Sushi rice bowls are a simplified way to satisfy your sushi cravings at home. I’ll show you how to turn this typically fish-forward dish into a plant-based bowl of goodness with fresh flavors and crunchy textures that will make you forget there’s no fish. I’ve added a list of all the best sushi toppings for you to choose from, plus 3 different sauces to try.
If you're not sure what a sushi bowl is, think of it as a deconstructed California roll. It's a perfect meal to share with your family as everyone can assemble their bowl the way they like with their favorite toppings.
Why sushi rice?
Sushi rice is the base of any good sushi bowl. It's important to use that kind of Japanese short-grain rice because its high starch content is what makes it sticky.
The characteristic sushi flavor that I'm sure you know and love comes from the rice's vinegary seasoning. All you need to do is add a mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar to the cooked sushi rice. It's going to be game-changing!
If that sounds a little complicated, I have a whole guide on sushi rice (with cooking tips, ratios, and mistakes to avoid) to help you get started! Alternatively, use brown rice.
Vegan sushi bowl toppings
These are my top veggie recommendations for sushi rice bowls:
- Cucumber: Thinly sliced – skin on or off.
- Carrots: Sliced or grated carrots provide sweetness and color.
- Radishes: Sliced radishes add a peppery kick!
- Avocado: Creamy avocado slices or chunks add a buttery texture.
- Green onions: For a sharp, oniony flavor.
Here's a range of high-protein sushi bowl toppings to make your bowl extra nutritious:
- Crispy tofu: Easy to prepare and incredibly delicious. Never done it? Read my post on how to make the best crispy tofu in a pan.
- Edamame: Steamed or blanched edamame beans offer 12 grams of protein/100g and a pop of green. I personally use the frozen kind.
- Roasted cashews or peanuts: Surprisingly, raw cashews contain 18 grams protein/100g and raw peanuts 26 grams protein/100g.
- Marinated and roasted tempeh: Maybe a little less conventional but such a great vegan protein source.
Additional toppings that will bring your bowl to the next level:
- Pickled ginger: This sushi essential cannot be missing in a sushi bowl. Alternatively, you can try homemade ginger pickled carrots.
- Nori sheets: I love their umami flavor and wonderful snap. Simply break up a sheet of nori into small pieces and add them to your bowl. They can be found at most grocery stores in the Asian food aisle or in Asian markets.
- Seaweed salad: A classic sushi topping, seaweed salad provides a briny, umami taste.
- Crispy fried onions: For added texture and crunch.
- Sesame seeds: Toasted sesame seeds, black or white, provide nutty crunch and flavor.
- Wasabi: Mixed with a little tamari or (gluten-free) soy sauce, it's perfect to drizzle over crunchy veggies.
- Herbs: Thai basil or cilantro pair perfectly with the rest of the sushi bowl's flavors.
How to make sushi bowls
STEP 1: Cook the sushi rice. Rinse and cook the sushi rice according to package directions or read my sushi rice guide.
STEP 2: Prepare the fresh vegetables while the rice is cooking. Cut the cucumbers, radishes, and carrots into small dice or slice them thinly with a mandoline. Defrost the edamame beans. Cut the avocados into slices.
STEP 3: Prepare the sushi bowl sauce. Do this by adding the mayo, sesame oil, chili paste, miso paste, and lime juice to a small bowl. Whisk to combine.
STEP 4: Make the sushi rice seasoning. Combine the rice wine vinegar, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until dissolved.
STEP 5: Season the rice. Rinse the cooked rice under cold water. Add it to a salad bowl and season it with the vinegar mixture.
STEP 6: Assemble your bowl. Add the seasoned rice to a bowl or deep plate. Top with the crunchy vegetables, your toppings of choice, herbs, and seeds. Finish it off with a drizzle of the sauce.
Sushi bowl sauces
- Spicy mayo sauce: I'm not a fan of Sriracha so I created a spicy mayo alternative with cleaner ingredients that's perfect for both homemade sushi bowls and Poke bowls.
- Creamy avocado cilantro sauce: Avocado lovers will love a simple crema made from avocado, lime juice, salt, garlic, and cilantro. Definitely less traditional, but still incredibly good.
- Classic sesame sauce: If you don't need a creamy sauce in your bowl, keep it simple with a mixture of tamari (or gluten-free soy sauce), sesame oil, a neutral oil, and a touch of maple syrup.
All 3 recipes can be found in the recipe card below.
- Sesame oil as a veggie marinade: Dunk the cucumber dice or slices in a little sesame oil to make them even more flavorful. You could also do the same with yuzu ponzu, a sweet citrusy soy sauce.
- Leftover rice: Use leftover sushi rice to make homemade sushi or nori wraps.
- Furikake: This rice seasoning made of nori and sesame seeds is a staple of Japanese cuisine and tastes amazing on sushi rice bowls.
- Consider adding fruit: For a sweet and refreshing touch, include fruits like mango, or slices of citrus fruit to balance out the savory flavors. Lychee, papaya, and firm kiwi are other fruits I’d recommend experimenting with.
- Maintain balance: Aim for a well-balanced sushi bowl that includes a variety of flavors and textures. Balance sweet, salty, sour, and umami elements to create a harmonious and satisfying meal.
Can I make sushi rice bowls ahead of time?
Yes, you can absolutely prepare components of this sushi rice bowl in advance for meal prep. You can cook the sushi rice, chop your preferred toppings, and mix your sauce ahead of time.
Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator, and assemble your bowl when you're ready to enjoy it. Keep in mind that some toppings, like avocado, are best added fresh to prevent browning.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, sushi rice is generally considered gluten-free. Sushi rice is made from short-grain rice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, and none of these ingredients contain gluten. The confusion may come from the fact that sushi rice is sometimes called glutinous rice, which refers to the rice's sticky texture. But it does not contain gluten.
To store sushi rice, allow it to cool to room temperature after cooking. Place it in an airtight container. Store the container in a cool, dry place for a day or in the refrigerator. Use the rice within 4-6 days to maintain its freshness and quality.
While both poke bowls and sushi bowls feature rice as a base, their ingredients, origins, and flavors differentiate them. Poke bowls emphasize raw fish with a Hawaiian influence, while sushi bowls offer a broader range of toppings and are inspired by Japanese cuisine.
To prevent avocado from browning, you can squeeze a little lemon or lime juice over the avocado slices. This will help slow down the oxidation process and keep the avocado looking fresh for a few hours.
Sushi Rice Bowl
For the sushi rice
For the toppings
- 1 cucumber
- 2-3 carrots
- 2 avocados
- 6 oz (180 g) radishes
- 1 cup (150 g) frozen edamame
- 1 cup (130 g) cashews
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- Sushi rice: Cook the sushi rice according to package directions. Mix the rice vinegar with the salt and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until dissolved and set aside.
- Veggies: Cut the cucumbers, radishes, and carrots into small dice or slice them thinly with a mandoline. Defrost the edamame beans. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit and cut parallel lines through the flesh. Scoop out the avocado slices with a spoon.
- Dressing: Add the mayo, sesame oil, chili paste, miso paste, and lime juice to a small bowl. Whisk to combine.
- Seasoning: Rinse the rice under cold water. Add it to a salad bowl and season it with the vinegar mixture.
- Assembly: Assemble your sushi bowl with rice, carrots, cucumber, radishes, avocado, edamame, cashews and sesame seeds. Drizzle sauce on top.
- Leftover rice: Use leftover sushi rice to make homemade sushi or nori wraps.
- Sauce #2: Avocado cilantro sauce: blend 1 avocado with 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 handful of fresh cilantro, a pinch of salt, and a splash of water until creamy.
- Sauce #3: Classic sesame dressing: combine 3 tablespoons of neutral oil with 1 tablespoon of tamari, 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil, and 2 teaspoons of maple syrup.