Best Rainbow Roll Recipe – How to Make Sushi Rainbow Roll

Photo: Andrew Boye; Food moderator: Brock Kesson

Grab your chopsticks, it’s time for homemade sushi night in your own home. With two rainbow rolls, Philadelphia rolls, shrimp tempura rolls, and dragon rolls served on a plate with bowls of soy sauce, it’s easy to make your kitchen feel like a Japanese restaurant. Start the meal with a bowl of seaweed salad and steamed edamame. Don’t forget sake, Japanese beer, or dry white wine!

Rainbow Rolls contain a lot of the elements of traditional Japanese sushi – spiced rice, raw fish, nori – but the formula is decidedly American. Roll inside out (or Uramaki) is a popular western style where the rice is on the outside, and the nori sheet keeps the fillings in place. In this case, the fillings are creamy avocado, crunchy cucumber, and crab stick – an imitation crab product made with white fish that’s very budget friendly. And speaking of budget-friendly prices, if salmon, tuna, and yellowtail are out of reach, financially or geographically, get creative with thinly sliced ​​avocado, roasted red peppers, or smoked salmon!

Note: You will need a bamboo mat to make rainbow rolls (and most sushi). Look for them online or at your local cooking store.

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Preparation time:





total time:





for rice

2/3 c.

Water, plus more for rinsing


(2 inch) combo piece (optional)

1 tbsp.

Unseasoned rice vinegar

sushi rolls

2 to 4 imitation crab sticks


Persian cucumber, seeds removed


Avocado slices inch thick


thinly sliced ​​raw salmon (total 1 ounce)


thinly sliced ​​raw tuna (total 1 ounce)


thinly sliced ​​raw yellowtail (1 ounce total)

Soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger, for serving

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make rice

  1. In a medium sized bowl, cover the rice with cold water. Stir the rice with your fingers to get rid of the starches, then drain it. Repeat the process about 3 more times until the water is mostly clear. Fill the bowl with cold water again and soak the rice 30 minutes before you drain it well.
  2. In a rice cooker or medium saucepan, combine the soaked rice with 1/2 cup water and kombu, if using.
  3. If you are using a rice cooker, cook it over sushi rice or white rice. If using a saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is fully cooked, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and steam, covered, until rice is puffy and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Ignore the combo.
  4. Spread the rice on a small baking tray or 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves, then pour it over the rice. Using a wooden spoon or rice paddle, quickly fold the vinegar mixture into the rice. (Don’t mix too much or the rice will get sticky!) Smooth the rice into an even layer and let it cool for about 30 minutes.

Assemble sushi rolls

  1. On a bamboo sushi mat, arrange the nori sheet with the shiny side up. Using wet fingertips, spread about 1 cup of rice over the surface of the nori.
  2. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over an entire bamboo mat, covering the nori and rice. Lay one palm on top of a piece of plastic wrap, centered over the nori and rice. Slide your other hand under the bamboo mat and flip it over so that the plastic is on the work surface. Place the mat on the surface again, then slide the plastic over the mat (the seeds should now be facing downward). Pull the edges of the plastic to make sure it covers the mat.
  3. Place one or two pieces of crab stick, depending on size, to cover the long edge closest to you. Place half of the cucumber and avocado slices next to the crab.
  4. Use a bamboo mat to roll the nori over the fillings, touching the exposed nori. Lift the bamboo mat so it is no longer stuck inside the roll, then continue rolling up to reach the far edge of the nori grass.
  5. Use the mat to gently pinch and press the roll to make sure it is tight, then loosen the bamboo and plastic mat. Repeat with remaining nori, rice, crab, cucumber, avocado.
  6. Drape the salmon, tuna and yellow strips alternately over the rolls. Place a piece of plastic wrap over each roll and press gently to mold the fish on both sides. Cut each roll into 8 pieces. Serve immediately with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

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rainbow roll

Photo: Andrew Boye; Food moderator: Brock Kesson

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