Ultimate Guide to Making Shrimp Mayo Onigiri: Tips & Tricks

Imagine biting into a delightful shrimp mayo onigiri, where the creamy richness of mayonnaise meets the subtle sweetness of shrimp, all wrapped in a perfectly seasoned rice ball. This popular Japanese snack, often found in bento boxes and convenience stores across Japan, has won hearts worldwide with its simple yet satisfying flavors.

Onigiri, or rice balls, have a storied history dating back centuries in Japan, serving as a portable and easy-to-eat meal option for travelers and workers. By adding a twist with shrimp and mayonnaise, this variant brings a touch of indulgence to the humble onigiri. Whether you’re looking for a quick lunch fix or a fun party snack, shrimp mayo onigiri offers a delicious escape into Japanese culinary tradition.


Delight in creating your own shrimp mayo onigiri, blending savory shrimp with creamy mayonnaise encased in perfectly seasoned rice. Gather the components listed below to get started on this mouthwatering dish.

For the Shrimp Mayo Filling

  • 1/2 lb cooked shrimp, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably Japanese-style
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Rice

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Serving

  • Nori (seaweed) sheets, cut into strips
  • Sesame seeds, for sprinkling
  • Extra mayonnaise for drizzling
  • Sriracha or other chili sauce, optional for a spicy kick

Tools and Equipment Needed

To create your own delicious shrimp mayo onigiri at home, having the right tools and equipment will make the process smoother and more enjoyable. Here’s what you’ll need:

Rice Cooker

A rice cooker ensures your rice is cooked perfectly every time, which is crucial for the base of any onigiri. If you don’t have a rice cooker, a pot with a tight-fitting lid can also work, though it may require more attention to prevent the rice from burning.

Mixing Bowls

You’ll need at least two mixing bowls: one for preparing the shrimp mayo mixture and another for seasoning the rice. Opt for medium-sized bowls that give you enough room to mix ingredients without spilling.

Rice Paddle or Wooden Spoon

A rice paddle or a broad wooden spoon is ideal for fluffing and seasoning the rice. This helps to evenly distribute the rice vinegar and any other seasonings you choose to add.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Accurate measurements are key in cooking, especially when preparing a balanced shrimp mayo mixture and seasoned rice. Ensure you have a set of measuring cups and spoons handy.

Plastic Wrap

Plastic wrap is essential for molding your onigiri. It prevents rice from sticking to your hands and helps achieve a compact and clean shape.

Sharp Knife

A sharp knife is necessary for chopping any additional ingredients you want to include, such as scallions or chili peppers, to enhance your shrimp mayo filling.

Small Bowls for Serving

To serve, you’ll need small bowls or plates to present your shrimp mayo onigiri. You might also consider small dishes for any dipping sauces or extra seasonings for guests to customize their onigiri experience.

Prepare the Shrimp

Now that you have all your tools ready, it’s time to focus on the heart of the dish—the shrimp. You’ll cook it gently and mix it with creamy mayonnaise and vibrant seasonings for that perfect umami punch.

Cook the Shrimp

  1. Start by rinsing 200 grams of raw shrimp under cold water. Ensure they’re clean and free of any shell fragments.
  2. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a light simmer. Add a pinch of salt to enhance the shrimp’s flavor.
  3. Gently place the shrimp in the simmering water and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until they turn pink and are opaque throughout. This quick cooking method keeps them juicy and tender.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp from the water immediately after they’re done to prevent overcooking.
  5. Let them cool for a few minutes, then chop the shrimp into small pieces that will mix well with other ingredients and fit comfortably inside the onigiri.

Mix with Mayo and Seasonings

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped shrimp with 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Opt for Japanese mayonnaise for an authentic taste, as its slight tang and richness complement shrimp beautifully.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to cut through the richness of the mayo and provide a fresh lift to the flavor profile.
  3. Sprinkle in a pinch of black pepper and a small handful of finely chopped chives or green onions for an extra layer of flavor. These will add a slight crunch and freshness to your filling.
  4. Stir the mixture until all the ingredients are well combined and the shrimp is evenly coated with mayonnaise and seasonings.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more pepper or a touch more lemon juice if needed to tailor it to your preference.

Prepare the Rice

Rice forms the base of your onigiri, so starting with perfectly cooked rice is crucial. Ensure it’s sticky enough to hold its shape yet fluffy when bitten into.

Wash the Rice

Begin by measuring 2 cups of short-grain sushi rice. Place the rice in a large bowl and fill it with cold water. Stir the rice gently with your hand, then drain. Repeat this process 4 to 5 times until the water runs relatively clear. This step is essential as it removes excess starch, which can make the rice too sticky. After the final rinse, drain the rice thoroughly to ensure no water is left.

Cook the Rice

Transfer the washed rice to a rice cooker. Add 2 and 1/4 cups of water; this slight increase in water amount compared to a standard rice-to-water ratio helps achieve the ideal texture for onigiri. If you’re using a pot instead of a rice cooker, combine the rice and water, then bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 18 minutes, then turn off the heat but leave the pot covered. Allow the rice to steam in the pot for an additional 10 minutes. Fluff the rice gently with a paddle or fork before letting it cool slightly, which makes it easier to handle when forming onigiri.

Assemble the Shrimp Mayo Onigiri

Now that your rice and shrimp mayo filling are ready, it’s time to put them together to create delicious shrimp mayo onigiri.

Shape the Onigiri

Begin by wetting your hands with water to prevent the rice from sticking to them. Sprinkle a bit of salt on your palms. Take about a half cup of the prepared rice and form it into a flat, wide shape on one hand. Make sure it’s compact enough to hold together but still gentle enough so the rice doesn’t become mushy.

Add the Filling

Place a tablespoon of the shrimp mayo mixture in the center of the rice. This is the heart of your onigiri, so be generous but also mindful not to overfill, which might make it difficult to seal.

Serving Suggestions

After mastering the art of making shrimp mayo onigiri, consider how you present and serve them to elevate your dining experience. Since onigiri is versatile, here are some complementary choices to turn your onigiri into a well-rounded meal:

Pair With Japanese Side Dishes

  • Miso Soup: A bowl of warm miso soup makes a comforting pair with your shrimp mayo onigiri. The soup’s umami flavors complement the creamy and savory taste of the onigiri.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Serve a variety of Japanese pickles such as tsukemono or kimchi for a refreshing contrast to the mild, creamy filling of your onigiri. Their crispness and tang will enhance each bite.
  • Seaweed Salad: This is light yet flavorful and adds a splash of color to your plate, making it more appetizing and balanced.

Include Some Snacks

  • Tempura: Offer tempura vegetables or shrimp for a delightful crunch alongside your soft onigiri. The difference in textures can make the meal more satisfying.
  • Edamame: These lightly salted soybeans are not only a healthy snack but also pair well with the flavors of your onigiri, adding a subtle, earthy contrast.
  • Green Tea: A classic choice, green tea complements the flavors of shrimp mayo onigiri beautifully, cleansing the palate between bites without overpowering the delicate flavors of the rice and filling.
  • Sake: For a more adult beverage option, a light, dry sake can beautifully highlight the flavors of the shrimp mayo onigiri, especially if served chilled.

Choose any combination of these suggestions to enhance your onigiri eating experience and impress guests with a thoughtfully curated meal. Whether it’s a quick lunch or a casual dinner gathering, these pairings will surely make your shrimp mayo onigiri shine.

Make-Ahead Instructions

Preparing shrimp mayo onigiri ahead of time can be a great way to save effort and ensure you have delicious, ready-to-eat meals or snacks. Here’s how you can prepare these tasty rice balls in advance.

Preparing the Rice

Begin by cooking your sushi rice. Once cooked, let it cool to room temperature before you start shaping it into balls. This prevents the rice from becoming too sticky or hard when refrigerated.

Making the Shrimp Mayo Filling

Mix the chopped cooked shrimp with mayonnaise, a dash of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt. This filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two days before you plan to use it. Just make sure to keep it cold to maintain its freshness.

Assembling the Onigiri

Once your rice and filling are prepared, moisten your hands with a bit of water to prevent sticking and sprinkle a pinch of salt on your palms. Place a heaping spoonful of rice in your hand, make a dent in the middle and add your shrimp mayo filling. Cover the filling with another spoonful of rice. Gently press and form the mixture into a triangular or round shape.

Storing for Later

Wrap each onigiri tightly in plastic wrap. This helps maintain their shape and keeps the rice from drying out. You can keep these in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. For best results, enjoy them within a day as the rice can harden slightly when chilled.

Serving After Storage

When you’re ready to eat your onigiri, you can enjoy them cold or gently warm them in the microwave for a few seconds. Do not overheat, as this can make the rice tough and dry. Pair your onigiri with the previously suggested side dishes and beverages to enhance your dining experience.


You’re now well-equipped to whip up your own shrimp mayo onigiri at home. Whether you’re planning a cozy meal for one or a fun gathering with friends, these rice balls are sure to impress. Remember to enjoy the process—from cooking the rice to the final assembly. Each step is a chance to put your personal touch on this delightful Japanese snack. So go ahead give it a try and watch how quickly these delicious morsels disappear off the plate!

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