This incredibly easy vegetarian sushi is super tasty and satisfying, with crunchy vegetables, creamy cheese and spicy sauce. See how to make it, use tons of different combos, and I’ve also included a list of the best vegetarian sushi recipes.
Why you’ll love it
- It’s simple to make and uses easy to find ingredients.
- It’s delicious, crunchy and creamy.
- The addition of a sauce makes it a bit extra, and so good.
- You’ll only need nine ingredients.
- It’s vegetarian and way cheaper than buying take out.
- You can make it vegan with just one simple ingredient swap.
Ingredients and substitutions
See what you’ll need at a glance in the photo below and scroll on down to see what substitutions can be made if you’re lacking or not fond of any of the ingredients.
Nori: These wrappers are the go-to for sushi in general, but if you don’t like them or don’t have them, you can substitute them with softened soy bean sheets, thinly shaved cucumber, lettuce leaves, softened rice paper or don’t use a wrapper at all and build your sushi on cling wrap instead, peel it off, and roll in toasted sesame seeds.
Sushi rice: Sushi rice has that perfect texture and taste for sushi, but if you don’t have any you can substitute short grain rice, cauliflower rice, or quinoa.
Red bell pepper: If you don’t have it you can use yellow bell pepper instead, or strips of sliced deseeded tomato.
Avocado: It’s delicious and creamy, especially if you use a hass avocado, but if you don’t like it you can leave it out.
Cream cheese: Using a full-fat block is best as you can slice it into thin strips that make it easier to position and roll. If you only have a tub or lower fat cream cheese spread, the type you need to scoop up with a knife, just run a butter knife over it and use your finger to gently dislodge it in a line along the rest of the filling ingredients and repeat as needed. For a vegan version, use a creamy vegan cheese that’s firm enough to cut into, I recommend my vegan goat cheese recipe.
Cucumber: If you don’t like cucumber you can substitute thinly sliced celery – although I recommend lightly peeling the outer later with a vegetable peeler to get rid of some of the fibres – or leave it out.
Sriracha mayonnaise: Sriracha mayonnaise gives a nice creamy spicy hit for a different twist on sushi. Many people don’t actually know that Sriracha mayo is actually vegan, it doesn’t use real mayonnaise but rather adds a bit of oil and emulsifies it with the Sriracha sauce. Nevertheless, if you don’t have it, you can make your own by mixing one tablespoon of Sriracha with a third of a cup of your favorite regular or vegan mayonnaise. If you don’t like it, substitute it with any spicy mayonnaise or creamy hot sauce.
Seasoned rice vinegar: I used seasoned rice vinegar for this recipe. If you just have regular rice vinegar you can season it yourself by combining a quarter cup of rice vinegar, two tablespoons of sugar, and half a tablespoon of salt, then microwave in 20 second increments and stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved. If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar and season it as above.
Onion: I prefer to use red onion for an extra pop of color, but you can use whichever type of onion you have to hand. The onion is sliced very thinly and isn’t overpowering at all when combined with the other veggies and the cream cheese, but if you really dislike raw onion you can soak the sliced onion for 20-30 minutes in cold water and then drain for a milder bite, or omit it altogether.
Other vegetarian sushi filling ideas
While I love the combination of filling ingredients used in this recipe, other filling options for vegetarian sushi are:
- Make like a restaurant and just use one single star ingredient for the filling. Popular vegetarian ones include plain cucumber or avocado rolls.
- Avocado and cucumber
- Thinly sliced stir-fried shitaki mushrooms.
- Roasted sweet potato and fresh crunchy vegetables.
- Smoked tofu, cucumber and thinly sliced pickled beetroot.
- Marinated eggplant and crisp crunchy veggies.
- Crispy vegetable tempura and avocado.
- Roasted red pepper, cream cheese and avocado.
- Pickled daikon or cabbage, even kimchi.
I’ve included detailed instructions here along with photos in case you have any doubts but if you’re already a sushi-making pro then just scroll on down to the recipe card.
How to make it
- Make your sushi rice. Rinse at least three times and drain well and cook according to package instructions. In general I recommend using a 1:1 rice to water ratio if using a rice cooker or the Instant Pot (Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes followed by ten minutes natural release). If you’re cooking your rice on the stovetop then increase the water to 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon of water per cup of sushi rice, bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cook for ten minutes, remove from the heat and leave to steam still covered for an additional ten minutes.
- While the rice is still hot, gently separate the grains with a fork, add in the seasoned rice vinegar, and mix until evenly distributed.
- If you’re making your sushi rice ahead of time, you can just cover the pot with a lid and leave to cool on the counter until you need it, but do not leave your sushi rice out at room temperature for more than six hours or bacteria could start to grow. I usually want to use it fairly soon and spread it out on a lined large baking tray so it can cool faster, and can usually use it within half an hour. If you need even more speed, you can grab a counter fan and turn it towards your spread out rice.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling. You’re adding five hard filling ingredients so they must be cut very thinly or you won’t be able to roll your sushi. Very thinly slice the onion from root to tip, not horizontally. Thinly slice the pepper, avocado and peeled cucumber, making sure to only use the meatier external sections of the cucumber and not the seedy watery interior.
- Grab a sushi mat. If you don’t have a sushi mat you can use a thick kitchen towel or a soft flexible placemat. Spread a thin layer of sushi rice on the rougher less-shiny side of the nori, leaving a two centimetre gap at the top for sealing. Sushi rice can be difficult to handle as it’s sticky, use a rice paddle or spoon to dollop it over the nori then wet your hands lightly and smooth it out over the nori sheet.
- In no particular order, add your fillings to the middle of the bottom third of the sheet or just below the midway line. You’ll want to add enough thin strips of pepper, cucumber and avocado to stretch across the sheet, a line of thin slices of onion on top, and one centimetre thick slices of cream cheese along side, then drizzle over as much or as little sriracha sauce as you want. I use between half a tablespoon to one full tablespoon of sauce per roll. Then wet the top uncovered nori with a little water using your fingers, grab the mat, flip the nearest bit over the filling, tuck in and roll tightly with even pressure until your roll is finished. Remove the sushi roll to a flat surface and leave to rest on the damp side of the nori until you’ve finished rolling all the other rolls.
Once you’ve rolled all your sushi rolls, to serve straight away wet a clean sharp knife and cup into evenly sized pieces of about two centimetres in thickness. If you’ll be eating your sushi later, just cover it with cling wrap and store in the fridge and then cut it just before serving.
What you’ll need:
- A rice cooker, pot or Instant Pot to cook the rice in.
- Measuring cups and spoons.
- A chopping board.
- A sharp knife.
- A bamboo sushi mat.
Sushi is at it’s best when eaten within 24 hours of making it, but I have stored this vegetarian sushi in the fridge tightly covered for up to three days before the nori got too soggy to make it worthwhile. The sushi will last even longer if you don’t cut the rolls until serving. Do not freeze prepared sushi as the texture will change and the nori will degrade.
This sushi is delicious all by itself but you may want to consider some delicious more traditional accompaniments such as soy sauce for dipping, wasabi, and pickled ginger.
To make a real restaurant experience at home, consider serving the sushi as a main course with starters and/or sides like:
- Vegetable tempura.
- Miso soup.
Other amazing vegetarian sushi recipes
- Easy tofu sushi.
- Easy sweet potato sushi rolls.
- Rice paper sushi without seaweed.
- Vegetable sushi.
- No rice sushi with sweet potato and jicama.
- Kabocha squash vegan tempura sushi roll.
- Easy Onigiri.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Using warm sushi rice will unfortunately lead to the nori getting a bit steamed and sogggy and even shrinking.
This is a commonone, sushi actually refers to the seasoned vinegar rice that can be served with many things, including or excluding fish.
Yes, all types of seaweed are vegan, and they’re a great source of plant-based protein too.
Did you make this dish? Let me know how much you loved it with a star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐, review, and/or comment below.
Easy Vegetarian Sushi
Delicious creamy and crunchy vegetarian sushi, simple to make and much more economical than takeout.
- 2 cups sushi rice
- 2 cups water *check package instructions and notes below
- 6 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar *or season it yourself, see notes
- 1 large avocado
- ½ English cucumber
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 1 small red onion
- 3.5-4 oz block of cream cheese (100grams )
- 6 sheets nori
- ⅓ cup Sriracha mayonnaise *see notes for substitutes
- Rinse the sushi rice until clear, drain, and make it according to package instructions.
- When the rice, is done and still hot, gently separate the grains using a fork, and mix in the seasoned rice vinegar. Spread the rice in a thin layer over a lined baking sheet, large tray, or chopping board so it can cool faster. For even faster cooling, use a countertop fan.
- While the rice is cooling, slice the avocado, cucumber, and red bell pepper into thin strips, about half a centimeter thick. Slice the onion into very thin strips from root to tip.
- Keep the cream cheese chilled until a few minutes before using. Slice into 1 cm wide sections.
- Place a sheet of nori on a bamboo mat and spread a thin layer of rice over it with dampened fingers, leaving a 2 cm border at the top without rice.
- Arrange pepper, onion, avocado, cream cheese, and cucumber in thin strips across the rice between a quarter and halfway up the sheet of nori.
- Drizzle between half a tablespoon to one tablespoon of Sriracha mayonnaise over the filling.
- Wet the top edge of the nori with a little water using your fingers. Then grab the bottom of the mat and flip the nori over the filling, tuck in tightly around the filling with your hands, and tightly and evenly roll up the sushi until the roll is lying on the damp top edge of the nori.
- Remove the sushi roll to a platter or chopping board, dampened side down, while you roll up the other sushi rolls. Tightly cover and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours until use, then using a sharp dampened knife, slice the rolls into evenly sized 1.5-2 inch sections.
- Optionally drizzle over extra Sriracha mayonnaise just before serving. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.
For sushi rice made in the instant pot or rice steamer, use 2 cups of water, or for sushi rice made on the stovetop use 2.5.
To season plain rice vinegar, add two tablespoons of sugar, and half a tablespoon of salt to a quarter cup of rice vinegar and microwave in 20-second increments, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
You can make Sriracha mayonnaise yourself by mixing one tablespoon of Sriracha with a third cup of regular mayonnaise. Alternatively, you can use any spicy mayonnaise or creamy spicy sauce you like.
Amount Per Serving Calories 451Total Fat 36gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 71mgSodium 415mgCarbohydrates 27gFiber 3gSugar 7gProtein 7g