Salted Onigiri Rice Balls

The most simple salt flavored rice ball. Japanese moms make rice balls with their bare hands, even when steaming hot!

Salted Onigiri Rice Balls
Photographed by Masaya Suzuki

Recipe by
Reiko Hirao


Rice & Noodles




Calorie count is for a piece.

Ingredients (Pieces 1)

  • 150 g cooked rice
  • 1/2 tsp salt



Place the freshly cooked rice in a bowl and spread it out to let the steam escape somewhat. Lightly moisten your hand and sprinkle just enough salt that you can feel the grains onto your hand.


Place the rice onto one hand. Straighten the thumb of your other hand and place the thumb of that hand along the base of the hand with the rice in it, and press the rice against the hand holding it. Press the rice 5–6 times to form it.


Making the shaped rice a bit on the thinner side, about 3 cm thick, will make it easier to eat.

[Tips for making onigiri]
- Transfer the freshly cooked rice to a bowl and spread out to let cool briefly.
- Moisten your hands only very slightly.
- For the salt, try to use natural salt with the best flavor you can find. Take a single pinch between your thumb, index, and middle fingers, and sprinkle it onto your other palm.
- Stick out your thumb along the base of your other palm and press the rice into shape without using excess force.
- Press into shape 5–6 times. If you use only small movements, the rice won't keep its shape.