California Roll

5 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cool Rice 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

This California Roll is the perfect recipe for making restaurant-worthy sushi at home with real crab meat, avocado, and authentic sushi rice.

Making homemade sushi is not only a delicious Dinner but also a fun hobby. It is so much fun making your own sushi, like these California Rolls. Experimenting with different techniques and ingredients really helps add variety to your dinner table.

California Rolls sliced on plate

Although they were based on classic Japanese cuisine, California Rolls are more of an American sushi. However, since a sushi chef at the Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in Los Angeles created them in the 1970s, the roll has become a staple at American sushi restaurants. They’re delicious, simple, and easy to make. 

California Rolls are often thought of as a first step in getting into sushi-making. The popular sushi roll is made with familiar ingredients like avocado, crab, and cucumber. The comforting flavor makes them kid-friendly and good for picky eaters. Once they’ve tried and liked California Rolls, they can get into more exciting kinds of sushi.

When you serve your homemade sushi, be sure to put it out with classic garnishes and dipping sauces. The California Roll will taste great dipped in soy sauce, wasabi, Spicy Mayo, and pickled ginger.

California Rolls collage

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best way to roll sushi?

Rolling the perfect sushi roll may seem intimidating, but it actually isn’t that hard. For the best results, use a sushi rolling mat. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t overstuff the sushi with filling, as that will make it harder to keep together. Do your best to roll the California roll into a tight cylinder. Otherwise, it can fall apart after you’re done. Once you’ve finished rolling, you can always use the bamboo mat to lightly squeeze the roll tighter and firm up its shape. 

What is a California Roll?

If you’re wondering what exactly sets a California Roll apart from other delicious sushi roll recipes, there are a few key ingredients. The inside of California Rolls are filled with crab meat (you can use imitation or real crab meat), a slice of avocado, and cucumber. Along with those ingredients, another key element is that these rolls are typically inside out, meaning the sushi rice is outside the seaweed. 


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California Rolls collage

Key Ingredients

  • Sushi Rice: When you make sushi, it’s essential to make sticky sushi rice, rather than just regular white rice. Sushi rice is seasoned with rice vinegar, white sugar, and salt. The distinct flavor this creates is key to a classic sushi roll taste. 
  • Crabmeat: Often, people use imitation crab meat inside California Rolls. You can also use genuine cooked crab meat, though it is a bit more expensive. Either option gives a sweet crab meat taste to the sushi roll. 
  • Seaweed: Nori seaweed is made into thin papery sheets perfect for sushi rolls. It adds classic sushi flavor and helps keep the roll together. The rice is right outside the dry seaweed for this inside-out sushi roll. 
  • Avocado: Use a sharp knife to slice and pit one avocado before starting the recipe. The avocado adds fresh flavor and creamy texture to the filling. 
  • Crunchy Cucumber: When you slice the cucumber, peel, de-seed it, and cut it into thin cucumber spears. The cucumber adds a crunchy texture that contrasts with the crab meat and avocado. 
  • Garnish: Top the California Roll with toasted sesame seeds to give it an authentic look. 
  • Dipping Sauces: Serve the sushi with your choice of pickled ginger pickled ginger, low sodium soy sauce, and wasabi paste.

How to Make

  • Homemade Sushi Rice: To make one batch sushi rice, add 4 cups water and 2 cups of rice to a large pot, and set your stove to high heat. Once the water is boiling, you can reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 20-22 minutes until the rice is soft and the liquid is absorbed. Then carefully remove the rice from the pot into a large mixing bowl. Next, mix in the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Use a rice paddle or large spoon and be careful to cut it in rather than stirring. Then let the sushi rice cool for 20-30 minutes before using. 
  • Prep Time: Wrap the bamboo rolling sheet in plastic wrap. This will help the sushi rice from sticking to the bamboo sushi mat.
  • Meat Mixture: Then chop the krab meat or genuine crab meat into small pieces. Add the meat to a medium bowl with the mayonnaise and stir well. 
  • Combine California Roll Ingredients: Place a sheet of nori seaweed on a clean work surface. Then add a thin layer of sushi rice over the top. Put the nori on the sushi mat with the rice side down. Add thinly sliced avocado, cucumber, and ¼ of the crab mixture over the middle of the sheet. 
  • Roll: For the best sushi rolling technique, use a roller and pick up the edge of the nori sheet. Then wrap it in a tight roll.
  • Finish: Garnish the top of the rice with a pinch of sesame seeds if desired. Cut the tight cylinder into 6 sushi pieces. Serve with ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi for dipping. 

California Rolls cut on rolling mat


  • Fish: California rolls are made with crab meat, but you can make your homemade sushi with different kinds of seafood, depending on your preference. Try adding tuna, salmon, yellowtail, or mackerel. If you’re using raw fish, make sure that you’re buying sushi-grade fish. This means it’s the best quality and safe to eat raw. But if you prefer you can also use cooked fish. 
  • More Sushi Ingredients: You can also add other ingredients to your sushi filling. Julienned carrots, red onion, bell pepper, or spicy mayo would all make delicious filling ingredients. 

California Rolls sliced on plate

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How to Store

  • Serve: Don’t leave this delicious sushi roll at room temperature for more than 2 hours. 
  • Store: If you want to store the California Roll for later, you can wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container. Then store the homemade sushi in the fridge for 1-2 days. 
  • Freeze: Sushi doesn’t keep very well in the freezer. But, if you want to prep the ingredients ahead of time, you can freeze them separately in airtight containers. Then thaw and assemble before serving. 

California Rolls in dipping sauce

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California Rolls

This California Roll is the perfect recipe for making restaurant-worthy sushi at home with real crab meat, avocado, and authentic sushi rice.
Yield 5 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Japanese-American
Author Sabrina Snyder


Sushi Rice:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

California Roll:

To Serve:


Sushi Rice:

  • Add water and rice to a large pot on high heat and bring water to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium low and cover, simmering for 20-22 minutes until rice is soft and liquid is absorbed.
  • Carefully remove from pot into a large bowl.
  • Mix together rice vinegar, sugar and salt.
  • Using a rice paddle or large spoon add in the rice vinegar evenly, cutting it in (do not excessively stir).
  • Let cool for 20-30 minutes before using sushi rice.

California Roll:

  • Wrap your sushi mat in plastic wrap (this helps prevent rice from sticking.
  • Chop up the krab meat into small pieces.
  • In a medium bowl add the krab meat and mayonnaise, stirring well.
  • Add a thin layer of rice evenly on the nori sheet on a clean surface.
  • Put the nori sheet rice side down on the rolling mat.
  • Through the middle of the roll add some thinly sliced avocado, the cucumber and ¼ of the the krab mixture.
  • Using the roller, roll up the California roll into a tight log.
  • Garnish with white sesame seeds if desired.
  • Cut into 6 pieces and serve with ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi.


Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 746mg | Potassium: 380mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 259IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg
California Rolls collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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