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grilled japanese rice balls on a white ceramic plate

Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Balls)

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5 from 6 reviews


Yaki Onigiri made with Japanese white rice, coated in a sweet-savory soy sauce and grilled until crispy. These Japanese grilled rice balls are great for lunches, snacking and are freezer friendly too!



Rice Balls


  1. Allow the cooked rice to cool down to a point where you can handle it with your hands. Be sure not to let it completely cool. Cover the rice cooker bowl with a damp towel as you work to prevent the rice from drying out. 
  2. Wet your hands with water and rub vinegar between your hands. Dip our pointer finger into some salt and rub between your hands, this will help prevent the rice from sticking to your hands. Take about 1/4 heaping cup of rice and shape into a onigiri, either a circle or triangle shape. See my guide to making onigiri for in depth instructions. You can also use a onigiri mold. 
  3. Lightly oil a pan over medium heat. Grill each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip them once to prevent the onigiri from breaking. You can also grill the 3 sides of the onigiri if making triangle shaped onigiri. 
  4. Bring the heat to a medium low and generously brush with the sauce. Flip and brush the other side with sauce while the previous side cooks (takes around 15-20 seconds, be sure to not let it burn). Flip once more to grill the other side. Remove from the pan, serve and enjoy!


  • Yaki Onigiri Sauce: In a sauce pan over medium heat add 1 tbsp + 2 tsp mirin, 1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tsp sake (optional or add more mirin), and 1/4 tsp kombu dashi powder (optional but adds flavour). Whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat and allow it to cool completely. 
  • Gluten Free: Use gluten free soy sauce or tamari.
  • Helpful Equipment: onigiri mold, Japanese rice cooker, basting brush
  • Nutritional Information Disclaimer: Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated on an online tool (Cronometer). 
  • Prep Time: 10 minuntes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: entree
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, japanese


  • Serving Size: 1 onigiri
  • Calories: 124
  • Sugar: 2.7g
  • Sodium: 693mg
  • Fat: 1.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.3g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 23.1g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Protein: 3.2g
  • Cholesterol: 0