How To Make Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Japanese Rice Balls) In 2 Flavors-Japanese Taste

How To Make Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Japanese Rice Balls) In 2 Flavors

by Megumi Moriya

Side Dish Snack Lunch-box friendly Freezer-friendly Easy Kid-friendly Soy sauce Miso Under 30 minutes Vegetarian Vegan

Without a doubt, one of the simplest Japanese cuisine items is definitely “Onigiri”, or the Japanese rice ball. Even though it is a simple food, is a popular snack that is enjoyed by both children and adults every day in Japan. Recently, onigiri has also started gaining popularity in other countries.

One variation of onigiri is “Yaki Onigiri” which refers to a grilled rice ball covered in a soy sauce or miso-based glaze. The savory flavor of yaki onigiri is so mouthwatering that you’ll become an instant fan once you try it!

Yaki onigiri is easy to make, but there are some tips that you should keep in mind for making the perfect yaki onigiri:

  1. Prepare “warm” rice: The temperature of rice is important for making delicious yaki onigiri. When the rice is warm, it is easier to shape the rice because it sticks together more easily.
  2. Press tightly when making the iconic triangle shape: Pressing the onigiri tightly will help it to keep its shape and allow it to turn over easier without breaking in the pan. When shaping the onigiri, it is better to flatten the surface so that both sides can cook evenly.
  3. Don’t turn over the yaki onigiri too many times: Don’t touch the onigiri until the surface becomes crispy as it might break and you won’t get the right shape.
  4. Brush the onigiri with the sauce after the surface becomes golden brown: Once both sides become crispy, this is the best time to brush the onigiri with the prepared sauce. When the sauce becomes dry, flip the onigiri over and repeat the same process.

Yaki Onigiri is a very simple dish, so the choice of “Tare” or sauce is really what decides the flavor. For our recipe, we recommend amakuchi shoyu or “sweet soy sauce”. You can learn more about it here.

Amakuchi shoyu has a light sweetness, so you can enjoy delicious yaki onigiri with just this one seasoning!

As mentioned above, the taste of Yaki Onigiri is up to what seasoning you decide to use. In this recipe, we’re going to show you how to make a soy sauce-based yaki onigiri and a miso-based yaki onigiri.

Let us know in the comments below if you make our Yaki Onigiri recipe. We would love to hear from you!


Prep time: 10 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 30 mins

Total servings: 10

Difficulty: Easy

  • 400g Rice (for the soy sauce version)
  • 2 Tbsp Amakuchi Shoyu (Sweet Soy Sauce) or Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin (optional, recommend if using dark soy sauce)
  • 400g Rice (for the miso version)
  • 2 Tbsp Miso Paste (any type is ok)
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin

Expert's Tip

How To Make Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Japanese Rice Balls) In 2 Flavors

Are you looking for the ultimate way to shape onigiri perfectly every single time? Then this is the perfect tool for you. The OSK Onigiri Shaper can not only be used for shaping onigiri but it can also be used as a special onigiri lunch box! You’ll be able to enjoy the tastiest onigiri from the comfort of your own home with this lunchbox, without having to take a trip all the way to Japan. 


1) Gathering the Ingredients & Preparing the Tare

Gather the ingredients together. Mix the ingredients for the soy sauce tare and the miso tare in separate bowls.

Note: If using amakuchi shoyu, you do not need to add mirin to the tare.

2) Shaping the Rice Balls Into Triangles

Divide the rice into 5 portions (80g each), and shape each portion into a triangle shape. Be careful not to burn yourself as the rice might be hot.

Tip: You can make the shape with your hands or with plastic wrap, but if you’re finding it a bit tricky to get the shape right, you can use an onigiri shaper. You can also use saran wrap if the rice is too hot to handle with your bare hands.

3) Grilling the Onigiri

Prepare and preheat a frying pan. If your pan is not non-stick, then be sure to grease it well or place a piece of parchment paper on the surface to prevent the onigiri from burning.  

When the pan is hot enough, add the onigiri.

4) Allowing the Onigiri to Get Crispy

Grill the onigiri over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. When the surface becomes crispy and lightly golden brown, turn the onigiri over and cook on the other side for another 5-8 minutes.

5) Brushing the Onigiri with Tare

When both sides of the onigiri get crispy, brush them with the Tare (Shoyu and Miso sauces) that we prepared earlier. Brush the tare on one side of the onigiri and then flip them over. Turn the heat to low and cook the onigiri for another 1-2 minutes until the surface turns completely golden brown. Repeat this process with the other side of the onigiri.

Tips: Be careful not to turn the heat up too high. The onigiri are more likely to burn when the sauces are added, so please be careful and pay close attention to ensure that they do not burn. 

For the Shoyu Yaki Onigiri, repeating the “brush, flip over, and cook” process a few times makes the Yaki Onigiri even more flavorful.

6) Transferring Yaki Onigiri to a Plate

When all of your yaki onigiri are finished cooking, transfer them to a plate and enjoy them while they’re still hot!

7) Air Frying Yaki Onigiri

You can also make yaki onigiri in an air-fryer if you wish. Here are the steps that you should follow: 

1. Prepare the tare. 

2. Place a piece of parchment paper into the air-fryer basket. 

3. Cook onigiri at 200℃ for about 3-5 minutes or until they turn golden brown.

4. Brush the tare onto both sides of the onigiri, and cook for another 3-5 minutes. 

8) Storing Leftover Yaki Onigiri

Wrap the leftover Yaki Onigiris with plastic wrap one by one and put them in a freezer bag. Keep them in the freezer. 

When you want to eat them, microwave them at 500w for about 2 minutes.

Frozen Yaki Onigiri are very convenient. You can eat them as a quick hot snack or use them as a dish for your lunch box.

Recommended products for this recipe


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published