Sushi can be a hard sell for kids, who are often picky eaters and might associate sushi with raw fish. Still, introducing your kids to sushi early on could make them more likely to give it a try. Not only is sushi a healthy, filling snack, but it’s relatively easy to make with the right kitchen tools.
Here are eleven simple sushi recipes that kids will love to make and eat:
- Avocado Rolls
- Raw Veggie Rolls
- California Rolls
- Tuna Salad Rolls
- Spicy Tuna Rolls
- Philadelphia Rolls
- Shrimp Tempura Rolls
- Sweet Potato Rolls
- Rainbow Rolls
- Candy Sushi
This article will offer a list of ingredients for each sushi dish listed and explore possible modifications you can make for your family. Sushi is extremely customizable, and you can alter any of these recipes to your liking.
1. Avocado Rolls
One of the simplest kinds of rolls you can whip up with your kids is the avocado roll. It’s tasty and has only one ingredient, which might ease the minds of suspicious picky eaters.
You can flavor avocado rolls with soy sauce, lemon juice, or aioli, depending on what flavors your kids’ prefer. Avocado rolls are the most basic of any on this list and don’t offer much in the way of textures or flavors, so adults might find avocado rolls a little boring.
- Sushi rice
2. Raw Veggie Rolls
Raw veggie rolls are great for kids who are ready to try a more complicated sushi roll than simply avocado. They’re full of vegetables that the kids have seen before: carrots, cucumber, and avocado. Again, there’s not much flavor to these, so you might want to season them with soy sauce before serving.
If you have a kid who prefers a different medley of vegetables, such as bell peppers or radishes, feel free to make a substitution to appeal to your family!
- Sushi rice
3. California Rolls
The California roll is one of the most common sushi dishes in the US. You can find them at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations all over the world. While real crab meat is used a lot of the time, imitation crab is used just as often and makes for just as tasty a meal.
California rolls use the same kinds of vegetables used in a regular raw veggie sushi roll, so if you have one child who will eat crab and one who won’t, it’s easy to make two variations for them.
- Sushi rice
- Crab meat or imitation crab
4. Tuna Salad Rolls
For a fishy sushi roll that still won’t taste too much like raw fish, try the popular tuna salad roll. This is similar to the spicy tuna roll, only with less spice. Spicy tuna rolls also usually call for raw, fresh tuna, or sashimi-grade tuna, while tuna salad rolls will still be tasty when you use canned tuna.
Make a tuna salad using mayonnaise, scallions, and salt. If you have a super-secret tuna salad recipe that your kids already love, then your job is even easier: Whip up a batch and roll it up into nori and sushi rice.
- Sushi rice
- Canned tuna
5. Spicy Tuna Rolls
Spicy food tends to scare off picky eaters, but if you have a child who is a big fan of spicy food, then the spicy tuna roll is a classic that they’ll love to try. The spicy tuna roll is a popular option among adults as well.
While a tuna salad roll usually uses canned tuna, a spicy tuna roll will almost always be made with fresh tuna strips. Simply marinate your tuna in sriracha sauce, the spicy seasoning that’s become popular the world over.
However, if you don’t have fresh tuna on hand, you can easily modify the spicy tuna roll to use canned tuna instead. Simply prepare the filling like a tuna salad roll with mayonnaise and scallions and mix sriracha sauce into it.
- Sushi rice
- Tuna (Canned or fresh)
6. Philadelphia Rolls
Veggie rolls, California rolls, and tuna salad rolls are all safe options if your child has never tried sushi before. Some kids have slightly more adventurous palettes, though, and may want to try a different, more unique sushi flavor. The Philadelphia roll is a great compromise between kid-friendly and adult-friendly.
Filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber, this sushi roll is refreshing and creamy. You can add scallions if your child isn’t afraid of green onions but can always choose not to include them.
- Sushi rice
- Smoked salmon
- Cream cheese
- Scallions (optional)
7. Shrimp Tempura Rolls
If you have a kid who loves shrimp, the shrimp tempura roll is a great option. Tempura batter is delicious and crunchy when it’s poured over shrimp and fried. Chances are your children have tried fried food before, so the addition of tempura might be a tasty addition for them.
You can make your tempura batter from scratch and then fry up your shrimp. However, if you’re making this recipe with your kids, you might find it easier to buy frozen tempura shrimp and cook it in an air-fryer or on a baking sheet.
- Sushi rice
- Tempura shrimp (can be made fresh or cooked from frozen)
- Cucumber (optional)
8. Sweet Potato Rolls
For another unique sushi roll that’s still full of flavors that kids love, this sweet potato sushi roll recipe will appeal to kids (and adults) of all ages.
Raw sweet potatoes won’t taste good in sushi, but roasting them beforehand will provide a sweet, caramelized filling. Make sure to toss them in a mixture of olive oil and seasoning before roasting. You can use whatever you like to season them, but try to stick with Asian-inspired flavors like soy sauce and maple syrup.
- Sushi rice
- Roasted sweet potatoes
9. Rainbow Rolls
Maybe you have kids that are already sushi lovers, and you want to introduce them to a more daring sushi dish. It can be hard to produce a new dish that everyone will love, especially sushi, which typically uses a lot of raw fish.
Enter the rainbow roll. Essentially, the rainbow roll is made of the same ingredients that a California roll is made of, but with colorful toppings layered over the roll, such as fish, fruit, and veggies. For example, you might top a rainbow roll with a slice of avocado, a slice of salmon, and a drizzle of spicy mayo.
However, it’s up to you what you put on both the inside and outside of your rainbow roll. If your kids hate crabmeat but love salmon, stuff your rainbow roll with salmon instead. Plus, you can easily remove any toppings.
- Sushi rice
- Crabmeat or imitation crab
- Toppings: Any fresh fish, fruits, or vegetables you’d like on top of your roll.
Rolls of sushi can be difficult to eat for extremely young children, who might find it difficult to keep all the ingredients inside the roll as they eat. And while older kids might be able to help mom or dad roll up sushi, young kids will have trouble.
Nigiri is another type of sushi that younger children might like more. Rather than wrapping up ingredients into a roll of nori and sushi rice, nigiri is essentially a mound of rice with a topping of fish or vegetables on top. It’s seasoned with soy sauce and sometimes wasabi, though if you’re making your nigiri for children, you’ll probably want to skip the wasabi!
Simply form the rice into a small, child-sized mound and lay a strip of its topping on it. Even your youngest kids will be able to help you make nigiri.
- Sushi rice
- Toppings: Any fresh fish, fruits, or vegetables.
11. Candy Sushi
Maybe you’ve tried everything to get your kids to try the delicious medley of rice, fish, and vegetables that are wrapped up in every sushi roll, and they still won’t eat it. Or maybe your kids tried and loved sushi, and you want to put a fun new spin on it. Either way, a sure-fire sushi winner is dessert sushi made of candy.
Fruit Roll-Ups can serve as your sheet of nori, while masticated coconut is a great stand-in for sushi rice. If your kids aren’t coconut fans, cream cheese frosting will also do just as well. Finally, add your filling, which can be whatever candy your kids like best (as long as it’s not hard candy).
This recipe is extremely interpretive, so feel free to make as many substitutions as you want. This might be a good recipe to let your kids take the reins on.
- “Sushi rice” stand-in, such as masticated coconut, cream cheese frosting, etc.
- “Nori” stand-in, such as Fruit Roll-Ups
- “Filling” stand-in, such as Tootsie-Rolls, M’n’Ms
How to Make Sushi For Kids: Tips & Tricks
If you have picky eaters in your family, the biggest obstacle you’ll face when trying to feed them something new is their fear of the unknown. Sushi can be scary for kids who have not yet tried raw fish or seen Japanese food. But fostering a love of food from different cultures from an early age will be something they appreciate later on—even if they’re just starting out with avocado rolls!
If you want to make sushi a regular part of your family’s diets, here are some tips to help get your kids excited about this Japanese delicacy:
Have Your Kids Taste Every Sushi Ingredient
When kids see an unfamiliar ingredient, they may not be sure if they like it, especially if they’ve never tried it before. Adults know that eating an ingredient they don’t like isn’t the end of the world, but it can be upsetting for a young picky eater to try something they don’t end up liking.
To avoid making a sushi roll that nobody ends up eating, have all your kids try each ingredient you’ll be putting into your sushi. For example, if you plan on making a shrimp tempura roll, make up a batch of shrimp tempura, rice, and any other veggies you want in your roll.
Make sure to give them a taste of nori or the thin seaweed wrapping that keeps the contents of the sushi in. Seaweed doesn’t taste much other than salt, so it doesn’t contribute to the taste of sushi much, but it can be off-putting to a young child who has never tasted it before.
Buy A Sushi Roller
To make sushi rolls, you should invest in a great sushi roller. Sushi rollers are surprisingly easy to use, and you can have a good time teaching your children how to create sushi.
If you want to buy a great sushi roller that your kids will be able to use as well, this 9-Piece Premium Sushi Making Kit on Amazon.com is one of the most popular kits out there. It even comes with a paddle, five sets of chopsticks, and a large wooden spoon. The bamboo mat will easily roll up to create perfectly even sushi rolls.
Make sure not to press too hard when you roll the sushi so that your rolls don’t become dense and misshapen. It’s easy for kids to apply too much pressure when they start out, so prepare to lose a few sushi rolls when just starting.
Rolling sushi is much easier when you have lots of practice. Get your kids started early and get them involved with the sushi-making process.
Add Sushi Night to Your Weekly Meal Rotation
Sushi night can be a great addition to your weekly meal rotation, as these recipes are friendly to people of all ages. Besides, one of the best ways to get your kids to eat sushi is to eat sushi in front of them.
Start by walking your kids through every ingredient in your sushi roll before serving it to them, and even try making sushi together as a family. These things will all work together to get your kids more willing to try and eventually enjoy eating sushi.