I am laying out my sushi rice by forming it into a ball with my hands and spreading it on the nori. I watched some video tutorials on this, and it seems like the rice is not sticking to the chef's hands. How do you not get the rice to stick to your hands?

8 Answers 8


Moisten your hands with a clean, damp towel. This helps the rice not stick. Look at any sushi bar; the chef will be frequently moistening their hands on such a towel.

  • Wouldn't a quick rinse under the tap and a shake dry be a lot more hygienic?
    – TFD
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 1:51
  • @TFD- A clean wet cloth is not unhygienic. The tap would be a pain because I have to do it constantly- every second roll at least. Commented May 4, 2011 at 2:59
  • 6
    I figured the word 'clean' was implied between 'damp' and 'towel'.
    – daniel
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 3:20
  • After a days hand wiping, with fish juices, chicken juices, rice starch etc, I am not so sure it's that clean? It's fine if you are only doing a few, but then if you are only doing a few the tap or a bowl is just as easy (shrug)
    – TFD
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 10:33
  • 5
    @tfd: Professional chefs go through towels at an alarming rate. Their towels rarely get very dirty. Commented May 4, 2011 at 14:23

Keep your hands wet. I usually use a small bowl of water next to my prep area, and dip my fingers in whenever things get sticky.

  • This is what I was going to say, works perfectly
    – nixy
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 16:16

When you use vinegar for the rice, rub some on your palms and fingers diluted with water. But be sure to flick it off, or your hands themselves will get sticky.

Damp towels work too.


I was invited to a sushi making class when we visited Tokyo. We were each given a small bowl of water to moisten our fingers so the rice won't stick. After our trip, I made some at home and decided to use the back of a soup spoon and lightly spread the rice scooping as needed to cover the nori. Just dip the back of the spoon in water before spreading the rice. Usually 2 - 3 small scoops will do as opposed to 1 clump. I make sushi all the time now and this method works best for me; rice is more evenly spread out and does not get squashed. Yum! Good luck, ENJOY!


I wear a thin disposable glove and put a drop of olive oil on it. The first rice ball I make will have the most olive oil residue on it but after that it is unnoticeable on the remaining pieces and there is zero sticking.

  • 1
    Why olive? Why not a neutral oil?
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Sep 22, 2013 at 13:17

When making aranchini ," Italian rice balls " in my presses i use flour before pressing. Since flour is used in the next step for dredging it allows the rice not to stick to the mold and can be easily removed. Also i have found water works as well. But when you add moisture you just increasing the probability of future tackiness. As for Sushi, flour wouldn't be a wise choice.


Renolds makes a non-stick foil. It's the bomb for spreading and pressing.

  • @RichardtenBrink When adding links please make the anchor text useful. (The suggestion still said "enter link description here".)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:21
  • Whoops, my bad! :) Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 11:51

The way that we sushi chefs do it at the bar is to keep a container of parsley filled with water. A moistened micro cloth helps as well.

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