Why the Japanese Don’t Make Sushi with Brown Rice • Just One Cookbook

Is brown rice good for sushi?” My simple answer is no, as brown rice is less than ideal for making good sushi. I’ll explain why and how you can still enjoy authentic sushi as a part of a balanced meal.

sushi chef making sushi

Hey there, sushi lovers! Today, I’d like to discuss a topic that’s occasionally brought up by readers—brown rice sushi. “Can I use brown rice for sushi?” It’s a legitimate question and I understand where that’s coming from. Brown rice is undoubtedly a healthier alternative to white rice, but I must admit that when it comes to sushi, I’m firmly in the “no-no” camp for several reasons.

Before we delve deeper, I want to emphasize that we use only Japanese white short-grain rice to make sushi rice, and not the other types of white rice. Here’s my tutorial on How to Make Sushi Rice.

Sushi oke (Hangiri) containing sushi rice made with cooked Japanese short-grain rice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.

Texture Matters

Vegetarian Sushi Rolls-step by step-51

One of the most critical elements of sushi is its texture. Traditional white rice sushi has that perfect balance of stickiness and firmness that holds everything together. Brown rice, on the other hand, tends to be denser and can sometimes crumble, and the higher content of fiber makes it less ideal for making delicious sushi.

Flavor Harmony

In Japan, sushi chefs have perfected their art using Japanese short-grain white rice for centuries, and that hasn’t changed despite the great varieties of Japanese rice available in today’s market. Simply because no other type of rice can stand in for sushi made with white rice.

The neutral, slightly sweet flavor of white rice serves as the perfect canvas for the flavors of sushi ingredients.

Brown rice, with its nutty, earthy taste, can overpower these delicate flavors and throw off the balance that makes sushi so enjoyable.

Tradition and Authenticity

Eating sushi is a treat but more importantly, a cultural experience deeply rooted in tradition. Traditional sushi is a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship of Japanese chefs. While we welcome innovation in food, I believe there are times when we need to draw the line and uphold the value of preserving authenticity.

Nutritional Trade-Off

Yes, brown rice is higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice, making it an excellent choice for many dishes. However, in sushi, where you’re consuming small amounts, the nutritional benefits of brown rice might not outweigh the taste and texture compromises you make. It’s all about balance!

So, why not enjoy authentic sushi made with white rice as long as you serve it along with miso soup, edamame, pickled ginger, and some healthy sides as part of a balanced diet?


How about brown sushi served in high-end sushi restaurants?

Some of you have the opportunity to dine at high-end sushi restaurants that serve sushi that look like they are made with brown rice.

Make no mistake! These are actually traditional Edomae sushi or akazu sushi and they are white rice seasoned with akazu red vinegar, hence the brownish color of the rice.

🍣 To learn more, read our article on Red Vinegar in Sushi Making.

Do Japanese people eat brown rice at all?

Japanese people do eat brown rice, just not in sushi. I personally cook brown rice for my family and serve it as a part of my typical Japanese meal called the ichiju sansai. We would have rice, soup, fish/protein, and a few other vegetable side dishes. Sometimes I serve brown rice in a rice bowl, like this.

🌾 Check out my tutorial on How to Cook Brown Rice in a Rice Cooker and in Instant Pot.

Rice bowls containing freshly cooked brown rice.

Final Thoughts

I’m all for making healthier food choices, but I believe that some traditions are worth preserving. When it comes to sushi, I’ll continue to indulge in the classic rolls, savoring every bite for the authentic, textural, and flavorful experience it offers.

Of course, everyone’s palate and preferences are different, so if brown rice sushi is your jam, that’s totally cool!

A black round plate containing colorful vegetarian sushi rolls, sushi ginger, and soy sauce.

Sushi Recipes and Guides

Our Recommendations for Buying Sashimi Online

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When we have a sudden craving for sashimi we usually buy from our local Japanese supermarkets. If you don’t have a reliable shop to purchase quality sashimi nearby, we would recommend buying from Catalina Offshore online.

They’ve been in business for over forty years and all the sashimi products we’ve tried from them are outstanding. Use J1COOK20 for 10% discount. Disclosure: We earn a small percentage commission from your purchase of products linked to Catalina Offshore.

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