Go Back
+ servings
Sushi rice covered in a damp pink dishcloth to prevent it from getting dried out.

Sushi Rice

With the right technique, making sushi rice at home is a piece of cake. Here's my step-by-step process for making the best sushi rice from scratch, just like the best sushi restaurants in Japan.

Course Basics, Sides
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword sushi
Level Beginner
Main Ingredient Rice
Diet Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Fat, Pescatarian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 serving
Calories 223 kcal


  • 310 grams Japanese short-grain rice (2 cooker cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Put the rice in a sieve(with holes small enough so the rice doesn't pass through) over a bowl and wash the rice with cold tap water.
    Washing sushi rice in cold water.
  2. Use your hands to remove the excess starch off each grain of rice by using a gentle rubbing motion. If you scrub too hard you will break the rice, so don't be too rough.
    Scrubbing sushi rice with hands.
  3. When the water that runs off is mostly clear, drain the rice.
    Clear water draining off clean sushi rice.
  4. If you're using a rice cooker, add the rice to the bowl of the rice cooker and add cold water to just under the 2 cup line (you want the rice to be on the firm side as you'll be adding the seasoned vinegar after the rice is cooked). If you don't have a rice cooker, add the rice to a large heavy bottomed non-stick pot, then add 1 1/2 cups of cold water and cover it with a lid.

    Sushi rice soaking in water before cooking.
  5. Ideally you want to let the rice sit in the water for at least 30 minutes before you start cooking it. This allows the grains of rice to soak up some water before cooking, which results in shinier rice with a better texture.

  6. If you are using a rice cooker, turn it on and let it do it's thing. If you are doing this on the stove, turn the heat onto high and bring the rice to a boil (be careful not to let it boil over). Turn down the heat to low and set a timer for 15 minutes. Once the rice is done, turn off the heat and let the rice steam for 10 minutes.

    Sushi rice coming to a boil in a covered pot.
  7. While you wait for the rice to cook, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl. You can microwave it for a bit to help dissolve the sugar.
    Mixing rice vinegar, sugar and salt together to make sushi vinegar.
  8. After the rice has had a chance to steam, it should be firm, but the core should not be crunchy. It should be sticky, but each grain of rice should retain its own shape. If your rice was fresh, the surface of each grain should be glossy.
    Cooked sushi rice in a pot.
  9. Dump the rice out into a very large bowl, the key is that you want a container with a lot of surface area so you can spread the rice out to cool it rapidly. Gently flatten out the rice and then pour the vinegar mixture evenly over the hot rice.

    Cooked rice in a wooden sushi oke.
  10. Use a shamoji, spatula or a flat wooden spoon to gently combine the rice and vinegar using a side-to-side cutting motion followed by a folding motion. You want to separate each grain of rice, so the vinegar penetrates every surface, but you don't want to break the grains of rice or mash them together. 

    Sushi vinegar being poured over hot rice.
  11. While you mix the rice, hold a fan or piece of cardboard, or a clean hairdryer set to cool and blow air on the rice. This cools the sushi rice and helps the excess liquid evaporate quickly, which gives your rice a nice shine and prevents it from getting mushy. It's a bit tricky mixing and fanning at the same time, so a second set of hands can be helpful here. 

    Using a fan to rapidly cool sushi rice.
  12. The sushi rice is done when the surface is no longer wet and slippery, the rice is fluffy, and each grain is very shiny. It will still be a little warm, but it should not be hot.

    Folding sushi vinegar into rice.
  13. Mound up the rice, and cover with a damp towel until you're ready to use it.

    Keeping sushi rice covered with a damp towel prevents it from drying out.


A rice cooker cup does not equal 1 US cup. If you don't have a rice cooker, use the weight measure.

Nutrition Facts
Sushi Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 223
% Daily Value*
Sodium 393mg16%
Potassium 62mg2%
Carbohydrates 49g16%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 3g6%
Calcium 17mg2%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.