Who doesn’t love a good California roll? This classic mix of creamy avocado, imitation crab meat and crunchy cucumber is one of the most popular rolls at sushi restaurants.
But a California roll with a crunchy coating? That you can make right in your kitchen? Sign me up!
If you’ve ever wanted to make your own sushi but didn’t think you could, let me show you how easy and fun it can be.
Soon you’ll be a pro at making this crunchy roll sushi recipe at home!
What is a Crunchy sushi roll?
A crunchy sushi roll can have any kind of fillings, and can consist of either cooked or raw fish. Popular fillings include tempura shrimp, cream cheese and avocado slices.
Ingredients for this Crunchy Roll Sushi Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make this yummy sushi roll recipe:
- Imitation Crab Meat. We’re using the “leg style“, which are basically long sticks. They’re easy to slice into thin strips.
- Sushi Rice
- Nori. These sheets of dried seaweed that can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores.
- Panko Breadcrumbs. These are easier to find in a grocery store than crunchy tempura flakes, but you can use either one.
- Mayonnaise. Kewpie mayo is more authentic, if you can find it. It’s richer and slightly sweeter than regular mayonnaise.
How to Make a Crunchy Sushi Roll
Make the Rice
Toast the Panko Bread Crumbs
While the rice is cooking and cooling, toast the panko crumbs. Move the breadcrumbs around constantly in a nonstick pan so that they don’t burn.
They’ll start to turn a golden brown color and become aromatic. When that happens, take them off the heat and set them aside to cool.
Prep the Fillings
Slice the cucumber, avocado and crab sticks into thin strips.
Now you’re ready to roll!
Assemble the Sushi Roll
You’ll need two important tools for making this crunchy sushi roll: a bamboo sushi mat and a small bowl of cold water. The mat will help you make the perfect rolled sushi, and the bowl of cold water is to wet your hands during the rolling process. Rice won’t stick to wet hands!
A bamboo sushi mat can be purchased for about $5 at most grocery stores and on Amazon. If you don’t have one, you can use a small dish towel instead.
Lay the bamboo mat on your work surface and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap.
Then, press the sushi rice down onto the plastic wrap. Cover the rice with another piece of plastic wrap and use a rolling pin to roll it smooth and flat.
Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and put a sheet of nori down over the rice, rough side up. Now, spread a little spicy mayo in a line across the center of the nori, followed by the crab stick and veggies.
Starting from the bottom, fold the rice up and over the fillings, and press to tuck it in.
Do the same with the other side – fold it up and over the fillings. Then, unwrap the plastic.
Spread the crunchy topping out on a plate and roll the finished sushi roll in the topping to coat.
To slice the crunchy roll, use a sharp knife and run it under water whenever you need to. Keeping the knife wet will help you get cleaner cuts.
How to Serve this Crunchy Sushi Roll
Drizzle additional spicy mayo over the roll (you may need to add a little water to thin it out) and garnish it with toasted sesame seeds.
Enjoy this California crunch roll with a side of pickled ginger and wasabi, and dip it in your favorite soy sauce.
For a complete sushi restaurant experience, enjoy your crunchy roll with a small salad and bowl of miso soup.
In addition to tempura and panko, There are other fun ways to “crunchify” a maki roll! Here are a few ideas for crunchy coatings:
1. Toasted sesame seeds or furikake
3. Fried shallots
How to Store this Crunchy Sushi Roll
Storing leftovers of homemade sushi isn’t always advised, but in this case, we’re not using raw fish so it’s okay to keep it for a day or two.
Place your leftover sushi in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Let it come to room temperature before enjoying it again.
When you make this crunchy California roll recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more Asian-inspired recipes, try these:
- Spicy Tuna Mayo Onigiri Recipe (Japanese Rice Balls)
- Sushi Bake Recipe with Spicy Tuna
- Cold Asian Noodle Salad
- Chicken Bibimbap Recipe (Easy Korean Rice Bowl)
- Creamy Chinese Coconut Shrimp Recipe (Buffet Style)
Crunchy California Roll Recipe (Easy Sushi Roll)
- 1 bamboo sushi mat
- 4 cups cooked sushi rice
- 7 oz. imitation crab meat
- 3 sheets nori
- 1 cucumber
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. sriracha
Rice Cooker Instructions
- Place 2 cups of uncooked sushi rice into the rice cooker. Pour in 3 cups of water. Turn on the rice cooker. Once the rice cooker turns itself off, let the rice steam for 10-20 minutes.
Stovetop Instructions for Rice
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir in the 2 cups of sushi rice using a rice paddle or wooden spoon. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook rice, covered, 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed.
Sushi Roll Instructions
- In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast the panko breadcrumbs. Move them around constantly with a spatula until they turn a golden brown color and become fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Peel the cucumber and avocado. Slice the cucumber, avocado and imitation crab meat into long, thin strips. Set aside.
- Make the spicy mayo: combine mayonnaise and sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Lay the bamboo mat on a flat surface. Cover the bamboo mat with a layer of plastic wrap. Press 1 1/3 cups of rice down into a rectangular shape, leaving a perimeter of bamboo mat showing.
- Cover the rice with another piece of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to smooth and flatten the rice. Remove the plastic wrap and lay a piece of nori on top of the rice (shiny side down).
- Spread a thin layer of spicy mayo across the center of the nori sheet. Arrange strips of cucumber, avocado and imitation crab meat over the spicy mayo.
- Starting from the bottom, holding on to the bamboo roller, fold the roll up and over the fillings. Press it down firmly. Rotate the roll 90 degrees and repeat the same action, folding the roll up and over the fillings. Press firmly.
- Slowly release the bamboo map and unwrap the sushi roll from the plastic wrap.
- Spread the toasted panko on a plate. Carefully roll the sushi roll in the bread crumbs. Using a wet knife, gently slice the roll into 8 pieces. Drizzle with additional spicy mayo and sprinkle with roasted sesame seeds, if desired.