Crispy Rice

By: MeganPosted: 11/07/2023 Updated: 28/11/2023
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 3 hours 20 minutes
Instantly elevate your leftover rice with these fun crispy rice bites. Made with savory seasoned short-grain sushi rice, these crunchy rice cakes create a restaurant-style base for your favorite sushi toppings.
Crispy Rice

Instantly elevate your leftover rice with these fun crispy rice bites. Made with savory seasoned short-grain sushi rice, these crunchy rice cakes create a restaurant-style base for your favorite sushi toppings.

A plate of crispy rice on a table.

Seasoned crispy, crunchy rice has the best of all worlds. It is savory, and nutty and has the best crisp on the outside and soft on the inside texture. Fried crispy rice squares make the perfect snack or base for an appetizer.

In this recipe, I will show you how to make the perfect crispy rice squares with step-by-step photo instructions and a detailed tips section. Plus, you can customize your crispy rice with fresh sushi-grade fish, cucumbers, avocados, furikake, etc! If you are looking for more crispy rice squares inspiration, check out my crispy rice salmon or spicy tuna crispy rice.

What is crispy rice?

Crispy rice is a small square fried rice cake that is made from white sticky rice. The best rice to use is one that is slightly sticky like sushi rice so that it will hold together when pan-fried. Crispy rice has been trending all over Tiktok and Instagram. They typically are used as a base for spicy tuna or salmon.

A close up of a piece of crispy rice.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Crispy and crunchy. the texture of these crispy fried rice squares is crisp on the outside and soft in the center for the ultimate textural experience.
  • Easy to Make. This crispy rice recipe only uses a few ingredients and easy-to-follow steps.
  • Customizable! You can customize these fried rice cakes with a variety of different toppings listed below in the substitutions and additions section.
A close up of a spicy tuna crispy rice on an appetizer plate with more crispy rice.

Kitchen Equipment

You will need the following kitchen equipment items to make this crispy rice recipe. I have linked everything that I used to make these crunchy rice bites below.

  • Mixing bowls: you will need medium to large mixing bowls to season your sushi rice.
  • Rice Cooker: You can either use a rice cooker or cook your rice on the stove. I have been using this Tiger rice cooker since college and it has been my favorite kitchen essential.
  • Rice Spoon: use a rice spoon or a large wooden spoon to mix in the rice seasonings so that you do not break the rice grains.
  • Baking pan: You will need a small square baking pan that is about 8 or 9 inches wide to create a mold for the rice.
  • Skillet: to pan-fry the crispy rice squares, you will need a large skillet.
  • Wire rack: you don’t want your crispy fried rice cakes to go soggy. For the ultimate crisp, make sure to place the newly fried crunchy rice over a wire rack to cool.

Ingredients

All of the ingredients for this crispy rice recipe can be found at your local grocery store or online! I’ve linked all the ingredients that I used below.

  • Sushi Rice: sushi rice, also known as short-grained sushi rice, is plump, firm, and slightly sticky. Sushi rice has a stickier texture than jasmine white rice making it ideal for shaping and frying. My go-to sushi rice is Nishiki premium grain rice.
  • Salt: a dash of salt is used to season the crispy rice squares.
  • Rice Vinegar: rice vinegar is a sweeter and slightly salty type of vinegar. It adds a mild flavoring to the crunchy rice.
  • Granulated Sugar: regular granulated sugar balances out the bitterness from the rice vinegar.
  • Toasted Sesame Oil: a drizzle of toasted sesame oil adds another layer of nutty flavor to the crispy fried rice.
All the ingredients for seasoning the sushi rice.

Substitutions and Additions

You can customize your fried crispy rice by layering different toppings on top! You can check out some of my favorite recipes below for inspiration.

  • Furikake: for a simple topping to eat these crunchy rice squares as a snack, try using furikake seaweed seasoning.
  • Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice: if you love creamy, spicy tuna crispy rice that is popularized by Nobu, this topping is for you!
  • Salmon Crispy Rice: if you like a brighter yuzu salmon, check out my salmon crispy rice recipe.
  • Hawaiian poke: for a fun Hawaiian appetizer, top your fried rice cakes with some soy-marinated Hawaiian tuna poke.
  • Spam and Egg: you can make miniature crispy fried rice musubis if you top your crispy rice with caramelized spam and egg!
  • California roll: you can make a California roll topping with artificial crab, kewpie mayo, avocado, and cucumber topping.

How to Make Crispy Rice

Here are the instructions on how to make this easy crispy rice recipe. These crunchy rice bites make the perfect base for a fun snack or appetizer!

  1. Prepare the rice. Thoroughly the rice 4-5 times until the water turns clear. Add the water and salt. Mix and cook the rice in a rice cooker.
  2. Season the rice. In a small bowl, mix the rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil until the sugar has dissolved. Once the rice is cooked, toss the mixture with the cooked rice in a large bowl and toss until combined.
Pouring the seasoning into a bowl of cook sushi rice.
  1. Shape and refrigerate the rice. Place your flavored rice into a small square baking tray lined with plastic wrap. Press and shape your rice into a 1/2-inch thick square block. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. You want to chill the rice so that it is easy to cut into cubes.
A block of sushi rice ready to be chilled in the fridge.
  1. Shape the rice. Once the rice has been chilled, cut the rice into bite-sized rectangles. Pat to dry off any excess water condensation.
Slicing the shaped cooled sushi rice into bite sized pieces.
  1. Pan-fry the rice. In a medium skillet, heat about 1/2-3/4 cup of vegetable oil (or enough to fill an even thin layer on your skillet) on high heat until hot for about 30 seconds. Gently, place the rice into the pan leaving about 2 inches in between each piece. Be careful the oil may splatter. Cook on medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and place the rice squares on a wire rack placed over a lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil.

Tips for the Best Crispy Rice Squares

  • Wash your rice! Washing your rice is always a vital step before cooking rice. Washing the rice removes the excess starch, dirt, dust, and debris from the rice grain. If you don’t wash your rice, the excess starch will gelatinize and make the grains become extra sticky and mushy.
  • Pack the rice. When molding the rice on your baking pan, make sure you gently pack in the rice as closely together without actually mashing the rice grains. You also don’t the rice to be too loose where you have large air bubbles that will make the rice fall apart when you fry it.
  • Chill the rice. You will need to chill the rice block in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or preferably overnight. The longer you chill the rice the easier it is to slice into cubes, and it will become slightly drier which will cause less splatter when you fry the crispy rice.
  • Make sure the oil is hot before adding the rice. Test the readiness of the oil by dropping one grain of rice and if it rapidly sizzles, the oil is ready.
  • Keep an eye on the crispy fried rice. The oil temperature will fluctuate throughout the cooking process. If the rice browns too quickly, lower the heat so the rice does not burn.
  • Cool the rice on a wire rack for maximum crispiness. After the rice is golden brown on both sides, place the rice pieces over a wire rack to prevent them from getting soggy.

Storage Instructions

It is best to eat these crispy rice squares fresh. However, you can store any leftover crunchy rice pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Re-heat: the rice will harden and dry out in the refrigerator as time passes. The best way to reheat them would be to pan-fry them again or sprinkle a few drops of water on them and microwave them until warm.

Frequently Asked Q’s & A’s

What kind of rice is best for crispy rice?

The ideal rice for sushi grain is short-grain sushi rice. This rice is plump, sweet, and slightly sticky which will stick together, hold its shape nicely, and be crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside when pan-fried. Make sure that the rice is chilled for at least 3 hours so that it is drier and slightly hardened which will make cutting and frying a lot easier.

Why are my fried rice cakes sticking to the pan?

There are a few reasons why your crunchy rice squares may be sticking to the bottom of the pan. 1) the oil may not be hot enough 2) there is not enough oil at the bottom of the pan and/or 3) the rice has not cooked long enough to be crispy and fried.

How do I keep the rice squares from falling apart?

The key to keeping the rice squares from falling apart is to tightly compact the rice when you mold it in the baking pan. If the rice is too loose it will fall apart when you attempt to cut and fry. However, make sure to not overly compact the rice to the point that you mash the individual grains and it will become a hard brick.

Additional Appetizer Recipes to Try

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A plate of crispy rice on a table.

Crispy Rice

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Instantly elevate your leftover rice with these fun crispy rice bites. Made with savory seasoned short-grain sushi rice, these crunchy rice cakes create a restaurant-style base for your favorite sushi toppings.
Servings: 6 servings
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Prepare the rice. Thoroughly the rice 4-5 times until the water turns clear. Cook the rice and water in a rice cooker or on the stove.
  • Season the rice. In a small bowl, mix the salt, rice vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil until the sugar has dissolved. Once the rice is cooked, toss the mixture with the cooked rice in a large bowl and toss until combined.
  • Shape and refrigerate the rice. Place your flavored rice into a small square baking tray lined with plastic wrap. Press and shape your rice into a 1/2-inch thick square block. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. You want to chill the rice so that it is slightly dried out and easy to cut into cubes.
  • Shape the rice. Once the rice is chilled, cut the rice into bite-sized rectangles. Pat to dry off any excess water condensation.
  • Pan-fry the rice. In a medium skillet, heat about 1/2-3/4 cup of vegetable oil (or enough to fill a thin layer on your skillet) on medium-high heat until hot for about 30 seconds. Gently, place the rice into the pan leaving about 2 inches in between each piece. Be careful the oil may splatter. Cook on medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes or until golden brown and then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack placed over a lined baking sheet to drain any excess oil.

Notes

  • Wash your rice! Washing your rice is always a vital step before cooking rice. Washing the rice removes the excess starch, dirt, dust, and debris from the rice grain. If you don’t wash your rice, the excess starch will gelatinize and make the grains become extra sticky and mushy.
  • Pack the rice. When molding the rice on your baking pan, make sure you gently pack in the rice as closely together without actually mashing the rice grains. You also don’t the rice to be too loose where you have large air bubbles that will make the rice fall apart when you fry it.
  • Chill the rice. You will need to chill the rice block in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or preferably overnight. The longer you chill the rice the easier it is to slice into cubes, and it will become slightly drier which will cause less splatter when you fry the crispy rice.
  • Make sure the oil is hot before adding the rice. Test the readiness of the oil by dropping one grain of rice and if it rapidly sizzles, the oil is ready.
  • Keep an eye on the crispy fried rice. The oil temperature will fluctuate throughout the cooking process. If the rice browns too quickly, lower the heat so the rice does not burn.
  • Cool the rice on a wire rack for maximum crispiness. After the crispy rice is golden brown on both sides, place the crispy rice pieces over a wire rack to prevent them from getting soggy.
  • Storage Instructions: It is best to eat these crispy rice squares fresh. However, you can store any leftover crunchy rice pieces in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Nutrition:

Calories: 196kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Sodium: 401mg | Potassium: 38mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg

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