Vegan Yaki Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

Vegan Yaki Onigiri

Vegan Yaki Onigiri are grilled Japanese rice balls filled with teriyaki tofu & avocado and edamame fillings. They are crispy on the outside with savory fillings and brushed with a sweet & savory sauce. Perfect to take for a picnic or for travelling!

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What are Vegan Yaki Onigiri?

Onigiri (or Japanese rice ball) is classic Japanese comfort food made from steamed rice with different fillings, shaped into a triangle, ball or cylinder shape and wrapped with a nori sheet. Yaki Onigiri is grilled Japanese rice balls. They are crispy on the outside with soft and fluffy rice and flavorful filling on the inside.

It’s the perfect option for going on a picnic, for lunch at school or for travelling.

Vegan Yaki Onigiri in Bento Box

What the fillings?

This is a plant-based version of Onigiri, with three different filling suggestions:

  • Teriyaki Tofu: marinade the tofu cubes in a few simple sauce ingredients soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, garlic powder, sriracha and sesame oil. Then fry them in oil until golden on both sides!
  • Edamame: just reheat the edamame (if frozen), combine with soy sauce to taste. It is fun to look at and makes a easy-to-make filling.

Step-by-step instructions of how to make Vegan Yaki Onigiri

There are three ways of wrapping Onigiri: by hand, with plastic wrap or with an Onigiri mold. In this recipe, I show you how to make it by hand in the following steps. Watch the videos below the recipe to see the visual instructions for making these Japanese rice balls.

  • Assemble your rolling station with a bowl of water, some salt, the cooked rice, the fillings and the cut nori sheet.
  • First, wet your hand. This step prevents the rice from sticking to your hand. Then salt your hand, this will season the rice.
  • Add 2 tbsp of rice, then followed by 1 tbsp of the filling in the middle and 1 tbsp of rice. Wrap it to ensure that the rice fully covers the filling.
  • Press firmly to hold the shape that you want, it can be the triangle shape like in this recipe or a round shape.

If you are not confident with rolling the rice balls, you can use plastic wrap or a plastic Onigiri mold.

After shaping the rice balls, fry until golden brown in a pan and brush each side with the sauce. Alternatively, you can also airfry the rice balls.

Vegan Yaki Onigiri

How to serve these rice balls

You can serve these crispy Japanese rice balls in a lunch box or Japanese bento box alongside some veggies or snacks.

If you have tried my recipe, please let me know what you think by leaving me a review on this page or tagging me on Instagram @veggieanh. I would love to see your creations!

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Vegan Yaki Onigiri

Vegan Yaki Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)

  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Onigiri 1x


Vegan Yaki Onigiri are grilled Japanese rice balls filled with teriyaki tofu & avocado and edamame fillings. They are fried until crispy and coated in a sweet & savory sauce. Perfect to take for a picnic or for travelling!


Units Scale
  • 250 g sushi rice (or short-grained rice)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp sugar

Teriyaki Tofu & Avocado

  • 100 g tofu
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • avocado slices from 1/2 a small avocado


  • 50 g frozen edamame


  • 1 nori sheet


Make the rice

  1. Wash and cook the rice according to package instructions.

Make the Tofu Teriyaki & Avocado filling

  1. Pat dry the tofu and cut the tofu into small square pieces. Mix the Teriyaki sauce ingredients in a bowl, then mix with the tofu pieces.
  2. Fry the tofu in oil until golden brown on both sides.
  3. Cut the avocado to roughly the same sizes as the tofu pieces.

Make the Edamame filling

  1. Pour hot water over the frozen edamame and let sit for 15-20 minutes. If you have fresh edamame, you can skip this step.
  2. Season with soy sauce to taste, mix and set aside.

Roll into rice balls

  1. *If use an Onigiri mold: Add 2 tbsp of rice in the bottom, followed by the filling and more rice on top. Press down with the Onigiri mold.
  2. *If use your hands: Prepare a bowl of water and gather all the other ingredients.
  3. Wet both hands by dipping them in water. This will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.
  4. Salt both of your hands and rub together.
  5. Add 2 tbsp rice to your hand, followed by 1 tsp of the filling and 1 tbsp of rice.
  6. Close the rice by wrapping it into a ball.
  7. Press the rice around the filling firmly to create a triangle shape. Use both of your thumbs.

Fry the Onigiri

  1. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, mirin and sugar.
  2. Lightly oil a pan over medium heat, add the rice ball and fry each side for 2-3 minutes until golden. Brush each side with the sauce before flipping
  3. Remove from pan when done. Cut and wrap the nori around the rice ball (shiny shine out). Brush the nori with some water so it can stick better to the rice balls.


Wait for the rice to cool down a bit before rolling, as you may burn yourself if it’s too hot.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer, Main Course
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Keywords: college recipes, Japanese recipe, onigiri, picnic recipe, summer snack

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