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Here’s how to make the best vegan sushi! Crunchy veggies and marinated tofu make a flavorful and satisfying filling.

Vegan Sushi
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Craving sushi without the fish? Try this fresh, delectable Vegan Sushi! These rolls have got it all, proving that this Japanese dish (or rather, art form!) is perfectly adaptable no matter what the filling. Savory, flavor-popping marinated tofu joins crunchy veggies and tender sushi rice to make a craveable roll filling. Top it off with Japanese BBQ Sauce and it tastes like a dream! Our whole family loves these, including our 6 year old who proclaims them his “favorite.” Here’s how to make homemade vegan sushi!

What to know about vegan sushi

Many sushi restaurants and grocery stores have vegan sushi options, like cucumber rolls, avocado rolls, kabocha squash rolls, and more. You can also make homemade vegan sushi using fillings like tofu and other vegetables. It’s a fun challenge and the results are fantastic: it’s fresh and bursting with savory flavor.

Before you make sushi at home, we recommend checking out this Sushi Rolls post from our friends over at Just One Cookbook, a website that specializes in authentic Japanese recipes!

Tofu sushi

Ingredients for tofu sushi

Many vegan sushi rolls contain vegetables only: cucumber, avocado, beets, and so forth. However, we wanted this vegan sushi recipe to have protein so it’s more satiating. Enter: tofu sushi! Using marinated tofu as the filling makes it super filling and full of umami. Here’s what you’ll need for this tofu sushi recipe:

  • Sushi rice: It’s important to use this short grain style of rice for sushi. Don’t substitute any other type of rice.
  • Nori paper: Seaweed paper is easy to find at your local grocery near the Japanese ingredients. Again, no substitutes here!
  • Tofu: Use extra firm tofu for the best results with this tofu sushi.
  • Soy sauce: Use regular soy sauce for best flavor, or substitute with tamari or coconut aminos (for gluten-free)
  • Toasted sesame oil: Make sure the bottle says “toasted,” which adds a strong sesame flavor; do not use sesame oil, which has a neutral flavor
  • Sriracha: It’s optional, but we like adding a little heat to the tofu marinade
  • Fresh ginger: Fresh ginger adds a spicy, zingy flavor to the tofu
  • Carrots
  • Red onion
  • Cucumber: An English cucumber is best here, since it has edible seeds and peel. This long, thin variety is preferable over the standard cucumber, which has a more bitter peel and larger seeds.
  • Seasonings: Rice vinegar, sugar and salt
  • For serving: Japanese BBQ Sauce or other sauce, soy sauce, wasabi
Rolling vegan sushi

Tips for making vegan sushi

Making homemade vegan sushi is simple in concept, but there are several steps to manage. It takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours to complete this recipe. Don’t attempt this as an easy weeknight meal! It’s more suited as a fun weekend project or date night idea. Here are a few steps for how to make tofu sushi:

  • Find a partner. This recipe is easiest with a friend or partner to help! We highly recommend making it with someone.
  • Get a sushi rolling mat (or find an alternative). To get those perfect tight rolls, you need a sushi rolling mat. You can also use any flat roll-able object, like a flexible placemat or even a towel. Or, here’s a sushi rolling mat that’s very inexpensive: Sushi making kit $8
  • Cook, season and cool the sushi rice. A good sushi recipe is all about the rice! Once it’s cooked, you’ll dump it onto a baking sheet and toss with rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Toss it with a spatula to help cool it down, then spread it in a single layer on the sheet. Within about 5 minutes it will be room temperature and ready to use.
  • Be confident when rolling. Rolling sushi can be intimidating at first. But a sushi recipe is like pancakes: the first one isn’t so pretty, but still tastes good! You’ll get the hang of it as you go. Use your sushi rolling mat to get the roll started, then roll just with your fingers. Make sure to give it a bit of pressure, which will make for a tight sushi roll. (See this sushi rolling video!)

Serve with Japanese BBQ sauce or another sauce

This vegan sushi recipe is tasty as is, but the flavor is pretty mild. So we recommend drizzling it with Japanese BBQ Sauce before serving. This brings an intense umami flavor to the rolls, making them taste even more satiating. We used Bachan’s Japanese BBQ Sauce, which is vegan (and very delicious!).

Alternative sauces here? Try Spicy Mayo using vegan mayonnaise, or another sauce of your choosing.

Tofu sushi

Sides to serve with vegan sushi

How to make vegan sushi into a meal? Serve with edamame or spicy edamame! Or, try a miso soup: to keep it easy, we like grabbing the dry packets at the store.

More vegan recipes

Love eating vegan? Here are a few more vegan recipes you’ll love:

This tofu sushi recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Vegan Sushi

Vegan Sushi


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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 5 8-piece rolls 1x

Description

Here’s how to make the best vegan sushi! Crunchy veggies and marinated tofu make a flavorful and satisfying filling.


Ingredients

Scale

For the sushi rice

  • 2 cups uncooked sushi rice
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the marinated tofu

  • 12 to 16 ounces block of extra firm or firm tofu
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (or tamari or coconut aminos)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated

For the sushi

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced into strips
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 sheets sushi nori
  • Japanese BBQ Sauce, to drizzle (or Spicy Mayo or another sauce, required!*)
  • Soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, for serving

Instructions

  1. Make the sushi rice: Rinse the sushi rice in cold water. Add it to a large saucepan with 2 ½ cups water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. (While the rice cooks, prepare the marinated tofu in Step 2.) Once the rice is done, remove the heat and allow it to stand covered for 10 minutes. Stir together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until it dissolves. After the rice stands, pour it onto a baking sheet, drizzle with the vinegar mixture, and mix it with a spatula until combined. Spread the rice in an even layer and let it cool to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Then use immediately for the sushi rolls.
  2. Make the tofu: Remove the tofu from the package and drain the liquid, saving the tofu container to use for the marinating. Slice the tofu into half lengthwise and place it in a glass bowl, stacking the slices. Microwave on High power for 2 minutes, which helps to extract the liquid from the tofu. Drain off excess liquid and pat the tofu dry with a towel. Cut each rectangle into 6 long strips. 
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, maple syrup or sugar, Sriracha and grated ginger. Place half the tofu strips back in the tofu container and pour half the marinade on top, covering all the strips. Stack the remaining strips on top and pour over the remaining marinade. Place in the refrigerator to marinade for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Prep the veggies: Slice the vegetables as instructed. Place the carrots and red onion in a bowl with the rice vinegar, water, sugar, and salt. Allow to rest until using. 
  5. Make the sushi: Place a sushi rolling mat or other flat roll-able item (like a towel) on a clean work surface, then place a piece of plastic wrap on top. Add a sheet of nori, shiny side down, and align the bottom edge with the edge of the rolling mat. Use a spatula to spread the sushi rice in a layer about 1/2-inch thick, leaving a 1-inch margin on the end farthest from you and a 1/2-inch margin of rice on the end closest to you. Arrange the fillings in a row on the edge closest to you, with about ½ inch of rice margin at the edge (see the photo). Resist the urge to overstuff the rolls. Carefully roll the sushi away from you, using the mat to apply pressure. Use one hand to keep the filling in place until you get to the point when the mat touches the rice. At this point, lift the mat away from the rice so that you can continue until the sushi is completely rolled. Repeat this process until all the rice has been used. (Reference this sushi rolling video!)
  6. Serve: Use a very sharp knife to cut the rolls into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place them on a platter and drizzle with the Japanese BBQ Sauce (to provide the final flavoring), or another sauce of your choice. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi. Store leftovers refrigerated in a sealed container for 3 to 4 days.

Notes

*The Japanese BBQ Sauce adds the final flavoring; we used Bachan’s. You could also drizzle with Spicy Mayo (using vegan mayonnaise) or another sauce of your choosing.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Japanese Inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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2 Comments

  1. Erin says:

    I don’t know what possessed me to make these–every other time I’ve tried tofu, I haven’t liked it. But this was easily some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. Audibly exclaimed upon trying it. The marinade’s delicious, and countered by the sweet veggies, the balance of flavors is *chef’s kiss*.






  2. Gravy Flavour says:

    I made these and they are amazing, especially after I put them in the fridge for a while. Yum!