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Grilled rice balls or yaki onigiri served wrapped with perilla leaves.

Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls)

These Yaki Onigiri, or grilled rice balls, have a layer of fluffy rice sandwiched between two ultra-crispy layers of browned rice. Seasoned with butter and soy sauce, they make a mouth-wateringly delicious meal from just a few basic ingredients.
Course Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword bento, rice-ball
Level Beginner
Main Ingredient Rice
Diet Pescatarian, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 rice balls
Calories 274kcal


For rice

  • 160 grams Japanese short-grain rice (1 rice cooker cup or 3/4 US cup)
  • 1 cup water

For onigiri

  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Use the measuring cup and water lines on the cooker bowl to cook 1 rice cooker cup of rice.
    Setting a rice cooker.
  • If you're doing it on the stove, wash the rice in a few changes of water until it runs mostly clear. Drain it in a sieve. Add the rice to a tall pot along with 1 US cup of water. Cover the pot with a lid, and then bring the water to a boil over high heat. As soon as it's boiling, turn the heat down as low as it will go. Set a timer for 13 minutes. After the timer goes off, turn the heat off and let the rice continue steaming for another 10-15 minutes. Do not open the lid at any point during the cooking or steaming process.
    Rice steaming in a pot.
  • Once it's done steaming, pour the soy sauce evenly over the rice and use a folding and cutting motion with a spatula or rice paddle to evenly distribute the soy sauce until the rice is uniform in color.
    Mixing rice with soy sauce to make yaki onigiri.
  • Level off the top of the rice and then divide it into thirds like a pizza.
    Dividing rice to make onigiri.
  • If you're shaping the onigiri by hand, click this link for specific instructions. If you're using an onigiri press, just get it wet and stuff each mold with a segment of rice. Press the onigiri together more than you normally would for onigiri so that it holds its shape.
    Shaping rice in a plastic onigiri mold.
  • Put the onigiri on a parchment-lined tray. Dust each onigiri with a thin layer of potato starch by passing it through a fine-mesh sieve like a tea strainer. Flip the onigiri over and dust the other side. Try not to get starch onto the sides of the onigiri.
    Dusting rice balls with potato starch.
  • Put a non-stick frying pan over medium-low heat and when it is moderately hot, add about half of the oil and arrange the onigiri, so they're sitting on a small pool of oil.
    Pan-frying yaki onigiri.
  • Fry undisturbed until they're golden brown and crisp on one side (about 7-10 minutes).
  • Flip them over, and then add a bit more oil to fry the second side until crisp and browned.
    Flipping yaki onigiri over.
  • Finish the Yaki Onigiri off by melting some butter directly onto each browned surface of the onigiri and then roll them on their 3 sides to cook any stray starch.
    Buttering yaki onigiri.
  • Serve the grilled rice balls wrapped in shiso or nori.
    Plating Yaki Onigiri on top of Shiso leaves.


Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 708mg | Potassium: 74mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 117IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 3mg