These spam yaki onigiri are easy, tasty snacks that you can also enjoy as a light lunch with some miso soup! It's crunchy on the outside and filled with salty spam and melted mozzarella. You can also try these plain yaki onigiri if you prefer ones without filling.
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the ingredient quantities!
- Sushi rice- Medium grain and short grain sushi rice are best for making onigiri because they contain enough starch and become sticky after cooking, which is very important for shaping and keeping the rice ball together.
- Soy sauce - For seasoning the rice. We used light sodium soy sauce, but regular soy sauce is great too. A lot of recipe make yaki onigiri without seasoning the rice, which is perfectly fine. However, if you prefer your rice seasoned like us, we highly recommend adding some soy sauce.
- Toasted sesame oil (optional) - Just a small amount of sesame oil will add a nice nutty, toasted flavor to the rice.
- Spam and mozzarella - The filling for this yaki onigiri! We recommend sliced mozzarella for easier handling, but you can use shredded ones as well.
- Sauce for brushing - Feel free to use just some soy sauce or your favorite teriyaki sauce or even unagi sauce.
- Furikake (optional) - For garnish if you wish, and it also adds a little extra flavor.
How to make spam yaki onigiri
Please scroll down to the recipe card for the full recipe and instructions!
1. Season the rice. Place the hot sushi rice into a bowl and season with soy sauce and sesame oil.
Fluff until the seasonings are evenly combined and the rice looks roughly similar in color.
2. Prepare the filling. Make the spam and cheese stacks by sandwiching each piece of spam between two quarter slices of mozzarella.
🌟 Pro tip: Cut the spam into ¼ inch slices then in half for the perfect size filling if you're shaping by hand.
3. Shape the onigiri. Divide the seasoned rice into even portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, spread out the rice. Place the spam and cheese filling in the center. Wrap the rice around the filling and shape it into a triangle. You can also use an onigiri mold instead.
4. Pan fry the onigiri. In a pan over medium heat, add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is hot, arrange the onigiri in the pan, triangular side down. Pan fry both sides until golden brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.
5. (Optional step) Brush on sauce. When both sides are golden brown, reduce the heat to low. Brush the spam yaki onigiri with soy sauce or your desired sauce. Flip and pan fry for about 15 to 30 seconds more and do the same on the flipped side.
🚨 Caution! Make sure to keep a watchful eye on the onigiri once the sauce is brushed on to prevent burning. The key is to turn the heat to low. If the pan is really hot, allow the pan to cool for a moment before flipping and pan frying the saucy side of the onigiri.
6. Garnish. Dip the tip of the yaki onigiri in some furikake or just sprinkle some furikake on top if you wish. Serve and enjoy while hot.
How to shape spam yaki onigiri
Shape by hand:
1. Wet your hands and spread out a portion of the seasoned rice in one of your palms.
Place the prepared spam and cheese filling in the center and wrap the rice around to seal. Firmly compact the rice into a ball.
2. Using both hands, shape the rice ball into a triangular shape with a cupping, covering motion.
Turn and repeat the motion until a triangular shape forms. Smooth out the shape if needed.
Shape with mold:
1. Place half of a portion of rice into onigiri mold and spread the rice to cover the bottom evenly and up the sides of the mold as well. Place the prepared spam and cheese filling in the center and top with the remaining portion of rice.
2. Use the presser that comes with the onigiri mold to firmly press down.
📝 Note: Different brand molds are different sizes, so you may or may not need to cut the spam and cheese to fit the mold and even adjust the amount of rice used.
- Use warm rice. Onigiri is much easier to shape and stick together when the rice is hot or warm.
- Wet hands in between each onigiri, if shaping by hand. Wetting your hands will prevent the rice from stick to your hands. However, don't overdo it or you may get a soggy rice ball instead.
- Make 3 onigiri instead of 4 for easier molding. This will give you more rice to work with, per portion, making it easier to seal the spam and cheese.
- Decrease the heat to low after brushing on the sauce to prevent burning.
These spam yaki onigiri are best enjoyed freshly made for the best texture. But if there are leftovers, allow the onigiri to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The onigiri will be good for up to 3 to 4 days.
To reheat leftover spam yaki onigiri, either wrap the onigiri individually with cling film or place into a microwavable container with a lid. Microwave until hot. Let cool before enjoying! Do note that reheated yaki onigiri will not be crispy on the outside like freshly made ones.
No. Regular long grain rice is not recommended as there is not enough starch to hold the rice together. You'll most likely find the onigiri fall apart when shaping and cooking. Sushi rice (medium or short grain) is recommended for this recipe.
We do not recommend air frying these spam yaki onigiri. Air frying doesn't crisp up the rice like pan frying.
Yes! Day old sushi rice is great for making yaki onigiri. Just make sure the rice is hot or warm when using. It'll be much easier to incorporate the seasoning and easier to shape and mold.
Spam Yaki Onigiri
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice hot (medium or short grain rice)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce we used light sodium
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil optional
- 4 pieces spam cut into ¼ inch thick 1 to 1½ inch squares *see notes
- 2 slices mozzarella cut each into 4 equal squares (optional)
- 1 tablespoon oil or as needed for cooking (any neutral oil)
- Soy sauce optional for brushing
- Furikake optional for garnish
- Season the rice:Into a mixing bowl, add the hot, cooked sushi rice. Drizzle the soy sauce and sesame oil on the rice and fluff the rice in a slicing motion until the rice looks mostly even in color.
- Prepare filling:Sandwich each piece of spam between two slices of mozzarella. Repeat with all the spam and cheese.
- Shape the rice balls:Divide the seasoned rice into four even portions. Wet your hands and spread one portion of rice in one of your palms. Place a spam and mozzarella filling in the center of the rice and wrap the rice around the filling to seal.
- Using both hands, firmly compact the rice into a rice ball and shape the rice ball into a triangle. Repeat with the remaining rice and fillings and wet your hands in between making each rice balls.*Please refer to the post above for step by step reference!*
- Shaping with a mold:If shaping with a mold, scoop half a portion of rice into the mold and gently spread cover the bottom and half up the sides. Place the spam and cheese filling in the center and top with the remaining portion of rice. Firmly press with the onigiri presser to compact and shape the rice ball. Repeat with remaining rice.*Different molds come in different sizes and can hold different amount of rice. So if need be, the spam and cheese may need to be cut smaller to fit the mold and if needed, also adjust the amount of rice to use according to your mold.*
- Pan fry:In a pan over medium heat, add enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, arrange the onigiri (rice balls) in the pan, triangle side down. Cook the rice balls on both sides until golden brown and crispy, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. You can also pan fry the edges too if you'd like.
- (Optional) Brush on sauce:When both sides of the onigiri are golden brown, reduce the heat to low. Then, brush each side with some soy sauce or your preferred sauce and pan fry for an additional 15 to 30 seconds, until crispy again.*Make sure the heat is on low and don't pan fry for too long after the sauce is brushed on to prevent it from burning.*
- Garnish the yaki onigiri with furikaki if you'd like and enjoy while warm!
- Use the rice while it's hot or warm. It's much easier to mold because the rice is sticky when warm and also the rice will absorb the seasonings better.
- Brush on optional sauce. With spam being the filling for these yaki onigiri, they are flavorful enough even on its own. So feel free to omit brushing on soy sauce if you want. But if you're in the mood for something sweet and savory, try some teriyaki sauce (like this homemade one for our Japadog recipe) or unagi sauce instead.
- Cutting spam - When molding the rice balls by hand, we like to cut as slices of spam as we need, then cut each of those slices in half. The size is usually perfect for the mozzarella and for the amount of rice used. But if needed, you can cut the spam and cheese smaller to make molding easier.