ATK Kids

Onigiri: Fun to Make and More Fun to Eat

The Japanese rice balls are the perfect snack to prepare with your young chef.

Published Jan. 27, 2023.

Many parents and caregivers know the particular struggles that come with trying to feed a picky eater. 

It’s a problem so common that the most recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen: The Next Generation is all about cooking for kids. (Check out a recap of that episode here.) 

Watch Episode 7 of America's Test Kitchen: The Next Generation for free here!

One of the main reasons kids might not like a certain food? Its texture. But by helping to make a dish, they can familiarize themselves with new textures with their hands. Research suggests this tactile exploration of new ingredients can make kids more willing to try new foods. 

America’s Test Kitchen Kids’ recipe for onigiri is the perfect example of a hands-on food for kids to make.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

Also known as omusubi, onigiri are a popular portable snack, breakfast, or lunch in Japan. (They’re often included in Japanese lunch boxes, called bento.) Onigiri are made from sticky Japanese-style rice that’s molded into shapes and typically wrapped with pieces of nori (a seaweed), which gives you a convenient spot to hold onto (onigiri comes from the Japanese word nigiru, which means to grip or to hold).

They can be served plain, or stuffed with different fillings. And while we shape ours into triangles, you can also find onigiri circles, cylinders, or even unique shapes such as bears, cats, or flowers that are made using special molds.

Your young chef can choose their favorite filling (providing options also encourages picky eaters to branch out)—our recipe features three filling suggestions, but feel free to get creative and make your own as well.

As kids fill and shape their onigiri, they’ll be exposed to the sticky texture of the sushi rice, making them much more likely to bite into this delicious Japanese staple.

Kid-Friendly & Customizable


Kids will love to shape and fill these Japanese rice balls and flavor them with their favorite ingredients.
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