How to make Homemade California Rolls

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on September 8, 2011

Homemade California rolls were a huge part of my life as a holistic nutrition student.

The girls and I would get together on a Saturday afternoon; each required to bring one random sushi ingredient, and the host would be responsible for preparing the grains.

Some weekends we’d have wild rice + yam rolls with spicy mayo, other times sprouted quinoa with marinated avocado. It was always different, creative and deliciously healthy.

Best of all, they couldn’t be simpler to make!

Required tools

  • Sushi mat – you can find them in any grocery store in the Ethnic isle
  • Sushi nori – again, in the Ethnic isle
  • Bowl of warm water
  • Cloth or paper towel folded into a 3″ x 3″ square


Grains – you’ll need about 1/4 cup uncooked grain and 1/2 cup water for every 2 rolls (ratio of 1 grain: 2 water). For this recipe we used:

  • 1 1/4 cup long grain brown rice
  • 1/2 cup millet
  • 3 1/2 cup water

Rinse grains, combine grains and water in a medium sized saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 40 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Allow to sit covered for 10 minutes before removing lid and allowing to cool for a couple of hours

Filling – get creative! You can try stuff like:

  • Vegetables – yams, spinach, cucumber, carrots, peppers, sprouts – sliced long and thin
  • Protein – beans, hummus, soaked nuts, seeds, chicken, leftover burgers, steak – sliced long and thin
  • Soy sauce or Braggs seasoning (gluten-free)
  • Pickled or fresh ginger
  • Wasabi

Step by step…

1 ) Get your tools ready

2 ) Get your ingredients piled up

3 ) Place 1 sushi nori sheet on the sushi mat

4 ) Lightly wet the paper towel or cloth in the bowl of water. Wipe the cloth across the entire nori sheet. You don’t want it too wet, lighter is better, just to soften the sheet up so it doesn’t crack.

5 ) Place 1/4 cup of cooked grain on the end of the nori, leaving about 1″ at the horizontal edge. Press flat.

6 ) Place filling on top being sure not to overdo it or you wont get the thing closed!

7 ) Fold over the 1″ section over top of the filling, using the sushi mat as a guide.

8 ) Use your fingers to fold that section into the filling. Begin to roll the sushi mat, keeping the top edge free so it doesn’t get tangled in your nori. This takes a bit of practice but the best thing is – you can retry and it wont mess up anything!

9 ) When there’s about 1″ left at the end, dab your towel with a bit of water and wet the edge. This will help the edges stick together

10 ) Press the roll down on the wet edge

11 ) Lightly squeeze the roll to allow the edge to seal.

12 ) Roll the mat around the California roll, lightly squeezing.

13 ) Gently unravel the sushi mat and vwoala! You made your first California roll!

14 ) Okay, now you have a bazillion others to make. Chop chop!

15 ) Once complete, slice each roll with a sharp knife, making about 6-8 pieces per roll. Serve with wasabi, ginger, and Braggs.

Although the days of late night study groups are a thing of the past, the California roll has become the staple in our house.

They’re great as a leftover for your lunch, make for a fantastic dinner party activity… and they make your thyroid happy. What’s more to love?

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

I want to make sushi sooooo badly now!!! But I have not been able to find the mat and nori at my grocery store! I guess I’ll have to go to an actual ethnic store.


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

I have posted before that I’ve wanted to learn how to make my own sushi rolls. I mean, it’s not hard. In theory. Rice + veggies inside nori. But then I think about what a mess I’d make trying to roll them up and think…well…maybe I’ll skip this project for now.

You made it look easy & do-able. Thanks!


Faith @ For the Health of It

I desperately want a rolling mat – I could totally house 3-4 rolls of sushi but that would get uber expensive at a restaurant!



Lovely…& great creative filling ideas!


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

As someone who doesn’t eat sushi, I’m always jealous of my friends and their pretty rolls when we go out. I can’t wait to make my own! It seems like the veggie rolls in restaurants are always the same couple of ingredients.


Aine @ Something to Chew Over

I love sushi so much! Your pictures are making me drool :)

Wasabi is probably the highlight for me. I like to put it in sandwiches!


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

That is brilliant. I’m going to have to try that wasabi sandwich trick!



I had sushi yesterday! I hope to use this in the future to make some at home rolls =D Thank you!


Kristina @ spabettie

sushi is my very favorite thing… it’s so fun to make at home! although when it’s just me, I’ll make a hand roll, or just roll it and eat, not cut into pieces ;)

these look GOOD!


Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans

I definitely need to try this. I love california rolls and making them at home would be fantastic! Thanks for the step by step guide.



Everything I’ve read makes this look so hard, I’m so glad you posted this. I can’t wait to make some!


Lisa ♥ Healthful Sense

Love this!! I’ve never taken the time to make california rolls but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do… I’ll have to look for the sushi mat next time I’m out =)


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

It’s SO quick and easy. The kids would love it too!



I looove your step by step pics on this! SO helpful. I really really want to make my own sushi and you’ve totally inspired me now! Healthy, fresh and always tasty :)


Andrea @ Vegvacious

Can even messy kitchen connoisseurs be successful at these?! They look great and I love California rolls. I would love to have a dinner party where everyone makes their own!


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Yes, I am a connoisseur of broken dishes, food caked onto the ceiling, and messiness beyond your wildest dreams. If I can do it, you can!


Holly @ The Runny Egg

Thank you for this post — I’ve wanted to try making our own sushi but I never really knew where to begin. Yours looks so pretty!


Samantha @ Ferraro Kitchen

Fabulous!! I love all the other ideas you added…yams!? Who knew?


Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather

Making sushi rolls is something I SO want to do! Thank you thank you thank you for this awesome how to! It’s definitely a process that I know nothing about. Your photos are stunny like always :)


Alyssa Monique (PayFitnessForward)

WOw! thank you for doing the step by step as a fitness guru I love brown rice and for this reason I can rarely eat sushi at restaurants because they use white. This is so awesome Im going to share this post with all my friends :)



Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

Sadly, I haven’t made rolls since I was a kid. I really want to now. I’ve wanted to try quinoa in them for so long. I think you’ve inspired me to do it! These look beautiful!


The Teenage Taste

You are awesome, Leanne! I would have never thought I would be able to make my own sushi – that’s one impressive task! California Roll is my favorite! :-D



Thanks for the step by step photos. It makes the idea of making them more obtainable



I’ve tried to make these CA rolls so many times. I do ok until I have to cut them. Better sharpen my knives, you think?! ;)
The recipe and direction looks terrific. I’ll try again.


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Yes, the sharp knife is KEY! Good luck :)



Thank you so much for posting this!! One of my absolute favorites for sure!!


Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family

Oh you make this look so easy and mess free…however I just don’t picture when I attempt this for it all to be so clean.
However your step by step instructions do give me hope that I might be able to pull this off…PLUS what a super great lunch idea for my kids. I think they would love picking out the stuffing to go with the grains.


The Chef Doc

These look wonderful, Leanne! Thank you for the step-by-step instructions, too!



Great tutorial! I love to make my own rolls but I’ve never added millet. I can’t wait to try these.



Beautiful photos and tutorial. I had it up just before when I was making cucumber rolls :) Next time I would love to use millet and brown rice! Had some extra white sushi rice I needed to use today. Still perfecting my technique!



When we make sushi at home we use sweet brown rice. It is more sticky than regular brown rice and works and tastes great =) Have not tried the rice/millet combo yet, but looks delicious!


Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Great tip, thanks Molly!



I Love to make sushi at home. For those that want the rolling mat, I bought mine at Bed Bath and Beyond, it came in a kit that included a sushi knife. You can always look online and order it, which may end up being cheaper in the long run.


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