Vegan Spam Musubi

Vegan Spam Musubi is a vegan version of a popular Hawaiian snack inspired by the Japanese Onigiri. It features vegan red lentil tofu ‘spam’ wrapped in a sushi sandwich with rice and nori sheet. It makes a quick yet delicious and filling snack or lunch option.

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What is Vegan Spam Musubi?

Spam Musubi is a popular snack or lunch option in Hawaii, often available at convenience stores. Spam Musubi has an interesting history – as Japanese people who immigrated to the United States were reported to invent this – using seasoned spam and thick slices of rice and wrapped in Nori seaweed. I have seen so many videos of Spam Musubi, but I have actually never had spam before. I thought the shape looks really cool and love the history behind it.

So here comes my attempt at veganizing the popular Hawaiian dish, with a Japanese-inspired sauce that is sweet, smoky and savory.

Why Red Lentil Tofu?

My Red Lentil Tofu and the Vegan Salmon recipe went viral recently, and a lot of people commented that the tofu looks like spam. So I made a few extra batches of red lentil tofu to create vegan salmon. This is completely optional, feel free to use regular tofu as well!

Ingredients and substitutions for this Vegan Spam Musubi recipe

The Spam Musubi has a smoky, sweet and savory sauce, similar to Japanese teriyaki. To re-create this taste this, the sauce ingredients of this recipe are very easily accessible:

  • Soy sauce: for a savory taste
  • Mirin: a Japanese cooking wine that creates an iconic sweetness taste. If you don’t have mirin, you can use rice vinegar and add 1 tsp of sugar, as mirin is slightly sweeter than rice vinegar.
  • Sugar
  • Liquid smoke: essential for the smoky, BBQ taste that is similar to spam
  • Smoked paprika powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground ginger

To assemble the Vegan Spam Musubi, you’ll need:

  • Nori seaweed: I cut it into thirds
  • Rice: I recommend using sushi or short-grained rice, and season with rice vinegar and sugar

Why you’ll love this recipe

This recipe is:

  • Transportable: take it with you on a picnic, for lunch, or for travel!
  • Easy to make and requires pantry-friendly ingredients
  • Simple yet quite filling and nutritious
  • Versatile: there are many variations of Spam Musubi, you can, for example add cucumber or avocado slices to the roll!
Vegan Spam Musubi
Vegan Spam Musubi close up
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Vegan Spam Musubi

Vegan Spam Musubi

  • Author: Veggie Anh
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 10 spam musubi 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


A vegan version of the popular Hawaiian snack – spam musubi using red lentil tofu!


Units Scale
  • 400g red lentil tofu (or use regular soy tofu)

Sauce ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbsp water


  • 3 Nori sheets
  • 200g sushi rice (or short-grained rice)
  • 2 tbsp sushi rice vinegar


Make the Vegan Tofu ‘Spam’:

  1. Vertically slice your tofu into thin rectangular slices. The optional step is to trim the edges into more round, more similar to the shape of spam.
  2. In a container, add the soy sauce, mirin, liquid smoke, sugar, garlic powder, ground ginger, and water and mix them together.
  3. Add the tofu slices to the container, close the lid and lightly shake it to marinate the tofu. Marinate it for at least 30 minutes, the more you marinate, the better it absorbs the sauce.
  4. If frying:
    • Add 2 tbsp of oil to the pan and add the tofu slices when the tofu turns hot. Let the tofu sit for a few minutes until the other side is golden. Then flip to the other side.
    • Brush the remaining marinade sauce on top of the tofu slices and remove from heat when most of the sauce is evaporated.
  5. If baking:
    • Bake the tofu for 15-20 minutes at 200°C (400°F), flipping halfway.
    • Brush the baked tofu slices with the remaining marinade sauce.

Make the sushi rice

  1. Wash and cook the sushi rice according to package instructions.
  2. After cooking, let the rice cool for 10 minutes before mixing it with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Assemble the Spam Musubi

  1. Cut your Nori sheet into thirds: I like to fold it in 3, then use a scissor to cut in the line.
  2. Bring everything to your kitchen table to assemble the Spam Musubi: a bowl of water, cooked sushi rice, fried red lentil tofu, and nori sheets.
  3. Wet your hand in the bowl of water and take about 1/4 of the rice. Push together it firmly to shape it into a long rectangular ball (similar in length to the tofu slice).
  4. On a plate or cutting board, add the nori sheet at the bottom, the rice ball, followed by the tofu ‘spam’. Add some water at the edge of the nori to seal it together!
  5. Repeat these steps for the other ingredients to make the rest of the spam musubi.
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian

Keywords: tofu, red lentil tofu, vegan spam, spam musubi

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