Easy Budget Sushi Recipes: How to Make Cheap Sushi at Home

Rachel | Rachel Resets
by Rachel | Rachel Resets

Eating sushi out can be expensive, but making it at home is cheaper than you think. These budget sushi recipes make 10 cheap sushi rolls for $12.75. You can even make them for $7.26, by using regular rice instead of sushi rice.

Walmart maki grocery list

(Prices as of September 2022)

  • 2lb white rice - $1.48
  • Seaweed sheets - $3.24
  • Imitation crab - $1.00
  • Sesame seeds - $1.94
  • Cream cheese - $1.68
  • 1 cucumber - $0.62
  • Ginger root - $0.89
  • 1 avocado - $0.92
  • Carrots - $0.98

Total: $12.75

Dirt cheap maki grocery list

(Prices as of September 2022)

  • 2lb white rice - $1.48
  • Seaweed sheets - $3.24
  • 1 avocado - $0.92
  • Imitation crab - $1.00
  • 1 cucumber - $0.62

Total: $7.26

How to make sushi rolls

Slicing cucumber and avocado

1. Prepare the ingredients

Slice the avocado and cucumber thinly. Use a peeler for longer, thinner slices of cucumber, to add more variety and texture.

Imitation crab

Slice the crab legs. Imitation crab is great because you can get four pieces for a dollar. I sliced them thinly to have enough crab for ten rolls, but you can add more.

Spreading rice over the seaweed

2. Spread the rice

Place the seaweed wrap shiny side down, and textured side up. Spread your rice, leaving two inches at the top of the roll without rice, to help the seaweed paper stick together and seal the roll.

How to make sushi

3. Load up the toppings

Put the delicious toppings in the middle of your rice. This is so that when you roll it up, the toppings will be in the middle. If you put them at the bottom, they won’t be centered in your roll. It will still taste fine, but it won't be as symmetrical.

How to make sushi rolls

4. Roll up the roll

As you roll, peel back the parchment paper slightly so it doesn’t get stuck inside the roll. After you finish rolling it all the way, press down evenly and push the roll into itself.

Cutting the homemade sushi rolls

5. Cut the roll

With the same side down, slice your roll. Wet your knife in between slices, so the slices will come off more cleanly and not stick to the wrapper. I found the serrated knife to be easier.

Making sushi on a budget

These are some additional ingredients I used for my budget sushi recipes. Rice (it doesn’t have to be sushi rice), cream cheese, eggs (for vegetarian sushi), soy, yum yum, or teriyaki sauce packets, fresh ginger (to make pickled ginger), Miracle Whip, white vinegar (or rice vinegar), a carrot, and white sugar. 

How to make sushi rice

I made this roll with regular rice, not sushi rice. I’ve made other rolls with sushi rice, but I found it wasn’t as good. So, I did buy sushi rice, but in the end, I chose to keep it cheaper by using regular rice.

A tip for stretching your budget on this meal is that if you have leftover soy sauce packets or other condiments packets, you can use these to add variety and different flavors.

You will need a little vinegar and sugar in your rice to mimic the flavor of rice vinegar, which I didn’t have on hand. For two cups of rice, I added ⅓ cup of vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of salt.

Vegetarian sushi rolls

If you want to make your sushi rolls vegetarian, you can make little scrambled egg sticks to use in place of crab.

How to make sushi ginger

How to make sushi ginger (gari)

I love pickled ginger. Pickled ginger normally uses baby ginger, which is why it turns pink. Adult ginger doesn’t have that pink color.

I added vinegar, sugar, and salt to my pan and brought to a boil, and then added in my ginger and boiled it for four minutes. I followed this recipe for pickled sushi ginger (gari).

Toasting sesame seeds

Toasting sesame seeds

I also dry-toasted sesame seeds in a pan. I didn’t add any oil, I just let them naturally brown over medium heat, and stirred them constantly to make sure they browned evenly. You can add these on top of the rolls or into the rice for added flavor.

Using a bamboo roller to make maki

Using a bamboo roller to make maki

Here’s me attempting to use the bamboo roller. I think if I had wet it, it wouldn’t have stuck so bad. Also, I was trying to make the types of rolls that have white rice on the outside and seaweed inside, but it was difficult to slice.

I chickened out and stuck the extra seaweed on top to stop the rice from sticking to the knife and falling apart as I was slicing through. I also realized the parchment paper was easier for rolling up the wraps.

How to make cheap sushi at home

You can see, I got a beautiful centered roll with the sesame seed on the bottom. The nori wrapper on top was really helpful when slicing.

Other sushi roll recipes

I just started successively making each roll with whatever fillings I wanted. I like cream cheese; I feel that it adds a nice creaminess inside the roll, and helps everything stay together.

I added the carrot for its vibrant color and crunch. I love the freshness of the cucumber and the avocado. The crab meat is a really fun flavor that you don’t typically get in a lot of budget meals.

This makes a really fun, easy weeknight dinner as well because you can keep the sushi in the fridge and eat it the next night. I put saran wrap on the top, and we had it several nights in a row. It was really delicious.

How to make a spicy crab salad roll

How to make a spicy crab salad roll

I also attempted to make a spicy crab salad roll, by shredding up a couple of the crab sticks and adding some of the whipped dressing. Then, I added hot sauce. I didn’t have the right type of hot sauce, so I’m not sure it was the greatest crab sauce, but it tasted fine inside the roll, and was a good experiment.

Sushi vs maki

I keep on calling this sushi, but it's really maki. Sushi uses raw fish and maki has other ingredients. I am skeptical about how well I can properly care for and preserve raw fish in a way that we won’t get sick, and how safe cheap fish would be. If you have the money, and the know-how, fresh fish or sushi-quality fish would go really well in these recipes.

Budget sushi

Budget sushi recipes

Here is our finished sushi platter. I used leftover avocado as a garnish. Now that I know how simple it is, you can betcha that I’ll make it again.

Let us know in the comments what you think of this budget sushi and whether you'll try and make some maki yourself.

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2 of 14 comments
  • Mabel Jacobs Mabel Jacobs on Jan 09, 2024

    Thanks for information to making my own sushi/maki. I'll try thin slice of shrimp or tuna (from can) for a new flavor. Now to add the wasabi.

  • Mlbonnie Mlbonnie on Jan 09, 2024

    This was the clearest video on how to make sushi/maki! Thanks so much and I can't wait to try!