How to Sushi Rice

Sushi rice, also known as shari or sushi, is the heart and soul of sushi. It’s the vinegared rice that gives sushi its distinct texture and flavor. Making perfect sushi rice is a crucial skill for sushi enthusiasts. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to make sushi rice that’s slightly sticky, well-seasoned, and perfect for crafting your favorite sushi rolls or nigiri.


  • 2 cups sushi rice (short-grain Japanese rice)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • A wooden sushi hangiri (a shallow, flat-bottomed wooden tub for mixing sushi rice) or a glass or wooden bowl


  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Rice cooker (optional)
  • Wooden spatula or paddle
  • A clean, damp cloth


Rinse the Rice

  • Start by measuring out 2 cups of sushi rice. Place the rice in a fine-mesh sieve or strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cold, running water. Gently rub the rice grains with your fingers to remove excess starch. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear.

Cook the Rice

  • You can cook sushi rice on the stovetop or in a rice cooker. Here, we’ll provide instructions for both methods:
  • Stovetop Method:
    • Combine the rinsed rice and 2 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    • Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
    • Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes. Keep the lid on and resist the urge to lift it during cooking.
    • After 15 minutes, remove the pot from heat, keep the lid on, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes. This allows the rice to steam and become tender.
  • Rice Cooker Method:
    • Add the rinsed rice and 2 cups of water to your rice cooker.
    • Cook the rice according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most modern rice cookers have a specific setting for sushi rice.

Prepare the Seasoning

  • While the rice is cooking, it’s time to prepare the sushi vinegar seasoning. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat this mixture over low heat, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve completely. Please remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Cool the Rice

  • Once the rice is cooked, transfer it to a wooden sushi hangiri or a glass or wooden bowl. A hangiri is traditional but optional; any large, shallow bowl will work. Wooden utensils are recommended to avoid damaging the rice grains.
  • While the rice is still hot, slowly drizzle the seasoned vinegar. Using a wooden spatula or paddle, gently fold the vinegar into the rice with a slicing and flipping motion. This will help the rice absorb the vinegar evenly.

Fan the Rice

  • Mix the rice with the vinegar, have a friend or use a handheld fan to fan the rice. Fanning helps to cool the rice quickly and gives it a glossy finish. Fold and fan until the rice has cooled to near room temperature. Be careful not to overmix, as this can break the rice grains.

Cover and Keep Moist

  • Once the sushi rice has cooled, cover it with a clean, damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. This is crucial to maintain the right texture.

Use for Sushi

  • Your sushi rice is now ready to make sushi rolls, nigiri, or any sushi creation you choose. It should have a glossy appearance, a slight stickiness, and a well-balanced sweet and tangy flavor.

Additional Tips

  • Rice Variety: Use short-grain Japanese rice, as it’s bred explicitly for sushi and provides the ideal stickiness and texture. Brands like Koshihikari or Calrose are excellent choices.
  • Vinegar and Seasoning: Rice vinegar is the most common choice for sushi rice. However, you can experiment with other types of vinegar, like white or apple cider vinegar, for different flavors.
  • Cooling: Remember the cooling step; it’s crucial for sushi rice’s proper texture and flavor.
  • Avoid Metal Utensils: When mixing sushi rice, it’s best to use wooden or plastic utensils to prevent damaging the rice grains and avoid the metallic taste.

Making sushi rice may take some practice, but it’s a rewarding skill to master. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be well on your way to creating delicious and authentic homemade sushi. Enjoy your culinary journey into the world of sushi!

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