What is Uramaki?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Uramaki is a type of rolled sushi in which the rice is on the outside, rather than rolled up inside the nori. Many people call uramaki “inside-out rolls,” and this preparation is especially common in the United States, appearing notably in the California roll. Uramaki can be made at home, just like other types of rolled sushi, and it is also available at many sushi restaurants.

Uramaki is a type of rolled sushi.
Uramaki is a type of rolled sushi.

Before delving into the wide world of uramaki, it is necessary to clarify some of the terms used to describe sushi. Technically, “sushi” simply means “vinegared rice” in Japanese, referring to the key ingredient in a variety of foods. When rice is spread onto dried seaweed known as nori and rolled up, it is known as makisushi, or “rolled sushi.” Nigirisushi is made by forming a small clump of rice and adding toppings, while nigirisushi is made by wrapping rice into a parcel with a skin of fried tofu.

Grilled eel is often used as a filling for uramaki.
Grilled eel is often used as a filling for uramaki.

When uramaki is made, chefs spread a layer of rice onto a sushi mat, gently press a sheet of nori onto it, and then apply fillings to one end. Typically only one to three fillings are used, so that the uramaki does not become too big. Then, the nori, filling, and rice are rolled up, so the filling is encased inside and the rice faces out. Some chefs like to roll their uramaki in roe, sesame seeds, and other garnishes to make it more colorful.

Because sushi is extremely sticky, many cooks like to place their sushi mats inside a plastic bag to make uramaki. That way, the sushi sits on the plastic, rather than the bamboo of the mat, making cleanup much easier. It is also a good idea to keep a small dish of warm water around for dipping the fingers so that they stay relatively clean during the uramaki manufacturing process. Using a sushi paddle to spread the rice also helps with keeping the stickiness down.

All sorts of fillings can be used in uramaki, from vegetable mixes to seafood. For larger rolls, tempura shrimp and grilled eel can make interesting fillings, while more slender rolls can be made from mixtures of ground crab and thin pieces of vegetables. The important thing to remember is that uramaki tends to get very fat, very quickly, because of the outer layer of rice, so it is a good idea to refrain from going overboard in the filling department.

Uramaki is a type of rolled sushi in which the rice is on the outside.
Uramaki is a type of rolled sushi in which the rice is on the outside.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Uramaki can be a really healthy snack if you stick with minimal rice and make sure your fillings are nutritious. I like to make my uramaki with a variety of Asian vegetables and tuna. One of the best things I find to add to uramaki is some thinly sliced avocado. I really enjoy the taste and it has tons of healthy fats in it.

Does anyone have any uramaki recipes you would like to share? I am always looking for new things to add as fillings for my uramaki and am willing to experiment. I prefer things that are healthy though, so nothing like processed ham et cetera for me.


I absolutely love making sushi but I must say that getting uramaki perfect is a bit of a task. For someone reason I always end up with rice everywhere and dislike when my roll comes out messy.

Does anyone have any tips for creating perfect uramaki? I am starting to think that my rice may not be sticky enough because it tends to fall off of my nori when I roll it. Or it sticks to the bamboo mat leaving a complete mess behind. I have tried a lot of things to get it right, but it always seems to go poorly.


I just learned an interesting fact about uramaki. It is called uramaki when it is made with smaller seaweed sheets. I think "maki" means "backward."

If it is made with large seaweed sheets, it is actually called futomaki because "futo" in Japanese means "large" and "wide". So futomaki is a large uramaki!


I have always loved sushi and I love going to sushi restaurants and also making it at home. I've tried to get my daughter to like it as well. Most people are usually reluctant to try sushi because of the raw fish. My daughter doesn't have a problem with that but she has a problem with seaweed for some reason.

One day though, I got a recipe for uramaki from my friend and decided to do it at home. It's actually very similar, it just requires another layer of rice before the seaweed. I made a couple of different varieties and decorated with sesame. My daughter came home that day, took a look at what I made, said "oh, you made sushi without the seaweed," and started eating! The seaweed was completely covered in rice and she didn't even see it!

I don't think I'm going to tell her that there is seaweed in it, at least not for a while. That way I can get her to go to a few sushi restaurants with me.


There is also fried uramaki, which is a great change from the regular. You prepare the uramaki as usual and when it is rolled up, dip it in eggs and breadcrumbs and fry it in oil.

I've tried both salmon and avacado uramaki this way and it turned out delicious. Frying it adds more flavor and turns it into a hot meal or appetizer.

Just make sure to fry the uramaki in whole and slice it up later. If you slice it before frying, it will fall apart in the pan.

I enjoy this recipe even more than regular uramaki. I totally recommend it!

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