Master the art of homemade sushi with this easy Maki Roll recipe! Featuring nori and perfectly cooked sushi rice wrapped around a colorful combo of imitation crab, cucumber, avocado, and carrots, these rolls promise a fun and flavorful dining experience! Forget going out. Make your own sushi!
Easy Maki Sushi Rolls
For some reason, sushi has been one of those things that have seemed intimidating to make at home. I decided to put those feelings away and figure out how to make the perfect sushi roll. After some trial and error, this maki roll recipe is what I came up with. And guess what?! It’s actually really easy! THANKS (to my) next-door neighbors for the guidance. 🍣
Similar to a classic California roll (except I decided to put the seaweed on the outside), this maki sushi has a filling of imitation crab, cucumber, avocado, and carrot. Everything is wrapped up in subtly sweet, sticky sushi rice and a sheet of sushi nori. The result is a convenient roll-up of protein, healthy fat, veggies, and carbs. It’s like the perfect meal!
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Sushi Recipe
I love making this maki roll recipe. It’s so fun and interactive, not to mention the end product is super tasty. Here are a few of my favorite things about it.
- Good and good for you. These sushi rolls are not only delicious, but they are a clean, healthy lunch or dinner option. Do your body a favor and try them out.
- Great for meal prep. Make these rolls on Sunday night and pack them for lunch for the next couple of days. As long as they are properly stored (see the section below titled “How to Store Leftover Maki Rolls”), they should stay good for up to 2 days.
- Interactive. I love this recipe because it is so hands-on, thus perfect for an engaging dinner party. Get a couple of friends together and let everyone make their own roll. You could even have a selection of different fillings for the rolls and let everyone choose their own.
- Versatile. This recipe is easily adaptable to a variety of taste preferences. The crab and veggie combo is one of my favorites, but feel free to grab other filling options. Check out the section below titled “Recipe Variations” for inspiration.
- Just as good as going out. Sure, you could go out for sushi and watch the sushi masters make your rolls, but these maki rolls are just as good. Plus, they are far easier on your pocketbook.
What Is Maki?
Maki is a traditional Japanese dish comprised of cooked, sticky rice and a sheet of dried seaweed (sushi nori) wrapped around a filling of veggies and/or seafood. There are several different kinds of maki. Some have one filling, others have many, and some have nori on the outside, while others have rice on the outside. Others still don’t have rice at all.
Some maki are wrapped tightly and sliced, while others are wrapped more loosely and meant to be eaten almost like a burrito. So many options! They are all delicious.
The maki we are making today falls under the category of chumaki. It is a medium-sized roll with nori on the rice’s outside and is filled with several ingredients.
Maki Roll vs California Roll
A California Roll is a type of maki consisting of a filling with crab, avocado, and cucumber. It’s called a California roll partly because it was first made in California but also because its filling of mostly crab and avocado was abbreviated to “C.A.” (much like “CA” for “California”).
Generally, a California roll has rice on the outside. However, I bent the rules for this recipe and decided to put the nori on the outside instead. I also added carrots to the filling for an extra pop of flavor and texture.
What Goes In A Maki Roll?
Here is a list of ingredients needed to make maki sushi. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for exact measurements.
For the sushi rice
- Sushi rice: Do not attempt to use another kind of rice here. Sushi rice has a much higher starch content than regular rice, which gives it the sticky consistency needed to hold the maki rolls together. Using regular rice would cause the rolls to fall apart.
- Rice wine vinegar
- Granulated sugar
- Sushi Nori: These are sheets of dried seaweed. You can find them in most grocery stores and on Amazon. You can also find them in Asian markets.
- English cucumber: You can use a regular cucumber instead. Just peel it first.
- Carrot: I suggest peeling the carrots but this is not necessary.
- Imitation crab meat: I used a stick-style imitation crab, but you could use flaked imitation crab or real crab leg meat.
One great thing about this recipe is how versatile it is. I chose to go the California roll-ish route and use crab, cucumber, avocado, and carrot but feel free to play around with other fillings and toppings.
- Use a different fish. Feel free to use raw salmon, tuna, or halibut. Just make sure the fish is sushi-grade. You can also use cooked or smoked fish if you do not have access to sushi-grade seafood. Tempura shrimp is a popular addition in sushi restaurants.
- Make it sweet. I love adding mango to my maki rolls. It adds a wonderful sweetness. I like it best in addition to raw salmon, avocado, and macadamia nuts.
- Add some crunch. Add chopped macadamia nuts or cashews to your roll for a little extra crunch.
- Sauce. Dipping maki rolls in soy sauce mixed with a bit of wasabi is commonplace. This is a great way to go, but you could also dip it in teriyaki sauce, unagi sauce, or even sweet chili sauce if you are feeling adventurous.
- Put the rice on the outside. This is a slightly messier approach, and I highly recommend wrapping your sushi mat in plastic wrap before starting, but it is equally delicious. Spread the rice on the mat before placing a piece of nori on top, filling, and rolling.
- Add a topping. Maki rolls are often topped with a couple of slices of raw fish (sashimi) and/or avocado. Try it at home. Again, make sure the fish is sushi-grade.
How to Make a Maki Roll
Here’s a quick overview of how to make these delicious maki rolls. Don’t forget to scroll to the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.
For the sushi rice
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
- Cook the rice. Add the rice and the water to an Instant Pot, seal it, and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 12 minutes. Open the instant pot and fluff the rice with a fork. You can ditch the Instant Pot and prepare it according to the directions on the package.
- Make the sushi vinegar. Combine the rice wine vinegar and the sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Fold the mixture into the prepared sushi rice.
- Cool. Allow the rice to cool almost to room temperature.
- Arrange the outer layer. Place a sheet of nori over a bamboo sushi mat. Wet your hands with warm water and press ¾ cup of sushi rice into an even layer to cover the nori.
- Add the filling. Stack 1 row of English cucumber, 1 row of carrot, 1 row of imitation crab, and 1 row of avocado on top of each other in a line at one end of the mat.
- Roll. Fold the nori and the rice over the filling. Squeeze the mat over the filling. Roll again. Squeeze again. Repeat until you reach the end of the roll.
- Repeat. Arrange the outer layer, add the filling, and roll 3 more rolls.
- Slice. Wet a sharp knife with warm water and slice the rolls into half-inch slices.
Tips for Making Sushi Rolls at Home
It might seem intimidating to make your own sushi rolls but trust me, it’s really quite simple. Just follow the recipe closely and keep these simple tips and tricks in mind. You will be a maki pro in no time.
- Rinse the rice. It is essential to rinse the sushi rice before cooking it. If you do not, it will be far too starchy. While you need some of the starch inherent in sushi rice to hold the rolls together, too much will leave you with a gummy finished product that is nearly impossible to work with.
- If you don’t have a sushi mat, don’t worry about it. Line a thick towel with plastic wrap instead. It works almost as well.
- Keep your fingers wet. Keep a bowl of warm water near you as you assemble the rolls. Wet your fingers before spreading the rice over the nori. Do this for every roll. It will help keep the sushi rice from sticking to your hands.
- Roll tightly. When rolling up the maki, squeeze between each fold. You want the rice and nori wrapped tightly around the filling. Otherwise, your roll might fall apart.
- Cut with a sharp, wet knife. When cutting a maki roll into slices, use a very sharp knife that has been dipped in warm water. This will help you make clean cuts. Wipe the knife with a damp towel and dip it in warm water again if it starts to get sticky between cuts.
Can These Be Prepared In Advance?
- Yes, they can! Make the rolls from start to finish. Wrap them in saran wrap, seal them in a Ziplock bag or an airtight container, and store them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. They make for great, quick grab-and-go lunches.
- Alternatively, you can prepare the sushi rice, slice the veggies and imitation crab, and store each component in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you are ready to enjoy, all that’s left to do is take your sushi mat out and start rolling.
How to Store Leftover Maki Rolls
- These maki rolls make great leftovers. Just make sure you store them properly. Wrap each roll tightly in saran wrap, making sure that it is airtight. Place the rolls in a Ziplock bag or another airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
More Seafood Recipes
The Japanese do seafood exceptionally well, and a maki roll is probably my favorite preparation, but let’s take a look at how other cultures do seafood. Here are some of my favorite seafood dishes from all over the world.
- Spanish Seafood Paella
- Shrimp Lo Mein
- Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos
- Jambalaya Recipe with Chicken, Shrimp, and Sausage
- Oven Baked Pesto Salmon
- Easy Shrimp Ceviche
Easy Maki Roll Recipe
- 1 ½ cups sushi rice
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 sheets sushi Nori
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into thin strips
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 4 sticks imitation crab, cut in half, longwise
- In a fine mesh strainer, rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
- Combine the rice and the water in the bowl of an Instant Pot. (You can also cook the rice according to the directions on the package.)
- Seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally for 12 minutes before opening the instant pot and fluffing the rice with a fork.
- In a small saucepan, combine the rice wine vinegar and the sugar and heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
- Fold the rice vinegar mixture into the prepared sushi rice.
- Allow the rice to cool to just above room temperature before using.
- Place a sheet of nori over a bamboo sushi mat.
- Wet your fingers with warm water. This will help keep the rice from sticking to your hands. I like to keep a bowl of warm water near me when I making these rolls.
- Press about ¾ cup of prepared sushi rice over the nori. Use your hand to press it into an even layer to cover the nori.
- Stack 1 row of English cucumber, 1 row of carrot, 1 row of imitation crab, and 1 row of avocado on top of each other in a line at one end of the mat.
- Fold the nori and rice over the filling and squeeze the bamboo mat over the filling to create a tight cylinder. Continue to fold the roll over itself, squeezing it into a cylinder after each fold until you get to the end of the roll.
- Repeat steps 8-12 with the remainder of the ingredients.
- Wet a sharp knife with warm water and slice the rolls into ½ inch slices, wetting the knife between slices if it starts to get sticky.
- Serve with your favorite sushi dipping sauce(s).
- Use sushi rice. For sushi, it’s best to use short-grain rice because it’s rich in starch and sticky enough to hold the shape of sushi.
- Seafood: Feel free to use raw salmon, tuna, or halibut, but always make sure the fish is sushi-grade. You can also use cooked or smoked fish if you do not have access to sushi-grade seafood.
- Add Fruit: I like to add mango or pineapple to my maki rolls.
- Dipping Sauce: Dipping maki rolls in soy sauce mixed with a bit of wasabi is excellent, but you could also dip it in teriyaki sauce, unagi sauce, or sweet chili sauce.
- If you don’t have a bamboo mat, use a thick towel covered with plastic wrap.
- Keep a bowl of warm water near you as you assemble the rolls. It will help keep the sushi rice from sticking to your hands. Wet your fingers before spreading the rice over the nori.
- When rolling up the maki, squeeze between each fold. You want the rice and nori wrapped tightly around the filling.
- When cutting a maki roll into slices, use a sharp knife dipped in warm water. This will help you make clean cuts.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.