What Do You Need to Make Sushi?

After you find a recipe for making sushi, you know what ingredients to buy. But what if you bring your ingredients home and realize you can’t make the sushi because you do not have the necessary tools? What is needed to make sushi?

To make sushi, you probably already have much of the equipment you need. Although you can make sushi without a rolling rice mat, you probably will not be happy with the result. Ideally, you want Japonica short-grained rice and Nori, but the recipe you use determines the fillings you need. 

Sushi can be as easy or complicated as you want it to be. However, for most recipes, you will need a few basics to make it. If you want to know what you need to make sushi, let’s get started.

How Expensive Is It to Make Your Own Sushi?

Most of the equipment you need to make sushi you either already have or is relatively inexpensive. Some ingredients, such as rice, are also cheap. Otherwise, it is up to you how expensive your sushi will be since most of the cost will depend on your ingredients.

The most expensive part of sushi might be that it will take some practice to make a tasty dish that looks good. But the good news is that sushi that doesn’t look great still tastes good. If you are on a budget, you might want to start with simpler recipes that do not require expensive ingredients.

The Equipment

You can buy all the ingredients for sushi, but without the right equipment, chances are you won’t be successful. This is especially true if you are starting. The good news is that you might already have some of them in your kitchen. If you don’t, then you can improvise.  

Most sushi starts with rice, so let’s start with cooking rice.

Rice Cooker

You do not need a rice cooker, but it makes preparation easier. Cookers are programmed to make rice so that you don’t have to watch the pot. You do not need all the bells and whistles, as long as it has settings for different rice kinds. The Hamilton Beach Programmable Rice Cooker has brown and white rice settings and even includes a rice rinser.

A rice cooker makes life easier, but it is not essential for cooking good rice. Your pot should have a heavy bottom and a lid that fits tightly. And remember—keep the lid on until the rice is done. A couple of quick peeks to see if the rice is done all the peeking you get to do.

Most chefs recommend that you wash the rice. You will want to do this several times until the water is clear. So, you will need a large bowl or sieve. And you’ll need a kitchen cloth to cover the rice and keep it from drying out while you let it cool.

Rice Paddle

It is essential that when you mix your rice that you use a utensil that will not damage the rice. A shamoji is a flat spoon used to stir the rice, although the technique looks a little like the rice is being cut. Rice paddles are traditionally wooden, although plastic or silicone spoons, like the SUSHENG Silicone Rice Spoon, will work as well. If you do not have a traditional rice paddle, a plastic spatula or wooden spoon will do.  

Avoid using a metal spoon. Some cooks say it reacts with the rice, but more importantly, it squashes the rice.


Sharp knives are essential to making sushi. Vegetables must be diced or cut into small strips, fish must be cut cleanly, and the rolls need to be cut evenly.  

A chef’s knife is essential for cutting sushi rolls. This is one piece of equipment you should not cut corners on. An all-purpose 8-inch knife will be able to handle the entire job, although a 10-inch Sashimi Sushi Knife for Fish Filleting knife would be a good investment if you plan to make sushi frequently.

You will need a smaller knife for peeling, cutting, and chopping vegetables.

Rice Rolling Mat

Rolling the sushi is the hardest part of making the dish, so a mat is essential. Traditional mats are made from bamboo, but you can also find mats made from plastic that can be cleaned in a dishwasher, such as the Jell-Cell Sushi Rolling Mat. If you want to go the traditional route, look for mold-resistant mats.

Rolling mats are only a couple of dollars, but a towel will work in a pinch if you do not have one. You will want to place plastic wrap on top of the towel to keep the Nori from sticking (and keep towel fuzz from your sushi).

Cutting Board

Another essential item that you probably have is a cutting board. A larger cutting board will let you do most of your prep work on one board. If using a wooden board, cross-contamination could be an issue, but cleaning with soap and water will solve that problem. If they ever start to stink, then sprinkle some salt and rub lemon juice over it.

If using a plastic board, remember that they are dull blades faster than wooden boards.

Small Bowls

Although you don’t need to make your kitchen counter look like a cooking show, having a few small bowls for mixing sauces can make the process easier. Small bowls for dipping will aid your presentation, and sets like the Lawei 3.5-inch Mini Prep Bowls aren’t all that expensive.

However, they aren’t essential. You will want at least one bowl handy, though, as you will need to moisten your fingers frequently.

In review, you need the following:

  • A pan or rice cooker
  • A rice paddle or spatula to stir the rice
  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Rice mat

You should have most of these in your home except for the rice mat. You will probably want to get one if you plan to make sushi regularly.


Your recipe will determine many of the ingredients you need. However, a few ingredients are required. Let’s discuss what you must have. 


Some of us distinguish rice by color—white rice or brown rice. People also determine rice by type—regular, basmati, or jasmine, for example. However, a third distinguishing factor is size—long-, medium-, and short-grained. Another way to categorize rice is by starch content.

Sushi rice (also known as Japonica short rice) is short-grained white rice with a high starch content, causing it to be sticky. Can you use regular, short-grained white rice? Yes, you can, but do not expect ideal results, especially if you are learning. The stickiness of rice is critical in making sushi. 


Nori, the edible sheets of seaweed, is the other mainstay of sushi. Some people think Nori is only for sushi, but the sheets can also be eaten raw or added to soups. Nori is a high-protein but low-calorie food that starts as a red seaweed that turns green as it is processed.

These seaweed sheets are showing up more often in grocery stores. If you cannot find it at your local grocery store and do not have access to an Asian/Japanese market, you can also order it online.

Sauces and Fillings

Your choice of sauces and fillings is limited only by your imagination, and there are few must-haves, except for one—rice or sushi vinegar. Not only does the vinegar add a distinctive flavor, but it also increases the rice’s stickiness.  

Rice and sushi vinegar are not the same—sushi vinegar is rice vinegar with sugar and salt added. The proportions depend on the recipe.

Most recipes call for soy sauce. Wasabi, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds are often used in sushi, but which ones are used depends on the recipe. The same is true for the ingredients for the filling.

Bottom Line

Making sushi is as easy or complicated, cheap, or pricey as you make it. You probably have most of the equipment in your kitchen, but you might want to upgrade your knives or get a larger cutting board. You can’t buy the most essential thing you need to make great sushi—patience.  


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