Most people will tell you not to bother with leftover sushi, but there’s no way I’m throwing out sushi if I don’t have to! So I decided to experiment with different ways of reheating it to see which methods softened the rice without ruining the fillings.
The best way to reheat sushi is in the microwave. Cover it with a damp paper towel and heat in 20 second intervals on 50% power. You can also dip the sushi in egg and then pan fry it. If you have deep fried sushi, reheat it in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes.
How I Tested Reheating Sushi
I got a few of my favorite sushi rolls from my local Japanese takeaway and left them in the fridge overnight. The next day, I tested reheating them in the following ways:
- In the microwave: Quick and convenient.
- In a steamer: Okay for big portions.
- By pan frying: Tasty and quick!
- By deep frying: an indulgent treat.
- In the oven (or air fryer): Good for deep-fried rolls.
I also look at how to transform your leftover sushi into a delicious poke bowl.
Reheating Sushi In The Microwave
Time: 20-40 seconds
- If possible, remove any raw fish (i.e from nigiri), but don’t worry if you can’t.
- Place the sushi on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel or place a glass of water inside the microwave.
- Heat on 50% power in 20-second intervals.
- Check the sushi at every interval to avoid overheating and remove once slightly warm and the rice has softened.
You don’t need the sushi to be piping hot, youre just looking for the rice to remoitsurize. One portion of sushi rolls should be done after 20-40 seconds.
If you’re microwave doesn’t have the option for 50% power, then use 10 second timing intervals.
Results: The microwave method is quick and convenient and it did a good job of softening the rice without cooking the fish too much. The rice wasn’t as sticky, and the nori was a bit soggy, but the sushi was still nice!
Reheating Sushi In A Steamer
Time: 1-2 minutes
- Prepare your steamer with simmering water.
- Place the sushi in the steamer for 1-2 minutes (removing any raw fish if possible).
- Remove the sushi once the rice is soft and let the sushi rest for 30 seconds so excess water can evaporate.
You don’t need to the water to be aggressively boiling here, a very gentle simmer is enough.
And if you don’t have a steamer you can create a makeshift one by resting a plate on balls of foil in a pan, and covering the bottom of the pan with water.
Results: If you don’t have a microwave or you have lots of sushi to reheat the steamer is an okay option. The fish cooked slightly on the outside, but not all the way through and the nori was wet. The rice was nice and soft though!
Reheating Sushi By Pan Frying
Time: 2-3 minutes
- Heat a pan with a bit of butter or oil over medium heat.
- Add the sushi rolls along with a sprinkle of water.
- Cover with a lid for about 30 seconds to steam the sushi, then remove the lid fry the sushi for a further 30 seconds. Flip the sushi and fry the other side for 30-60 seconds.
Tip: If the rolls are large or tall, I recommend cutting them in half to make sure they heat all the way through (you’ll need a sharp knife).
You can also dip the sushi in egg before pan frying it. Koreans regularly reheat their version of sushi (kimbap) this way.
Results: Pan frying the sushi changed its essence, but I thought this was a good thing. You’ll never be able to recreate fresh sushi, so mixing things up isn’t a bad idea! The rice was crispy on the outside but soft in the middle and the fish had a slight sear to it.
Reheating Sushi By Deep Frying
Time: 2-4 minutes
- Coat the sushi rolls in egg wash and breadcrumbs, or you can go with a tempura batter.
- Heat a good amount of oil in a pan. Once hot, add the sushi and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side.
- Remove and let the sushi drain on a paper towel for 30 seconds before serving.
It’s important the oil is hot enough before you put the sushi in, otherwise it will end up really greasy.
I test it by dropping a breadcrumb into it. If the oil sizles straight away, it’s hot enough. But if it takes a while to start bubbling, it’s too cold.
Results: Deep frying transforms the sushi into a crunchy, indulgent treat. It’s a far cry from the original, but again I don’t see this as a bad thing!
Reheating Sushi In The Oven or Air Fryer (For Deep Fried Rolls)
Time: 3-10 minutes
Note: I only recommend this methos for deep fried rolls.
- Preheat your oven or air fryer to 350°F.
- Place the rolls in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or 3-4 minutes in the air fryer.
If you’re using the air fryer make sure to keep a close eye on your sushi rolls. Things can burn very quickly in the air fryer.
Results: The air fryer is best if you have one because it really gave the sushi rolls that ‘just fried’ feeling. But the oven is fine too. Don’t try and reheat regular sushi rolls using this method becaus it will be a disaster!
Poke Bowl Transformation
Time: 3-4 minutes
- Deconstruct your sushi rolls and get rid of any parts you don’t fancy eating (i.e brown avocado)
- Warm the rice in the microwave but sprinkling it with water and covering it with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 20-30 seconds.
- Top the warmed rice with the rest of the sushi ingredients, adding and fresh toppings you like as well.
You need a fair bit of leftover sushi to make this worth it – but if you feel like your poke bowl is lacking you can always cook up some fresh rice or use random things from your fridge the bulk it out.
I always have carrots in my cupboard, so grated up some fresh carrots to go with mine.
Results: Turning leftover sushi into a poke bowl is a fantastic way to repurpose it. The rice regains some of its stickiness from microwaving, and the fresh toppings give it a new life.
How To Store Sushi
Cover the leftover sushi with a wet paper towel, drizzling soy soy sauce, rice vinegar or lemon juice over it as well if you have any. Then wrap the sushi as tightly as possible in plastic wrap. Keep the sushi in the fridge for 1-2 days.
If you’re making sushi in advance, avoid cutting the rolls until just before serving. I would also hold off adding any nori until serving as well because this will get soggy in storage.
Because sushi is made with raw fish, you need to be cautious with your leftovers. Especially if it’s take out sushi bcause you don’t know how long the fish has been left out for. Always smell and feel the sushi before eating it, and discard any that smells off or has a slimy texture.
Can You Freeze Sushi
There are sources online that say you can freeze sushi, but I don’t recommend it. The rice gets dry so the sushi doesn’t hold well together any more, and it will likely have an ‘old’ taste to it.
If you do want to freeze your sushi, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil and freeze for up to 3 months.
You can them defrost it in the fridge overnight (still wrapped) before reheating it with a damp paper towel in the microwave to soften the rice. Heat on 50% power in 20 second intervals.
How To Reheat Sushi [Tested Methods]
- 1 portion Sushi
- Remove any raw fish that is easy to remove (and replace).
- Cover the sushi with a damp paper towel.
- Heat on 50% power in 20 second intervals until the rice is just warm to the touch.