Learn how to make the perfect sushi bake at home. From the tangy sushi rice to the creamy, spicy crab meat filling, this is about to become your favorite way to eat sushi!
Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with Japanese food, especially when it comes to fresh homemade sushi.
As much as I love making fresh sushi, like an Alaska or dragon roll, it can be a bit time-consuming. That’s why I’ve been loving this sushi bake recipe. It’s got all those same flavors but with hardly any hands-on work.
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What is a sushi bake?
Sushi bake is a relatively recent invention that’s become an internet sensation on TikTok and Instagram. It’s essentially a standard sushi roll but with one important twist.
Instead of rolling up the fillings in your nori seaweed, everything is layered in a casserole dish and baked until warm. The finished sushi bake is served atop your nori seaweed.
My recipe for baked sushi is perfect if you’re into some fusian Asian food or love California rolls. While it may not be as authentic as the sushi I ate when I traveled to Japan, I’ve found great comfort in making this dish at home.
Here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- It’s easy to customize. You can swap the seafood, add avocado, make it extra spicy, or swap the rice for cauliflower rice instead. There are no rules. It’s your sushi bake!
- No rolling needed. Everything gets assembled and then layered in a single casserole dish, so you save time and have less cleanup.
- Healthy. Imitation crab is just white fish, so it’s rich in protein, low in fat, and has healthy omega-3s.
This deconstructed California roll needs almost identical ingredients as the famous sushi but in casserole form. Here is what you’ll need:
- Sushi rice. I love to make my instant pot sushi rice, but you can also make traditional white or brown rice if you prefer.
- Vinegar. The most traditional vinegar to use in sushi rice is rice vinegar since it has essential added sugar. If you want to skip the added sugar, then you can swap it for white vinegar.
- Sugar. To add sweetness to the sushi rice.
For the filling
- Sesame seeds. To add texture and a nice toasted flavor. I sometimes also use Japanese sesame seeds aka furikake.
- Nori. To scoop up the finished sushi bake.
- Imitation crab mat. Also known as kani or surimi. It’s basically white fish with a little food coloring and a texture similar to crab. Use any leftovers to make this kani salad. If you aren’t a fan of crab, fresh salmon, tuna (tartare or ahi tuna), calamari, or even tofu are fantastic alternatives. You could also flake some cooked halibut or swordfish.
- Soy sauce. To add necessary savoriness. Can be swapped for gluten-free tamari.
- Sesame oil. To add authentic toasted sesame flavor.
- Cream cheese. To make the creamy crab filling.
- Spicy mayo. For the crab filling and to be drizzled on top of the finished sushi bake. I actually use Japanese mayonnaise in my recipe (kewpie mayo).
- Cucumber. For a fresh topping, you could swap it for avocado.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make the viral sushi bake
This easy sushi bake recipe takes no more than 10 minutes to put together. Once all of your ingredients are prepped, it’s just a few simple steps your sushi casserole is ready to go!
Step 1- Assemble the sushi rice. Grab a small bowl and mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Mix until the sugar and salt dissolve fully. Then, pour the mixture over the rice and mix to combine everything.
Step 2- Toast the sesame seeds. In a skillet set over low heat, toast the sesame seeds until golden brown and fragrant. Mix the toasted sesame seeds with one crumbled nori sheet and set aside.
Step 3- Make the crab filling. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, cream cheese, and spicy mayo. Mix to combine everything, then add the imitation crab.
Step 4- Assemble the sushi bake. Grab a rectangular baking dish and spread the sushi rice on the bottom layer, pressing it down. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds, followed by the creamy crab mixture, then more sesame seeds.
Step 5- Bake and serve. Bake this at 220°C for 10 minutes or until the top becomes lightly golden brown. Once the sushi bake is finished, drizzle it with some Sriracha mayo and fresh cucumber slices, then serve it atop the rest of the nori seaweed.
The beauty of baked suhi is that you can switch it up every time you make it!
- Swap the sauce. Swap the spicy mayo for my eel sauce (unagi sauce) for a more sweet and savory flavor.
- Use real crab. Treat yourself and swap out the imitation crab meat for real crab meat.
- Serve with wasabi and pickled ginger. To make it a bit more authentic.
- Make it cheesy. Top the sushi bake with shredded cheddar cheese before baking.
- Add fun toppings. Sprinkle some rice seasoning, green onions, fish roe, masago (egg), tobiko (fish eggs)
To store: Transfer your cooked sushi bake to an airtight container, or cover the baking dish in foil, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days. Keep the nori separate until you’re ready to serve.
To reheat: Transfer the sushi bake back to a baking dish and bake it, covered, at 177°C for 10-12 minutes or until it’s fully reheated. You can also microwave your leftovers in 20-second intervals until warm.
Meal prep idea
A serving of this baked sushi is filling and relatively healthy. I like to whip up a batch as part of my week’s meal prep and you can do the same! Simply let the bake cool completely then portion it out into 5-7 Tupperware containers and have lunch sorted for the week!
Frequently asked questions
It might taste okay, but if you’ve ever tried eating day-old rice, you probably know it’s hard as a rock. That’s why I recommend reheating your sushi bake covered so some moistness returns to the rice.
Yes, baked sushi is suitable for celiacs, as none of the ingredients are derived from gluten.
More popular Japanese recipes
- Chicken katsu– Crispy breaded chicken that cooks in 10 minutes. Serve it with my famous katsu sauce.
- Beef negimaki– Perfect as an elegant appetizer or main course.
- Yakitori– My personal favorite chicken skewers ever.
- Spicy ramen– Elevate your boring bowl of ramen.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/440F.
- Mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and wait for the sugar and salt to dissolve. Pour the mixture over the cooked rice and mix well.
- In a skillet, toast the sesame seeds until golden, on low heat. Mix it with 1 crumbled seaweed sheet and place aside.
- In a medium bowl combine soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, cream cheese, and mayo. Mix well and add chopped crab. Combine everything and set it aside.
- In a rectangular baking pan spread the sushi rice, pressing it down. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds followed by a cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle more sesame seeds on top.
- Bake the sushi for 10-15 minutes, or until golden on top.
- Remove the baked sushi from the oven and decorate with more spicy mayo and fresh cucumber slices and serve on the rest of the seaweed sheets.
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