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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Sushi Rice

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Sushi-lovers, good news! Sushi rice is much less about finding the right type of grain than it is about understanding what kind of rice is used, plus how to cook it. Sound complicated? Don’t worry — we’ve got all the dos and don’ts of sushi rice laid out right here for you.

What Is Sushi Rice? What’s It Best For?

Technically, sushi rice is more a preparation of rice than a rice variety. It’s made by combining hot, cooked short-grain Japanese white rice (or sometimes short-grain brown rice) with sugar, salt, and vinegar. This mixture is typically cooled, then used in making sushi.

You will often find packages of rice labeled “sushi rice” at the store, and they will undoubtedly be short-grain Japanese rice. This type of rice has a higher starch content than many other varieties, and the grains tend to clump or stick together when cooked. You can add the vinegar-sugar-salt seasoning for traditional sushi rice or you can cook the short-grain rice and enjoy it plain.

How Should You Cook Sushi Rice?

Stovetop? Oven? A countertop appliance? No matter how you cook sushi rice, we have the best method.

To make classic sushi rice (i.e., the lightly seasoned rice you find in rolls at your favorite sushi restaurant), use any of the cooking methods below to cook up a batch of simple short-grain white or brown rice, and then follow this ratio of seasonings for every 1 cup of uncooked rice.

Combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High until warm, about 30 seconds; stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Spoon the hot rice into a large bowl, then drizzle with vinegar mixture. Fold the rice over itself multiple using a rice paddle or silicone spatula to combine with seasonings. Let the rice cool before using.

How to Cook Sushi Rice on the Stove

For white sushi rice (short-grain Japanese white rice), measure out 1 cup short-grain white rice, and pour it into a small saucepan. Fill the pan with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a sieve or mesh strainer, then return it to the pan. Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (or 1 cup for drier rice), cover the pan, and bring to a boil over high heat. (Try not to lift the lid; listen for boiling cues.) Reduce the heat to low, and cook until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes (listen for hissing and crackling and try not to lift the lid). Increase the heat to high for 30 seconds to dry out the rice. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above. 

For brown sushi rice (short-grain brown rice), measure 1 cup short-grain brown rice into a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse under cool running water until the water runs clear. Combine the drained rice and 1 3/4 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the water is absorbed, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

How to Cook Sushi Rice in an Instant Pot 

For white sushi rice (short-grain Japanese white rice), measure out 1 1/2 cups short-grain white rice, and pour it into a medium bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Cover the rice with water and let it soak at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer, shaking the strainer to release the excess water. Combine the drained rice and 1 cup water in the pot. Lock the lid in place and set to cook under High pressure for 2 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

For brown sushi rice (short-grain brown rice), measure 2 cups short-grain brown rice into a medium bowl. Fill the pot with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 2 to 3 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Combine the drained rice and 2 1/4 cups water in the pot. Lock the lid in place and set to cook under High pressure for 20 minutes. Allow pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes, then carefully quick release any remaining pressure. Fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

How to Cook Sushi Rice in a Rice Cooker 

For white sushi rice (short-grain Japanese white rice), first check your manual to see if it offers specific instructions for sushi rice or short-grain white rice. Measure the rice with the cup that came with your rice cooker, then rinse it in a fine-mesh strainer. Add the rinsed, drained rice to the pot, then add water to the level indicated for white rice (rice cookers should have markings inside the pot). If you don’t have a rice cooker cup or markings inside the pot, try a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water. Set to cook using white rice mode. Let the rice stand in the closed cooker for 10 to 30 minutes after cooking, then fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

For brown sushi rice (short-grain brown rice), first check your manual to see if it offers specific instructions for brown sushi rice or short-grain brown rice. Measure the rice with the cup that came with your rice cooker, then rinse it in a fine-mesh strainer. Add the rinsed, drained rice to the pot, then add water to the level indicated for brown rice (rice cookers should have markings inside the pot). If you don’t have a rice cooker cup or markings inside the pot, try a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 2/3 cups water. Set to cook using brown rice mode. Let the rice stand in the closed cooker for 10 to 30 minutes after cooking, then fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

How to Bake Sushi Rice in the Oven 

We don’t recommend making sushi rice in the oven, as it tends to get dried out with this method.

How to Cook Sushi Rice in a Slow Cooker 

For white sushi rice (short-grain Japanese white rice), measure 2 cups short-grain white rice into a bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 3 to 4 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine the drained rice and 3 cups water in the cooker. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours; stir the rice. Cover and cook on High for an additional 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

For brown sushi rice (short-grain brown rice), measure 2 cups short-grain brown rice into a bowl. Fill the bowl with enough cold water to cover the rice, and vigorously swish the rice in the water with your hand; pour off the water. Repeat this step 2 to 3 more times, until the water you pour off is almost clear. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Coat the slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine the drained rice and 3 cups water in the cooker. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours; stir the rice. Cover and cook on High for an additional 30 minutes or until the rice is tender. Fluff with a fork and season using the ratios above.

Store uncooked white sushi rice in your pantry, either in its original packaging or in an airtight container, such as a Mason jar or tightly lidded plastic container. 

Brown sushi rice still has its bran and germ attached, so it contains oils that can go rancid relatively quickly. Store the rice in an airtight container (such as a Mason jar or tightly lidded plastic container) since exposing oils to oxygen can start to deteriorate or spoil the grains. An even better option is to store the rice (in its airtight container) in the freezer, which is not susceptible to changes in temperature and light like the pantry tends to be.

How Long Does Sushi Rice Last?

Our Favorite Sushi Rice Recipes

Short-grain sushi rice’s soft, sticky texture is great for more than just sushi. Try it in rice bowls, rice pudding, and rice balls.

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