These avocado sushi rolls are fun and easy to make at home. And the vegan sushi roll recipe requires only a few basic ingredients.
In Japan, an itamae of sushi (Japanese sushi chef) spends decades perfecting their craft.
We can’t possibly hope to perfect the skill with a single recipe post, but I can certainly help you make great sushi rolls at home with a few basic techniques.
I make these vegan avocado rolls to satisfy the sushi cravings of my pregnant sister-in-law. We even made a batch of sushi rolls together at a family gathering.
But, I also have an oversupply of avo. We have a small avocado tree in the yard that supplies us with hundreds of avocados (in addition to my dad’s massive avo tree with an even larger yield).
And as much as I love my avo toast, a girl needs some avo variation in her cooking repertoire. So, why not have some fun with avocado sushi rolls?
What are maki sushi rolls?
Norimaki refers to various Japanese rice dishes wrapped in seaweed – unlike uramaki, which is a sushi roll with rice on the outside.
It includes makizushi (or makimono). These maki sushi rolls consist of a filling surrounded by rice wrapped in an outer layer of nori.
They are the easiest sushi rolls to make at home. Simply wrap roasted nori seaweed tightly around sushi rice and a filling to form a log. And slice it into even bite-sized pieces.
Hosomaki translates to “thin roll” and typically consists of only one filling ingredient. It has seaweed on the outside around the rice, unlike California or inside-out rolls with rice on the outside.
These sushi rolls also have roasted nori seaweed around the rice on the outside. But futomaki are thicker than hosomaki and have multiple filling ingredients.
In this easy sushi recipe, we focus on homemade avocado hosomaki. But you can easily swap the avocado for another single filling.
Why you’ll love making avocado sushi rolls
Avocado hosomaki are
- gluten-free and
- safe for pregnant women to eat.
But they’re also affordable and easy to make with just a few simple ingredients. It’s the perfect recipe to hone your sushi-making skills before you move to more difficult rolls and expensive ingredients.
When you serve these avocado sushi rolls to friends with dietary requirements, be mindful of the condiments you serve alongside. Remember, soy sauce is not gluten-free (use tamari instead).
And always take care not to contaminate your knife and cutting board. If you serve these avocado sushi rolls alongside raw fish, be sure to process the avocado sushi rolls first.
What you need to make avocado rolls
- Bamboo mat (makisu): There are different types of bamboo sushi mats. Traditional makisu have a green side and a flatter white side. But you can use any bamboo mat. Or try it with a firm yet bendable placemat if you can’t find a bamboo sushi mat.
- Sharp knife: You need a very sharp knife to slice through the sushi rolls without squashing them.
- Cutting board: Any clean cutting board to process your sushi rolls on will do.
- Small bowl of water: Keep a bowl of room-temperature water to wet your hands and keep the rice from sticking to them. You can also use the water to clean your knife between slices.
- Damp kitchen towel: Cover your prepared sushi rice with a clean damp towel to keep it from drying out. You can also use the towel to wipe away starch from your knife.
Avocado sushi roll ingredients
These simple sushi rolls need only a few basic ingredients: nori sheets, vinegared short-grain rice (sushi rice) and avocado filling.
Nori is a dried edible seaweed sheet ubiquitous in Japanese cuisine.
The roasted seaweed sheets are approximately 18 cm × 20 cm (7 in × 8 in). For thin sushi rolls (hosomaki), we cut the sheets in half along the long side. So each nori sheet will produce two 18 cm × 10 cm (7 in × 4 in) pieces.
Nori seaweed sheets have a rough side and a smooth side. The smooth side should be on the outside of our finished hosomaki. So we spread the prepared sushi rice on the rough side.
Sushi rice is a sticky short-grain rice seasoned with a sushi vinegar mixture. But you can also use medium-grain rice. One cup of uncooked sushi rice yields roughly two and a half cups of cooked rice.
Sushi vinegar consists of rice vinegar seasoned with cane sugar and salt.
Cook one cup of raw sushi rice per package instructions and season it with three tablespoons of shop-bought sushi vinegar or a homemade vinegar mixture.
Avocado is not an authentic Japanese sushi ingredient – avocado rolls and California rolls are a Japanese invention from the 1970s in the US. Though the popularity of avocado in sushi quickly caught on in the West.
The creamy avocado flesh makes a delicious vegan sushi roll alternative to fatty fish.
Use perfectly ripe and creamy avocado for these vegan sushi rolls. You can also try it with cucumber batons or carrot sticks instead.
How to make thin avocado sushi rolls
This section has step-by-step instructions with pictures, or jump to the recipe card for the easy vegan sushi roll recipe.
Make your own sushi rolls in five easy steps:
- Step 1: Prep your equipment
- Step 2: Prep your ingredients
- Step 3: Assemble the sushi roll
- Step 4: Roll the sushi into a log
- Step 5: Cut the avocado roll
Step 1: Prep your equipment
Fill a small bowl with water to wet your hands as you go.
You can cover your bamboo sushi mat in cling film. It makes cleaning easier. But it’s not strictly necessary for these veggie sushi rolls that have nori on the outside.
Step 2: Prep your ingredients
Take a damp tea towel to cover your sushi rice. It keeps it from drying out as you work.
For hosomaki (thin rolls), we need to cut the nori seaweed sheets in half. Nori sheets are not perfectly square – they are approximately 18 cm × 20 cm (7 in × 8 in). Cut your nori sheet in half by cutting the longer side in half.
Each nori sheet will produce two roughly 18 cm × 10 cm (7 in × 4 in) sheets.
Or you can keep the sheets whole for futomaki (thicker sushi rolls with multiple ingredients).
Peel and slice your avocado into thin strips. I cut mine into ½ inch (1 cm) thick strips. But it’s easier to roll the sushi when the avocado slices are thin.
So play around until you find what works best for you.
Step 3: Assemble the sushi roll
Place the half sheet of nori towards the bottom of your bamboo mat with the longest edge facing you. The rough side should be facing up, so the smooth, shiny side is on the outside of the roll.
Place roughly four heaped tablespoons of cooked rice (60 grams) on the rough side of the nori (that is facing up).
Gently spread the rice, using wet hands, to cover the nori all the way from the left edge to the right. Leave an exposed strip of nori – about ½ inch (1 cm) – at the top and a thin strip at the bottom. Dip your fingers in water if the rice sticks to your hands.
You may need to add more rice until you have an even thin layer of rice.
Next, place your avocado slices along the centre of the rice horizontally. You want a neat strip of avocado horizontally across the rice.
Step 4: Roll the sushi into a log
Slide the nori sheet all the way to the bottom of the sushi mat. And lift the bottom edge of the mat to gently roll the nori around the avo, connecting the rice. Keep your fingers on the avocado as you roll to keep it in place.
Don’t squeeze too tightly.
You’ll see the top part of the seaweed sticking out. Dip your finger in the water and run it along the exposed seaweed at the top.
Continue to roll until it seals. Allow that exposed nori at the top to fold over the outside of the roll as the rice connects.
Tighten the roll gently with your sushi mat.
Step 5: Cut the sushi roll
Traditionally, hosomaki gets cut into 6 equal-sized pieces.
Take a sharp knife and wipe it with your clean wet kitchen towel (or dip the knife in the water bowl).
Slice a sushi roll in half.
Then lay the two half-rolls in parallel and cut them together into 3 pieces each. Wipe the knife clean between slices or once it feels sticky.
You should have 6 even bite-sized pieces of sushi.
Avocado sushi roll variations
You can use the same technique to make vegan sushi rolls with long strips of cucumber or carrots instead of avocado.
Or make thick sushi rolls with both avocado and cucumber batons. Place the cucumber slices next to the row of avocado slices. Don’t cut your nori sheets in half for these thick rolls, or you will run out of space.
You can sprinkle veggie sushi rolls with red pepper flakes for a spicy version.
Or add a dollop of kewpie mayo (or vegan mayo if needed) on each piece of sushi and sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds. It is a great way to disguise imperfect (but delicious) sushi rolls.
Avocado sushi roll FAQ
Can pregnant women eat avocado sushi rolls?
Pregnant women can eat homemade avocado sushi rolls.
But vegetarian sushi rolls from sushi restaurants are not recommended. In the restaurant, they may use the same knife or cutting board to slice raw fish. And this increases the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria.
Are avocado maki rolls gluten-free?
Yes, these avocado sushi rolls are gluten-free. But keep in mind that soy sauce contains gluten. So serve your avocado sushi rolls with a gluten-free alternative like tamari.
- 2 ½ cups prepared sushi rice (500 grams), room temperature*
- 4 nori sheets
- 2 ripe avocados
- soy sauce
- wasabi paste
- pickled sushi ginger
Prep your equipment
- Grab a bowl of water to wet your hands as you go.
- You can cover your bamboo sushi mat with a piece of plastic wrap for easier cleaning, but it’s not necessary for these avocado maki rolls.
Prep your ingredients
- Keep your vinegared sushi rice covered under a damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.
- For hosomaki (thin rolls), you need to cut the nori sheets in half. A nori seaweed sheet is not perfectly square. Cut the sheet in half by cutting the longest side in half.
- Peel and slice your avocado into thin strips – no thicker than ½ inch (1 cm).
Assemble the sushi roll
- Place the half sheet towards the bottom of your bamboo mat with the longest edge facing you. The rough side should be facing up, so the smooth, shiny side is on the outside of the roll.
- Place roughly four heaped tablespoons of cooked rice (60 grams) on the rough side of the nori (that is facing up).
- Gently spread the rice, using wet hands, to cover the nori all the way from the left edge to the right. Leave an exposed strip of nori – about ½ inch (1 cm) – at the top and a thin strip at the bottom.
- Wet your hands if the rice starts to stick to them. And add more rice until you have an even, thin layer of rice.
- Arrange the slices of avocado in the centre of the rice, creating a horizontal line of avocado slices.
Roll the avocado sushi
- Lift the bottom edge of the sushi mat to gently roll the nori around the avo, connecting the rice. Don’t squeeze too tightly. You’ll see the top open part of seaweed sticking out. Dip your finger in the water and run it along the exposed seaweed at the top.
- Continue to tighten your roll until it seals – but not so tight that the avo squeezes out. Allow that exposed nori at the top to fold over the outside of the roll as the rice connects.
- Tighten the roll gently with your sushi mat.
Cut the avocado roll
- Traditionally, hosomaki gets cut into 6 equal-sized pieces.
- Grab a sharp knife and wipe it with a clean wet kitchen towel (or dip it in the water). Slice a sushi roll in half. Then lay the two half-rolls in parallel and cut them together into 3 pieces. Wipe the knife clean between slices or if it feels sticky.
- You should have 6 even bite-sized pieces of sushi.
- Arrange the avocado sushi rolls on a platter. And serve it with a bowl of soy sauce for dipping, and wasabi paste and pickled ginger on the side.
- For 2 ½ cups (500 grams) of prepared sushi rice, cook one US cup of sushi rice (short-grain rice) according to package instructions. Use a rice paddle to gently fold 3 tablespoons of sushi vinegar through the warm rice.
- Or see this Instant Pot sushi rice recipe and stovetop sushi rice recipe for detailed instructions with homemade sushi vinegar.
- Allow the vinegared rice to cool to room temperature before using. And keep it covered with a damp cloth.