desired sushi rice in a fine-mesh strainer or colander and rinse it under cold running water. Gently agitate the Rice with your fingers while rinsing until the water runs clear. This typically takes 2-3 minutes.

Soak: After rinsing, allow the Rice to soak in cold water for about 30 minutes. This soaking step helps the Rice absorb moisture evenly during cooking.

Cooking Sushi Rice: Stovetop Method

The stovetop method is the traditional way of cooking sushi rice. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


  • Sushi rice (measured according to your needs)
  • Cold water (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of sushi rice)

Cooking Process

Place the rinsed and soaked sushi rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.

Add the measured amount of cold water to the Rice.

Cover the saucepan with the lid and bring the Rice and water to a boil over high heat.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer the covered Rice for about 15-18 minutes. Be precise with the timing.

After the cooking time, remove the saucepan from heat and let it sit, covered, for an additional 10-15 minutes. This resting period is crucial for the Rice to absorb any remaining moisture and achieve the desired sticky texture.

While the Rice is resting, you can prepare the sushi vinegar seasoning (rice vinegar, sugar, and salt) to season the Rice.

Achieving the Perfect Sushi Rice Texture

The goal when cooking sushi rice is to achieve a specific texture characterized by:

Glossy Appearance: The rice grains should have a subtle sheen or gloss without being overly shiny.

Sticky Consistency: When gently mixed or formed into sushi, the grains should stick together but remain separate and distinct.

Uniform Moisture: The Rice should have uniform moisture content, ensuring that each grain is evenly seasoned with the sushi vinegar.

To achieve this texture, follow these tips

Use Precise Measurements: Accurate measurements of Rice and water are crucial to achieving consistency. Always measure your ingredients carefully.

Avoid Lifting the Lid: Avoid lifting the lid while the Rice cooks or rests. Steam escaping can disrupt the cooking process and affect the final texture.

Handle Rice Gently: When mixing the sushi vinegar seasoning into the Rice, use a wooden or plastic rice paddle to fold and gently combine the ingredients. Avoid mashing or overworking the Rice.

Cool with a Fan: Traditionally, sushi chefs use a hand-held fan to cool the Rice while gently fanning it. This not only cools the Rice but also helps to achieve the desired glossy texture.

Alternative Methods: Rice Cooker and Instant Pot

While the stovetop method is traditional, you can also use a rice cooker or an Instant Pot to cook sushi. Here’s a brief overview of each method:

Rice Cooker

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific rice cooker model.

Typically, you would add the rinsed and soaked Rice and the appropriate amount of water, and the rice cooker will handle the cooking process.

Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker)

Combine the rinsed and soaked sushi rice with the specified amount of water for the Instant Pot method.

Use the “Pressure Cook” function and cook for approximately 4-6 minutes (timing may vary depending on your specific Instant Pot model).

After cooking, allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally for about 10 minutes before opening the lid.

Seasoning Sushi Rice with Vinegar

Sushi rice is only complete with seasoning. You’ll need sushi vinegar, a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to season sushi rice. Here’s how to prepare and season sushi rice:


  • Rice vinegar: 2 tablespoons
  • Sugar: 2 tablespoons
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon

Cooking Process

Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan.

Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Once dissolved, remove the mixture from heat and let it cool to room temperature.

After the sushi rice has rested, gently spread it out in a large, shallow container, like a wooden or plastic sushi rice tub.

Drizzle the prepared sushi vinegar evenly over the Rice.

Mix and Fan

Using a wooden or plastic rice paddle, gently fold and mix the sushi rice while fanning it with a hand-held fan or piece of cardboard. This process helps the Rice absorb the seasoning evenly and gives it the characteristic gloss.


Cooking sushi rice to perfection is fundamental in creating delicious and visually appealing sushi dishes. It’s a delicate process involving precise measurements, techniques, and understanding the desired texture. Whether you choose the traditional stovetop method or opt for the convenience of a rice cooker or Instant Pot, the key lies in achieving a glossy, sticky consistency that complements the other elements of your sushi creations. With practice and attention to detail, you’ll master the art of sushi rice and be well on your way to crafting exquisite homemade sushi.

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