Learn how to make California Roll! Sweet-umami mayo crab with creamy avocado, and refreshingly crunchy cucumber wrapped with nori seaweed and perfectly seasoned, sticky sushi rice, sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. You’ll love this Easy California roll sushi recipe – so fun to make and super tasty to eat! Let’s get the sushi party started!!
Sushi is a work of art! And we’re in love with these tasty bites of masterpieces.
What is California Roll?
California roll is a type of makizushi (Japanese: 巻き寿司 or rolled sushi) where the fillings are rolled inside the sushi rice and dried roasted seaweed.
To be more precise, the California roll is a type of uramaki roll (Japanese:うらまき or inside out roll). This is where the sushi rice is on the outside wrapping the nori seaweed and other ingredients on the inside.
A fun fact is California Roll didn’t originate from Japan, yet it’s one of the most popular sushi rolls in North America.
What’s in a California roll?
- Seasoned Sushi Rice
- Toasted Sushi Nori Seaweed
- Cooked Crab Meat
- Japanese Mayonnaise
- Optional: Toasted Sesame Seeds
California roll is usually served with Japanese soy sauce, wasabi, and sushi ginger on the side.
Step-by-Step Guide: California Roll Sushi
Recipe Servings: This California Roll Recipe’s quantity of ingredients will make 4 rolls of regular size California Roll Sushi.
First, let’s prepare the California Roll ingredients:
Tips for California Roll Ingredients
Japanese Rice – To make the best sushi rice, use super-premium short grain rice like Tamanishiki Rice 玉錦 or Koshihikari Rice 越光米. But if you want to use a more budget-friendly or easier-to-buy option, use medium-grain rice like Sekka Calrose rice.
- Note: 1 cup (230g) of Japanese rice makes 3 cups of sushi rice
The sushi rice is key to a tasty California roll. It must be whole, plump, and separated with a satisfying firm bite; sticky but not mushy, wet, or gooey; with a beautiful shiny gloss; and balanced sweet-umami-savory-vinegary flavors. Check out this Best Sushi Rice Recipe.
Japanese Mayonnaise – We usually use Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise to make California Roll. Japanese mayo’s flavor, texture, and color are slightly different compared to American mayonnaise.
Imitation Crab Meat or Real Crab Meat – Many restaurants use fully cooked ready-to-eat imitation crab meat sticks to make California Roll Sushi. Over the years, we’ve tried many different brands of imitation crab meat and they can vary a lot in quality, flavors, and texture. Test & find one that you liked best (or use fresh real crab meat if you can)!
Avocado – It’s important to use a ripe, ready-to-eat avocado, so it’s slightly soft, smooth, & creamy when wrapped inside the California Roll. You wouldn’t want firm & unripe or mushy & overripe avocados.
Roasted Nori Sushi Sheets (海苔; edible dried toasted seaweed sheet) – Try your best to use fresh, dry, crisp, plain toasted seaweed sheets. These seaweed sheets are not the same as the flavored seaweed snacks. Try to avoid using old, stale, chewy, flavorless nori sheets.
Toasted sesame seeds – It’s an optional ingredient that adds a hint of sesame aroma & bits of sesame crunch texture to the sushi roll.
Tools for Making California Roll Recipe
- Mixing Bowl
- Bamboo Sushi Mat
- Plastic Food Wrap
- Wet Towel
- Optional: Hangiri Sushi Rice Barrel
- Optional: Shamoji Sushi Rice Paddle
Prepare Sushi Rice
Let’s get the cooked & seasoned sushi rice ready so we can begin making sushi!
*Note: If you have an Instant Pot, follow this recipe to make some tasty sushi rice: Instant Pot Sushi Rice.
*Freshness Tip: To keep the sushi rice fresh & prevent them from drying out while you prepare other ingredients, cover the rice container with a wet towel.
Prepare California Roll Ingredients
1. Toast Sesame Seeds: Toast 8g sesame seeds over medium heat for a few minutes until light brown.
2. Make Crab Mayo Filling:
First, shred 200g imitation or real crab meat with 2 forks.
Then, mix shredded crab meat with 3 tbsp (45g) – ¼ cup (63g) Japanese Mayo.
Be sure to taste and season this crab mayo filling with a pinch of salt if necessary.
3. Julienne English Cucumber: Julienne ¼ English cucumber.
4. Slice Avocado:
Cut avocado in half, then remove the avocado seed with a spoon.
With a spoon, separate the avocado from its skin.
Finally, slice the avocado into roughly 3mm slices.
*Important Pro Tip: Try to be as quick as you can going through Steps 3 to 7 below – adding rice, adding fillings, rolling sushi, cutting sushi, & eating the sushi! This will prevent the nori seaweed from absorbing too much moisture & turning soggy, gummy, & chewy.
Spread Rice on Nori Sheet
First, place the sushi mat on the countertop.
Then, layer a piece of plastic food wrap on top of the sushi mat to prevent the sushi rice from sticking to the sushi mat.
*Note: For jumbo rolls, you can use the whole nori (seaweed) sheet.
Since we’re making regular-size California rolls, cut the nori sheets in halves with scissors or a knife.
*Pro Tip: For nori, there’s a shiny side and a rough side. Always place rice on the rough side.
Layer the nori at the edge of the sushi mat & plastic food wrap (rough side up).
Now we’re going to form a rice ball with the sushi rice with our hands.
First, wet both hands with water to prevent the sushi rice from sticking to your hands.
Form a rice ball using roughly 105g – 115g of sushi rice.
Place the rice ball on top of the nori, then lightly push out the rice & evenly distribute it across the whole halved nori sheet.
*Pro Tip: Try your best to be gentle & not squish or mush the rice as you evenly spread the rice across the nori.
Then, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on the sushi rice.
Add Ingredients to Nori Sheet
Carefully, flip the whole nori sheet over (rice side down).
Add roughly ¼ of the crab meat mayo mixture on top of the nori sheet.
Layer 6 julienned cucumbers and 3 slices of avocado on top of the nori.
*Pro Tip: Make sure not to overstuff the sushi roll with the California roll fillings.
Roll California Roll
Line the whole sushi rice & nori sheet to the bottom edge of the sushi mat closest to you.
With your hands, tightly roll the sushi mat from the bottom without squeezing it too hard.
As you roll up the mat, use your fingers to tuck in & enclose all the filling ingredients to prevent them from falling out.
Then, lift the edge of the mat, and continue to roll it up until it turns into a firm cylinder sushi roll.
*Pro Tip: You can wrap the sushi roll with plastic wrap to keep it fresh until you want to cut it.
*Pro Tip: This sushi rolling step is easy, but it’ll take some practice & time to perfect. Don’t worry about messing it up or your sushi not looking pretty, especially on your first few tries! 🙂
Cut California Roll
First, lightly wet your knife blade with a wet towel.
Cut the California roll in half, then cut each half roll into 3 equal bite-sized sushi pieces.
*Pro Tip: Wipe your knife with a wet towel after every few cuts into the California rolls.
Finally, place the sliced California roll onto the sushi mat and give it a final roll to shape it.
Serve California Roll
Unwrap your sushi, then serve immediately with Japanese soy sauce, wasabi, and sushi ginger.
California roll also makes great appetizers or finger food at parties, potlucks, or dinner gatherings.
Enjoy your Tasty California Roll!
- 3 cups cooked & seasoned sushi rice [made from 1 cup (230g) Japanese rice]
- 3 tablespoons 45g - ¼ cup (63g) Japanese mayonnaise
- 200 grams (~6 pieces) imitation or cooked real crab meat , shredded
- A pinch salt
- 1 (196g) avocado , seeded, pitted, & sliced
- ¼ (110g) English cucumber , julienne cut
- 2 sheets toasted sushi nori (roasted seaweed sheets)
- Optional: 8 grams toasted sesame seeds
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- Prepare Sushi Rice: Cover the rice container with a wet towel to prevent the cooked & seasoned sushi rice from drying out while you prepare other ingredients.
- Prepare California Roll Ingredients:Toast Sesame Seeds: Toast 8g sesame seeds over medium heat for a few minutes until light brown.Make Crab Mayo Filling: Shred 200g cooked crab meat with 2 forks. Mix shredded crab meat with 3 tbsp (45g) - ¼ cup (63g) Japanese Mayo. Taste and season with a pinch of salt if necessary.Julienne English Cucumber: Julienne ¼ English cucumber.Slice Avocado: Cut avocado in half, then remove the avocado seed. With a spoon, separate the avocado from its skin. Slice the avocado into roughly 3mm slices.
- Spread Rice on Nori Seaweed Sheet: Place sushi mat on countertop. Layer a piece of plastic food wrap on the mat. Cut nori sheets in halves with scissors or a knife. *Pro Tip: For nori, there's a shiny side and a rough side. Always place rice on the rough side. Layer the nori at the edge of the mat & plastic food wrap (rough side up). Wet both hands with water to prevent the sushi rice from sticking to your hands. Form a rice ball with 105g - 115g of sushi rice, then gently spread the rice evenly across the whole nori sheet. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on the sushi rice.
- Add Ingredients to Nori Sheet: Carefully, flip the whole nori sheet over (rice side down). Add roughly ¼ of the crab meat mayo mixture on the nori sheet. Layer 6 julienned cucumbers and 3 slices of avocado on the nori sheet. *Pro Tip: Make sure not to overstuff the sushi roll.
- Roll California Roll: Line the whole nori to the bottom edge of the sushi mat closest to you. Tightly roll the sushi mat from the bottom. Don’t squeeze it too hard. Use your fingers to tuck in & enclose all the fillings to prevent them from falling out. Lift the edge of the mat, and continue to roll it up until it turns into a firm cylinder sushi roll. *Pro Tip: You can wrap the sushi roll with plastic wrap to keep it fresh until you cut it.
- Cut California Roll: Lightly wet your knife blade with a wet towel. Cut the California roll in half, then cut each half roll into 3 equal bite-sized pieces. Wipe your knife blade with a wet towel after every few cuts into the California rolls. Place the cut California roll on the sushi mat and give it a final roll to shape it.
- Serve: Unwrap your sushi, then serve immediately with Japanese soy sauce, wasabi, and sushi ginger. Enjoy~
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