Chicken onigiri is an easy, delicious comforting food that is perfect for a meal or snack. There is sweet savory ground chicken with a hint of ginger mixed into warm Japanese rice.
'Onigiri' means rice balls in Japanese and they are such a handy meal that can be carried around just like sandwiches. While you can mix in whatever you like to make these rice balls, one of my top favorites is this chicken version.
Ground chicken is used in this recipe. It is simmered in sweet savory sauce, and a touch of ginger is added to boost the flavor. Then the umami-loaded chicken is mixed into the rice. After that, all you need to do is to shape into triangles and wrap them with nori seaweed!
Enjoy them as a part of your meal, portable lunch, or even as a savory snack.
Which rice should I use?
Make sure to use short or medium grain rice as they are the sticker types. Japanese sushi rice works perfectly. Longer grains such as jasmine or basmati would not work for this recipe because they have lower starch content and would not stick together.
Shaping the onigiri
I prefer to use cling wrap to shape the onigiri. Compared to shaping with hands, it is less messy and hygienically safer especially if you would like to carry them around for a couple of hours or save for later.
That said, you can also use your hands. Wet both of your hands with water to prevent sticking first. Then you take the rice in your cupped hands and shape it into a triangle.
And I have to add... Don't worry if they are not perfectly shaped! Your rice balls will still be delicious.
Ingredients for this recipe
- Sesame oil
- Ground chicken
- Tamari soy sauce
- Sake - or dry white wine
- Sugar - any type of sugar works!
- Grated ginger
- Cooked Japanese rice - see above 'Which rice should I use?' for details
- Nori seaweed
How to make chicken onigiri
1. Heat up the sesame oil in a small pan. Cook the ground chicken until it starts to change its color.
2. Lower the heat and add in the tamari soy sauce, sake, sugar and grated ginger. Cook until the mix is no longer saucy.
3. Mix the cooked chicken into rice.
4. Split the mixed rice into four and place each on a piece of cling wrap. Wrap gently, then shape into triangles. Alternatively, you can wet both of your hands and shape into triangles.
5. Wrap the rice balls with nori seaweed upon serving. Optional: top with white toasted sesame.
1. Separate out the ground chicken with a spatula while cooking. Smaller the pieces are, easier to make them blend into the rice.
2. Cook off the moisture in the chicken well. This helps to avoid the rice getting soggy.
3. Shape the rice balls while the rice is warm. Once it cools, it becomes harder to stick together.
How to store chicken onigiri
If they are cling wrapped individually, you can store them in the fridge for up to a day. If they are not cling wrapped, ensure to store them in an airtight container. The rice hardens when cooled, so microwave upon eating.
They can also be shaped and stored in the freezer for up to one month, cling wrapped individually.
Either way, store them without nori seaweed as they get soggy once they touch the rice.
Pair up with...
- Miso Butter Salmon (Chan Chan Yaki)
- Miso Sea Bass (Buttery & Tender)
- Bacon Wrapped Enoki Mushrooms
- Teriyaki Garlic Edamame
Chicken Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls)
- cling wrap
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3⅓ ounces ground chicken
- 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sake or dry white wine
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 4 cups cooked Japanese rice
- 4 strips nori seaweed
- Heat up the sesame oil in a small pan. Cook the ground chicken until it starts to change its color.
- Lower the heat and add in the tamari soy sauce, sake, sugar and grated ginger. Cook until the mix is no longer saucy.
- Mix the cooked chicken into rice.
- Split the chicken rice into four and place each on a piece of cling wrap. Wrap gently, then shape into triangles. Alternatively, you can wet both of your hands and shape into triangles.
- Wrap the rice balls with nori seaweed upon serving. Optional: top with white toasted sesame.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.