I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of furikake substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for furikake is to make your own blend from ingredients like bontio flakes and sesame seeds. If you’re looking for a simpler, vegan-friendly alternative, try blending crushed nori and sesame seeds or smoked dulse. Togarashi is an excellent alternative if you like spice.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made a batch of plain steamed rice to put different furikake substitutes to the test.
Furikake is a popular Japanese seasoning mix. The exact ingredients can vary, but it generally always includes nori, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar. This gives it a salty, nutty taste with a prominent umami flavor.
This seasoning mix is prized for its versatility. It’s commonly used as a rice topping, but you can add it to anything – from eggs to sushi and even ramen.
Here are the substitutes I tested and the verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Homemade furikake||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||10/10|
|Sesame seeds + Nori||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Togarashi||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Bonito flakes||Replace with 1/2 the amount||7/10|
|Smoked dulse||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||6/10|
|Salmon flakes||Replace with 1/2 of salmon flakes||7/10|
|Gomashio||Replace with 1/2 the amount||6/10|
Common uses of furikake
Here are some common ways to use furikake and the best substitutes for those situations:
- For garnish/topping: Try using homemade furikake, sesame seeds + nori, salmon flakes, or togarashi. Bonito flakes also work but won’t add texture to your dish. You can also use smoked dulse.
- For seasoning rice, onigiri, and more: Try using homemade furikake, sesame seeds + nori, or togarashi. Gomashio is also a good option, but it won’t provide a seafood flavor.
Making your own furikake isn’t as intimidating as it sounds.
There’s no one exact recipe, but most start with a base of toasted sesame seeds, nori, salt and sugar. Bonito flakes are another common ingredient.
The beauty of making furikake from scratch is the freedom to customize it.
For example, you can use dried anchovies instead of bonito flakes. Or swap out sesame seeds with sunflower seeds. The world is your oyster!
Looking to keep it vegan? Opt for shiitake mushroom powder, an excellent substitute for the umami-rich bonito flakes. Or you can follow Good Eatings’ lead and use nutritional yeast – yum!
How to substitute: replace furikake with an equal amount of homemade furikake.
Sesame seeds + nori
Combining sesame seeds and nori is an easy DIY alternative to making your own furikake. It wont have quite the same depth of flavor, but it will get you 90% of the way there.
Here’s what you need to do: crush the nori, mix it with the sesame seeds, and add a sprinkle of salt.
Yes, it’s that easy! For an added twist, try experimenting with pre-seasoned nori.
I tried sweet-and-spicy flavored nori, and my rice was absolutely delicious!
To make things even easier, look for Aonori seaweed flakes so you don’t have to crush your own nori.
How to substitute: replace furikake in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of crushed nori and sesame seeds.
Next up on the list is Togarashi, another classic Japanese seasoning.
This spice mix shares the base ingredients of nori and sesame seeds, but the biggest difference is the addition of ground chili peppers.
So it’s got some heat along with the salty, umami goodness!
The mix also includes dried citrus peel, which helps temper the spice and bring some acidity.
Psst… shichimi togarashi and nanami togarashi are ver similar and you can use the two interchangeably. Nanami has less orange peel.
How to substitute: replace furikake in a 1:1 ratio with togarashi.
Bonito flakes are a popular ingredient in furikake, so they’ll work well as a substitute if they’re all you have.
They’re dried tuna flakes, which puts a lot of people off!
But the ‘fishy’ taste is actually very subtle. The main flavors are salty with lots of umami.
The only catch? Bonito flakes are paper-thin and won’t add much texture to your dish compared to furikake.
How to substitute: replace furikake with 1/2 the amount of bonito flakes.
Calling all vegan foodies! Here’s a furikake alternative you’ll want to add to your repertoire – smoked dulse (a type of seaweed).
While it’s missing the nutty notes of furikake, it’s loaded with salty, umami deliciousness that’s truly hard to resist.
It’s even dubbed as the bacon of the sea!
The downside with Dulse is it has a soft, chewy texture but no worries. You can chop it up and fry the flakes until they’re crispy to mimic furikakes crunchy texture.
How to substitute: replace furikake in a 1:1 ratio with smoked dulse.
Looking for an easy and accessible substitute for furikake? Let’s talk about salmon flakes.
They’re not the most authentic or similar tasting replacement, but oh boy, do they pack a punch.
Salmon flakes have a salty, seafood-y flavor that pairs perfectly my rice – and I can imagine them being delicious over noodles too!
You can find salmon flakes in any grocery store, but making them from scratch is a breeze too.
I especially love Just One Cookbook’s recipe, which involves baking slabs of salmon and crisping them up in a pan.
And you can keep any extras in the freezer.
How to substitute: replace furikake with half the amount of salmon flakes.
Gomashio, or Japanese sesame salt, is a good alternative for furikake if you’re not a fan of the briny seafood notes.
It’s simple, tasty, and exactly what the name suggests – sesame seeds toasted with sea salt.
But don’t let the simplicity fool you, this seasoning is a game-changer. The toasting process really bring out the nutty flavor of the sesame seeds/
Plus, it’s vegan!
But the best thing about gomashio? It’s so easy to make at home.
How to substitute: replace furikake with 1/2 the amount of gomashio, so the dish doesn’t get too salty
Substitutes to avoid
Not everything you read in the on the internet is true. I saw some blogs suggesting you should use soy sauce or wasabi instead of furikake, but I don’t think these are great substiutes.
Spy sauce will add flavor and it would be okay in a real pinch – but it won’t add any texture and it has a much more one-dimensional saltiness compared to furikake.
Wasabi is SUPER pungent and spicy, and its flavor strays way too far from furikake’s nutty, umami kick to be used as a substitute.
7 Best Furikake Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp evaporated cane sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 spinach leaves
- ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
- 8 small packets of bonito flakes
- 1 large nori sheet
- In a small bowl, stir the soy sauce, sake, sugar, and salt together until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Wash and dry the spinach leaves. Trim out the thick stem in the center and dice the leaves into ⅛-inch pieces.
- Add the sesame seeds, bonito flakes, and spinach into a bowl and stir to combine.
- Drizzle the sauce over the sesame seed mixture then stir everything until well-combined.
- Put the furikake in the oven and set the temperature to 250 F. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the mixture to break up any clusters.
- Leave the furikake to cool at room temperature and add the shredded nori.