What to Do with Leftover Sushi Rice: A Japanese Guide

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Woman mixing the sushi rice in a wooden bowl with a text "what to do with leftover cauliflower rice"

What do you think of when someone mentions Japan?

Is it the delicate pink cherry blossoms?

Perhaps the massive anime and manga subculture?

Or maybe the famous Nintendo games?

Japan has so much to offer (a lot more than those mentioned). No doubt. 

But if you were to ask me, I’ve always associated Japan with the food, specifically, sushi.

Kinda fitting for today’s article, actually. 

When the cravings for sushi hit me like a bullet train, I end up satisfying them. And then some… 

I (almost always) get a view of Mount Fuji right here in my kitchen after having my fill. 

Not as majestic nor iconic as the one in Japan, though. Mine is just the Walmart version (aka leftover rice). 

So, what to do with leftover sushi rice?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll be at your wits end coming up with Japanese-themed recipes.

Hi there foodies! Come and join me on another leftover rice-themed journey where we travel all the way to the East.

Welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun!

A Grain of History

Sushi rice in a wooden bowl with wooden ladle.

But before anything else, how about taking a moment to appreciate our main ingredient. 

Sushi rice is from a short grain rice variety. It becomes sticky when cooked with sugar, salt, and sweet vinegar. 

While sushi has been heavily associated with Japan, the act of pairing fermented rice with fish originated in Southeast Asia and only came to Japan during the 8th century.

It was during the Edo period that sushi developed into the famous nigiri style we all know of today. 

This was all thanks to Hanaya Yohei. He made innovations in the sushi presentation, created a prominent sushi stall, and trained many apprentices. 

Arigato, Sensei Hanaya!

You’ve inspired countless chefs then.

You’re about to inspire this article on what to do with leftover sushi rice now.


This scrumptious rice ball is Japan’s answer to the sandwich. It was a staple for samurais who packed this portable rice ball during battles. 

So, does this make us samurais? 

But instead of the battlefield, we’ll pack our onigiris for picnics at the park.

And oh! Make sure to shape those onigiris with the utmost precision. 

The Japanese people believed them to contain the maker’s spirits and intentions. It brings good luck and happiness as well. 

So you better put some heart into this.


  • 2 cups of leftover sushi rice
  • 4 tbsp of any fillings of your choosing (tuna mayo for the win)
  • 2 sheets of nori
  • Pinch of salt


  • Bowl of water
  • Plastic wrap (but this one’s optional)
  • Rice mold (optional as well, but believe me when I say that this will make your life easier)


  1. Dip your hands in the bowl of water and sprinkle them with salt.
  2. Take ½ cup of sushi rice and form it into a triangle or ball.
  3. Create a small indentation in the middle.
  4. Add a tablespoon of filling and make sure the rice encases the filling completely.
  5. Wrap a strip of nori around the rice.

Did you know that the triangular shape of onigiri isn’t entirely for aesthetic purposes? It helps in compacting the rice and making it easier for us to eat. 

We’re nothing if not efficient.


Chahan fried rice in a white plate.

Chahan is a Japanese fried rice dish that was inspired by Chinese-style fried rice. It made its first appearance in Nippon back in the late 19th century. 

This dish deserves a spot in what to do with leftover sushi rice because of its versatility. 

You can use whatever leftover you have. Just grab everything in the fridge if that’s the case then. 

Chahan is also a common dish found in Japanese izakayas and ramen shops. 

Anyone up to hitting one soon? Just let me know when and where.


  • 2 cups of leftover sushi rice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup of mixed veggies
  • ½ cup of cooked chicken or shrimp
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • Salt and pepper


  • Wok (large frying pan)
  • Spatula


  1. Over medium fire, heat the wok and add sesame oil.
  2. For 30 seconds or until fragrant, stir-fry the garlic.
  3. For 2-3 minutes, cook the mixed veggies until tender.
  4. Set aside the veggies and crack the eggs into the empty space. Make sure to scramble until fully cooked. 
  5. Add the leftover sushi rice and chicken (or shrimp) to the pan and stir everything together. 
  6. For another 3-4 minutes, stir-fry everything with the addition of soy sauce.
  7. Season with salt and pepper, then add the green onions before serving.

Ever wondered why the fried rice needed to go to therapy? ‘Cause it couldn’t wok out of its problem. 

Okay, bye!


Okonomiyaki in a black plate.

We’ve made sandwiches. We’ve created fried rice. 

Now, we’re doing pancakes. The Japanese way.

Wait up. Okonomiyaki is often referred to as “Japanese pizza.” 

Why is it compared to pancakes, then? 

Pizza because of its customizable toppings. But truly, it’s more similar to pancakes when it comes to cooking and preparation methods. 

I didn’t make the rules. Don’t come at me!


  • 2 cups of leftover sushi rice
  • 1 cup of shredded cabbage
  • ½ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup of chopped green onions
  • ½ cup of cooked bacon (or seafood)
  • Okonomiyaki sauce
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • Aonori flakes


  • Large mixing bowl
  • Non-stick frying pan
  • Spatula


  1. Make a batter by mixing the flour and water in a large bowl.
  2. Add the egg.
  3. Stir in the rice, cabbage, green onions, and cooked bacon into the mix.
  4. Over medium fire, heat the non-stick pan then grease with oil.
  5. Pour the batter into the pan to form a large pancake.
  6. Cook this for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  7. Drizzle with okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise.
  8. Sprinkle with aonori flakes.

Okonomiyaki translates to “grill as you like it.” 

That’s basically your go signal to cook this dish with whatever toppings you like. 

Personalize it and have fun!

Sayonara, Leftovers

Well, foodies, how about that? 

Three answers to one question. 

So if you ever find yourself asking what to do with leftover sushi rice, why not give these three recipes a go. 

If your cravings are still not satisfied, you have mine and Sensei Hanaya’s blessing to start a little culinary rebellion in the kitchen.

After all, the best recipe may yet to reveal itself. Until then…

Mata ne!

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