California Rolls Recipe + Sushi Rice Recipe

This easy California Rolls Recipe takes about half an hour to make and it includes my best sushi rice recipe too.

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Hey Foodies!

Who’s in the mood for some delicious sushi?

You know, making sushi at home is much easier than people think, especially these homemade California rolls with imitation crab meat. Plus, this is a fun hands-on dinner recipe to make with friends.

If this is your first time making sushi at home, check out this guide on how to make perfect sushi rice at home in an Instant Pot and in a rice cooker, plus a few more super useful sushi-making tips.

As usual, I’ve included my best Tips & Tricks for making this easy California rolls recipe below, including the ingredients you can substitute and swap.

Plus, I’ll show you how to make perfect sushi rice with my homemade vinegar seasoning. And of course, step-by-step instructions for assembling and rolling your own homemade California rolls.

Ready to get into it? Here are the Best Tips & Tricks for my easy California Sushi Rolls recipe.

How to make California Rolls and Sushi Rice at home – Best Tips & Tricks

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1. Which ingredients can be replaced in this California sushi rolls recipe?

I love to make my homemade California rolls with imitation crab meat. It’s easily available at most grocery stores. You might find it labeled “crab sticks” or “surimi”.

However, I gotta be honest and say that real crab meat makes the best California sushi rolls. This meat is delicate and sweet and gives a nice, elevated touch to your sushi rolls. Of course, it’s also much more expensive and not easily available at many grocery stores.

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You can also replace the imitation crab meat with cooked shrimp, tempura shrimp, cooked or canned salmon, or baked scallops. Technically, they wouldn’t be California sushi rolls anymore, but the name is far less important than you loving the dish! One of the best parts about making sushi at home is that you can use whatever you have on hand. 

If you want to make vegan California rolls, replace the crab meat with tofu.

You can also try out different varieties of cucumber, such as English, Japanese, Lebanese, or Persian.

If you like more crunch or color, you can even add other fresh ingredients to your rolls like thinly sliced carrot, bell pepper, or fruits like mango and pineapple. 

2. How to make homemade California rolls spicy

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To make your California rolls spicy, try sprinkling chili flakes or chili powder on the sushi rice along with the sesame seeds. You can also top your roll with spicy mayonnaise or thinly sliced fresh chili peppers. 

3. Tips for making sushi rice at home

Before I get to these helpful tips, if you’re new to making sushi rice, I recommend starting with this article. It includes everything you need to know about choosing the right rice, making the sushi rice on the stove, in an Instant Pot, or using a rice cooker.

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Here are some helpful hints for my sushi rice recipe:

  • Do not add salt while cooking rice.
  • If you have a rice cooker, use it (way easier!). Simply follow rice cooker instructions using the white rice setting. Then skip to step #4 in the recipe. See step-by-step instructions here.
  • Do not remove the lid while the rice is cooking.
  • When assembling the California sushi rolls, use wet fingertips (to prevent sticking) to spread the rice evenly over the entire surface of the nori.
  • Don’t overfill the sushi rolls, or they won’t seal well. Wet the edge of the nori and press to seal after rolling.

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4. How to store cooked sushi rice

Before storing it, be sure to let the cooked sushi rice cool completely. Then place it in a storage container* and refrigerate. It will last about 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

Homemade California sushi rolls are best enjoyed right away, but if you end up with more than you can eat, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for one day.

5. What is the best rice to water ratio for sushi rice?

I find the best ratio for perfect sushi rice is 1 cup of rice to 1 1/4 cups of water. 

This ratio works for most types of sushi rice, however, sometimes it can vary from one brand to another. It’s best to follow the directions on the package. Or, give my ratio a try and let me know if that works well for you too.

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That’s all I have for you today, my dear foodies. It’s time to make this perfect sushi rice recipe and delicious California sushi rolls with imitation crab meat for dinner. Enjoy!

And if you like this easy California Rolls recipe video and want to see more like it, please Subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

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California Rolls Recipe + Sushi Rice Recipe - 10
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5 from 3 votes

California Rolls Recipe and Sushi Rice Recipe

How to make easy California Rolls at home with perfect sushi rice for a healthy dinner everybody will love.
Course Appetizer, dinner, Main Course, Sushi
Cuisine American, Japanese
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 rolls
Calories 396kcal
Author Mihaela


Sushi Rice Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (400g) Japanese short- or medium-grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups (600ml) cold water

Sushi Rice Seasoning:

  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp fine salt

California Rolls Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. (225g) surimi or imitation crab meat
  • 1 avocado - ripe but still firm, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 medium cucumber - peeled and sliced into long julienne strips
  • Toasted Nori seaweed
  • Sesame seeds

Optional dips:

  • soy sauce, wasabi paste, spicy mayo


Sushi Rice:

  • Wash the rice in cold water until the water runs clear, then drain well.
  • Put the drained rice in a saucepan and cover with water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  • Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until all water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. It's best not to remove the lid while it cooks.
  • Remove the pot from heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes covered.
  • Transfer the hot rice to a large bowl and fluff it with a bamboo paddle or a fork to break all clumps.
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For sushi rice seasoning:

  • Meanwhile, make the sushi vinegar. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, and sea salt until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Once the rice has cooled, stir in the sushi vinegar.

California Rolls:

  • The easiest way to assemble the California sushi rolls is with a bamboo mat. I wrap the mat in plastic wrap to make it re-usable and easier to clean. Actually, you don't even have to wash it, you'll only have to remove the cling film after you're done, and that's it!
  • Fold the pieces of nori in half, and gently split them along the crease. Place one half onto the bamboo mat.
  • Using wet hands, take a generous handful of sushi rice and place it onto the middle of the nori sheet. With a rice spreader or your wet hands, evenly spread the rice over the entire surface of the nori.
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  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
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  • Quickly flip the nori so the rice is facing down. Place the crab meat, avocado, and cucumber slices down the center of the nori sheet. With the help of the bamboo mat, start rolling upwards.
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  • Make sure it’s tight enough to prevent it from falling apart when you cut it.
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  • Run a sharp knife through a damp paper towel to moisten the blade. Cut the roll in half, then quickly and carefully, slice the 2 halves into 1-inch pieces.
  • Repeat with the remaining ingredients. You should have about 6 sushi rolls.

Recipe Notes

Here's a brief summary of my best Tips & Tricks for this easy California rolls recipe:
  1. At Tip #1 you'll find what ingredients can be changed in this homemade California sushi rolls recipe. 
  2. If you're a fan of spice, see Tip #2. 
  3. For my tips on how to make perfect sushi rice at home, read Tip #3. 
  4. Tip #4 includes storage instructions for leftover sushi rice. 
  5. And for the correct ratio of rice to water, don't miss Tip #5. 


Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 77g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 609mg | Potassium: 261mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 4mg
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