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salted onigiri thumbnail

Simple Shio Onigiri (Salted Japanese Rice Ball)

  • Author: Yuto Omura
  • Total Time: 10 mins
  • Yield: 5-6 1x


How to make the most standard Japanese Salt Onigiri Rice Ball (塩おにぎり).  Doesn't include cooking rice. Makes 5-6 riceballs.


  • 660g Japanese short grain white rice cooked & warm (300g before cooking - check how to cook Japanese rice here)
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2-3 sheets nori seaweed cut into strips
  • A bowl of ice cold water


  1. Set up a bowl of ice water, salt and your cooked rice.
    Set up of rice, water and salt for making onigiri rice ball
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly and then submerge them into the bowl of icy cold water for about 15-20 seconds. This will stop the rice sticking to your hands.
    dip your hands in the icy water for about 20 seconds
  3. Rub 1-2 pinches of salt over the palms your hands. This not only adds the flavour to the rice ball, but also helps preserve the rice.
    Rub salt over your palms
  4. Take a handful of warm cooked rice (approx 100-150g) and pressing the edges while turning to form a triangle shape. My technique is "press and turn" until the onigiri becomes a firm triangle shape. (Don't handle the rice for too long, quicker is better.)
    shaping onigiri
  5. Repeat until you've used up your rice (you should be able to make 5-6 rice balls) and then wrap each onigiri with nori.
    wrap nori around the bottom of the onigiri
  6. Eat straight away or put in your lunch box with an ice pack. Best eaten the same day.
    Three salted onigiri rice balls on a round slate plate
  7. Enjoy!


If you don't like the idea of handling the rice too much with your bare hands, you can also put the rice into plastic wrap and shape it like that, just don't forget to add salt to the plastic wrap before shaping.

If you want to make them for tomorrow's lunch you can wrap them in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer without the nori. Microwave and then wrap with nori before eating/placing in lunchbox. 

Practice makes perfect but if you're having trouble with shaping, watch my video for a step by step guide!

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Shaping
  • Cuisine: Japanese

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