This California Roll Sushi Bowls recipe contains all the ingredients of a classic California Roll, but is made much easier into a delicious deconstructed roll-in-a-bowl–no rolling required! Perfect for a light lunch or a one-dish dinner, this simple combination of seasoned sushi rice, tender crab, crunchy vegetables, and creamy avocado is a quick way to prepare a favorite restaurant food in a budget-friendly, fraction-of-the-price fashion.
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Easy-To-Build Deconstructed Sushi Bowls
Ask me why I love Sushi Bowls and my answer has multiple parts. Feeding my family of five is a small fortune, especially when we dine at our favorite Japanese restaurant.
The idea of rolling rice and fish at home seems complicated and time-consuming; my solution: to deconstruct the parts and pieces and present them in this simplified, easy-to-make recipe. These Sushi Bowls have all the flavors and textures of a California Roll, but the ingredients are prepared and piled in a bowl, for a satisfying, hearty meal that’s half the price and without the hassle.
The best thing about this form factor is that you can build your own bowl and include your favorite fillings that may not fit inside a standard roll. While this recipe is made with sweet and tangy sushi rice, imitation crab meat, fresh crunchy veggies, seaweed crumbles, and drizzled with sauce, feel free to make yours fancier as you see fit and add sushi-grade fish, extra vegetables, or spicy condiments.
Each delicious bite is the ultimate, better-than-basic, homemade sushi roll that’s fun to eat unrolled with a fork or chopsticks!
Why We Love This Sushi Bowls Recipe
- Quick and easy to make.
- Prepared with your favorite California Roll ingredients, but served in a bowl.
- Same delicious flavors and textures of sushi, but simplified without the hassle of rolling.
- Healthy and less expensive alternative to get your sushi fix without spending a fortune.
- Naturally gluten-free and easily customizable to include your favorite fillings or make a vegan version.
- Great lunch or light dinner and perfect for meal prep.
- Sushi rice
- Seasoned rice wine vinegar
- Imitation crab
- Haas avocados
- Matchstick cut carrots
- Roasted seaweed snacks (or 1 nori wrap sheet)
- Sriracha sauce
- Black sesame seeds
- White sesame seeds
- Low-sodium soy sauce
Substitutions and Additions
- Vegan Version: Feel free to substitute your favorite plant-based protein for the crab and omit the mayo. Tofu and edamame are great plant-based proteins.
- Tasty Toppings: You can add some extra toppings to your bowl for more taste and texture, such as toasted sesame seeds, sliced green onion, sprouts, pickled ginger, mango, or wasabi.
- Sashimi Grade Seafood: I used imitation crab for this recipe but you can use fresh jumbo lump crab, cooked shrimp that has been peeled and deveined or even skip the seafood altogether for an all vegetable sushi bowl. Instead of the crab, you can make this Sushi Bowl with fresh sushi grade salmon or Ahi tuna. Better yet, use all three!
- Sushi Rice: If you can not find sushi rice at your grocery store you can alternatively use a short grain white rice. You will follow the cooking directions of the rice you have and follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- Seaweed: I used a seaweed snack package that I found very easily in my Asian isle, however if you can not find them (there are lots of flavors) you can use standard nori paper and cut it down to strips, then pieces. I find the nori to be very flavorless and that, for the purpose of this recipe, the seaweed snack papers are much more flavorful. The seaweed snacks are light and crispy and very easy to chop into smaller pieces.
- Add-Ins: A Sushi Bowl has no limits. You can include red bell peppers, asparagus, pea pods, and shredded red cabbage.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring tools
- Zip top sandwich bag
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How to Make California Roll Sushi Bowls
This Sushi Bowls recipe is an easy and quick way to consume your sushi as a deconstructed California Roll in a bowl. Filled with delicious flavors and tons of textures, this meal is an economical alternative to get your sushi fix when you have a hungry family to feed!
- Cook your sushi rice according to the package directions
- Add rice wine vinegar to the cooked rice, toss together, and spread it onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Pro Tip: This will take about 20-30 minutes. Be very careful to gently toss your rice so that it does not get compacted. It will be very sticky.
- Mix together the mayonnaise, sriracha, and 1 tsp. of rice wine vinegar in a bowl.
- Transfer your mayonnaise mixture to a zip top sandwich bag, and cut the tip off of one corner to use as a piping bag. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix the white and black sesame seeds together and set aside.
- Place one cup of cooled rice into your bowl, leaving for the remaining ingredients.
- Measure ¼ cup of imitation crab and add it into the bowl next to the rice.
- Measure ¼ cup of cucumber and place next to the imitation crab.
- Add 2 tablespoons of carrots beside the cucumber.
- Place ¼ cup of avocado next to the carrots.
Pro Tip: Make sure you can still see the rice and that all the vegetables are circling the bowl.
- Add seaweed crumbles to the center of the bowl.
- Drizzle soy sauce onto the vegetables.
- Garnish with a drizzle of the sriracha mayonnaise and a sprinkle of the sesame seeds.
- To Store: This sushi bowl should be served immediately. You can prepare ingredients up to 1 day ahead of time and store individually, covered in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can prepare all your ingredients up to 1 day ahead of time (except for dicing your avocado~you should wait to cut it until you are ready to use because it will start to brown quickly once sliced open) and store them in individual containers, covered and refrigerated, until ready to assemble your sushi bowl.
Imitation crab is a mock or faux-crab that relies on ingredients to mimic the texture and taste of authentic crab. It is made with a paste made out of finely shredded or pulverized fish. After the fish is minced, it is heated and pressed into shapes that resemble meat from a crab leg. The resulting imitation crab looks similar to the original crab in its coloring and texture.
A sushi bowl is essentially a deconstructed sushi roll with sushi rice served in a bowl, topped with all of the ingredients that would normally go inside the roll, such as nori, avocado, crab, and cucumber, but arranged on top of the rice.
A Sushi Bowl can be made with cauliflower rice instead of sushi rice to keep it Whole30 compliant and Keto-friendly. When adding your condiments or toppings, make sure to double check the labels for non-compliant ingredients.
Other Easy Dinner Recipes
- Sheet Pan Fajitas
- 3-Ingredient Brown Sugar Italian Chicken
- Easy Fried Rice Recipe (Better than Takeout)
- 4 cups sushi rice cooked according to package directions
- ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar divided
- 8 ounce package imitation crab diced into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 cup (1 small) cucumber diced into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 cup (2 small) haas avocados diced into ¼ inch pieces
- ½ cup matchstick cut carrots
- 0.17 ounce package roasted seaweed snacks (or 1 nori wrap sheet), chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp sriracha sauce
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- Cook your sushi rice according to the package directions. Once your sushi rice has cooked add the ¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar, gently toss then spread it onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. This will take about 20-30 minutes. *Be very careful to gently toss your rice so that it does not get compacted. It will be very sticky.*
- In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise, sriracha and 1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar until completely combined. Transfer your sriracha mayonnaise to a zip top sandwich bag, that you will cut the tip off of one corner, to use as a piping bag for the garnish. Set aside.
- In another small bowl mix the white and black sesame seeds together and set aside.
- Once your sushi rice has cooled, place one cup of rice into the bowl making sure to leave space around it to place the remaining ingredients.
- Using a ¼ c dry measuring cup neatly place ¼ cup of the diced imitation crab into the bowl next to the rice.
- Next, do the same with a ¼ cup of the diced cucumber neatly next to the imitation crab.
- Then add 2 tablespoons of the matchstick carrots next to the diced cucumber.
- Followed by ¼ cup of the diced avocado next to the carrots. **Make sure that at this point you can still see the rice and that all the vegetables are circling the bowl**.
- In the very center of the bowl add 1 tablespoon of the seaweed crumbles.
- Drizzle 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce around onto the vegetables.
- Finally garnish your deconstructed sushi bowl with a drizzle of the sriracha mayonnaise and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the sesame seed blend.
- I used imitation crab for this recipe but you can use fresh jumbo lump crab, cooked shrimp that has been peeled and deveined or even skip the seafood altogether for an all vegetable sushi bowl.
- If you can not find sushi rice at your grocery store you can alternatively use a short grain white rice. You will follow the cooking directions of the rice you have and follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- I used a seaweed snack package that I found very easily in my Asian isle, however if you can not find them (there are lots of flavors) you can use standard nori paper and cut it down to strips, then pieces. I find the nori to be very flavorless and that, for the purpose of this recipe, the seaweed snack papers are much more flavorful. The seaweed snacks are light and crispy and very easy to chop into smaller pieces.