Super Simple Sesame Onigiri

A japanese-style staple to elevate all your snacking needs.

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Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Dosha: Kapha, Pitta, Vata

Pretty much everywhere I go, I want to take a delicious snack with me. These Super Simple Sesame Onigiri have traveled with me to far-flung places, tucked into my carry-on but are more famous for their special appearances on bike rides and big adventures in the mountains, stashed in my jersey pocket.

Recipe Notes

A few notes on prep here:

  • Fresh is best: There are other recipes around that suggest you can use leftover rice to make onigiri, but in my opinion, this just isn’t an option because the rice doesn’t stick together nearly as well. The steam in just-cooked rice is actually an ingredient that will help the rice stay together in a neat little cake.
  • On greens: This recipe lists arugula as the green but kale or spinach work equally as fabulously!
  • Keep it warm, keep it tight: Once the rice is steamed, smoosh it together in a bowl with your flavor agents and veggies. It’s important that you do this while the rice is warm because the steam will help the rice to bond together.
  • Shape your desires: To shape the onigiri, you have two options – one is to shape the rice into square “rice cakes”. These are the sturdiest options for jersey pockets in my opinion. Alternatively, if you want to be fancy, you could use a 1/3 cup measure lined with plastic wrap to make circular onigiri. If you opt for this approach, dipping your hands in hands in cold, salted water will be very helpful. Use a bit of the water to mold the nori sushi paper around the rice, being careful not to squish the onigiri apart. The paper will just melt into itself. Let them dry for a minute, then wrap and enjoy.
  • Wrap it up: for travel I highly recommend parchment lined foil such as Skratch Paper, Lunchskins paper bags or nori seaweed wrapper sliced into strips for wrapping. These act as the perfect protection to keep onigiri contained and hands clean!
  • Equipment: 
    • 8×8″ aluminum baking pan OR 9×11″ baking sheet
    • rubber spatula OR rice paddle
    • *to make circular onigiri you’ll need 1/3 cup measuring cup lined w/plastic wrap*
  • Storage: For food safety, rice cakes should be stored in the refrigerator. Unconsumed rice cakes left out of the fridge (say, in a jersey pocket) for more than 4 hours should be discarded and NOT consumed.

Flavor Notes

Flavors are FUN, yes, but they also are the mechanisms by which our bodies nourish themselves. Flavors basically tell our bodies what the food is giving us – on a nutritional and energetic level. Our bodies then prepare enzymes to break those components down, assimilate them, and turn them into fuel for our vibrant lives. We can’t eat just one flavor and get all of the things we need, so learning to track the flavors in our foods helps us to be sure that we’re really getting all of the things we need in our meals. This particular recipe has all six flavors. The more flavors we can enjoy in any meal or food, the happier and more balanced our bodies will be. If you’re wanting to learn more about how the flavors we eat fuel our bodies – energetically and nutritively, check out this little blog post.

  • SWEET: rice, maple syrup
  • SALTY: Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • SOUR: rice vinegar
  • BITTER: toasted nori, spinach
  • ASTRINGENT: tahini, sesame seeds
  • PUNGENT: onions

Super Simple Sesame Onigiri

A japanese-style staple to elevate all your snacking needs.

makes 16 onigiri (rice cakes)


Active Time: 1 hour


Serves: onigiri


  • 3 cups freshly cooked sushi rice (still warm, preferably calrose)
  • 1 cup tahini (well-stirred)
  • 1/4 cup Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 1/4 cup organic rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 green onions (white + green parts, finely chopped)
  • 1 handful arugula (very finely chopped OPTIONAL)
  • 2 sheets toasted nori (crumbled to dust, plus more for wrapping if you wish)
  • 4 Tbsp white AND black sesame seeds (EACH)
  • flaky sea salt (to taste)


  • 1Prepare rice cakes

    In a medium bowl, gently toss the still warm, steaming rice, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos,rice vinegar, tahini, maple syrup and chopped green onions. (Also, the finely chopped greens if using.)

    Press the mixture together firmly with a rice paddle to build a bit of startch and stick in the rice. Taste the rice to be sure it’s to your liking, adding additional Bragg’s Maple or vinegar as you wish.

    You’ll know the rice is adequately mixed with the liquids when the rice sticks together on the side of the bowl when pressed firmly with the rice paddle. You don’t want any rice crumbling off the sides here, so if that’s happening, keep mixing with intention!

  • 2Shape + enjoy!

    Press the flavored rice into a sheet pan or baking pan, pressing it firmly with the back of the rice paddle to form a large rice cake. Layer all of the rice into the pan. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and crumbled nori seaweed over the top of the rice.

    To make square onigiri suitable for jersey pockets:

    Using the end of the rubber spatula, cut the rice cakes into 2×2 or 3×3 inch squares. Wrap individually, then pack and GO!

    Alternatively, you can make circular onigiri:

    To do so, scoop the flavored rice into your plastic lined measuring cup, pressing it firmly with the rice paddle or rubber spatula. Turn the cup upside down to release the onigiri.

    **I love to wrap rice cakes in toasted nori paper. Using nori seaweed strips is much easier than folding an entire piece of nori around the onigiri. To do this, cut your nori sheet into strips. Dab a small amount of water on the nori paper where you want it to stick together, then wrap the nori around the rice cake. Press firmly on the water spot, and add a bit more water if need be. Allow the rice cake to rest – adhered spot down – for a few moments to get it to stick, and repeat with the remaining rice cakes.**

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