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3 onigiri on a plate served with a plate of soy sauce with chopsticks and tea beside.
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5 from 2 votes

Easy Vegan Onigiri

These vegan onigiri, or Japanese rice balls, are easy to make, tasty, and filling! They make a great lunchbox meal or a quick snack. This simple recipe is also highly customizable too!
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Japanese
Diet Gluten Free, Halal, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 119kcal
Author Meesha


Optional fillings


Cooking rice

  • Rice cooker - The ratio of rice to water is 1:1. In this recipe, we will be using 2 cups of rice; hence 2 cups of water are needed. Place them both into the rice cooker, and cook according to the "white rice" setting.
    Instant pot - Similarly, the ratio is 1:1. Pour in your 2 cups of rinsed rice along with 2 cups of water into the inner pot. Seal the lid, and cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes before quick releasing the remaining pressure.
    Stovetop - For every cup of rice, you would need 1 ¼ cups of water. Hence, you will need 2 ½ cups of water for 2 cups of rice. Place water and rice in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a gentle simmer.
    Cook for 15-18 minutes with the lid on, or until the rice absorbs most water. Remove from heat and let it rest, covered for another 10 minutes. It is ready to be used.

Making onigiri

  • Transfer freshly cooked rice into a large bowl. Add in salt and furikake. Mix until everything is well combined.
  • Place a bowl of water near you. Wet your hands, and rub on a small pinch of salt. Scoop up about ½ cup of rice mixture.
  • If you are using filling, make an indent at the center of the mixture, and spoon on ½-1 tablespoon of filling. Fold over the rice to cover the filling.
  • Shape dough into a ball. You can stop at this step if you want to make round onigiri. To make triangular ones, gentle press the rice mixture into a triangular shape using your fingertips while rotating until you are satisfied with its shape.
  • Add on a sheet of nori right before serving.


Helpful tips 
  • Make sure to use freshly cooked rice that is still fairly warm. It is easier to shape and work with when compared to cold, dry rice.
  • Press rice balls gently, but with sufficient pressure. This ensures that they do not fall apart easily.
  • Alternatively, you could use a mold to shape your onigiri. All you have to do is to scoop some rice into the mold, and press the lid on gently. You can purchase onigiri mold online though Amazon. 
  • Wrap on the nori sheet right before serving to prevent them from turning soggy.
  • You can fill onigiri with whatever you like! For more filling ideas, check out the section "variations and fillings ideas" above. 
Storing - Wrap vegan onigiri using plastic wrap, and place them in a sealed container or freezer bag. They can be refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for up to a month.
Reheating - To reheat, wrap the onigiri with a damp paper towel, and microwave it at 15 seconds burst, or until it is thoroughly warmed. For frozen ones, you do not have to thaw them; just microwave them for longer.
Or, you can make yaki onigiri by pan-frying them until golden. The detailed instructions are in the "variations and filling ideas" section above.
Nutrition facts are calculated without the fillings. 


Calories: 119kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 194mg | Potassium: 25mg | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 1mg | Iron: 1mg