How to Make Sushi Rice (Sumeshi or Shari)

We love sushi and making sushi at home is fun. The most important element to making sushi is the rice. Sushi rice properly made is sticky, holding its shape and bonding the other ingredients into those wonderful, tasty bites. Here's our favorite recipe for how to make sushi rice.

What is sushi rice

Sushi rice is Japanese rice, a polished, short-grain white rice. Short-grain rice as a whole has a higher percentage of starch giving it the sticky property needed for sushi. The polishing process removed the hard outer skin of the rice kernel. If you cannot find Japanese rice, Calrose rice is a reasonable substitute and is very commonly available in the US.

What are the benefits of sushi rice

Sushi rice is low in calories and virtually fat-free, but like all rice is high in carbohydrates. The primary benefit of using sushi rice in making sushi is its sticky properties and pleasant, mild flavor, which doesn't compete with the other sushi ingredients.

Sushi rice recipe for 6 cups of sushi rice

Here is our preferred sushi rice recipe for making sushi rice at home. The most important step is adding the vinegar mixture and cooling the rice. While a the best tool is the wooden rice tub, in a pinch a non-finished large wood bowl or cutting board will do.

  • Author: Everything Chopsticks
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 80 minutes
  • Servings: (12 1/2-cup servings)
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Asian-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Vegan
  • Freezer Friendly No
  • Does it keep? 5 Days
Tools needed:
  • 2-1/4 cups rice
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (komezu)
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sake (optional)


1. Rinse

Rinse the rice in a glass bowl with several cups of water. Stir the rice in the water for about 30 seconds, then drain. Repeat a few more times until the water is almost clear. Rinsing the rice will remove the excess powdery starch and impurities leaving your cooked rice shiny and flavorful.

2. Soak

In a large pot add the water to the rice and let soak for 30 minutes. This allows the grains to better absorb moisture during the cooking process.

Make Sushi Vinegar

In a small sauce pan combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Over low heat, stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Do not boil. Once dissolved, set aside to cool. Once cooled add the sake (optional). You can make this in advance and store indefinitely in a cool dark cupboard.

3. Cook


For stovetop bring pot of water and rice to a boil, stir once, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. When the rice has finished cooking let it rest for 15 minutes.

Rice cooker

Most rice cookers use a one to one ratio of rice and water, as does our recipe. If yours is different you may need to alter the amount of water. When the rice has finished cooking let it rest for 15 minutes.

How to make Instant Pot sushi rice

Add rice and water to the inner pot. Close lid and set the steam release to the "Seal" position. Select the "Rice" Smart Program. Turn "Keep Warm" off. Do a natural release of pressure. Wait to open the Instant Pot until the float valve has dropped. When the rice has finished cooking let it rest for 15 minutes.

4. Soak rice tub and rice paddle

This is a good time to soak your wooden rice tub (sushi-oke or hangiri) and bamboo rice paddle (shamoji) in cool water for 30 minutes. Drain and wipe with a dry towel. Moist wood is essential or it will soak up moisture and rice vinegar from the rice.

5. Cool

Transfer the rice to the wooden rice tub (sushi-oke or hangiri) or wooden salad bowl (no metal bowls!) and pour your sushi vinegar over the rice. With your rice paddle in one hand and fan in the other, gently but quickly toss the rice while fanning to cool the rice and mix in the vinegar. Keep this up for 10 minutes until the rice has cooled to room temperature. You can use a small electric fan if your arm gets tired.


Your rice will have a nice sheen and is now ready to use. Cover with a damp cloth if you cannot use right away to keep your rice moist.

This will make enough rice for:

  • 9 inside-out rolls (Saimaki)
  • 6 traditional thick rolls (Futomaki)
  • 15 thin rolls (Hosomaki)
  • 22 hand rolls (Temaki)
  • 80 pieces of Nigiri
Sushi Tools

We carry a complete selection of sushi tools and utensils for the fun of making great sushi at home. And of course we have an amazing variety of chopsticks of all kinds. Have fun!