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There’s a reason why the California roll is so popular- you can’t go wrong with crab and avocado wrapped up with creamy mayo and cucumber slices! If you’ve ever wanted to try making sushi at home, this is the perfect recipe to start out with.

If you love all the flavors and textures of California rolls, you’ve got to try out this sushi bake! It’s so hearty and satisfying, loaded with salmon and crab, all drizzled in flavorful sriracha mayo.

California rolls served on a large serving dish with soy sauce for dipping.

California Roll Sushi Recipe

Why make homemade California rolls? Well, for starters, it’s super easy. Even if you’re not a sushi pro, the instructions break it down step by step. Plus, you can find all the ingredients at your regular grocery store- you may even have some of them at home! And the best part? You get to customize your rolls just the way you like them – extra crab, loads of avocado, you’re the boss! You can even add extra sauces on top. Yuzu sauce, Japanese barbecue sauce, sriracha, whatever you like!

Now, let’s talk about the taste of these rolls – they’re like a little slice of sushi heaven. Picture this: creamy crab mixed with mayo, crisp cucumber, and buttery avocado all rolled up in a blanket of sushi rice and nori. It’s a classic flavor pairing and popular for good reason! Dip one of these beauties in some soy sauce, add a dab of wasabi for a kick, and maybe add some pickled ginger for a tangy zing.

Ingredients Needed

Here’s a quick rundown of everything inside a California roll! Feel free to mix and match fillings and sauces. Being able to customize your sushi is one of the best things about making it from scratch! (Exact measurements are in the recipe card below!)

  • Sushi Rice: This is the heart of your roll, providing that sticky, flavorful base to hold everything together.
  • Nori Sheets: These are like the sushi wrapping paper. They add a slight salty flavor and a bit of crunch. No real substitute here, but you can find nori sheets at most grocery stores or online.
  • Imitation Crab: The star of the show, bringing meaty goodness to the mix. You can also use fresh crab if you wish!
  • Mayonnaise: It adds creaminess and blends beautifully with the crab. If you’re feeling adventurous, try spicy mayo for a kick. Cream cheese can also be used!
  • Avocado: Adds creaminess and a mild flavor to your rolls.
  • English Cucumber: This veggie adds a refreshing crunch. You can swap it for regular cucumber, carrot sticks, or even radish or bell peppers to switch things up.

California Sushi Roll Recipe

Grab that bamboo mat and let’s get rolling! California rolls are surprisingly easy to make and SO delicious! They’ll make everyone a sushi fan.

Prepare Fillings

  1. Prepare Mat: Prepare a bamboo mat by wrapping it in plastic wrap one way, and then across the other way, all around the bamboo mat, it should be completely wrapped in plastic so the rice doesn’t stick. I like to keep my bamboo mat on a cutting board for a nice flat clean work surface.
  2. Crab Mixture: Take 8 sticks of imitation crab from the package and cut the sticks into small pieces. Add the pieces to a bowl with the mayonnaise, whisk the crab and mayonnaise together vigorously to break the crab up further and incorporate completely. If you want to add more crab sticks at this point you can.
  3. Slice Avocado: Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, take the meat out of the skin, and cut into ½ inch slices.
  4. Cucumber Sticks: Cut the ends off the cucumber and slice it into sticks, you should get 8 even sticks from one cucumber. You don’t need to peel the cucumber.

Shaping and Rolling

  1. Cover Seaweed Sheets With Rice: Lay the plastic wrap covered bamboo mat flat on a workspace. Then lay a sheet of nori down on the mat. Spread about ¼ cup of sushi rice evenly onto the top of the nori.
  2. Layer With Crab Mixture: Flip the nori over so the rice is facing down on the mat. Then to the middle of the nori, add about 3-4 tablespoons of the crab mixture evenly in a horizontal line.
  3. Add Fillings: Add the 2 sticks of the cucumber next to the crab and lay the avocado down on top of the two.
  4. Roll: Take the bottom edge of the sushi mat and slowly fold the nori sheet over the filling, keeping everything tightly in its place. Then continue to roll the California roll upwards, keeping firm even pressure. Take your time especially with the first roll. Ensure no fillings are squeezing out the sides.
  5. Pack Tightly: Once the roll has come together, give it one more good tight roll in the bamboo mat so everything stays together in an even cylinder.
  6. Cut Into Rolls: Use a sharp knife to slice the sushi into individual rolls. Use one straight cut for each so you don’t saw back and forth through it.
  7. Serve With Extras: Plate the California rolls with little dishes of wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce.

If You Don’t Have a Bamboo Mat:

If you don’t have a bamboo sushi mat, you can also use a section of parchment paper with about 4 sheets thick of plastic wrap. You just need to be extra careful when rolling the California rolls to keep even pressure throughout.

Collage of a California roll being prepared, step-by-step.

Level Up Your California Roll!

Try out these simple variations for a tasty twist on the classic California roll! Adding different fillings and sauces is part of the fun.

  • Get Creative with Sauces: Experiment with different sauces for dipping or drizzling. Try sweet chili sauce, eel sauce, kewpie mayo, or a mix of soy sauce and sriracha for some extra zing.
  • Try Different Wraps: While traditional California rolls use nori seaweed, you can switch it up with soy paper for a milder flavor or even rice paper for a refreshing, no-seaweed option.
  • Perfect Your Rice: You want to make sure your sushi rice is just right. It should be sticky but not too sticky. Rinse it well before cooking and season it with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. I have a great recipe for sushi rice here!
Sushi rolls served with soy sauce in a small bowl.

Storing Leftovers

I recommend enjoying your California rolls fresh, but you can keep leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days. It’s the perfect quick and easy lunch because you can enjoy them straight out of the fridge!

Closeup of a California roll being dipped in soy sauce.

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California Roll

By: Alyssa Rivers
There’s a reason why the California roll is so popular- you can’t go wrong with crab and avocado wrapped up with creamy mayo and cucumber slices! If you’ve ever wanted to try making sushi at home, this is the perfect recipe to start out with.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 rolls

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups Sushi Rice cooled
  • 1 package nori sheets
  • 8-10 sticks imitation crab about 1 package
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 english cucumber

For serving

Instructions 

  • Prepare a bamboo mat by wrapping it in plastic wrap one way, and then across the other way, all around the bamboo mat, it should be completely wrapped in plastic to prevent the rice from sticking. I like to keep my bamboo mat on a cutting board for a nice flat clean work surface.
  • Take 8 sticks of imitation crab from the package and cut the sticks into small pieces. Add the pieces to a bowl with the mayonnaise, whisk the crab and mayonnaise together vigorously to break the crab up further and incorporate completely. If you want to add more crab sticks at this point you can.
  • Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, take the meat out of the skin, and cut into ½ inch slices.
  • Cut the ends off the cucumber and slice it into sticks, you should get 8 even sticks from one cucumber. You don’t need to peel the cucumber.
  • Lay the plastic wrap covered bamboo mat flat on a workspace. Lay a sheet of nori down on the mat. Spread about ¼ cup of sushi evenly onto the top of the nori.
  • Flip the nori over so the rice is facing down on the mat. To the middle of the nori, add about 3-4 tablespoons of the crab mixture evenly in a horizontal line.
  • Add the Lay 2 sticks of the cucumber next to the crab and lay the avocado down on top of the two.
  • Take the bottom edge of the sushi mat and slowly fold the nori sheet over the filling, keeping everything tightly in its place. Continue to roll the sushi upwards, keeping firm even pressure. Take your time especially with the first roll. Ensure no fillings are squeezing out the sides.
  • Once the roll has come together, give it one more good tight roll in the bamboo mat to ensure everything stays together in an even cylinder.
  • Use a sharp knife to slice the sushi into individual rolls. Use one straight cut for each, don’t saw back and forth through it.
  • Plate the sushi with little dishes of wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 743kcalCarbohydrates: 154gProtein: 13gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 59mgPotassium: 254mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 83IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, lunch
Cuisine: American, Asian American, Japanese
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!
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About Alyssa Rivers

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Alyssa Rivers and the food blogger behind The Recipe Critic. The blog launched in 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family. Each recipe is tried and true, family-tested and approved.

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