Is Sushi Rice Gluten Free? Not all the time!

This post contains affiliate links including Amazon affiliate links.

We all love sushi but is sushi rice gluten free? I’ll examine why it is sometimes not gluten free. You’ll be shocked to learn why.

What is sushi rice?

Sushi rice is not actually a type of rice but it is a certain preparation of rice. Even though you see boxes of sushi rice at the grocery store, it’s just short-grain Japanese rice and the preparation turns it into “sushi rice”.

Short-grain Japanese rice has a higher starch content when compared to white rice. This higher starch content helps the rice stick together.

Short-grain Japanese rice is cooked, then mixed with powdered sugar, salt, and rice vinegar. Then it is cooled and used to make sushi rolls.

Sushi rice ingredients

Sushi is made with short-grain Japanese white rice (or sometimes short-grain brown rice), powdered sugar, salt, and rice vinegar.

A bowl of sushi rice.
Photo by Mgg Vitchakorn on Unsplash

Is sushi rice gluten free?

To answer that, we need to examine the ingredients sushi rice is made with. Sushi rice is made with short-grain Japanese white rice, with powdered sugar, salt, and rice vinegar.

Short-grain Japanese white rice is naturally gluten free. Powdered sugar and salt are also naturally gluten free.

That leaves us with rice vinegar. Is rice vinegar gluten free? Yes, rice vinegar is gluten free because it is made from fermented rice, unlike regular vinegar which is sometimes made from grains like wheat.

As long as you make your sushi rice the traditional way or the restaurant does, it will be gluten free (that doesn’t mean the sushi roll itself is gluten free).

When I was researching this topic, I read that some restaurants cut corners and use regular vinegar instead of rice vinegar to make their sushi rice.

At the restaurant, ask how they made their sushi rice. If they used non-distilled white vinegar, (sometimes made from wheat), the sushi rice might contain gluten.

Sushi rice cross-contamination

Unfortunately, anytime you are eating sushi rice at a restaurant it can pick up gluten through cross-contamination. Sushi restaurants always have tempura battered foods.

If you are allergic to gluten make sure your waiter is aware so they can prepare your meal on a clean surface with clean utensils.

A man's hands preparing a roll of sushi.
Photo by Epicurrence on Unsplash

How is sushi rice made?

I used to be very intimidated by the thought of making homemade sushi rice but it’s actually extremely easy. I make it from scratch for my sushi parties with my friends.

Here’s the ratio you need to know for every 1 cup of uncooked sushi rice.

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

It’s best to follow the cooking directions on your package.

Can you freeze sushi rice?

If you make too much sushi rice, you can freeze the extra rice. I have done this multiple times and it still works out just fine. I freeze the rice in single portions. I unthaw the bag of frozen sushi rice at room temperature.

Before I am ready to use it, I reheat it in the microwave (you could also do a toaster oven), I make sure to place a paper towel that has been soaked in water over the bowl of rice and then reheat it.

Then I add some rice vinegar again and fluff it up and let it cool a bit before using it in a sushi roll. It’s still sticky.

Hands holding two pieces of sushi.
Photo by Frank Zhang on Unsplash

What do you use sushi rice for?

Sushi rice is used to make sushi. One of my favorite foods!

The rice is added to nori sheets, with some protein like raw salmon, and veggies like thinly sliced carrots and cucumber then rolled tightly and dipped in some soy sauce.

Gluten free sushi rice brands

This is the only certified gluten free brand of sushi rice I have found.

Carbs in sushi rice

One cup of sushi rice contains 37grams of carbs, 3.5 grams of protein, and 0.3 grams of fat.

One sushi piece up close.
Photo by Luigi Pozzoli on Unsplash

Sushi rice substitute

I have avoided sushi rice before because of carbs. If you want to avoid it at a restaurant just order sashimi, and ask for sushi rolls without sushi rice added.

At home, you can make sushi rolls without sushi rice. Here’s my keto sushi recipe. You can also make faux sushi rice using riced cauliflower mixed with cream cheese (is there anything cauliflower can’t do?). My keto sushi recipe includes the cauliflower sushi rice recipe.

If you make sushi rice at home you have control over the ingredients and can make sure it is 100% gluten free.

Are you curious about what food is gluten free?

DISCLOSURE: Not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader. Ditch the Wheat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. I only endorse products that I believe in.

Similar Posts