Spam Musubi

Spam musubi looks like mini sushi sandwiches, with very dark green seaweed wrapped around rice and pink Spam.

What is Spam Musubi?

It’s a pressed sushi made with Spam, where crispy, pan-fried Spam is covered in teriyaki sauce and sandwiched by fresh rice and roasted seaweed to hold everything in place. It’s a mix of Japanese (the rice and seaweed) and Hawaiian/American cuisine (the Spam). If you don’t want pure Spam, this Spam and egg version might be more interesting to you.

Seaweed for Spam Musubi

Let’s start with the seaweed. There’s 2 main kinds of roasted seaweed I see at grocery stores: big paper-sized sheets in clear plastic, and the seasoned kind where the pieces are the size of index cards that come in plastic boxes. You want the big paper-sized sheets, since the other ones are too small (which makes them great for mini handrolls or baked sushi, but not as great for holding slices of Spam).

Yamamotoyama, linked above, is more discerning about seaweed than I am. As long as it’s not broken, it works for me. The seaweed quality is more important if you’re eating it with more delicate flavors (ie fresh fish), or plain rice, where you’d taste it a lot more. Spam and teriyaki sauce are pretty dominant though, so the seaweed isn’t going to be the first thing you notice when you take a bite.

Rice for Spam Musubi

I see you out there, all you people searching for “healthy Spam musubi.” Yikes. This isn’t the kind of recipe where you can sub out Spam for something else (you can, but then it’s not Spam musubi, it’s chicken breast musubi, or tofu musubi, or ____ musubi).

Another ingredient I feel strongly about not changing? The white rice. It has to be made with white rice. Now is not the time to pull out your deliciously fragrant basmati or your “I’m going to be healthy” ancient sprouted grain that works wonders for your digestive system. You’re already using semi-questionable meat anyways. Use white rice, and you’ll be okay.

You want to use fresh, hot rice (save the leftover rice for fried rice). I find that heat and steam it helps seal the final musubi so that it doesn’t unravel. What if you need to assemble your musubi in the morning, though? From one night owl to another, I 1000% understand if you aren’t going to get up at 6am to make rice. So, I recommend making a batch in your rice cooker right before bed. Unplug the machine and let the rice sit in there overnight. It may not be hot, but it won’t get hard like it would if you refrigerated it overnight. And if you’re concerned about the food safety, I could try to convince you that cooked rice won’t go bad in 8 hours at room temperature, or you can ignore me and wake up early to make rice. I would not recommend refrigerating the rice, since it gets hard and still isn’t quite the same as fresh when you re-heat it.

You can season the rice as you would for sushi, with rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt. I don’t, partly because the Spam musubis of my Asian basketball tournament and sweaty summer Obon festival days did not. It’s also an extra step when Spam musubi isn’t meant to be exactly like its Japanese sushi parent. Seasoned sushi rice is delicious though, so if you decide to do it, I’d add slowly to taste.

How to Cook Spam

Before you cook the Spam, you have to pick and portion it out. I like the low sodium Spam since full sodium Spam + teriyaki sauce is too much for me. You also have to cut it cross-wise, and your generosity hinges on this point (I typically cut one can’s worth into eight slices, but you can cut into more slices if you’re feeling stingy).

Have you been at the receiving end of uncooked Spam? It’s not pleasant, and according to my un-peer reviewed study, a common reason why people think they don’t like Spam. You don’t want floppy, gelatinous Spam, so cook it until crispy and golden brown on both sides.

Spam Musubi Sauce Recipe

My Spam musubi sauce is basically a teriyaki sauce, with some soy sauce, sugar and maybe a bit of rice wine vinegar or mirin if I have some on hand. I fry all the Spam, then add the teriyaki and let it thicken to get the Spam shiny and caramelized.

How to Make Spam Musubi with a Mold

Making the musubi takes a bit of time. As long as you have the right mold (this one only fits one piece of Spam at a time, but mine has the length to accommodate 2 slices; I’d recommend the longer ones if you’re making a lot), you’ll be fine. If you’re using a mold that only fits one piece of Spam, you’ll have to cut your seaweed sheets in half.

I’ve heard you can use Spam cans with the bottom cut out as molds; I’ve never tried, so I can’t vouch for those. I’ve also seen people do make this without molds; that also works, only makes it harder to stack everything on the rice, equally as tasty though!

If you’re a visual person, this tutorial shows the method I use (the only difference is they have scrambled egg, and I don’t).

Otherwise, let me walk you through it. I prep a little bowl of water and keep it on the side in case I need to unstick rice from my hands. The station also gets set with one sheet of seaweed, shiny side down (so you end up with the pretty side facing out of your finished musubi) on top of a cutting board, and the mold on top. The mold should be positioned so that it’s in the middle (lengthwise), and that the short edges of the mold meets the edges of the seaweed.

Scoop some rice in an even layer into your mold. Use the mold’s plunger/plank to press on top of the rice to gently smoosh the rice down. You want the grains to hold together, but not so much that you can’t see the individual grains anymore.

Place one or two pieces (depends on the size of your mold) of Spam on top of the rice in a single layer, and drizzle on some extra teriyaki on top.

Make another layer of rice on top of the Spam. Place the plank on top and smoosh down a bit. Keeping the plank on top of the rice/Spam/rice stack, bring the edge of the mold up and off the stack. Remove the plank.

Wrap the seaweed tightly around your rice and Spam stack. Use a bit of water to seal the edges of the seaweed (not necessary if your rice is fresh). Let the musubi rest seam side down while you make the others.

Once all the musubis have been made, cut them. I like to make each piece of Spam equal to one musubi. I cut my big log in half crosswise. The halves are still pretty wieldy, so I cut those into halves on a diagonal.

You’re done! Bask in all your mess-ups and eat those as your reward.

How to Store Spam Musubi

If I’m going to a party, I’ll put them in a container and bring. If you’re handing to a child for lunch, want to keep for a quick snack, or are selling them (somehow I’m betting you’re not here finding a recipe for commercial use but in case), I’d recommend wrapping in plastic wrap tightly.

In terms of where to store the finished Spam musubis, keep them at room temperature or cool room temperature if possible. Refrigeration is not the move here, since the rice becomes sad, dry and hard. I highly recommend serving on the same day, since next day Spam musubis aren’t the same. If you absolutely must save them overnight, I’d recommend keeping them in a cool space (ie a garage during the fall in Northern California).

A pile of spam musubi, or Spam sushi.
5 from 3 votes
You may have queasy memories revolving the squishy meat product known as spam. But pan-fried, coated in teriyaki, and tucked into a rice and seaweed hug, it transforms into lunchtime hero spam musubi. #spammusubi #japanese #hawaiian #spam #rice #seaweed
Spam Musubi
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins

Spam musubi, or Spam sushi, features crispy, teriyaki-glazed Spam, fluffy rice and briny seaweed.

Course: Lunch, Snack
Cuisine: Hawaiian, Japanese
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 643 kcal
  • soy sauce, sugar for seasoning the Spam
  • 1 can Spam preferably low-sodium
  • 1 package seaweed full size
  • 4 cups cooked rice I usually have leftovers, but better to have leftovers than not enough rice
  • furikake optional
  1. Make teriyaki sauce: mix 1 part soy sauce to 1 part sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Cut the Spam into 8 slices lengthwise. Fry in batches until golden brown on both sides. Dump the teriyaki into the pan with half the Spam and let it caramelize. Repeat with the other half of the Spam.

  3. Set a sheet of seaweed shiny side down on a cutting board. Place your Spam musubi mold on top, making sure the edge of the mold meets up with the edge of the seaweed.

  4. Have a small bowl of water ready: you can dip your hands in if rice starts to stick to them. Scoop some rice (I like to make about a 1/2″ thick layer) into your mold. Press the mold’s plank on top of the rice to gently smoosh the rice down a bit. You want the grains to just stick together, not make rice mush.

  5. Place Spam on top of the rice. I have a big mold like the one I linked, so I use 2 pieces at a time. Use as many slices will fit in one layer in your mold.
  6. I like to drizzle some of the teriyaki from the pan (from when you caramelized the Spam) over the Spam. You could also sprinkle some furikake over, but I like to use the normal ones (so no umeboshi, aka pickled plum, or salmon here unless you’re daring).
  7. Make another layer of rice on top of the Spam. Place the plank on top and smoosh down a bit. Hold on to the edge of the mold and bring it up past the rice/Spam/rice stack while the plank is still on top. Remove the plank.

  8. Wrap the seaweed tightly around your rice and Spam stack. Use a bit of water to seal the edges of the seaweed. Let the musubi rest seam side down.
  9. Once all the musubis have been made, cut them. I like to make each piece of Spam equal to one musubi. I cut my big log in half crosswise. The halves are still pretty wieldy, so I cut those into halves on a diagonal.
  10. Wrap in plastic wrap tightly and place in an airtight container. Serve on the same day.

Recipe Notes

I recommend making this on the day you plan to serve, though you can keep it overnight in a cold garage (keep in mind that people do this in the Bay Area, not New York or Chicago or Korea where it actually gets cold and there’s snow in the winter), just don’t refrigerate it (otherwise the rice will get hard and sad).

8 Replies to “Spam Musubi”

  1. I’m a vegetarian and have never had spam but you’ve intrigued me! I love seaweed and teriyaki so I know the flavors are good here! Have a great week, Heather!

    1. you could definitely replace the spam with something else! i love how meaty shiitake mushrooms are, and i know that tofu crisps up really nicely, so i bet either of those would be tasty alternatives (:

  2. Interesting! I have never tried spam. I have no idea what it tastes like.. So cannot imagine the flavors here. But I would try a lot of things atleast once so maybe it is time to buy a can of spam and caramelize it!

    1. it’s like a bouncy (weird word choice but that’s the most apt word i can think of right now lol) sausage! the flavors in here are pretty simple, though you could change it up based off of the sauce (teriyaki, and you could add mirin to that too) or furikake you use (:

  3. Substituting the spam for boneless/skinless chicken thighs or even chicken breast makes it tastes great as well so you know.

  4. I agree with absolutely everything you wrote, Heather! Sounds amazing! I love the way less than perfectly healthy foods can actually taste so dang delicious you don’t care! Thanks for the recipe. My son has been wanting to make Spam Musubi!5 stars

  5. My kids will totally love this in their lunch box. Such a cute, fun bite size lunch that will make them popular at the lunch table.5 stars

  6. Love this recipe, Heather! My son is a big fan of Spam Musubi, so this recipe gets frequent use in my house! Thanks!5 stars

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