Learn how to make the Best Instant Pot Sushi Rice! You’ll fall in love with this super tasty Japanese short grain rice recipe. It yields amazing texture with each rice grain whole, plump, and separated offering a satisfying firm bite; sticky but not mushy, wet, or gooey; beautiful shiny gloss; and balanced sweet-umami-savory-vinegary flavors.
Finally…FINALLY it’s here!! For the past couple of years, many Instant Pot users have requested for our deliciously perfect Instant Pot Sushi Rice recipe.
We LOVE sushi (this is an under-statement…hehe~)!
We’re so grateful to be able to witness the historic live tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market (lining up from 3 am to 5:25 am!!) before it moved to the new Toyosu Fish Market. It’s where restauranteurs and vendors bid for their prize fish.
It’s still kinda crazy thinking back how Jacky & I lined up under the hot sun for 4 hours (right after watching the auction) just to enjoy the sushi breakfast we’ve been dreaming to try for years!
What is Sushi Rice?
Sushi is a work of art! A bite of an amazingly tasty minimalistic masterpiece.
Sushi rice (寿司飯), aka shari (しゃり), sushimeshi (鮨飯) or sumeshi (酢飯), is white short grain Japanese rice seasoned mainly with Japanese rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. As the name indicates, sushi rice is intended for making sushi or chirashi donburi.
As avid Sushi lovers, sushi rice can’t be taken lightly. We’re often deeply inspired by how Japanese people are obsessed with striving for perfection.
Therefore, there’s no perfect sushi rice – because it can always be improved. It’s crazy how much time and energy chefs put into perfecting their sushi rice in Japan!
As one of our Japanese sushi chef friends told us, back in Japan, he spent a couple of years at the beginning of his career learning how to make sushi rice!
The sushi rice can be crafted & tweaked to taste better – such as better mouthfeel & texture, better aroma, better flavoring or seasoning, better density ratio, better moisture level, better color or looks, better harmony pairing with different ingredients…etc.
Thus, perfecting every step makes a difference to the final masterpiece.
How to Make the Best Instant Pot Sushi Rice:
We spent the past few months mastering this pressure cooker sushi rice by experimenting with every step listed below.
- Choosing the right type of Japanese rice
- Rinsing the Japanese rice (washing off the starch)
- Rice to water ratio
- Cooking method & time
- Seasoning & balancing the flavors
- Ingredients & quality of the Sushi Vinegar
- Fluffing & Chilling
- Serving (i.e. temperature, moisture level) & Eating
Yet, we still wouldn’t call this the Perfect Instant Pot Sushi Rice. However, this tasty sushi rice is definitely deliciously addictive to eat!
Time to make Sushi Rice in Instant Pot!
Step-by-Step Guide: Instant Pot Sushi Rice
Here are the few simple ingredients for making Sushi Rice in Instant Pot:
Japanese Rice Vinegar (米酢): Make sure you’re using Japanese unseasoned Rice Vinegar, NOT “Seasoned” Rice Vinegar or Sushi Vinegar. Also, different brands of Japanese rice vinegar can vary in acidity level, flavors, and aroma, so be sure to adjust accordingly to your preference.
Kombu (昆布): Kombu, edible dried Japanese kelp, will give the sushi rice an umami boost! 😉
Dashi Powder (粉末だし): The dashi powder is optional, but it will add another layer of flavor to the sushi rice.
What is the Best Rice for Sushi?
Japanese Rice: To make the best sushi rice, we developed this Japanese rice recipe with the following two super-premium short grain rice.
1. Tamanishiki Rice 玉錦
This super premium short grain rice is grown in Montana Farms, California.
Tamanishiki rice is a perfect blend of Koshihikari rice (越光米) and Yumegokochi rice, which offers rich scented flavor and great texture.
2. Koshihikari Rice 越光米
We also tested this sushi rice recipe with pure 100% Koshihikari rice.
This Toyama brand of Koshihikari rice is grown in Nyuzen, Japan. Koshihikari rice is premium Japonica rice created back in 1956. This premium short grain rice is excellent for sushi.
3. Calrose Rice – A More Budget Option
If you couldn’t find the above Japanese rice or want to use more budget-friendly rice, Calrose rice is also a good choice.
Some well respected Japanese restaurants use this medium grain rice for their sushi as well.
We usually keep a large bag of Sekka No. 1 Extra Fancy Calrose rice in our pantry because eating Koshihikari rice on a daily basis can be quite costly!
Tools for Instant Pot Sushi Rice
Rinse Sushi Rice
First, rinse 1 cup (230g) Tamanishiki or Koshihikari rice under cold water by gently scrubbing the rice with your fingertips in a circling motion.
*Pro Tip: Be careful not to break the rice grain! Be very gentle while rinsing the short grain rice. It’s best to avoid running tap water directly on the rice (as shown in the photo below).
*Calrose Rice: Follow the Instant Pot Calrose Rice cooking instruction here.
Then, pour out the milky water, and continue to rinse rice until the water is very clear (repeat 6 – 8 times).
*Pro Tip: Yes, you will need to repeat this rinsing 6 – 8 times for the best sushi rice texture! However, we don’t want the short grain rice to absorb too much moisture during rinsing. So, try your best to rinse quickly and don’t let the rice soak in the water for too long.
Finally, drain Japanese rice really well on a mesh strainer for 5 – 10 minutes.
Make Sushi Vinegar
While the rice is draining on the mesh strainer, it is time to make sushi vinegar (寿司酢).
*Note: The following amount of sushi vinegar is for 1 cup of sushi rice. If you want to cook more sushi rice, adjust proportionally using the same ratio.
Add 2 ½ tbsp (37.5ml) Japanese rice vinegar, 1 tsp (6g) fine table salt, 1 tbsp (14g) granulated sugar, and 1 (2g) 4″ long kombu in a saucepan.
*Note: Make sure you’re using Japanese unseasoned rice vinegar.
Warm up the vinegar mixture over low heat.
*Pro Tip: The sushi vinegar doesn’t need to be hot. We just need to melt the sugar and salt into the vinegar mixture. Make sure to mix well.
Turn off the heat, then set aside the sushi vinegar to cool.
Let the kombu continue to steep in the vinegar mixture.
Pressure Cook Sushi Rice
If you are using the optional dashi, add ⅛ tsp (0.5g) dashi powder to the Instant Pot.
Pour 1 cup (250ml) cold water in Instant Pot.
Then, add the well rinsed and drained short grain rice in Instant Pot.
Make sure all the rice is fully submerged in the water.
With Venting Knob in Venting Position, close the lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing Position.
- Pressure Cooking Method: Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 0 minutes, then 20 minutes Natural Release.
After 20 minutes, release the remaining pressure (if any) by turning the Venting Knob to Venting position.
Remove the lid carefully.
Fluff & Add Sushi Vinegar
When there are around 5 minutes left on the “20-minutes natural release”, cool the sushi vinegar by placing the saucepan in a sink filled with cold tap water.
Once cooled, remove the kombu from the sushi vinegar.
Gently transfer the sushi rice to a Hangiri Sushi Rice Barrel or large container.
Gently spread out the sushi rice with a Wooden Rice Paddle or plastic rice paddle.
*Pro Tip: Be very careful not to crush or press on the sushi rice because this may break the rice grain or make them mushy! Try using a slicing motion at a 45° angle.
Slowly pour and evenly distribute the sushi vinegar on every rice grain.
*Pro Tip: You can pour the sushi vinegar on the rice paddle to give it a more even spread.
Gently mix the sushi rice with the rice paddle.
*Pro Tip: We used a portable electric fan to cool off the sushi rice to room temperature simultaneously to give the sushi rice a beautiful shiny gloss.
Chill & Serve Instant Pot Sushi Rice
Once the Instant Pot sushi rice is chilled to room temperature, you can use them to make your favorite sushi rolls, nigiri sushi, Chirashi don (sushi rice top with sashimi)…etc.
*Pro Tip: If you are prepping other ingredients, cover the rice container with a wet towel (as shown in the photo below) to keep the sushi rice moist and fresh.
Enjoy your tasty Instant Pot Sushi Rice!
Instant Pot Sushi Rice
- 1 cup (230g) short grain rice (Tamanishiki or Koshihikari rice)
- 1 cup (250ml) cold water
- ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) dashi powder (optional)
- 2 ½ tablespoons (37.5ml) Japanese rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 1 teaspoon (6g) fine table salt
- 1 tablespoon (14g) granulated sugar
- 1 (2g) 4-inches long kombu , steeped
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- Rinse Sushi Rice: Rinse 1 cup (230g) short grain rice under cold water by gently scrubbing the rice with your fingertips in a circling motion. Pour out the milky water, and continue to rinse until the water is very clear (repeat 6 - 8 times). *Pro Tips: Be very gentle & careful while rinsing the rice. Avoid running tap water directly on the rice. Try your best to rinse quickly and don't let the rice soak in the water for too long to prevent the rice from absorbing too much moisture. Drain rice really well on a mesh strainer for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Make Sushi Vinegar: While the rice is draining, make sushi vinegar. Add 2 ½ tbsp (37.5ml) Japanese rice vinegar, 1 tsp (6g) fine table salt, 1 tbsp (14g) granulated sugar, and 1 (2g) 4" long kombu in a saucepan. Warm up the vinegar mixture over low heat. *Pro Tip: The sushi vinegar doesn't need to be hot. We just need to melt the sugar and salt into the vinegar mixture. Make sure to mix well. Turn off the heat, then set aside the sushi vinegar to cool. Let the kombu continue to steep in the vinegar mixture.
- Pressure Cook Sushi Rice: Add ⅛ tsp (0.5g) dashi powder (optional) to Instant Pot. Pour in 1 cup (250ml) cold water and the well rinsed & drained rice. Ensure all the rice is fully submerged in the water. With Venting Knob in Venting Position, close the lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing Position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 0 minutes, then 20 minutes Natural Release. Remove the lid carefully.
- Fluff & Add Sushi Vinegar: When there are around 5 minutes left on the "20-minutes natural release", cool the sushi vinegar by placing the saucepan in a sink filled with cold tap water. Once cooled, remove the kombu from the sushi vinegar. Gently transfer the rice to a Hangiri or large container. Gently spread out the rice with a rice paddle. *Pro Tip: Be very careful not to crush the rice because this may break the rice grain or make them mushy! Try using a slicing motion at a 45° angle. Slowly & evenly pour the sushi vinegar on every rice grain. *Pro Tip: You can pour the sushi vinegar on the rice paddle to give it a more even spread. Gently mix the rice with the rice paddle. *Pro Tip: We used a portable fan to cool the rice to room temperature simultaneously to give the sushi rice a shiny texture.
- Chill & Serve Sushi Rice: When the sushi rice is chilled to room temperature, use them to make your favorite sushi, Chirashi don, or more! Enjoy~
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