Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)

Inari Sushi (Inarizushi)

Known as aburaage, deep-fried tofu pouches are very popular in Japan. By the 1980s, close to 300,000 to 450,000 pouches were made every day and roughly one-third of the soybeans used for tofu went to making aburaage. Today, the love for these tasty pockets continues.

In the United States, these pouches are widely available in the refrigerated aisle in Asian supermarkets, but can also be bought canned from online retailers. Many tofu pockets are gluten free, but double-check the label before buying if there’s a wheat allergy in the house.

What Is Inari Sushi?

Inari sushi is made by filling a pouch of seasoned fried tofu with sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is said to have had a fondness for tofu. These tofu pouches are a portable, healthy, everyday vegetarian and vegan dish.

You can dress these up any way you wish, as our recipe is just the most basic recipe to make inari. Use your imagination and other ingredients you have at hand to prepare your own version of inari sushi.

Tips for Making Inari Sushi

  • Place the cooked rice into the biggest bowl you have—the more surface area there is, the quicker the rice cools.
  • Fanning the rice doesn't just help it cool down; it also creates the beautiful shine that sushi rice is known for.
  • When adding the vinegar-sugar mixture and seaweed, be sure to mix them into the rice gently. You don't want to overwork the rice or else it'll start to get mushy.

Ways to Dress Up Inari Sushi

For other fun lunches with aburaage, use this recipe as a template and add steamed vegetables, furikake seasoning, radishes, avocado, thinly-sliced seaweed, bamboo shoots, or proteins like crab, pork, or fish. Any way you choose to make them, inari sushi is great for an office or school lunch box.

They also keep well overnight if refrigerated and can be eaten cold.

What to Serve With Inari Sushi

To make a complete lunch of these tasty treats, here are a few ideas on what to serve alongside:

  • Serve some soy sauce or tamari on the side for dipping your inari sushi.
  • Wasabi also makes a great addition, as each guest can add a dab or two into each pocket, depending on their heat tolerance.
  • Steamed vegetables, like asparagus, broccoli, and snap peas, are an ideal side to these pockets.
  • Sesame seeds (white, black, or both), add some crunch and nutrition to the pockets, so sprinkle some on top if desired.
  • A bowl of miso soup is also a welcome addition to an inari sushi lunch.

“I can see why inari sushi is often packed into lunchboxes. They’re truly the perfect portable bite. The fluffy rice and fried tofu pocket contrast nicely with each other. Working with the sushi rice can be messy—I recommend keeping a bowl of water around so you can wet your hands in between forming the rice balls.” —Patty Lee

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 cups sushi rice, or medium-grain rice

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 2 sheets nori, or gim, crumbled

  • 10 square inari pockets, cut in half

Steps to Make It

Make the Sushi Rice

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for rice stuffed tofu pockets gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  2. Cook the sushi rice according to instructions in a rice cooker or in a pot on the stove.

    Sushi rice cooking in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  3. Once the rice is done, fluff the rice with a spoon.

    Cooked rice that has been fluffed in a pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  4. Let rest with the lid on for another 10 to 15 minutes.

    Rice cooking with the lid put onto the pot

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  5. In a bowl, combine sugar with the vinegar, whisking to combine.

    Sugar and vinegar being mixed in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  6. Transfer the rice to a very large wooden bowl or salad bowl. Spread out in a thin layer so that the rice cools.

    Cooked rice resting in a white bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  7. Cool the rice using a hand fan or waving a magazine back and forth, and when it's cool enough to handle, mix in the vinegar-sugar mixture to the rice. Keep fanning as you combine.

    Rice in a bowl being cooled with a hand fan

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

Assemble the Inari Sushi

  1. Mix the crumbled seaweed into the seasoned rice.

    Seaweed being mixed into the seasoned rice

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  2. Wet your hands with rice vinegar or water so the rice doesn't stick. Divide the rice into 20 portions, either by weighing the total amount and neatly dividing, or using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Form into egg-shaped balls.

    Rice and seaweed in zeppelin-shaped balls on a wood board

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni

  3. Press the rice firmly into the inari pockets. Repeat the process until you have used all the rice and pockets. Serve immediately.

    Rice being stuffed tofu pockets (inari sushi)

    The Spruce Eats / Kristina Vanni


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