How to Make Sushi Rice


Sushi is a delicious traditional dish originating from Japan. It involves the use of vinegared rice combined with other ingredients, such as seafood or vegetables. It can be served raw, cooked, or in a rolled form. Sushi is now popular around the world and there are many different varieties to choose from.

Making homemade sushi is tricky but can be surprisingly easy and fun! To kick start your journey into making sushi at home, it’s important to know and understand the type of rice that you’ll need and how to cook it.

What Type of Rice is Used in Sushi?

Sushi is made with short-grain rice which has a high starch content and sticky consistency. Japanese short-grain rice is typically used in making any kind of sushi. The sticky texture of short-grain white rice is ideal as it helps keep the sushi ingredients together, allowing the dish to stay in its respective shape. Short-grain rice can be cooked either by boiling or steaming, depending on the maker’s preference.

Is Jasmine Rice Good for Sushi?

Jasmine rice is a type of long-grain rice that is often used in Southeast Asian cuisine. While Jasmine rice grains are used in a variety of dishes all over the world, it is not recommended to use them for making sushi. This is because Jasmine rice is not a type of sticky rice and when cooked, it turns fluffier and drier than Japanese short-grain rice. It will most likely fall apart during the sushi-making process.

Is Sushi Rice Just Jasmine Rice?

No, sushi rice is not the same as Jasmine rice. Sushi rice is specially prepared and has a higher starch content than regular Jasmine rice. It also has a stickier texture which helps keep sushi rolls and pieces held together during preparation and consumption.

Does It Matter What Rice I Use for Sushi?

Yes, it does matter what type of rice you use for sushi. Sushi rice is designed specifically for sushi and provides a delicious flavor profile and great texture that cannot be matched with other types of grain. Using regular white rice or other types of long-grain white rice can result in sushi that lacks the desired texture. 

What Rice is Closest to Sushi Rice?

The closest substitute for sushi-grade rice is Arborio rice. Arborio rice has a higher starch content than other types of grain and its texture is stickier than that of regular Jasmine rice. However, one should keep in mind that Arborio has a slightly different texture and may turn too sticky if overcooked or if the wrong liquid ratio is used. As much as possible, only use Japanese short-grain in making sushi to get the best results.

What is the Best Rice for Sushi That Chefs Use?

Japanese short-grain rice is considered the best by sushi chefs. This type of rice has a higher starch content than other types of rice, making it ideal for making sushi, which is usually hand-pressed. Some sushi chefs experiment with different cooking methods to further customize sushi and give it a unique flavor.

What is Sushi Rice Called at the Grocery Store?

Usually, rice for sushi is labeled as “sushi rice” at the local grocery store. You can also find it in specialty Asian markets where it may be labeled as “Japanese sushi rice” or “Koshihikari” which is perhaps the most popular cultivar of Japanese short-grain rice.

Are Rice Cookers Good for Sushi Rice?

Yes, rice cookers are a great option for cooking rice of all types, including sushi rice. A rice cooker is the easiest and fastest way to have perfectly cooked rice as long as you have the correct water-to-rice ratio. With a press of a button, you won’t have to monitor the entire cooking process and can have deliciously cooked rice in a matter of minutes.

What is the Sushi Rice Setting on a Rice Cooker?

Some cookers have a sushi rice setting, making it easier to cook sushi rice. However, not all cookers have this setting. Don’t fret though because you can still cook the rice using the normal setting.

What is the Best Rice Cooker for Making Sushi Rice?

When it comes to sushi rice, the best rice cookers are the ones that come from Japan or Korea. Some brands that you can look into are Zojirushi and Cuckoo. Other non-Asian brands that allow you to make sushi rice with ease are Instant Pot and Aroma.

What Rice Cooker Do Sushi Chefs Use?

The type of cooker that sushi chefs use can vary depending on their needs and preferences. A good number of chefs use either a traditional donabe cooker or a traditional hagama cooker, both of which are stovetop cooking methods. The hagama cooker is made with iron and has a very heavy lid that keeps steam in, allowing the grains to cook at a higher temperature without boiling. 

A donabe cooker is made with clay that contains a lot of microscopic organic matter and has a hole at the top, ventilating excess steam. When baked at high temperatures, the organic matter burns and leaves behind air pockets that provide incredible heat retention, circulating inside the cooker and cooking the rice evenly.

Some chefs have adopted the modern cooking method by swapping the traditional cookers with electrical ones instead. A lot of sushi chefs seem to favor Zojirushi cookers to make the best sushi rice.

What is the Difference Between a Rice Cooker and a Japanese Rice Cooker?

The standard cooker usually only has one button, providing a one-cooks-all setting for users. On the other hand, Japanese cookers generally come with more features and, more often than not, are equipped with Micom technology. Short for “microcomputer,” Micom technology programs and automates almost the entirety of the rice cooking process. The technology can program the cooker to be sensitive to factors such as water level, temperature change, and the like. 

In recent years, standard cookers have been upgraded to have more features as well, similar to Japanese cookers. However, not all of them employ Micom technology.

Is It Necessary to Rinse Rice?

Rinsing rice is a necessary step to remove unwanted dirt and excess starch. If you don’t rinse the grains, you could end up with rice that is overly mushy or has a goopy consistency. Rinsed sushi rice will have a better texture and flavor than unrinsed grains.

Should You Soak Sushi Rice Before Cooking in a Rice Cooker?

Traditionally, sushi restaurants soak the grains to reduce cooking time. However, these days, not everyone soaks the rice before cooking. Rinsing the grains is a more important step than soaking. If you’d like, you can give your rinsed rice a good 20 to 30-minute soak before cooking with it.

Why Do You Soak Sushi Rice Before Cooking?

Chefs soak uncooked rice for a number of reasons. Soaking can help reduce the cooking time as the grains absorb some of the water already. Soaking can also help the grains cook more evenly in the pot, giving them a uniform texture.

What is the Perfect Sushi Rice Water Ratio in a Rice Cooker?

To get the perfect rice texture and consistency, the rice-to-water ratio is 1:1 where 1 cup of rice is equal to 1 cup of liquid. It’s recommended to use a rice cooker measuring cup instead of other measuring devices to get an accurate measurement. If you feel that the rice is too hard, you may need to add more water. You can do this by using 2-tablespoon increments. 

How Much Water Do You Need for 2 Cups of Sushi Rice?

If you will be making more than one cup of rice, you will still follow the same 1:1 ratio. For two cups of grains, you will also need 2 cups of water.

How Long to Cook 4 Cups of Sushi Rice in a Rice Cooker?

No matter how big the serving, the standard cooking time of white rice in a rice cooker can take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes. However, if you will be cooking on a stovetop, the cooking time can vary between the number of servings.

How to Make Sushi Rice Vinegar Mixture

Aside from the rice grains, you will need a couple of ingredients to make the rice vinegar. The sushi vinegar is what makes sushi rice taste different from regular rice. Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and has a mildly sweet flavor. It blends well with the raw fish used in sushi. Any sushi rice recipe is not complete without the rice vinegar mixture. It’s ideal to make your own rice vinegar so that it’s according to your taste but you can also find seasoned sushi vinegar in an Asian grocery.

Rice Vinegar Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar


  1. Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. 
  2. Let the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt mixture reach a simmer.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

Do You Put Rice Vinegar Before or After Cooking Sushi Rice?

Seasoned rice vinegar is poured evenly all over the rice after cooking. Using a wooden spoon or a rice paddle, gently mix in the sushi seasoning until all the rice is coated.

How to Cook Sushi Rice

Making homemade sushi rice may seem complicated but once you know the technique, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! There are two methods to making delicious sushi rice at home: one is the rice cooker method while the other is using the stovetop. Be sure to practice the best sushi rice recipe for you to achieve the perfect sushi rice and have yourself a homemade sushi night every week!

Rice Cooker Method

  1. Rinse the grains until the water is translucent. Drain the liquid and transfer the grains into the rice cooker bowl. 
  2. Fill with the correct amount of liquid. For example, if you put in two cups of rice, pour in two cups of water as well.
  3. If your cooker has a sushi rice setting, select that and start cooking. You may also just press the normal cooking mode. 
  4. Let it cook according to the cooker’s settings.
  5. While the rice cooks, make the sushi rice seasoning by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Remove from heat once the sugar dissolves.
  6. Once cooked, let the rice rest in the cooker with the lid closed for about 5 to 10 minutes. Ensure that the Keep Warm setting is turned off to prevent overcooking.
  7. Transfer the rice out of the rice cooker bowl and into a mixing bowl or a baking sheet. 
  8. Season sushi rice with rice vinegar. Using a rice paddle, gently mix the grains and the seasoning as evenly as possible.
  9. Use the rice immediately to make sushi, a sushi bowl, or any other recipe.

Can You Make Sushi Without a Rice Cooker?

Yes, you definitely can! If you don’t own a rice cooker, you can do the stovetop method of making sushi rice. Here’s how:

  1. Rinse the rice with cold water until the water becomes translucent or clear. Drain well.
  2. Add the rice and the correct amount of water to a medium saucepan. 
  3. Use medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Once it boils, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 16 to 20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. 
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Without removing the lid of the pot, let the rice steam for 10 minutes.
  6. While letting the rice steam, make the vinegar mixture.
  7. Remove the rice from the pan and transfer it to a bowl or a baking sheet.
  8. Let the rice cool and add the rice vinegar mixture.
  9. Gently incorporate the mixture into the rice with the use of a rice paddle or wooden spoon.
  10. Cover with a wet towel or cloth to keep it moist.
  11. Use immediately to make sushi rolls or any other recipe.

How to Make Sushi Rice Very Sticky

Sushi rice is already sticky but if you want it stickier, you can opt to not rinse the rice before cooking it.


  • The rice cooker recipe also works with an Instant Pot.
  • If you can’t find or make your own rice vinegar mix, you can buy rice wine vinegar instead.
  • If rice wine vinegar is unavailable, apple cider vinegar works in a pinch.
  • It’s best to enjoy sushi rice on the day of cooking but you can also freeze sushi rice. Allow it to cool down fully and then transfer it to an airtight container. Freeze for up to 2 to 3 months.
  • If you have leftover rice that you plan on eating for the next couple of days, be sure to keep it in an airtight container and fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • You can adjust the sugar and salt in the sushi rice seasoning according to your taste.
  • While it is best to use short-grain white rice for sushi, you may also use short-grain brown rice.

Final Note

Making sushi rice can be tricky, but with some practice, you can expect your sushi rice to turn out perfectly every time. By following these simple steps on how to cook sushi rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop and incorporating sushi vinegar into its texture and flavor, you make sushi rice that is perfect for rolling sushi rolls!