Sushi Roll vs. Hand Roll – Similarities and Differences

Sushi rolls and hand rolls are popular sushi snacks in the United States. They are both made with rice and vegetables, but there are essential differences between them. Sushi rolls have three main ingredients: raw fish, rice, and nori sheet. Hand-roll sushi also has the same ingredients except for fish and is rolled in a cone shape.

Sushi roll and hand roll comparison

Sushi is a famous dish by the Chinese, invented in the 3rd or 4th century by preserving the fish in salt. It reached Japan in the 8th century and has been famous in Asia since then, now spreading worldwide and gaining popularity. In a way, it has become a trend now.

This article covers sushi roll vs. hand roll sushi in terms of similarities and differences. We’ll also see how they’re made and served in restaurants today.

All About Sushi Rolls

Sushi rolls are a popular dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or main course. In Japan, sushi has been around for hundreds of years and is commonly served as an appetizer with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger. Most sushi dishes use cylindrical sushi rolls with seasoned rice.

8 beautiful sushi rolls on a black surface

If you are intimidated by making sushi at home, start with a simple sushi roll. The recipe is easy and allows you to add your favorite ingredients, and you can make it as simple or complicated as you want.

Moreover, you can find sushi rolls at any Japanese restaurant. It is a healthy dish made with sesame seeds and fermented rice.

Ingredients of Sushi Roll

You can make sushi rolls with a sheet of nori, a layer of rice, and fillings. They’re available in small pieces, which makes them easier to eat with chopsticks. 

You can mix the rice with salmon, avocado, cucumber, or any other ingredient you like. Moreover, you can use cooked or raw salmon and avocado to make a different sushi roll. In addition, some people also use cooked or raw cucumber in sushi rolls.

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of salt 
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • One tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 25g bag nori
  • Choose any filling, such as spring onion, cucumber strips, smoked salmon, avocado, white crabmeat, red pepper, canned spicy tuna, etc.
  • Pickled ginger or wasabi for serving
  • Bamboo mat

How to Make a Sushi Roll

To make a primary sushi roll, serve the rice, fill in nori seaweed, and top with a bit of wasabi and soy sauce.

Tightly roll up your sushi by hand to form a cylinder (or close to one) using a sharp knife or scissors. If you’re using scissors, cut through the roll with sawing motion rather than cutting straight down.

Sushi Roll

Sushi rice is a sticky, glutinous substance that holds together the ingredients of a sushi roll. It has short-grain brown rice with a gluey texture that allows it to hold its shape when rolled into a cylinder. For this reason, you might think making your sushi rice would be difficult, but it's pretty simple.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4
Calories 276 kcal


  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • One tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 25 g bag nori
  • Choose any filling such as spring onion, cucumber strips, smoked salmon, avocado, white crabmeat, red pepper, canned spicy tuna, etc.
  • Pickled ginger or wasabi for serving
  • Bamboo mat


  • The first step is to measure two cups of water in a small bowl or measuring cup (depending on how much liquid you need) and then add two tablespoons of salt.
  • Add 1/4 cup white vinegar. It will help break down any starch in your flour so it can absorb more moisture and give more flexibility while rolling up your sushi rolls.
  • Soak this mixture overnight before using it as part of your recipe later.
  • Place a nori sheet on the mat or cutting board with the shiny side down.
  • Wet your hands with vinegared water and pat a layer of rice on the nori sheet.
  • Use cucumber, tuna, or cooked fish as a thin layer above the rice.
  • Press the layers to keep everything tight in the roll.
  • Keep the edges of the nori sheet clear to make a roll and put a little water on the edges and roll the sushi into a cylindrical shape.
  • Cut the roll into bite-size pieces and eat sushi pieces with wasabi or soy sauce.


Calories: 276kcal
Keyword Sushi roll
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Guide for Sushi Roll

You should know the basics of sushi before trying your hand at more complicated versions.

  • Use a sushi mat to roll your sushi. A rolling bamboo mat will help you achieve a perfect roll every time and prevent any messy spills or tears in this delicate process.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the rice into bite-sized pieces so it stays intact during cooking, which can happen if you don’t take care when handling the rice grinder.
  • Ensure you’re using warm water (not hot) to avoid burning yourself on its steamy surface.
  • Use a bamboo mat for perfect maki sushi rolls.

All About Hand Rolls

Hand rolls are smaller, easier to eat, and less expensive than sushi rolls. They’re also more portable than traditional sushi.

For example, bringing a hand roll with you on a busy day at work is more straightforward than carrying around an entire plate of raw fish and rice.

It is also famous as Temaki sushi. It has a large piece of seaweed wrapped in sushi rice. People use fresh fish, vegetables, or shellfish to make a cone-shaped sushi roll.

Hand rolls contain rice, lettuce, and other vegetables. Place the filling on top of the nori (seaweed) sheet with the side closest to you facing outwards, then another piece of nori is placed on top and rolled up until it forms a long shape with about two inches exposed at each end.

The most common fillings for hand rolls include avocado slices, cucumber slices, and crab meat wrapped in seaweed sheets called tare (or “dressing”). Other ingredients in your sushi bar include cooked chicken breast meat, cream cheese, or mayonnaise mixed with chopped scallions/onion. Also include shrimp cooked with chile pepper flakes; bonito flakes that give certain types of fish their characteristic flavor.

Temaki sushi

Hand Roll Sushi

Try this delicious hand roll recipe.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 33 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4
Calories 244 kcal


  • 1/4 cup rice uncooked. (1 cup cooked)
  • Two cups of chopped vegetables such as carrots, celery, and bell peppers.
  • 1/4 cup tofu or other bean curd product.
  • Three tablespoons of seaweed powder such as nori or wakame flakes.
  • One cucumber optional
  • Bamboo mat


  • Cook rice according to package directions.
  • Make sushi vinegar by combining rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes). Set aside to cool completely before using in step 3 or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month at room temperature or up to 6 months frozen.
  • Prepare fillings: Slice avocado into thin strips; mince onion; shred nori sheets; slice cucumber into thin strips; dice carrots into matchstick pieces (or shred them finely with a peeler); chop cherry tomatoes into quarters if desired. They're more traditional but less attractive than whole ones.
  • Place the nori on a rolling bamboo mat, shiny side down.
  • Wet your fingers and spread the rice over the nori, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top (you can use it for rolling up your hand roll).
  • Use less rice, and use seaweed wrappers.
  • If you have a sushi restaurant, you should use a bamboo mat and make the smallest sushi rolls.
  • You can use kewpie Japanese mayonnaise above rice evenly for tasty recipes.
  • Make a classic roll with bare hands for perfection.


Calories: 244kcal
Keyword hand roll sushi
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

How to Tell Hand Rolls and Sushi Rolls Apart

If you are a chef or have a sushi restaurant, sushi roll vs. hand roll is an interesting topic to know and understand. 

Sushi rolls contain rice and fish, while hand rolls have seaweed. They have the same ingredients, but sushi rolls use more rice than hand rolls. You can serve both rolls with soy sauce on top. People dip the traditional style of sushi before eating.

Difference Between Sushi Rolls and Hand Rolls

When you think of sushi, you probably picture rolls made with rice and seaweed. While these two ingredients make up most of the filling in a sushi roll, they’re not the only ones. On the other hand, hand rolls are rice and seaweed without any fish or other raw meats.

You can also tell them apart by the way they are served. Sushi rolls are typically cut into pieces; hand rolls are not usually cut. 

Sushi rolls also contain more vegetables than hand rolls because they’re meant to be eaten as part of an entire meal (e.g., “sushi” means “vinegared rice”). Moreover, sushi rolls use raw fish to fill the rolled sushi. Hand-rolls often have a vegetable component (like cucumber), but some prefer them without additional veggies! Especially if you’re looking for something new and exciting for dinner tonight.

The main difference between a sushi roll and a hand roll is the shape of the roll. Unlike sushi rolls, hand-roll sushi comes in cone shapes, like an ice cream cone.

Similarities Between Sushi Rolls and Hand Rolls

Both sushi rolls and hand rolls use nori sheets to make rolls and seasoned rice layers above the sheet.

Moreover, both can use fish, radish sprouts, or vegetables for the inner layer. Most sushi restaurants provide both types of rolls on their menu. Seaweed sheet is a must-use in rolled sushi despite its cylindrical shape or cone shape.


  1. What is hand roll sushi?

A hand roll is a type of sushi also famous as temaki sushi. However, it contains vinegared rice and a seaweed sheet as cone-shaped sushi.

  1. Is sushi healthy?

Sushi is healthy if it has more parts of fish and vegetables because they contain lean proteins. However, sushi is not healthy if it contains a thick layer of rice and small layers of vegetables and fish. Therefore, sushi should have a little rice.

  1. How long do sushi rolls last?

You can restore your sushi in the refrigerator for almost four days. Moreover, keep them cool and don’t use them after four days.

  1. How many calories does a hand roll contain?

A hand roll contains 168 calories in each 100g, that’s why you can serve it as an appetizer.


Sushi and hand rolls are both famous in the US but have essential differences. For sushi rolls, you can use various ingredients, including seafood, vegetables, and fruits like avocado.

On the other hand, you can make hand rolls with rice paper wrappers filled with filling, then rolled up into an individual bite-sized item. Moreover, they are also famous for Temaki sushi.

Temaki is a type of sushi roll that consists of rice and filling. The ingredients for this recipe are made by rolling them into balls and then pressing them into shapes before rolling them up with seaweed strips. Temaki can be made with different fillings, from vegetables such as cucumber or carrot to meat like salmon roe or tuna fish flakes which make temaki tasty.

Both hand rolls and sushi rolls are delicious and easy to make. We hope this article will help you add some authentic Japanese cuisine to your culinary skills.

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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.
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