Yaki Onigiri

These yaki onigiri are delicious plain, since the rice is already seasoned, and the crispy crunchy rice bits are the stars anyways. #japanese #asian #rice

these yaki onigiri, or crispy pan-fried japanese rice balls, are so tasty that you (almost) don’t need to eat them with anything else. this post (originally posted in march 2016) was refreshed with new pictures.

are you obsessed with dolsot bibimbap (the korean dish with crispy rice, sesame-flavored veggies and toppings, and spicy/sweet gochujang sauce)? or arancini, the italian balls of crispy rice on the outside, creamy risotto on the inside? here’s more crispy rice in the form of yaki onigiri (crispy japanese rice balls) for you then, c/o of a recipe from feeding my ohana. you’re welcome.

hot rice is key; otherwise it won’t work and it won’t stick to the other grains. my first attempt was with cold leftover rice and that was a mess. i ended up making fried rice with it. and then, i used hot rice; the onigiri angels sang, and IT WAS SO EASY and mine even looked vaguely triangular. woohooo. second key? be patient and don’t touch the yaki onigiri while they’re pan-frying. i mean it. you’re probably as impatient as i am, but control yourself. if you really get antsy, whip out a sheet of seaweed and cut them into neat rectangles for wrapping around the onigiri, snip some chives, fry an egg, you get it.

and if you did it right (if you had enough patience to cook it and then impatience to devour), you’ll have crispy rice that’s crackly and crunchy and not tooth-achingly hard, with some tender rice in the middle. a little sweet and briny from the furikake (mine had seaweed, bonito, sesame and a touch of sugar), with the savoriness of the soy. you could add a sunnyside up egg, at which point the egg yolk drips down into the rice crevices and make it creamy and a little gooey (i’m not 100% into runny eggs but with crispy rice, i’m 87% there).

it’s perfect for anytime and anything: for breakfast topped with a fried egg, for lunch stuffed with sesame oil-slicked spinach, or for dinner with baked salmon or chicken in the middle. and i bet you could form them ahead of time whenever you make rice, and then leave them in the fridge for when your next musubi cravings hits. then you can have them whenever you want!! excuse me while i go make another pot of rice.

yaki onigiri shingled

Person holding a triangle of golden-brown pan-fried rice wrapped with a piece of nori

1 year ago: sakamoto namul (marinated bean sprouts) | strawberry and blueberry haluhalo
2 years ago: rosemary no churn ice cream pops | summer berries and earl grey cream
3 years ago: strawberries and mint cream | anaheim 2016
4 years ago: laura vitale’s granola bars | matcha cake with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream
5 years ago: thomas keller’s chocolate chip cookies | chicken dijon

Yaki Onigiri
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
This yaki onigiri gives you the best of both rice worlds: soft, fluffy steamy rice in the middle, and plenty of crispy crackly rice on the outside.
Course: Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese
Keyword: brown rice, japanese, white rice
Servings: 4 yaki onigiri
Calories: 351 kcal
  • 1 cup cooked white rice still warm from cooking
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice still warm from cooking
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T mirin red wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar work in a pinch
  • mix-ins furikake, chopped pickles, etc.
  1. Mix the shoyu and mirin. If you are making different kinds, take out about half the rice in a bowl. Mix in furikake to taste and shape into 4 rounded triangular musubi. Make sure the face is as flat as possible.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan with a bit of oil. Use a brush to coat one side of the musubi with glaze (I didn’t have a brush, so I just drizzled it on top). Put glazed side down on the pan (it should sizzle when the rice touches the paand glaze the other side. Cook until caramelized and crunchy; it’ll stop sizzling so ferociously, and the side you just cooked will have a hard crust when you tap it, and it’ll be golden brown (mine looked burnt and really dark in the middle, because the soy sauce was so dark; the edges were nicely tanned though). Flip and cook the other side.
Recipe Notes

From Feeding My Ohana.

Are you into crispy rice? Same. How about some yaki onigiri, or a grilled crispy Japanese rice ball? #japanese #asian #rice
Triangles of rice pan-fried until crispy wrapped with a piece of roasted seaweed

6 Replies to “Yaki Onigiri”

  1. Yay for crispy fried things! This reminds me of the crispy bottom of Persian rice – except now I can make it bite sized! Perfect!

    1. i’m not that familiar with persian food, but if there’s crispy rice involved then i’ll have to explore the cuisine some more! ^_^

  2. Yes to yaki onigiri! I took Japanese lessons growing up and onigiri is such a comfort food in my kitchen. Though I always make onigiri with wet, salted hands; was that not necessary with your rice because of the furikake?

    1. whoa that sounds so cool to take japanese lessons growing up! and rice in general is very comforting to me. hmm, to be honest, i can’t remember if i use wet hands or not (i used to make these a lot last year, haven’t made them much this year; also currently having a brain fart). but i do use wet hands when i make spam musubi, so i’m assuming i do for these too (and have updated the post accordingly!).

  3. Mmmmm these crispy balls look delicious!! I would make them as a fun appetizer!

  4. Sicne I’m pretty reluctant to enjoy regular onigiri that I find pretty bland, your recipe brought to whole thing to the next level!

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