Gluten Free Japanese Recipes: Avocado Onigiri Rice Ball Recipes

As you may know, the DH and I are expecting a “Baby Yum” in mid July and so have been doing all sorts of things to prepare for her, including attending childbirth classes. I had always imagined that these classes would be cuddly events involving yoga mats and back massages and spouses, so I was a little disappointed with the rather clinical, hospital-themed lectures we ended up attending. I also found myself more than a little hungry at the first one as it took place directly after the DH got home from work during our typical dinner hour. We sped over to a nearby PF Chang’s for a late dinner, but after that I wanted to bring our own dinner. (This was encouraged by the class leader/nurse.) The next class, I brought tasty spring rolls. The week after, though, I was inspired to make another international portable snack, Onigiri, or Japanese rice balls.
First I prepped the ingredients and set them out on a plate, and then I made a bunch of different types in small triangular molds:
Vegetarian Sesame Spinach Onigiri (a Book of Yum favorite)
Vegetarian fresh basil and sweet egg onigiri (a Japanese omelette made with 1 small beaten egg, 2 tsp. sugar and salt fried and then minced) with both ingredients mixed into the rice.
Cream cheese, avocado, and cucumber onigiri
Peanut Sauce Onigiri (recipe below)

The latter recipe was inspired by an earlier recipe I’d never gotten around to blog, where I used very yummy gluten-free miso mayo with avocado and pine nuts for a fusion nigiri. This time I didn’t have any on hand but I did have some of the new gluten-free San-J peanut sauce in my pantry, so I used that. It was delicious and ended up being one of my favorite rolls, next to the sesame spinach onigiri. The rolls traveled beautifully and made a very tasty and hearty dinner during our class. They would be perfect for a picnic lunch or a Fourth of July celebration as well! If you haven’t tried making vegetarian onigiri, I highly recommend it as a portable and delicious, easily gluten-free meal.

This time I used onigiri rice triangle molds similar to these above. Besides Amazon, you can find onigiri molds at specialty online shops, Japanese markets, and Japanese dollar stores (hyaku en Shoppu) like Daiso.

Product Review of San-J Gluten-Free Peanut Sauce
Thin Japanese egg omelette recipe for an alternative to a nori wrap
Festive Coconut Sticky-Rice Onigiri Recipe

Fusion Avocado Basil Vegetarian Onigiri Recipe
2 rice cooker scoops of White Sushi Rice
Nori Seaweed sheets, either square cut in half or onigiri size
1/2 fresh avocado, chopped in large, thick chunks
Miso Mayo or your favorite GF mayonnaise with a touch of salt or GF soy sauce added (if soy is ok for you)
Handful of Pine Nuts, toasted or not to taste
Julienned fresh basil OR fresh shiso leaf (I prefer basil)
kosher salt flakes
black sesame seeds
Rinse your (uncooked) sushi rice until the water runs clean with no cloudiness. Drain and cook your sushi rice in your rice cooker according to machine’s directions OR, if you don’t have a rice cooker, prepare on the stove according to rice directions. When cooked, fluff rice and let cool slightly.

Prepare your ingredients and set up an onigiri station with a rice bowl, saran wrap and ingredients. Line rice bowl with saran wrap. Sprinkle saran wrap with kosher salt flakes. Place layer of sushi rice in the bowl on top of the saran wrap, press a few pine nuts into the center of the bowl and rice, top with a little fresh basil and then add your piece of avocado to the center on top of basil and pine nuts. top with a little miso mayo, a little more julienned fresh basil and then cover with a layer of rice. Sprinkle rice on top with kosher salt. Wrap saran around the whole rice ball and remove from bowl. Compress with hands until you have a nice, tight triangle. Gently remove from saran wrap and wrap in nori seaweed so nori is open towards the top of the triangle. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds if desired.

Make more until you run out of rice. Enjoy this easy lunchbox treat. :)

*Will need to be refrigerated, especially if you use an egg based mayonnaise.
Gluten Free Vegan Peanut Avocado Onigiri Recipe
San-J peanut sauce or homemade peanut sauce
1/2 cubed avocado
1/4 sliced, cubed peeled cucumber
pine nuts
Julienned fresh basil OR fresh shiso leaf (I prefer basil)

black sesame seeds

Rinse your (uncooked) sushi rice until the water runs clean with no cloudiness. Drain and cook your sushi rice in your rice cooker according to machine’s directions OR, if you don’t have a rice cooker, prepare on the stove according to rice directions. When cooked, fluff rice and let cool slightly.

Prepare your ingredients and set up an onigiri station with a small triangular onigiri mold, saran wrap and ingredients. Line onigiri mold with a small piece of saran wrap. Place layer of sushi rice in the mold on top of the saran wrap and drizzle a small amount of peanut sauce on the rice and add avocado, cucumber, and a few pine nuts in the center of the rice mold. Top with a little fresh basil or shiso. Then cover with a layer of rice and press into a nice triangular onigiri. Wrap saran around the whole rice ball and remove from mold. Compress with hands and gently remove from saran wrap and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.

San-J peanut sauce is very liquid, so it will seep into the top of the onigiri. Homemade peanut sauce can be thicker so will not necessarily leak.

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16 Responses to “Gluten Free Japanese Recipes: Avocado Onigiri Rice Ball Recipes”

  1. I love onigiri! Your recipes sound great. I usually stuff mine with sauerkraut or other pickled vegetables, and that’s awfully good. Sometimes I even throw a little fish or caviar into the middle of my onigiri, since I’m a meat eater…

    You’ve inspired me to get some molds, I usually freeform it. Having molds would be fun – all that bento stuff is kind of addictive to look at…

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Wow. These look great! And I love the rice molds. I used to make rice into balls for my kids when they were toddlers so they could pick them up and eat with their fingers easily. Now they’ve decided they don’t like rice anymore. Maybe these fun molds would change their minds. Thanks for the inspiration and the detailed instructions.

  3. i love your blog! just added you to my sidebar of mine. have a lovely day! happy cooking.

  4. [...] did manage to post two recipes somehow: Japanese-fusion Avocado Onigiri Rice Triangles and Fresh Pineapple Spring Roll, Soy-Free Garlic-free Peanut Sauce and Nut-free Sweet Chili-garlic [...]

  5. Oh YUM! I love onigiri, but I never make them at home since almost all the recipes I know involve fish. These filling ideas sound great.

    Duck and I just discovered Daiso (we’ve been there twice already in a week and ahalf!) and it looks like we’ll be making another trip back out there for onigiri molds!

    I notice from the recipes that you don’t season your sushi rice. It’s not too bland with the plain rice? That would certainly be a time-saver.

  6. Hi Scrumptious! Thanks, hope you enjoy your Daiso shopping trip and the onigiri.

    I’ve never seen anyone use sushi-vinegared rice for onigiri in Japan, actually… Onigiri tends not to be made from sushi-seasoned rice or anything so fancy- It’s a quick lunchbox item made from fresh, hot rice and gets its flavoring from the filling and maybe salt and sesame seeds to the rice. Moms literally take the rice fresh from the rice cooker and mold it, often in plastic wrap. It’s all about the fresh, warm rice and how it goes together with the filling.

    Here’s a pretty traditional (and yummy take) on onigiri.
    (many of her fillings are not vegetarian)

    I love the taste of good rice- the sushi-type rice happens to be what is standard in Japan (short, fat grains of starchy rice) and preferred, and I don’t find it bland at all. However I do enjoy the pow added by sesame seeds and a little salt.

    You would pretty much only use vinegared rice for maki sushi or nigiri-zushi (not the same as Onigiri)… I suppose also for chirashi zushi (rice with assorted toppings sprinkled) and inari zushi (fried tofu pouches stuffed with rice).

    Here’s Maki’s very good explanation of the difference between sushi and onigiri:

    “Again it’s a matter of how things are normally categorized in Japanese cooking, but generally speaking anything made with vinegar flavored rice, or sushi rice (sushi meshi or shari) is sushi. So you could make an onigiri-shaped item with shari, and call it an onigiri, but if a Japanese person ate it s/he would probably think it’s sushi in an onigiri shape.” -Maki from

    I hope this helps! Really interesting question. I lived in Japan for several years and often spend time during the summer there so am pretty familiar with Japanese cooking. My take on onigiri tends to be very “fusion” oriented, though, partially because I think it is fun to play with my food. :)


  7. Oh, thank you! I have never made onigiri before at home, only sushi, and I guess I never noticed the rice was unseasoned when I have eaten them in the past. It makes sense, though. I am super excited to try out some of your fillings, wrapping them in rice hot from the rice cooker. Oh yum.

    I actually did a ton of research about the different components GF Irish foods, so it was my turn to answer you in way too much detail, over at my blog!

  8. I love your blog! My 13 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease and has been put on a strict gluten free, dairy free diet. We are experimenting with recipes and sorting out her favorites, I can’t wait to tell her about this site! :)

  9. Whoa! Onigiri looks nice! Perfect option for coeliacs who can’t eat at home the whole time! ^^

  10. I’m going to make this tomorrow! It sounds yummy!! ^^

  11. I made sushi for the first time tonight using your onigiri recipes. I am teaching novice nursing students about nutrition and therapeutic diets, like a gluten free diet for celiac disease. I am asking them to work with an assigned diet and ethnicity, and create a group presentation that includes sample food to taste. I appreciate finding your recipes to demonstrate that a Japanese patient who likes sushi can make delicious, gluten free sushi, when they get the right information. Nurses need to be good resources. But even further, my students need to experience first hand the lifestyle changes they will be teaching and TASTE the food, to be both knowledgeable and caring. Your blog and recipes made this possible, as I will present them tomorrow, for my students to try. By the way, they taste wonderful and I found everything I needed at the local Raley’s foodstore.

  12. Yum, I forgot to mention I substituted sunflower seed butter I buy at Trader Joe’s (GF as well) and made my own “peanut” sauce with it and OragnicVille’s GF MisoGinger dressing. I am allergic to peanuts and IMHO, the sauce tasted great. The black sesame seeds make the sushi triangles pop.

  13. [...] More International Lunches from the Book of Yum: Vegetarian Bento with Burdock and Lotus Root and Inari Zushi Fusion Tiffin with Thai Lemongrass Corn and Quesadillas Spinach Sesame Onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball) for Bento Assorted Avocado Fusion Onigiri recipes for Bento [...]

  14. Eggs aren’t vegetarian. But thanks for the rest.

  15. Vasuchiyertra,
    For the standard secular North American vegetarian, eggs ARE considered vegetarian. This is probably best demonstrated in American vegetarian cookbooks. Sticklers might call this Ovo-vegetarian, or Ovo-lacto vegetarian if the vegetarian consumes dairy as well as eggs. Vegans on the other hand do not consume dairy OR eggs. I understand that in your particular type of vegetarianism you may not include eggs, and that is fine. However, from my cultural perspective my categorization is not inaccurate.

    If you want to make the “egg” onigiri without egg, try pressing firm tofu for half an hour on a tea towel. Then slice thin strips of tofu and pan fry them with oil, a little turmeric (mostly for color) and salt, turning after they are golden brown. You can chop them up more as needed and use in the recipe. They should have the same mouth feel and similar flavor. Eggs don’t have that much flavor anyway, so you wouldn’t be missing much.


  16. [...] more Book of Yum onigiri or quinoa sushi recipes? Try these! Quinoa-only Vegetarian Sushi Recipe Avocado Onigiri Rice Ball Recipe Sesame Spinach Onigiri Rice Ball [...]

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