California Roll Recipe

Sushi is one of those dishes that can look particularly challenging to make if you've never tried to make it. The rice, the pretty little pieces of internal "goodies," and the seaweed wrapper look deceivingly hard to wrap up. Getting it right can feel a little intimidating, but in reality, it's actually quite easy to make. In fact, the easy prep of this dish is the main reason that recipe developer Jaime Shelbert of Wholly Nourished loves to make it. If you've got prepared sushi rice on hand (and there are brands of pre-cooked sushi rice you don't even have to prepare), the entire meal takes just 30 minutes to make with absolutely no cooking time involved. Just make sure you're actually using sushi rice, rather than other types. "Sushi rice is much stickier than regular white rice which makes it easier to make a sushi roll," explains Shelbert. "The sticky texture is achieved by steaming the rice and using less water to prepare." 

Also, keep in mind that you'll need a bamboo sushi mat and plastic wrap to make this recipe most effectively. So if you're looking for a tasty dish to switch up your regular dinner rotation, especially when you don't want to cook over a hot stove, add the ingredients for these California sushi rolls to your next shopping list. 

Gather your ingredients for California rolls

You don't need too many ingredients to make California rolls, but unless you cook international dishes on a regular basis, you'll likely need to pick up at least a few of the ingredients from the store. Also, while most large grocery chains carry common international ingredients like nori sheets, you may also want to shop at a local Japanese or Asian grocery if there's one near you. For this recipe, you'll need nori sheets (AKA dried seaweed), 4 cups of prepared sushi rice, 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds, one thinly sliced avocado, one thinly sliced Persian cucumber, and 4 ounces of imitation crab sticks. 

Lay out the nori wrap and add sticky rice

Preparing to wrap your rolls is almost more work than actually making the dish. Start by placing a bamboo sushi mat on your counter, then wrap it with plastic wrap. This will help keep the sushi rice from sticking to the mat or other surface. You'll want to keep your fingers wet as you work with the rice, so place a bowl of water next to your working space for easy access. Put a nori sheet on top of the plastic wrap with the rough side facing up. Add a cup of the prepared sushi rice on top of the nori sheet. Wet your fingers and spread the rice over the nori sheet in an even layer. Sprinkle the rice with 1 ½ teaspoons of sesame seeds.

Flip and add the classic California roll fillings

The rice layer will actually end up on the outside of your sushi roll, so to have the other fillings on the inside, you need to flip the entire nori sheet over so the rice side is facing down. Once you've flipped it over, add three to four slices of avocado (remember, these should be very thinly sliced), five to six slices of cucumber, and one imitation crab stick (sliced in half, lengthwise) to the center of the nori sheet. Try to make the fillings as evenly distributed across the nori sheet as possible.

Roll and slice your sushi

Grab the bottom edge of the bamboo mat and start rolling the sushi into a tight log. You'll use the sushi mat to "pack the ingredients tightly" and keep everything together as you roll. When you've rolled everything up, pull the bamboo mat away from the roll. If the plastic wrap comes off as you pull the bamboo away, rewrap the roll in the plastic wrap, as this will help with cutting. Then, wet a very sharp knife and cut the log into six to eight separate pieces. This makes a single serving. 

Repeat the process and serve

Once you've cut the first sushi log into individual pieces, set them aside and remove the plastic wrap from each slice. You'll repeat this process with the remaining ingredients, creating four servings of sushi, perfect for a summertime dinner. Shelbert suggests serving with soy sauce, as it's the most traditional dipping sauce, but there are other options. "Spicy mayo is an option as well. It can easily be made by mixing sriracha with mayo," she explains. And as far as turning it into a more hearty meal, Shelbert offers a few easy suggestions. "Miso soup, edamame, and seaweed salad are three great options to serve along sushi." 

California Roll Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
Thanks to this California roll recipe, it's never been easier to make fresh, delicious sushi in your own home.
Prep Time
Cook Time
california sushi rolls
Total time: 30 minutes
  • 4 nori sheets
  • 4 cups sushi rice, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces imitation crab sticks
  1. Wrap a bamboo sushi mat with plastic wrap. Fill a small bowl with water and set it close to the mat.
  2. Place a nori sheet on the plastic wrap with the rough side facing up.
  3. Place 1 cup of rice on top of the nori. Working with wet fingers, spread the rice evenly, covering the entire sheet. Sprinkle with 1 ½ teaspoons of sesame seeds. Flip the nori sheet over so the rice side is now facing down.
  4. Place 3 to 4 thin slices of avocado in the center of the sheet, followed by 5 to 6 thin slices of cucumber. Finish off by placing 1 crab stick, sliced in half lengthwise, in the center of the sheet.
  5. Grab the bottom edge of the mat and start rolling the sushi into a tight log, lifting the edge of the bamboo mat as you roll.
  6. Pull the bamboo off of the sushi. At this point if the plastic wrap came off of the roll, rewrap it in the plastic wrap for cutting.
  7. Wet a sharp knife and cut the sushi into 6 to 8 pieces.
  8. Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients, until you have 4 rolls.
  9. Serve with soy sauce or desired sauce.
Calories per Serving 839
Total Fat 10.9 g
Saturated Fat 1.8 g
Trans Fat 0.0
Cholesterol 5.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 165.3 g
Dietary Fiber 4.2 g
Total Sugars 2.5 g
Sodium 157.6 mg
Protein 17.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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