Substitutes for Furikake

Furikake is a popular Japanese seasoning that adds a burst of flavor to rice, noodles, and other dishes. It typically consists of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, salt, and other flavorful ingredients. While furikake is undoubtedly delicious, there may be times when you need a substitute, whether it’s due to dietary restrictions, unavailability, or simply to explore new flavors.

Fear not, as there are numerous tasty alternatives to furikake that can provide the same umami-rich and textural experience. From spice blends to seeds, and even vegan options, these substitutes can be easily prepared at home or purchased at your local grocery store. So, let’s dive into the world of furikake substitutes and expand your culinary horizons!

Key Takeaways

  • Spice and seed substitutes can mimic the flavor profile of furikake
  • Seafood substitutes and natural flavor boosters add depth to your dishes
  • Homemade furikake preparations allow for customized and vegan alternatives

What is Furikake?

Furikake is a popular Japanese seasoning that adds a burst of flavor to your meals, particularly rice dishes. As you explore the world of furikake, you’ll discover that it can elevate a simple bowl of rice to something truly special. This versatile seasoning incorporates a mix of flavorful ingredients, including dried fish, sesame seeds, seaweed, and seeds, providing a unique umami flavor that can enhance various dishes.

The foundation of furikake lies in the combination of nori seaweed and sesame seeds. Nori seaweed, a staple in Japanese cuisine, contributes an oceanic taste and a rich source of minerals and vitamins. Meanwhile, sesame seeds add a nutty flavor, creating a complementary taste profile. These two ingredients provide a depth of flavor that distinguishes furikake from other seasonings.

In addition to nori seaweed and sesame seeds, furikake often incorporates dried fish and seeds, further increasing its flavor complexity. Dried fish, such as bonito flakes or tiny shrimp, delivers an umami punch, leaving you craving for more. Seeds can vary in type, ranging from chia seeds to hemp seeds, and each type imparts its unique characteristics to the furikake blend.

As you experiment with furikake seasoning, you may find yourself falling in love with its ability to enhance the taste of various dishes. While traditionally used as a topping for rice, you can also sprinkle it on noodles, vegetables, or even popcorn. The possibilities for incorporating furikake into your culinary creations are nearly endless.

Common Ingredients in Furikake

Furikake is a versatile Japanese seasoning that is often used to enhance the flavor of rice, vegetables, and other dishes. It is typically comprised of a mixture of ingredients that provide a savory umami taste, which comes from the presence of various proteins and amino acids. Here are some of the most common ingredients found in furikake.

Nori: Nori, a type of seaweed, is one of the primary ingredients in furikake. The dried sheets of nori are often crushed or cut into fine strips and added to the seasoning mix. It not only adds color and texture but also imparts a mild, sea-like flavor that is characteristic of many Japanese dishes.

Bonito flakes: Bonito flakes, or Katsuobushi, are made from dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna. They bring a smoky, fishy flavor to the mix which boosts the umami content in furikake. As bonito flakes are packed with flavor, they make an ideal ingredient for adding depth to the seasoning.

Sesame seeds: Toasted sesame seeds are commonly used in furikake for their rich, nutty flavor, and crunchy texture. They also provide additional color and contrast to the mix, making it visually more appealing. Sesame seeds can be either black or white, and sometimes both types are used together for a striking aesthetic effect.

Salt: Salt is an essential component of furikake, as it not only enhances the taste of the ingredients but also acts as a preservative. The amount of salt used can vary depending on the other ingredients and personal taste preferences. Some furikake versions may use soy sauce or other salty seasonings as a substitute.

To make your furikake seasoning, it is all about finding the perfect balance between these ingredients. Experiment with different proportions to create a blend that suits your taste buds and enjoy the flavorful journey this versatile seasoning has to offer.

Identifying the Flavors

Furikake is a popular Japanese seasoning that adds both flavor and texture to dishes, especially rice. To find suitable substitutes for furikake, it’s important to understand its key flavors and components.

The primary flavor in furikake is umami, which is often described as savory or meaty. This taste is mainly derived from dried bonito flakes, a key ingredient in many furikake varieties. When seeking a substitute, look for seasonings or ingredients that provide a similar umami flavor, such as:

  • Soy sauce
  • Miso paste
  • Anchovy paste
  • Fish sauce

Another significant flavor component in furikake is nori, a type of edible seaweed. Dried and roasted, nori gets crumbled in the seasoning mix, adding an oceanic taste. You can directly use nori in your dish or look for alternatives that evoke similar flavors, like:

  • Seaweed snacks
  • Kelp flakes
  • Dulse flakes

To recreate the overall furikake experience, consider combining a variety of ingredients that provide not only umami and seaweed flavors but also some of the other common elements found in furikake mixes:

  • Sesame seeds
  • Dried shiso leaves
  • Dried egg
  • Chili flakes

The key to finding substitute ingredients is understanding the flavor and texture balance. Try experimenting with various combinations to discover what works best for your taste buds and the dish you’re preparing.

For a clear visual of potential substitutes and the flavors they contribute, refer to this table:

Soy sauceUmami
Miso pasteUmami
Anchovy pasteUmami
Fish sauceUmami
Seaweed snacksSeaweed
Kelp flakesSeaweed
Dulse flakesSeaweed
Sesame seedsNutty, crunchy
Dried shiso leavesHerbaceous
Dried eggMeaty
Chili flakesSpicy

Remember, substitutes for furikake might not always provide an exact match for the original Japanese seasoning, but they can still enhance your dish with delightful flavors and textures. Enjoy your culinary adventure as you explore and experiment with these alternatives.

Cases for Substitutes

There might be situations when you don’t have access to furikake or simply prefer a homemade alternative for various reasons. In these cases, you can turn to substitutes for furikake that deliver similar flavors and textures to your dishes.

One reason to seek furikake substitutes could be due to availability. Not every grocery store carries furikake, and specialty stores aren’t always within reach. Creating a homemade furikake seasoning with ingredients you have on hand can save time and make your dish just as delicious.

Another motivation for using substitutes is dietary restrictions or preferences. Furikake often contains fish-based ingredients like bonito flakes and dried shrimp, which may not suit individuals with allergies or those following vegetarian or vegan diets. By opting for a homemade alternative, you have complete control over the ingredients, ensuring that the seasoning aligns with your dietary requirements.

If you’re on a budget, using substitutes for furikake can help you save money. Premade furikake can be quite pricey, especially if you consume it regularly. With a homemade furikake seasoning, you can craft a batch at a lower cost while still enjoying the flavors you love.

Numerous alternatives can be made from common items found in your pantry or your local grocery store. Some popular furikake substitute options include:

  • Mix of sesame seeds, salt, and seaweed
  • Seasoned salt or sea salt mixed with spices such as garlic powder or onion powder
  • A combination of nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, and seaweed for a vegan option
  • Crushed nori combined with spices, salt, and your choice of seeds or nuts

By considering these reasons and options, you can confidently prepare a delicious and satisfying meal while using convenient and fitting furikake substitutes tailored to your taste and needs.

Spice Substitutes

Wasabi and Shichimi Togarashi Options

If you’re looking for a spicy kick in your dish, you may want to consider wasabi or shichimi togarashi as furikake substitutes. Wasabi, known for its pungent taste, can be used sparingly to bring a unique flavor to your dishes. It’s commonly used as a condiment for sushi but can also be incorporated into sauces or dressings.

On the other hand, shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that typically consists of red chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seeds, ginger, seaweed, and other spices like Sichuan pepper. It can easily be sprinkled on top of your dishes, much like furikake. Shichimi togarashi provides a spicy and flavorful addition to your meal with its unique, complex taste. You can try using these spices in different combinations to achieve the desired spice level for your dish.

Other Popular Spices

There are other spice options that you can use as a furikake substitute as well. Some examples include:

  • Togarashi: Plain togarashi, sometimes called Japanese red pepper, can be used as a simple substitute for furikake. It is spicy, like shichimi togarashi, but without the other flavor components. Simply sprinkle it on your meal to get a spicy punch.
  • Paprika/Smoked paprika: Paprika provides a milder flavor and can add color to your dish without being too overpowering. Smoked paprika gives a slightly smoky flavor that could add a unique twist to your meal.
  • Red pepper flakes: For a more accessible option, red pepper flakes can be used to bring some heat to your dish. They’re not as hot as shichimi togarashi, but they can still elevate the flavors and add some spiciness.

Remember to experiment with spices and find the perfect combination for your taste buds. By incorporating different spices into your dishes, you can discover new and exciting flavors while still enjoying a furikake alternative.

Seed Substitutes

Black Sesame and Nori Flakes Options

Incorporating black sesame seeds and nori flakes into your dishes is an excellent substitute for furikake. Black sesame seeds offer a slightly nuttier flavor compared to the traditional white sesame seeds. Gently toast the seeds to enhance their flavor. Then, mix in finely chopped nori flakes to imitate the seaweed component found in furikake. This combination works great as a topping for sushi, rice bowls, and salads.

Other Versatile Seeds

Apart from the black sesame and nori flakes, you can use other types of seeds to modify your furikake substitute. Consider hemp seeds, which provide a mildly nutty taste and a boost of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Adding toasted poppy seeds is another option worth exploring for extra texture and flavor. Combine your chosen seeds with your black sesame and nori flakes mix to create a unique and nutritious furikake alternative.

By using these seed substitutes and incorporating them into your meals, you can enjoy the essence of furikake without the need for hard-to-find ingredients. This approach is not only convenient but also helps to diversify your culinary palate. Keep experimenting with combinations of these seeds to create your perfect, customized furikake substitute.

Seafood Substitutes

Bonito flakes, also known as katsuobushi, are a popular option for a furikake substitute. They are thin shavings of dried, fermented, and smoked tuna that provide a rich, umami flavor. You can find them at most Asian grocery stores or online. Simply sprinkle them over your rice or mix them with other ingredients to create a flavorful topping.

Dried shrimp can also be used to mimic the seafood flavor found in furikake. To use dried shrimp as a substitute, chop them finely and mix with sea salt and sesame seeds. You can also grind the shrimp into a fine powder for a more consistent flavor throughout your dishes.

If you prefer a taste of the sea without fish, seaweed and nori are excellent choices for a furikake substitute. You can find nori sheets at most grocery stores, and they are incredibly easy to work with. Just cut the nori into thin strips or small squares and combine with sea salt, sesame seeds, and other seasonings of your choice.

For those who enjoy the rich flavor of salmon, using smoked or dried salmon can add a delicious twist to your furikake substitute. Flake the salmon into small pieces and mix with sea salt, sesame seeds, and any other desired seasonings. This combination not only provides a unique taste but also adds a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids to your meal.

Keep in mind that sea salt plays a significant role in furikake seasoning. Regardless of the seafood substitute you choose, don’t forget to incorporate a pinch of sea salt to enhance the flavors and add an authentic touch to your homemade furikake seasoning.

Remember to experiment with different combinations of these ingredients to find the perfect seafood substitute that suits your taste buds. Enjoy creating unique and delicious flavors for your meals.

Natural Flavor Boosters

When looking for substitutes for furikake, there are several natural flavor boosters that can enhance your dishes. These alternatives not only add a burst of flavor but also contribute to a healthier meal.

Ginger is an excellent choice for adding a warm, spicy flavor to your food. This versatile root can be grated, minced, or even pickled. Incorporating ginger into your dishes will elevate the taste and give an exciting twist to plain rice or noodles.

Shiso, also known as perilla or beefsteak plant, is another natural flavor booster to consider. This herb offers a unique and refreshing taste, somewhat reminiscent of both mint and basil. You can use the leaves whole or finely chopped as a garnish, while the seeds can be used as a spice.

Citrus peels, such as orange or lemon, can provide a zesty and aromatic touch to your meals. To use citrus peels, grate or thinly slice the peel, making sure to avoid the bitter white pith. Sprinkle the zest over your dishes for a burst of natural and tangy flavor.

If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter alternative, orange peel is a great option. Dried and sometimes candied, orange peel can be either finely chopped or ground into a powder. Adding a pinch of this flavorful ingredient will create a wonderful combination with both sweet and savory dishes.

To build a well-rounded flavor profile for your meals, don’t shy away from experimenting with these diverse ingredients. Mixing and matching them in various combinations may lead to the discovery of new and delightful taste sensations.

Homemade Furikake Preparation

Preparing homemade furikake is a great way to customize the flavors to your liking and enjoy a versatile Japanese condiment. Making it in your own kitchen is a simple and rewarding process.

To begin, gather the essential ingredients such as crumbled nori (seaweed), sesame seeds, bonito flakes, and salt. You can also include other optional ingredients like dried shrimp or fish, dried shiso leaves, and powdered seasonings such as wasabi or shichimi togarashi.

First, lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan over medium heat. Be sure to watch them closely, as they can easily burn. Once they’ve turned a golden color and become fragrant, remove them from the pan and set aside.

Next, crumble the nori seaweed into small flakes using your hands or a food processor. If using other dried ingredients like shrimp or fish, be sure to finely chop them as well.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the crumbled nori, toasted sesame seeds, bonito flakes, salt, and any additional optional ingredients. Mix thoroughly to ensure even distribution of flavors.

Once your homemade furikake is well combined, transfer it to an airtight container. Store it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, and use it within a few months for the best flavor.

Feel free to experiment with different ingredient combinations and proportions to create your very own signature furikake blend. Homemade furikake is not only a delicious addition to your meals but also adds a personal touch to your cooking.

Adding Substitutes to Dishes

Incorporating in Soups and Stews

Adding furikake substitutes to dishes is quite accessible and can enhance their flavors. For soups and stews, you can simply mix in the substitute of your choice. For example, adding toasted sesame seeds or bonito flakes will give an extra depth of flavor to your dish, while seaweed flakes can provide a nice texture and umami taste. To ensure even distribution of the substitute, stir well after incorporating it into the dish.

Sprinkling on Salads and Stir-fries

For salads and stir-fries, furikake substitutes can be used as a topping or a finishing touch. Sprinkle your choice of substitute over the dish right before serving to maintain its texture and appearance. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Rice dishes: Sprinkle your chosen furikake substitute over rice, whether white, brown, or mixed. This works exceptionally well with onigiri and other rice-based dishes.
  • Vegetables: Furikake substitutes can easily be incorporated into your favorite vegetable dishes. For instance, adding a pinch of sesame seeds or seaweed flakes to steamed or sautéed vegetables adds an appealing touch of flavor and color.
  • Noodles: Customize your noodle dishes like ramen, soba, or udon by adding furikake substitutes as a topping. Toasted sesame seeds, shichimi togarashi, and bonito flakes are all excellent choices.

Remember, while using these substitutes, be mindful of the dish you are preparing, and adjust the portion according to your taste preferences. The key is to experiment with different substitutes and their combinations to find the perfect flavor profile for your dish.

Nutritional Content of Substitutes

When looking for furikake substitutes, it’s important to consider the nutritional content of the alternatives. Many options provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Here are some common substitutes and their nutritional benefits:

Nutritional Yeast: A popular substitute for furikake, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast with a nutty, cheesy flavor. It’s an excellent source of protein, fiber, and several B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12. Additionally, some nutritional yeast products are fortified with minerals like zinc, selenium, and copper. Sprinkling nutritional yeast on your dishes can boost your nutrient intake while also adding a savory taste.

Sesame Seeds: Aside from being an essential component in furikake, sesame seeds can also serve as a simple substitute. They are a good source of healthy fats, protein, and minerals such as copper, manganese, and calcium. Toasting sesame seeds adds a richer flavor and enhances the final result of your meal.

Seaweed: Another key ingredient in furikake, seaweed can be used on its own or mixed with other ingredients. It’s a low-calorie food, packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K, and iodine, a mineral essential for thyroid health. Seaweed also contains fiber and trace amounts of protein, making it a nutritious addition to your meals.

Spices and Herbs: To achieve a balanced flavor without furikake, try experimenting with various spices and herbs. Some good choices include shiso leaves, dried shiitake mushrooms, and bonito flakes. While the specific nutritional content of spices and herbs may vary, they generally provide small amounts of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, they can contribute antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to your dishes.

Remember, when replacing furikake in your recipes, the key is to strike a balance between taste and nutritional benefits. By choosing the right substitute, you can maintain the flavors you love while ensuring your meals remain nutritious.

Vegan Alternatives for Furikake

If you’re a vegan searching for a substitute for traditional furikake seasoning, don’t worry, there are plenty of alternatives that can still provide you with delicious flavor and texture. Some of these vegan alternatives are not only healthy, but easy to make at home.

Nutritional Yeast: An excellent vegan option for furikake seasoning is nutritional yeast. It offers a cheesy, umami flavor that complements rice dishes, vegetables, and even popcorn. Nutritional yeast is also a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for maintaining healthy brain function and energy levels.

Seaweed flakes: Seaweed flakes like nori, dulse, or kelp can replace the fishy elements of furikake seasoning. Seaweed is not only vegan, but also packed with nutrients such as iodine, zinc, and manganese. To mimic the texture of furikake, simply crumble the seaweed flakes into small pieces and mix with your favorite spices.

Toasted sesame seeds: Furikake often includes sesame seeds, which are already vegan-friendly. Simply toast your sesame seeds in a dry skillet to enhance their nutty flavor. You can even try using black sesame seeds for added color and a slightly different taste.

Homemade vegan furikake blends: Get creative in the kitchen by combining various plant-based ingredients to create your own unique vegan furikake blend. You can try mixing equal parts of nutritional yeast, seaweed flakes, and toasted sesame seeds, then adding in extra flavor boosts like salt, chili flakes, or other seasonings. Experiment with various combinations to find the recipe tailored to your taste buds.

Store-Bought versus Homemade Furikake

When it comes to furikake, you have two primary options: purchasing a store-bought blend or making your own homemade version. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, and ultimately the choice depends on your preferences, time, and budget.

Store-Bought Furikake

Choosing a store-bought furikake blend offers you convenience and an array of established flavors. Many popular varieties are available, such as nori, bonito, salmon, sesame, and shiso. These blends typically include a mix of dried seaweed, seasonings, and other flavorful ingredients. Here are some pros and cons of store-bought furikake:

  • Pros
    • Time-saving: Pre-made furikake saves you the effort of mixing your own ingredients.
    • Consistency: With store-bought furikake, you know what to expect flavor-wise.
    • Convenience: Purchasing pre-made furikake is as easy as adding it to your shopping cart.
  • Cons
    • Limited customization: You can’t modify the flavor profile or ingredient ratios.
    • Preservatives: Some store-bought blends may contain additives or artificial ingredients.
    • Cost: Repeatedly buying furikake may be more expensive than making it at home.

Homemade Furikake

Preparing your own homemade furikake gives you the ability to experiment with flavors and ingredients. By creating your own blend, you have full control over what goes into your furikake and can personalize it according to your taste preferences. Here are some pros and cons of homemade furikake:

  • Pros
    • Customization: Adjust ingredients and ratios to match your preferred flavor profile.
    • Healthier: Make healthier furikake by controlling sodium levels and avoiding additives.
    • Cost-effective: Homemade furikake can be more budget-friendly in the long run.
  • Cons
    • Time-consuming: Mixing furikake from scratch can be labor-intensive and time-consuming.
    • Inconsistency: Homemade furikake may vary in taste from batch to batch.
    • Availability: Some ingredients may not be easily available locally, requiring online orders or visits to specialty stores.

Your decision between store-bought and homemade furikake will depend on your priorities and personal preferences. Whether you choose a store-bought blend for convenience or opt to make your own unique furikake at home, you can enjoy this versatile and delicious Japanese seasoning in a variety of dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I use instead of furikake seasoning?

If you don’t have furikake seasoning on hand, there are several alternatives you can use. Try mixing sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and a pinch of salt for a simple substitute. For more complex flavors, consider adding ingredients like dried bonito flakes, dried shrimp, or chopped green onions. You can also use store-bought seasoning blends like gomashio (sesame salt) or shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice blend).

Are there vegetarian alternatives to furikake?

Yes, there are vegetarian alternatives to furikake. You can create a homemade version using sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and salt. Additionally, you can add other vegetarian-friendly ingredients like chopped nuts, dried vegetables, and small amounts of soy sauce or miso powder for extra flavor. When shopping for furikake, look for versions labeled as “vegetarian” or “vegan” to ensure they don’t contain fish-based ingredients.

Can I make my own furikake at home?

Definitely! Making your own furikake is simple and allows you to customize the flavor to suit your preferences. Start with a base of sesame seeds and dried seaweed, then add additional ingredients like nuts, dried fish, vegetables, or spices. You can even experiment with unique elements like matcha powder or dried fruit. To make your homemade furikake, toast the ingredients in a dry pan until fragrant and crisp, then gently crush them together using a mortar and pestle or a food processor.

What are some common furikake ingredients?

Furikake typically contains a mixture of sesame seeds, dried seaweed, and salt. Other common ingredients include dried fish (such as bonito flakes), dried shrimp, green onions, and spices like chili flakes or ginger. Some varieties also incorporate additional flavors like dried egg, citrus zest, or wasabi.

Is there a furikake substitute for poke bowls?

For a poke bowl, you can use a simple mix of sesame seeds and dried seaweed as a furikake substitute. Alternatively, you can explore Hawaiian-inspired seasoning blends, such as a combination of sea salt, sesame seeds, and crushed macadamia nuts. Another option is to create a more customized blend using elements like chili flakes, furikake-like vegetables, or dried fish to complement your poke bowl’s ingredients.

Where can I find furikake alternatives in stores?

Furikake alternatives can often be found in the Asian or international aisle of your local grocery store. Look for seasoning blends like gomashio or shichimi togarashi, or purchase individual ingredients like sesame seeds and dried seaweed to create your own custom mix. Specialty Asian markets will generally carry a wider selection of furikake-like ingredients and pre-mixed blends, so you may have more options available if you visit one of these stores.

Substitutes for Furikake + Recipe

Here's a simple recipe using Furikake:
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Seasoning, Substitute
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4
Calories 108 kcal


  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 tbsp Furikake seasoning
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped green onions


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked rice, Furikake seasoning, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
  • Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Transfer the rice mixture to a serving bowl and sprinkle some chopped green onions on top.
  • Serve the Furikake rice warm or at room temperature.


You can also add other ingredients to the Furikake rice, such as cooked vegetables, scrambled eggs, or diced tofu, to make it more filling and nutritious. Enjoy!


Calories: 108kcal
Keyword Furikake
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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