There is a long tradition of grilling in Japan—even rice, which is shaped into balls (onigiri) and brushed with lightly sweetened miso. The shape is a matter of preference. Cookbook author and cooking teacher Sonoko Sakai says that, in her family, they always make them triangular but you can also form them into rounds or ovals. Be sure to use sticky short- or medium-grain rice; the long-grain kind will not hold together. Serve them right off the grill, while they are still hot and crispy.

EatingWell Magazine, March 2022


Credit: Rick Poon

Recipe Summary

20 mins
1 hr


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender and no water remains, about 20 minutes. (Alternatively, cook rice in a rice cooker according to the manufacturer's directions.) Fluff the rice and let stand until cool enough to handle.

  • Meanwhile, combine miso and mirin in a small bowl. Set aside.

  • Divide the cooled rice into 6 equal portions, about 1/2 cup each. Using wet hands (or a small bowl), press each rice portion into a ball, oval or triangle shape. Brush one side of each rice ball using half of the sesame oil.

  • Preheat grill to medium-high. Grill the onigiri, oiled-side down, until crisp and slightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Brush the second side with the remaining sesame oil, flip and cook for 5 minutes more. Brush the reserved miso mixture on the onigiri tops and continue grilling until the miso is slightly set and the bottom is golden and crispy, about 2 minutes more. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts

1 rice ball
136 calories; protein 3g; carbohydrates 21g; dietary fiber 1g; sugars 1g; fat 4g; saturated fat 1g; sodium 249mg; potassium 32mg.