I am absolutely in love with crispy rice. It’s beloved around the the world: the saffron yellow socarrat of Spanish paella, the golden crispiness of Persian tahdig, and the best parts of Korean hot stone bowl dolsot bibimbap.
Crispy rice has the most aromatic toasty nuttiness and I can’t get enough. Sometimes when I make rice on the stove, I let the bottom get scorched a little just so I can have a little treat. I love it so much that whenever I see a crispy rice dish when we go out to eat, I have to have it.
It’s pretty common on Korean or Japanese menus: a little crispy rice nugget topped off with spicy tuna or salmon with a pile of kimchi or thinly sliced scallions. It’s the best bite: savory and nutty from the crispy rice, fresh from the fish, a bit spicy, and full of flavor and texture.
What is crispy rice?
Crispy rice is a little crispy rice cake made from fresh or leftover rice. You can use plain rice, but it tastes even better if you season it as sushi rice. Press the rice into a pan and chill it overnight and the next day, you cut the rice into little cakes and fry them until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You can snack on the crispy rice cakes as is or top them off with a myriad of toppings!
Tiktok crispy rice
Crispy rice has been trending all over Tiktok and I am here for it. There are so many Tiktoks of people making gorgeous little crispy rice cakes. Some people use leftover rice, some people make rice fresh, some of them deep fry, some shallow fry, basically anything goes in the crispy rice world. I’m not sure who trended first with crispy rice but for me, I based this recipe off of the spicy tuna volcano at Gyu Kaku, a Japanese BBQ place. The spicy tuna volcano is heap of spicy tuna on crispy fried rice and it’s so good. I always order it when we go. Tiktok inspired me to make my own at home!
Crispy rice ingredients
All you need is:
- rice – the best rice to use is short grain Japanese rice. That’s what they use to make sushi. We usually buy a bag of Koshihikari, which is a popular type of rice variety from Japan. Koshihikari is soft, moist, fluffy, a tiny bit nutty and sweet. It has amazing texture and flavor.
- rice vinegar – go for unseasoned rice vinegar because we’re going to season to taste with sugar and salt. They sell rice vinegar in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores. We usually buy Kikkoman or Marukan unseasoned rice vinegar.
- sugar – there’s a bit of sugar in sushi vinegar, it adds sweetness and rounds out the rice vinegar.
- salt – one of the three components of sushi vinegar.
- oil – you’ll need a bit of neutral oil to fry the rice cakes. I like using canola, rice bran, or grapeseed. You don’t need much, we’re not deep frying, just shallow frying.
- toppings – you can enjoy your crispy rice cakes plain (I do it all the time, dipped in spicy mayo!) or you can top it with whatever your heart desires. I included some inspiration down below.
How to make crispy rice
First off you need to make rice, preferably short grain rice! I like to make rice on the stove. Here’s how I do it:
- Wash and rinse one cup of rice until the water runs clear.
- Add the rice and one and a quarter cup water to a pot with a lid. Bring everything to a boil over high heat and when it’s bubbling rapidly, turn the heat down and put the lid on.
- Let it cook on low, covered, without peeking, for 17 minutes.
- When the time is up, leave the lid on for the rice to steam for 10 minutes.
- When the 10 minutes are up, fluff up the rice.
While your rice is cooking, make the sushi vinegar. Combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a microwaveable container. Microwave for about 30 seconds then stir to combine.
- After you fluff the rice, pour the sushi vinegar over it and use a spatula or rice paddle to fold the vinegar into the rice.
- Press the sushi rice into a baking pan, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, take the rice out of the pan and use a sharp knife to slice into 2 x 3/4 inch slices. Now you’re ready to crisp them up!
To pan fry
Heat up a generous amount of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the rice cakes and fry until golden and crispy, flipping once.
To air fry
Lightly coat the rice cakes with oil and air fry at 400°F for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Heat the oven to 475°F. Lay down a sheet of aluminum foil and lightly brush with neutral oil. Lightly coat the rice cakes with neutral oil and bake, flipping once, until crisp and lightly golden, 15-20 minutes.
Tips and tricks
- Don’t skip out on seasoning the rice! Plain rice will definitely work for this, but seasoned sushi rice is better.
- Speaking of rice, if you have it, use short grain Japanese rice. Our favorite rice is Koshihikari.
- Lightly wet your hands or spatula when pressing the rice into the pan so it doesn’t stick.
- It’s tempting to just pop the rice into the fridge, give it an hour, and slice it up, but if wait until it solidifies overnight, you’ll end up with a much more neatly sliced rice cake.
- Take your time and crisp the rice until golden and crispy. It’s tempting to turn up the heat but low and slow is the way to go.
Crispy rice toppings
Go wild! Essentially you’re making a crispy sushi rice cake so anything that you’ve had on sushi will taste amazing. Try:
How to make gorgeous, nutty, satisfying crispy rice cakes topped with spicy tuna or salmon.
- Place the sushi rice in a colander, rinse throughly and let drain for 15 minutes. Cook rice according to the package instructions or your preference.
- While the rice is cooking, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt, until the sugar and salt dissolves.
- Transfer the rice to a large bowl and fluff. Sprinkle on the sushi vinegar and use a rice paddle to fold the sushi vinegar into the rice.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Spread the rice out, pressing it down, until it is about 3/4 inch high. Cover and let cool in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, make the spicy tuna and prep the toppings. Cut the tuna into small pieces. Combine the tuna with the kewpie mayo, sriracha, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil. Keep cold in the fridge.
- Take the rice out of the fridge and slice into 2 inch by 3/4 inch pieces. Heat up a generous amount of oil in a pan and heat it up over medium heat.
- Add the rice cakes and fry until golden and crispy, flipping once. Drain on a wire rack.
- Top the crispy rice with slices of avocado, the spicy tuna, a slice of jalapeño, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Amount Per Serving
Calories 436 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3.7g23%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.