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Crispy Rice Squares

Learn how to make seasoned crispy rice squares with this easy method. They’re a great crunchy rice base for Asian-style canapés or any type of appetizer.

Crispy fried rice cakes are crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.

They’re most commonly served at sushi restaurants with spicy tuna crispy rice but are a game changer when it comes to entertaining at home. All you need are a few simple ingredients.

Key Ingredients

  • Japanese sushi rice – a short grain rice that yields a sticky rice when cooked. You can find this in the international aisle at the grocery store.
  • Rice vinegar – also called rice wine vinegar. This helps season the rice and give it flavor. 
  • Sugar and salt – give the rice extra flavor.
  • Neutral oil – for shallow frying. I used avocado oil, but you can also use refined coconut oil or olive oil if that’s all you have on hand.

See the recipe card for the full list of ingredients.

How to Make Crispy Rice Squares

Cook the rice. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear to remove any excess starch. Cook the rice using a rice cooker or on the stovetop according to package directions. Or make instant pot sushi rice.

Season and chill. Add the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds to help the sugar dissolve. Whisk to combine then pour the vinegar mixture over the warm cooked rice and use a cutting method with a rubber spatula or rice paddle to mix the rice until the seasoning is distributed.

Shape the rice. Tightly pack the seasoned rice into an even layer in a small shallow baking dish or quarter sheet pan, lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper (leave some overhang for easy removal). The rice should be about 1/2 inch thick. Cover and place in the fridge to cool completely.

Cut into squares. Holding onto the parchment paper or plastic wrap, lift the rice block out of the baking dish and transfer it to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the rice block into bite-sized rectangles or squares. You may need to wipe down the blade with a wet cloth between cuts to keep the rice from sticking to the knife.

Shallow fry. Add a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Cook the rice squares on each side for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the crispy rice squares to a cooling rack to get rid of any excess oil and allow them to crisp up further.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this crispy rice recipe using what you already have? Here are some ideas…

  • No rice vinegar? – use seasoned rice vinegar but omit the sugar and salt because it already contains these ingredients.
  • Add-ins – sesame oil for added nuttiness.

How to Serve

Serve these crispy rice cakes with creamy avocado slices, sushi grade fish such as spicy salmon or spicy tuna crispy rice drizzled with Japanese spicy mayo, dip in soy sauce, with sliced green onion, chives, or sesame seeds on top of the crispy rice.

They’re not only great eaten as sushi though, you can also serve them with cooked salmon, egg salad, tuna salad, cooked shredded chicken, or beans as a play on rice and beans.

Other ways you can serve them are as a scoop for dips such as dairy free french onion dipsmoked salmon dip, or dairy free buffalo chicken dip.

How to Store

Let cool to room temperature then store leftover rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day. If already cooked, reheat them in the microwave – don’t worry they’ll still retain their crispy texture.

Helpful Tips

Crispy rice squares taste best fresh the day you make them.

Use a metal or silicone spatula to flip over the rice squares. Using tongs will cause them to fall apart. 

Golden brown crispy rice squares on a white plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my rice squares sticking to the pan?

It could be that there’s not enough oil on the bottom of your skillet or that you haven’t let them cook long enough to crisp up before you tried to flip them.

Can I use leftover sushi rice to make crispy rice squares?

Yes, but you’ll need to gently warm up the rice in the microwave so that you’re able to mold it into a square dish without it crumbling. Tightly packing the rice will prevent it from falling apart in the pan.

Can I make crispy rice in the air fryer?

Yes, but it doesn’t get nearly as crispy as it does on the stove. For the best results, I recommend cooking them in a skillet.

More Asian Inspired Recipes

Crispy Rice Squares

5 from 5 votes
Golden brown crispy rice squares on a white plate.
Learn how to make seasoned crispy rice squares with this easy method. They're a crunchy rice base for Asian-style canapés or any type of appetizer.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Serving Size 28 rice squares (about)

Ingredients
 

Instructions

  • Cook the rice. Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear to remove any excess starch. Cook the rice using a rice cooker or on the stovetop according to package directions. Or make instant pot sushi rice.
  • Season and chill. Add the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds to help the sugar dissolve. Whisk to combine then pour the vinegar mixture over the warm cooked rice and use a cutting method with a rubber spatula or rice paddle to mix the rice until the seasoning is distributed.
  • Shape the rice. Tightly pack the seasoned rice into an even layer in a small shallow baking dish or quarter sheet pan, lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper (leave some overhang for easy removal). The rice should be about 1/2 inch thick. Cover and place in the fridge to cool completely.
  • Cut into squares. Holding onto the parchment paper or plastic wrap, lift the rice block out of the baking dish and transfer it to a cutting board. With a sharp knife, cut the rice block into bite-sized rectangles or squares. You may need to wipe down the blade with a wet cloth between cuts to keep the rice from sticking to the knife.
  • Shallow fry. Add a thin layer of oil to cover the bottom of a large frying pan or skillet over medium heat. Cook the rice squares on each side for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the crispy rice squares to a cooling rack to get rid of any excess oil and allow them to crisp up further.

Notes

The amount will vary depending on the size you cut them.
See the blog post for frequently asked questions, helpful tips, serving ideas, and how to store.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No rice vinegar? – use seasoned rice vinegar but omit the sugar and salt because it already contains these ingredients.
Add-ins – sesame oil for added nuttiness.
5 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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