Make Your Own California Rolls


California Roll Recipe

Homemade California Rolls

Our Homemade California Rolls

My brother and his wife are so fond of sushi, that my sister-in-law started making California rolls at home. She perfected her process and created a rice vinegar syrup that makes her maki taste like it came from a Japanese restaurant. Her California roll recipe may look involved, but really is quite easy!

Using unseasoned rice vinegar is crucial. The rice will not have the correct flavor if you use seasoned vinegar. Also, sushi rice is very different than long grain rice. Be sure to purchase sushi rice for this recipe. One last tip: if you freeze the cream cheese for about 30 minutes, slicing will be much easier.

While this recipe does contain several steps, it does not take very long to make these California rolls. You will have plenty of time to slice the crab stick, vegetables, and cream cheese and to toast the sesame seeds while the rice is cooking and cooling.

I was skeptical about making my own sushi, but after watching my sister-in-law prepare it, I am sold on making California rolls at home. Why limit yourself to only eating sushi when you dine out? Making sushi at home is fun and these rolls are fabulous!

Cover Saucepan Lid With A Kitchen Towel

Cover Saucepan Lid With A Kitchen Towel

California Rolls
From the Kitchen of Jane Naujalis

  • 2 ⅔ cup sushi rice
  • 3 ⅓ cup water
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 TBS rice vinegar (must be unseasoned)
  • 6 TBS sugar
  • 1 TBS salt
  • ⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 14 oz crab sticks or smoked salmon
  • 3 avocados
  • 1 cucumber
  • 12 oz cream cheese, partially frozen
  • 1 package sushi nori sheets (you will need 10 to 12 sheets)
This California Roll Is Ready To Roll!

This California Roll Is Ready To Roll!

  • wasabi for garnish
  • pickled ginger for garnish
  • soy sauce

Yield: about 11 rolls or 110 individual pieces.

Note: you will need a sushi bamboo mat to roll these California rolls.

Place the cream cheese in the freezer for about 30 minutes. This will make slicing it while your rice is cooling much easier.

Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes and then drain it. Either cook the rice with a rice cooker or prepare it in a covered saucepan. If you use a rice steamer, follow the standard instructions for preparing sushi rice.

If you use a saucepan, place the drained sushi rice in your saucepan along with the water and a pinch of salt. Heat it on high until it boils. While it is heating, cover the saucepan lid with a kitchen towel. Tie the towel in place by wrapping a rubber band around it and the handle of the lid. After the water boils, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and stir the rice. Cover the saucepan with the towel-wrapped lid and cook for 15 minutes, stirring the rice twice during this time.

Our California Roll Recipe Is Easy

Our California Roll Recipe Is Easy

While the rice is cooking, heat the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove this rice vinegar syrup from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.

After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, remove it from the stove and set it aside. Keep it covered and allow it to rest for 15 more minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and gently spread the rice in an oblong casserole dish. Pour the cooled rice vinegar syrup over the rice and gently mix it into the rice. Be careful not to smash the rice while mixing it. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the rice to cool to room temperature.

While the rice is cooling, cover a sushi bamboo mat with plastic wrap. This simplifies cleanup afterwards since not covering these mats makes them next to impossible to clean.

When preparing the crab sticks, cream cheese, cucumber, and avocados, it works best to slice them into uniform sizes approximately ⅜” to ½” wide. Individual slices should be as long as possible. Slice the crab sticks and cream cheese into long slivers. Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds and then slice the cucumber into long strips.
Clean the avocados and slice them into thin strips.

Rolling California Rolls With A Bamboo Mat

Rolling California Rolls With A Bamboo Mat

After the rice has cooled to room temperature, you can assemble your California rolls. Place a bamboo mat on a cutting board and cover it with one sheet of nori, with the nori’s shiny side down. Spread a heaping ½ cup of rice over the nori. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds over the rice.

Place about 1 ½ crab stick slices (about 1 ½” in from the edge of the nori) on top of the rice along the side of the nori closest to you. The crab stick, cucumber, cream cheese, and avocado should span the width of the nori. Place two pieces of cucumber along the crab stick (along the far side of the crab stick). Place avocado pieces along the far side of the cucumber. Place the cream cheese directly on top of the crab stick.

Begin rolling the sushi by lifting the edge of the bamboo mat closest to you. As you roll the sushi, use the mat to press the sushi roll together while rolling the mat in the opposite direction toward you. Keep rolling the sushi away from you until the sushi is rolled completely. Use the bamboo mat to press the sushi roll together firmly.

Continue this process until you have used all of your ingredients.
This recipe usually makes 11 rolls. After all of the sushi is rolled,
place a roll on your cutting board and slice it in half. Place both
halves next to each other and slice the sushi into pieces.

Slicing Homemade California Roll

Slicing Homemade California Roll

Each of the 11 rolls usually slices into 10 pieces. Keep a damp towel nearby as your knife will get sticky. Carefully wipe the rice from the knife and continue slicing.

Serve these California rolls with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger and you will feel like you are in a Japanese restaurant! Enjoy!

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Gillie in Vermont
Gillie in Vermont

So excited to find this recipe. It was really, really good. Made it for my boyfriend last night and he LOVED it. Took a little time to make, but your instructions were great (I tried to make sushi once before with a different recipe and it was a disaster). The photos helped. Can't wait to make them again. Thanks so much. Now we can eat sushi more often.


Hi, Gillie. And I am so excited to find your comment! I'm glad you enjoyed the roasted cauliflower and that you found a homebrewing kit for your boyfriend! Thanks for visiting toolsforkitchens!

Miz Helen
Miz Helen

Great tutorial, these rolls look delicious. My very best wishes to you and your family for a blessed Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon! Miz Helen


Thanks for sharing your recipe on the Living Well Blog Hop. I haven't made sushi in a while, but I think I'll have to try it again soon.


I've been meaning to find instructions on how to make these and keep forgetting. I stumbled across this from a link party and thought WOW that't what I mean to do. Thanks so much for sharing this, I will be giving this a go for sure as I love sushi!

Heather at Willow Cottage
Heather at Willow Cottage

I love this post. Stick rice is so hard to make, but this sounds like a tried and true recipe. I will have to try this with my kids. Thanks for sharing.