Easy Japanese Chicken Onigiri At Home

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Last Updated on March 28, 2024 by Share My Kitchen

What is Onigiri? It’s actually cooked rice that has been shaped into a triangle, sometimes a cylinder or sphere. A wonderful thing about them, it’s easy to put any ingredient inside. In this post, we’ll show you how to make chicken onigiri!

You can make it very traditional, artistic or even extravagant by adding fried chicken or steak to it. There is no set rule. Anything goes!

What Is Chicken Onigiri?

Onigiri Rice Balls are Japan’s most popular lunchbox food. You can find it everywhere in Japan: supermarkets, convenience shops, bento shops, etc.

It is likely that you have seen it in Japanese films, TV dramas and anime.

Popular Onigiri Fillings

Because it is a versatile food, many people love to put different fillings into onigiri rice balls.

The most popular Japanese onigiri filling:

  1. Salmon (鮭)
  2. Seasoned cod roe (辛子明太子)
  3. Hard cod roe (たらこ)
  4. Salted plum (梅)
  5. Seasoned kombu seaweed (昆布)
  6. Tuna mayo (ツナマヨネーズ)
  7. Seasoned bonito flakes (おかか)
  8. Seasoned rice (炊き込みご飯)
  9. Takana (高菜)
  10. Fried onigiri (焼きおにぎり)

There are also creative alternatives to the ones listed above. These include:

  • Cheese
  • Olive
  • Dried tomato
  • Steak
  • Fried chicken

Origin and History of Onigiri

Onigiri has been known, throughout history, by many names, including:

  • Nigiri (にぎり)
  • Nigiri meshi (にぎりめし)
  • Musubi (むすび)
  • Omusubi (おむすび)
  • etc.

It is difficult to determine the origin of Onigiri’s existence as the first trace possible goes back to BC. That’s amazing!

This may even be the oldest Japanese dish!

Onigiri can be carried around easily. Therefore, in the medieval times, onigiri rice balls were military supply food, and now it is one of the most well-known lunch box foods.

Commonly Asked Questions

What rice do you use for onigiri?

To make onigiri, it is best to use sushi rice or Japanese white rice. It will keep its shape because of its sticky texture. It is not suitable for long grain or brown rice. Some people mix sticky rice with brown rice or long grain to make it a little healthier. However, it might be more difficult to shape.

Do you eat onigiri with chopsticks?

No. It can be eaten using your hands. Wrap nori around the onigiri to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands, but you may also hold it in the plastic wrap if you don’t eat nori.

Is onigiri the same as sushi?

Onigiri is different from sushi. Onigiri rice balls can be made from simple salted rice, while sushi rice is mixed in with sushi vinegar. The shapes also differ: onigiri uses more rice and is larger. Also, onigiri also have their fillings wrapped in rice. Sushi, on the other hand, is a dish where fish and vegetables are placed on top of rice or rolled in to ensure that they remain visible.

How do you keep the onigiri soft?

It is best to eat your onigiri freshly made, without putting it in the fridge. Some people prefer to make their lunches the day before, but the rice becomes hard after it has been stored in the refrigerator. Wrap the onigiri in plastic wrap and then wrap it again in kitchen paper or towel so that it doesn’t get too cold and too hard.


For many dishes, Japanese fried chicken mince is very well-liked.

This mince can be mixed with rice to create a delicious chicken mince rice ball.

Rice balls are most popular with seafood and fish fillings, but it’s great to have something new and an alternative for those who don’t love fish.

It is sweet and a little meaty, so it’s definitely different from other recipes.

It’s worth trying if you want something new!


  • 660g – Cooked white Japanese rice (hot) (300g before cooking)
  • 100g – Chicken mince
  • 1 tbsp – Soy sauce
  • ½ tbsp – Mirin
  • 1 tsp – Sugar
  • 1 tsp – Sake
  • 1 tsp – Vegetable oil


  1. First, cook your rice. You can use short grain white rice, Japanese sushi rice or something similar. But the rice must be sticky to hold its shape. Use a rice cooker, or learn how to cook Japanese rice on a stove.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium heat to make the filling.
  3. In the frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the minced chicken. Cook until they are brown.
  4. Then add 1/2 tbsp mirin, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp sake to the chicken then to fry until the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Turn off the heat. Place the cooked rice in a large bowl then add the fried chicken mince.
  6. Mix everything together and get ready to shape your onigiri.
  7. Your cooked rice should be accompanied by a bowl of water, ice, and a tiny bowl of salt. Nori is also an option.
  8. After washing your hands, dip them in a bowl of icy water for 15-20 seconds. This will prevent rice sticking to your fingers.
  9. Salt your hands by adding 1 to 2 pinches to each palm. This will not only give the rice ball additional flavor, but it also serves as a preservative while the onigiri is stored in your lunchbox.
  10. Start by taking a handful of warm rice and pressing it together. Then press the edges to form a triangle shape. You should get a firm triangle shape by press and turn, press and turn, press and turn.
  11. Do not handle the rice too long, the faster, the better. Wrap the rice in nori once you are satisfied with its shape.
  12. Place your hands in the icy water again and then repeat. This recipe yields 5-6 rice balls, depending on the size.
  13. You can either eat it immediately or place it in your lunchbox with an ice pack. These are best eaten on the same day.
  14. Enjoy!

Useful Tips For Making Chicken Onigiri

You don’t have to handle the rice with your hands. You can also put the rice into a plastic wrap, then shape it like that. But don’t forget to salt the outside of the rice ball before or after shaping it.

Wrap them in plastic wrap to keep them fresh for tomorrow’s lunch. Then wrap them once more with kitchen paper or a paper towel to prevent them from drying out overnight in the fridge.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Category: Rice
Method: Fry
Cuisine: Japanese


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