[VIDEO] The Easiest Homemade California Roll

Homemade California Roll stuffed with imitation crab, cucumber sticks and slices of avocado made at the comfort of your own home. This easy roll is a quick lunch or dinner when served with salad or soup. So if you LOVE sushi, then you are in for a treat because you can definitely make it home.

What is California Roll?

California Roll or California Maki is a modern inside out maki sushi variation or reverse sushi as some people call it. A maki is a sushi wrapped with nori seaweed, this means the nori is on the outside (reverse). The inside out sushi has 2 layers of rice, the outside is fully covered with sushi rice, while the inside only have partial rice. The sushi is stuffed with imitation crab meat, sometimes as sticks like in this recipe or shredded and mix with mayonnaise. Avocado and cucumber stick is also used for stuffing also some variations use only shredded crab meat.

California Roll By SweetNSpicyLiving

The inside out sushi is known as a uramaki sushi while the regular seaweed out maki sushi is known as a futomaki. Quite challenging for me to remember these names so I just referred to it as reverse sushi for the one with the rice outside.

California Roll

Perfectly Cooked Sushi Rice

First, you will need a sushi rice to make a sushi roll. Sushi rice is a rice seasoned with white vinegar, salt and sugar. You can cook the rice on stove-top or by using a rice cooker. How to tell if you’ve cooked the rice perfectly? After the rice is steamed, the texture should be fluffy with a firm bite. And each rice grain should be sticky yet retain its shape (not mushy). Mushy rice means it has too much water or it’s overcooked.

How to Make California Roll

Sriracha Mayonnaise

I always make it a point to add some sort of sauce or dressing to any Japanese Roll that I make. It makes a huge difference in taste and in the experience. Without any sauce or dressing, it could be dry and not as satisfying to eat. You can buy Sriracha mayonnaise or Japanese mayonnaise or you can make your own, like what I did here. You can also use plain mayonnaise if you are in a hurry and really hungry.

  • Mayonnaise – any kind of mayonnaise will work. Regular, light or even vegan mayonnaise. 
  • Sriracha – Sriracha is a spicy chili sauce. I only used a small amount, but it you like it extra spicy you can add more
  • Lemon Juice – this will help make the consistency light and will add a nice tangy taste to the dressing
  • Salt  – small amount goes a long way. I find it slightly bland without the salt, definitely don’t skip it
  • Sugar – The small amount will enhance the taste of the dressing, don’t worry it is not going to make the dressing sweet at all, but definitely don’t skip it

The Fruit & Vegetable

Avocado and cucumber are the common ingredients used for California Roll, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot add other vegetable if you want to. This is your homemade California Roll after all, do as you please.

Small Batch California Roll

Adding Vinegar to Make Sushi Rice

Apparently, Japanese used to wrapped fish in fermented rice a long time ago to preserve the fish. Once they are ready to eat the fish, the fermented rice is then throw away. As time goes by, people stopped using fermented rice to preserve the fish, instead they just added vinegar to rice keep the shelf life of the fish longer. The addition of vinegar enhances the taste of the rice, and hence they enjoyed eating both the rice and fish together. Fast forward to current time, what we have now is the Sushi

Tips in Making Sushi Rice

  1. Use the Right Type of Rice: Traditionally, sushi rice is made using Japanese rice. The consistency, texture and flavor of Japanese rice is very different from long-grain rice, jasmine rice, or other types of rice. It has higher content of moisture and is stickier when cooked. If you cannot find Japanese rice, use at least a short grained rice.
  2. Rinse and Soak: Rinse, rinse, rinse until no more starch comes out from the water. If you have time, let the rice soak for at least 30 minutes for better texture. Soaking enlarge the grain of the rice, producing a fluffy cooked grains.
  3. Season the Rice: What makes sushi rice different from regular rice is that sushi rice is a seasoned rice. The basic seasonings needed for sushi rice include white vinegar, salt, and sugar to achieve the balance of sweet, salty and sourish taste.

Sushi Mat

A sushi mat is made of many thin sticks of bamboo tied together into a mat. Sushi mats are used for making sushi rolls. The mat acts as a guide for easy rolling.  

Why do you wrap the sushi mat with plastic sheet?

To avoid the rice from sticking to the mat you need to put a layer or wrapping of plastic on it. I see people using the mat without the plastic which is possible but it will be quite messy. So do yourself a favor and do not go to that messy situation. A simple plastic wrap will make your sushi making a pleasant experience.

Can I make sushi without sushi mat?

Yes you can. Instead of using sushi mat, use a towel. Lay the towel on a flat surface then put a plastic wrap on top of it. Then lay the nori on top and follow the same instruction as when you assemble the roll (step #7).


I like making variations of this sushi and feel free to experiment and unleash your creativity. You can replace the imitation crab meat with real crab meat, use shredded crab meat mix with mayonnaise, use tuna, salmon, cooked shrimp or masago (fish roe). They will not be called california roll anymore if you did not use crab meat, but it is just the name. The important thing is that you enjoy eating it.

Serving Ideas:

I had tried eating this without the garnishing and I did not feel as satisfied with it. This is why I said garnishing is optional but highly recommended. The sushi sauce and the picked ginger adds a packed of flavor to the sushi. Wasabi is optional if you do not like spicy sauce, but get yourself bottle of sushi sauce and picked ginger. It is worth the buy when you are making your own sushi at home.

The Easiest Homemade California Roll By SweetnSpicyliving


  • 1 cup uncooked short grain Rice (measurement using rice cooker measuring cup, about 1/2 cup using baking measuring cup)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 teaspoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon White or Black Sesame Seed
  • 1 piece Nori
  • 2 Cucumber Sticks
  • 2 Avocado slice
  • 2 tablespoon Mayonnaise

Garnishing (Optional but Highly recommended)

  • Sushi Sauce
  • Wasabi Paste
  • Pickled Ginger


  1. Cook the Rice (Using Rice Cooker): Transfer the rice in a pan. Rinse with water, 3 -4 times until the rice until the water is almost clear. Add water and cook the rice.
    • Alternatively, you can also cook the rice on stove-top just like how you cook regular rice.
  2. Make the Sushi Vinegar: In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, salt and sugar. Set aside while you wait for the rice to cook. if making a large batch for future use, mix everything in a pan and bring to simmer until the salt and sugar is completely dissolved. You can also use microwave.
  3. Make the Sushi Rice: Transfer the cooked rice in a bowl. Pour the sushi vinegar, then sprinkle black and white sesame seed. Mix until combined. Spread the rice so the it cools faster. Keep on mixing until the rice cools down. Cover with damp towel until ready to use.
  4. Make the Sriracha Mayo: In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise, sriracha, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Stir to combine. Alternatively, you can also use plain mayonnaise or store-bought Japanese mayonnaise.
  5. Prepare the Avocado & Cucumber Cut the Avocado and cucumber into sticks or thin wedges for Avocado.
  6. Make California Roll: The make the roll, lay the Nori on the Sushi mat. Spread the sushi rice on top, enough to cover the entire surface or the Nori. Press the rice as you spread it so it sticks nicely. Sprinkle sesame seed on top of the rice. Flip the Nori so that the rice side is facing down, and the nori is facing up. We are making a reverse style sushi. Add more rice to the end close to you, just about 2-inches of the end. Drizzle mayonnaise on top of the rice. Arrange the crab stick, cucumber stick and sliced avocado on top of the rice. Roll tightly until the end. Un-roll and remove the sushi mat.
  7. Cut: Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 8 pieces. Slowly move the knife forward and backward until it cuts through the roll. Wipe the knife with water and paper towel for every cut. I find that serrated knife works better for this one, but if you have sharp smooth knife that could make a clean cut, then use it.
  8. Serve: Transfer the sliced roll into a serving plate.
  9. Garnishing (optional): Garnishing are optional but highly recommended. Serve with wasabi, picked ginger and sushi sauce on the side. You can buy all this in the grocery.

Serves 1 -2

The Easiest Homemade California Roll

Nutritional Information

Nutritional Information was calculated using Veryfitwell Recipe Calorie and Nutrition Calculator. For details about Nutritional Information in this website, please read the Disclaimer page.

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