How to Roll Maki Sushi

Placing the fillings on the nori

It takes a bit of practice to roll sushi perfectly, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right on the first try. (I sure didn’t!) Just keep trying, and keep in mind – even if they don’t look great, they are still edible! Mistakes taste just as good as perfectly rolled sushi. If you prefer to make inside-out maki rolls (uramaki sushi), see my How to Roll Inside-Out Maki post.

Rolling the Maki

Lay a piece of nori on the rolling mat, shiny side down.

Nori on the sushi rolling mat

Place about 1/2 cup of sumeshi on the nori.

Placing rice on the nori

Wet your hands with water so the rice won’t stick to your hands. I find it’s useful to have a small bowl of water sitting next to my work area so I don’t have to keep running between the sink and my work area to keep my hands wet.

Wetting hands with water

Spread the rice over the nori with your hands, leaving a 1/2-inch strip of nori uncovered at the bottom.

Spreading the sumeshi

Place your desired fillings along this strip of uncovered nori on the edge closest to you.

Placing the fillings on the nori

Using the rolling mat, begin to tightly roll the sushi. Start at the side nearest to you, and roll away from you. Make sure you don’t roll the rolling mat into your sushi!

Beginning to roll the sushi

Rolling the sushi

When the sushi is completely rolled, use the rolling mat to squeeze the sushi so it does not unroll when you are trying to cut it.

Finishing rolling the sushi

Squeezing the sushi

Using a very sharp knife, cut the sushi into six or eight pieces, depending on how thick you like your sushi. It helps to have your knife freshly sharpened; otherwise it’s pretty easy to squish your sushi when you are cutting it. This can cause the sushi to fall apart when you are eating it, and become kind of a pain. Also, it helps to wet your knife before cutting the sushi, so the rice and fillings won’t stick to it.

Cutting the sushi

Almost done... all that is left is to eat it!

WARNING: Please be very careful using the knife! Do not allow children to use sharp knives, and keep fingers and other body parts away from the blade. I am not liable for any injury you might incur while using knives or other sharp objects.

119 thoughts on “How to Roll Maki Sushi”

  1. Julie -

    this is a great post, i like how its so easy to understand! now i cant wait to make some sushi at home πŸ™‚ i love your sushi blog!

  2. antics -

    we have been making our own sushi for years now and we can whip up a full dinner in under an hour (most of which is the rice cooking which requires no real effort). It’s quick, safe, and fun. If fish seems too scary just stick to the veggies. We got our best pointers by sitting at the sushi bar and talking to the chefs. If you love sushi, you’ll love making it at home! Great post, ~antics

  3. chris -

    Thanks, for the guide, I always wondered how they made it, now I can try it for my self. Looking at this guide is making me shushi hungry!

  4. Joe Banks -

    The hardest part about making sushi for me is finding the fresh fish. Any tips on how to find sushi grade fish? I go to my local monger and he usually only has tuna that is fresh enough to eat raw. It’s impossible to find yellowtail.

  5. Allison -

    Thanks everyone!

    Julie – I’m glad you like it!

    antics – thanks for the tip, I’ll definitely try talking to the sushi chef more next time I go to a sushi bar! I’m probably going to stick to veggies and cooked ingredients for now, to make it easier for all my readers who have never made sushi or are turned off by the thought of raw fish πŸ˜›

    chris – let me know how your first try making sushi goes! Good luck! πŸ™‚

    Joe – sorry… as I said, I’m definitely not a professional sushi chef, and I have never worked with raw fish. BUT…. when I do venture out into the raw fish world, I’ll definitely post something about finding sushi grade fish! Thanks for visiting! πŸ™‚

    By the way… if you like my blog, be sure to subscribe to our rss feed!!

  6. dan -

    It’s an excellent way to present different food. It’s one way to understand another culture. The sushi presentation and the touch of it is great.
    Thank you.

  7. Allison -

    dan – Thank you! That really means a lot πŸ™‚

    RussianGeek – You’re welcome! Let me know how your first time making sushi goes πŸ˜€

  8. Tim -


    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. My wife and I were able to attend a sushi 101 class at Whole Foods Market last year and have made sushi about once a month since. I love the way you have divided up the steps and included pictures, similar in style to DK publishing cookbooks. Very helpful! Personally, I find it easier to make urimaki (rolls with the rice on the outside).

    Gokouun o inorimasu,
    Arigato gozaimasu,

  9. Daniel -

    A couple of tips:

    1. Cover the mat with cling wrap before rolling to prevent it getting dirty.

    2. Keep the knife clean and wet it before cutting the sushi to prevent sticking and get a nice clean cut.

    I’m off to the supermarket now to buy some nori! Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. akthe47 -

    might want to note that sushi rice isn’t just rice. it’s rice + wine vinegar at the least, sometimes salt added, too. it gives the rice added flavor, which can be pretty critical. the above recipe is more for korean sushi or ‘kimbob’ .. that uses plain rice.

  11. Allison -

    Tim – Thanks! I heard about one of those workshops near me, but something came up and couldn’t go πŸ™ It’s good to know you find my directions helpful! πŸ™‚
    Daniel – For tip one, see How to Prepare the Rolling Mat. Thanks for the second tip though, that’s really helpful! πŸ™‚ It’s nice to know I have inspired you. πŸ˜€
    Mike – Oh dear… I hope not! I like my sushi… but at least we will still be able to make non-seafood sushi still, although I will definitely miss the seafood if that happens!
    akthe47 – See my Sumeshi recipe for instructions for making the sushi rice. Thanks for voicing your concern though, I appreciate it! πŸ™‚

  12. Allison -

    rast – I may just have to make some Kimbap, since you think it’s so good! πŸ™‚ Perhaps there will be a post about it here sometime soon πŸ˜‰ Do you have any recipes you would like to recommend?

  13. Sally Venson -

    I’d never really thought of making my own sushi before. But I imagine this is so much better than buying packaged sushi from the local supermarket. The only problem is that I haven’t seen anywhere selling the sheets of nori.

  14. Allison -

    Sally – I have seen nori at Ralphs and Albertsons before, in the Asian aisle. The nori that I have seen there is usually folded in half, so the package is only half as wide as a normal package of nori. If you can’t find it there, maybe there is a Japanese or Asian market near you? Hopefully you can find some nori and make some sushi!

  15. meat_chris -

    There are two methods to stop the sushi unrolling itself. At the end of step 6, use a little water to dampen the exposed edge of nori, or crush a few bits of rice along the edge. Just like a roll-your-own cigarette.

  16. mindtrick -

    WellΓƒβ€žΓ‚Β° I’m not interested in making my own sushi, i like only eating sushi but one thing I couldn’t pass without saying anything about is design of your web site is awesome, I mean if only all sites on the internet were smooth like this. Thank you.

  17. keira -

    hi there i looked at many different site and i want to thank you so much for keeping it simple i can make sushi!!! i had no idea how easy it was thanks so much
    Kingston ,Ontario

  18. starr -

    My sushi turned out quite good, but that Nori is too fishy and snake like. What else can I use?

  19. Allison -

    You can try making the Inari-Zushi or use wrappers such as a spring roll wrapper, or anything flat and thin, depending on which roll you are making. Some might work with tortillas, crepes or egg omelettes, although I haven’t ever tried any of those so I can’t tell you which rolls would be good with them. Good luck!

  20. Dan -

    What a concise and informative article with excellent pictures!
    This is what all how-to articles should be like:-)

  21. Amie -

    I paid $55 for a sushi workshop and we didn’t even learn how to roll the sushi, so finding this page is great. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the information!

  22. Allison -

    πŸ™ I’m sad to hear that! I would think that if you pay to learn how to make sushi, you would learn how to make sushi… but I’m glad you like Sushi Day! πŸ™‚

  23. Anonymous -

    Thanks for giving the amount of rice to place on one sheet of nori. I searched many other sites without success for this information!

  24. DJ -

    The way you suggest rolling isa very basic style. If you want to roll more like a real sushi chef then use a half sheet of nori, cover it completely with sumeki and place your filling on thefirst half closestto you. Then roll tightly. Use the mat by placing it over thetop of the rolled sushi andpress the top and twoside making a square that will seal everything in. Make sure you stop rolling just when the two edges meet or you’ll end up poping the roll and that’s just a mess. Then use colored flying fish roe to color the tops if you want to make them inside out, just rememberto turnover the nori/sumeki sheet BEFORE you fill it.

  25. nihongo geek -

    Hmm delicious. I am actually going to be assisting in such home-made sushi preparation and of course I would love to help thiose who are organizing them. I am quite clumsy when it comes to kitchen so I’m afraid I’ll waste something. I will want to try doing this one day for myself only once I find proper ingredients. It’s not easy to find the kind of rice adequate for sushi around these parts. Anyhow, I LOVE your guide. Very informative, very clear and simple. Thank you! All the best and good luck in your further sushi adventures.

  26. Michael Schoonmaker -

    About the knife / cutting – There’s nothing to be afraid of. For one, you’ve already covered the fact that it should be sharp, as that’s the safest.

    The other half is just how you use it. The proper and safest way to cut is to hold it right. Lay your hand with your fingers perpendicular to the way you’re cutting (along the sushi roll). Then curl your fingers and bring the tips together such that all of your finger nails are forming a nice little wall between where you want to cut and your precious fingers!

    Then cut, using that “wall” to protect yourself. Your nails can take it! And have fun, as Allison is encouraging us all to with her wonderful recipes!

  27. Allison -

    DJ – True, this is a basic style, and I also have a post about uramaki sushi (with the rice on the outside.) But thanks for the tips! πŸ™‚

    nihongo geek – Thank you, and I’m glad you found this guide helpful.

    Michael – Thanks for the knife tips! πŸ™‚

    Wayne – True, I’ve heard of that, though I don’t always stick to that tradition. Thankfully no bad luck for me yet. πŸ™‚

    Euphoria – Yes, real wasabi is supposed to be good for you. πŸ™‚

  28. Donnieboy -

    Just wanted to drop you a line to say, I enjoy reading your site. I thought about starting a blog myself but don’t have the time.
    Oh well maybe one day…. πŸ™‚

  29. Japanese Chef Knives -

    I remember when I lived in Tokyo, I lived in a guesthouse with mixed gaijin (foreigners) and Japanese. Me and my buddies were always trying to make sushi, and I’m not kidding, the Japanese roommates didn’t even try any of it until we had made it at least 15 times. It turns out to be a sushi chef training under a true master, you have to watch, learn, and clean for over 6 months before you are even allowed to make rice. No wonder our roommates were loathe to try ours, a bunch of Canadian guys who could barely use chopsticks, LOL. After a bit of practice I’m not too shabby now, though.

  30. Suzy -

    This website helped – thank you! Do you put the nori on the rolling mat dry or is it to be moistened first? Thanks –

  31. A Spammer -

    I have rolled sushi once before, but you have inspired me to try it again. Maybe tonight for dinner, hmmmm. Thanks!

  32. Allison -

    Donnie – Thank you! That’s very sweet of you. πŸ™‚

    DJ White Hawk – You should definitely try if you have the time – it doesn’t take a huge time commitment, and the end result is totally worth it.

    YouLin – Thanks! I agree, those are delicious.

    Mr. Knives – Haha yeah, I doubt I’d be at all qualified to work in a true Japanese sushi restaurant, but it certainly is fun (and tasty!) to make sushi for yourself and friends at home, isn’t it? πŸ™‚

    Nick – Thanks!

    Adrian – I’m glad I could be helpful. πŸ™‚

    Growshop and Mr. Master – Fantastic! πŸ™‚

    Suzy – The nori should be dry when you put it on the mat – sometimes I even hold it over a flame for a few seconds to crisp it up even more. You don’t want it to get soggy, otherwise it will be difficult to work with and hard to eat.

    Spammer – I’m glad! πŸ™‚

  33. Christina -

    I know this is a bit late, but I’ve found rather than using a bowl of water, a pair of gloves will substitute just fine as long as there is a little oil on the gloves. There
    little mess, quicker, and no sticking rice or wet hands. : )