Vegan Onigiri, Six Ways -- These whimsical Japanese rice triangles can be flavored with a multitude of ingredients and make a great packed lunch or bring-along for a springtime picnic.

Vegan Japanese Rice Balls


  • 4 cups steamed Japanese rice (or sticky rice, sushi rice, white or brown short grain rice)
  • Dash Pink Hymalayan or Kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Black sesame seeds
  • 1 to 2 sheets of dried nori seaweed

For the Fillings:

  • Umeboshi (pickled plum)
  • Furikake
  • Bok Choy cabbage
  • Edamame beans
  • Matcha powder


  1. Cut each nori sheet into 8 to 9 strips and put about a half cup of steamed rice in a rice bowl.
  2. Wet your hands with water so that the rice won’t stick.
  3. Then rub some salt on your hands.
  4. Place the steamed rice on your hand, making sure it is dense and thick.
  5. Put your favorite filling, such as umeboshi or furikake on the rice and push the filling into the rice lightly.
  6. Hold the rice between your palms.
  7. Form the rice into a round, a triangle, or a cylinder by pressing lightly with your both palms. Roll the rice ball in your hands a few times, pressing lightly.
  8. Wrap the rice ball with a strip or two of nori, or sprinkle some sesame seeds on them.
  9. Serve and enjoy!
Furikake Onigiri:
  1. Sprinkle an already formed rice ball with 2 teaspoons furikake. Make a batch of your own by following this recipe: 4 Tablespoons roasted sesame seeds, 2 Tablespoons crushed nori, 1 Tablespoon dulse seaweed, 1 Tablespoon hemp seeds, ¾ teaspoon coconut sugar, and a scant ½ teaspoon each of hymalayan salt, lemon zest, and fine red pepper. Shake them together in a jar. Makes a little over ½ cup of furikake.
Braised Bok Choy Onigiri:
  1. Sauté 2½ cups thinly sliced bok choy in a teaspoon of oil for a minute. Add in 2½ teaspoons soy sauce, 3 Tablespoons vegan dashi stock or water, ¼ teaspoon coconut sugar, and ¼ teaspoon sesame oil and braise the bok choy over medium heat for 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat and cool.
  2. Make an indentation in the rice and spoon in 1 heaping Tablespoon of bok choy before forming into a ball. Use spinach, kale, swiss chard, or mustard greens instead of the bok choy.
Matcha, Edamame, and Sea Salt Onigiri:
  1. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon matcha, 2 Tablespoons steamed edamame, and a pinch of salt onto each mound of rice and use your fingers to incorporate before forming.

rice balls