Rice Balls Recipe

  • 12 months +
  • 12 (1 ounce) rice balls
  • vegetarian
  • gluten free

Rice balls are a traditional travel food in Japan in bentos for school, work, excursions, or long-distance trips. They are the Japanese version of a sandwich that is easy to eat as a finger food for all ages.

Because umeboshi plums have a high salt content, they help preserve rice balls for 2 or 3 days. Other fillings may be lower in sodium, making them more perishable, so they need to be eaten within several hours, or placed in an insulated bag or in the refrigerator. A breathable container helps keep rice balls fresh longer.

You will need
  • ¾ cup short-grain brown rice
  • ¼ cup sweet brown rice
  • Water to cover for soaking
  • 2 cups water for cooking
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon sea salt
  • Nori sea vegetable
  • Small dish of water
  • Umeboshi paste for filling for 12 months+
Planning Ahead

Cover rice with water and soak for 8 to 24 hours. If you don’t have time to soak for the longer time span, soak for at least 1 hour, if possible.


Cook rice

  1. Strain soaking water, add grains and cooking water to pot, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce heat and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until all water is absorbed.
  3. Use a heat diffuser to keep grains from sticking to bottom of pot, and to prevent burning.
  4. Transfer rice to a large or flat bowl so that air circulates around rice. Do not refrigerate rice before making into balls, or it will not stick together.

 Make the Rice Balls

  1. Cut nori into strips approximately 3 x 4 inches.
  2. Place a small bowl of water near work area for dipping hands to keep rice from sticking.
  3. When rice is cool enough to handle, wet hands, and take approximately ½ cup of rice in your hand.
  4. Press the rice together to form round or oblong balls.
  5. Press a hole in the center of ball, add ¼ teaspoon umeboshi plum paste for filling, and press rice to cover hole, shaping ball.
  6. Wrap nori around rice ball.
  7. Stick loose end to roll with a few drops of water.
steps for making rice balls



Substitute single or multiple fillings:

  • Cooked or canned salmon or tuna pieces
  • Tempeh pieces
  • Almond butter or tahini
  • Sauteed or steamed vegetable pieces
  • Pickles

Sprinkle the outside with:

  • Toasted seeds or nuts, either ground or whole
  • A few drops of plum vinegar
  • A few drops of sesame, olive, or flaxseed oil

You can also use this recipe to make nori rolls.

  • Use a sushi mat and place a sheet of nori on the mat.
  • Spread rice on half of sheet horizontally.
  • Spread a strip of filling across the rice and roll up with the sushi mat, moistening across the edge.
  • Slice into rounds for simple sushi.
Did you make this recipe? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think!
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A comprehensive and accessible resource for natural baby care. Nurture your baby with nature's principles for a radiant life. Grow Healthy. Grow Happy. The Whole Baby Guide is a complete resource for parents to give their babies a healthy beginning for the first three years.

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