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How to make vegan sushi rolls with mixed vegetables and crispy tofu (vegetable maki). They’re crispy, crunchy, tender, delicious, nutritious, easy to customize, and perfect for beginners!

completed Vegan Sushi Rolls with Crispy Tofu spread out along a white surface

Step By Step Vegan Sushi Rolls For Beginners

As a vegan on a budget, finding delicious plant-based sushi that fits your diet and your wallet can be tricky. Luckily, it’s far simpler than you’d think to learn how to make delicious vegan sushi rolls (aka tofu and vegetable maki rolls) at home at a fraction of the cost, with all your favorite fillings, and it’s even better than takeout!

Although there is a slight learning curve, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be craving delicious vegetable maki all the time. Even better, you can get the entire household (or a group of friends) together for a sushi-making party—it’s an evening everyone will enjoy!

As adaptable as this vegan sushi recipe is, though, we thought we’d share one of our favorite filling options; crispy tofu and vegetables. The combination of veggies and seasoned tofu makes for beautiful, delicious, and wonderfully nutritious (hello, veggie micronutrients and tofu protein, we’re looking at you!).

You don’t even need any special equipment for this recipe. Best of all, once you have the sushi rolling ‘down,’ you can play around with the fillings of your choice. Keep scrolling for a list of all our favorite vegan sushi fillings!

Vegan Sushi Ingredients and Substitutions

There are three key elements to preparing these veggie sushi rolls: crisp tofu, mixed vegetables, and sushi rice.

ingredients for Vegan Sushi Rolls with Crispy Tofu measured out against a light surface

The Crispy Tofu

  • Tofu: Use firm or extra-firm tofu (or tempeh) for these tofu sushi rolls.
  • Soy sauce: Regular (dark) or reduced-sodium soy sauce will work. Use tamari/coconut aminos if you’re gluten-free.
  • Nutritional yeast: For an umami-rich ‘cheesy’, nutty flavor.

If you’d prefer, you can make breaded tofu instead or use other sauces/marinades, like teriyaki tofu.

The Sushi Rice

  • Sushi rice: Use rice labeled as sushi rice (short-grain sticky rice). If you can’t find it, use another short-grain white rice, preferably a ‘sticky rice.’  
  • Rice vinegar: This gives sushi rice its classic tangy flavor.
  • Salt: To season the sushi rice.
  • Sweetener: We use agave or another liquid sweetener (including a sugar-free syrup). If you want to use granulated sugar, you’ll need to heat it in the vinegar until it dissolves.

Other Vegetable Sushi Ingredients

  • Seaweed: You need nori seaweed sheets for sushi.
  • Vegetables: We use a selection of different vegetables in this vegetable maki for different colors, textures, and flavors, including
    • Carrot (shredded or matchsticks)
    • Bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow)
  • Sesame seeds: (optional) Regular or black sesame seeds, toasted.

More Vegan Sushi Fillings

There are plenty of other vegetables (and fruits) you can use in this vegetable sushi recipe. Some of our favorite vegan sushi ideas include:

  • Radish (thinly sliced)
  • Cucumber (de-seeded and thinly sliced)
  • Asparagus (cooked)
  • Eggplant (roasted and thinly sliced)
  • Green beans
  • Sweet potato, butternut squash, or pumpkin (fries/sticks)
  • Mango (thinly sliced – works particularly well with cucumber and avocado)
  • Vegan cream cheese
  • Spring onion/chives (long, thin slices)
  • Sprouts
  • Purple cabbage (shredded)
  • Mushrooms (marinated, sauteed, and thinly sliced)
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Spinach
  • Crispy onions (to sprinkle over the vegetable maki)

You can optionally ‘garnish’ the plant-based sushi with a spicy mayo topping by combining vegan mayonnaise with hot sauce/sriracha to your desired heat level, then drizzle over the tofu sushi rolls.

How to Make Vegan Sushi Rolls?

While there are several elements to prepare, making vegan sushi rolls is fairly simple once you get the hang of it. Here’s a quick step-by-step with all the details!

Prepare The Crispy Tofu

Before anything, it’s best to press the tofu for 30 minutes to get rid of excess liquid, then:

  • 1) Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  • 2) Slice the tofu into ½-inch slices and spread them across a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Then drizzle them with the soy sauce and nutritional yeast, rubbing on both sides, so they’re evenly coated.

For even crispier tofu, dust the slices with cornstarch, too.

  • 3) Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway. It’s ready when they’re golden brown and crispy.
  • 4) Allow them to cool for a few minutes, then slice them into ½-inch strips.
process shot of further slicing tofu into strips

Prepare the Sushi Rice and Vegetables

Once the tofu is in the oven, start preparing the sushi rice.

  • 1) Prepare the sushi rice according to the package instructions (soak and rinse it thoroughly before cooking), then transfer it to a bowl and set it aside to cool, covered with a damp kitchen towel.
  • 2) Meanwhile, rinse and slice the vegetables. We thinly shredded the carrot (into thin matchsticks) and thinly sliced the avocado and bell pepper.

If you don’t plan on eating the sushi immediately, dip the avocado in some lemon or lime juice to stop it from browning.

  • 3) Once the rice has cooled slightly, add the sweetener, rice vinegar, and salt and carefully mix it with a wooden spoon (or two).

Assemble The Vegetable Tofu Sushi

Before assembling, ensure the rice, nori sheets, and all the fillings are laid out in front of you. Keep a small bowl of water to one side to dip your fingers.

  • 1) Working one at a time, lay a sheet of nori glossy-side down on a clean work surface and transfer about one cup of sushi rice over it. Next, dip your fingers in the water bowl, then use them to press the rice into a thin, even layer across the nori sheet, leaving 1-inch free at the top.
process shot of adding sushi rice to seaweed
  • 2) Then, place a small amount of each vegetable and the tofu strips side by side in a thin line across the middle of the sushi roll.
process shot of layering veggies on sushi and seaweed

You only need a few pieces of each, don’t add more than a single layer—less is more to avoid overfilling the sushi. It might take a few rolls to get to grips with the perfect amount, but then it becomes second nature.

To Make Uramaki (inside-out roll): Spread the rice over the nori sheet as normal, then flip it over onto plastic wrap, so the rice is on the outside. Add the fillings to the middle as usual, then roll tightly.

Roll The Tofu Vegetable Maki

  1. To roll the sushi, it helps to use a bamboo sushi rolling mat OR a thick kitchen towel lined with plastic wrap. Begin by rolling away from yourself, over the tofu veggie filling, keeping a firm grip/squeezing for a tight roll.
  2. When you’re almost at the empty part of seaweed, use a damp finger to wet it, then continue to roll the vegan sushi roll until it seals.
  3. Leave the vegetable tofu sushi to sit for a few minutes before using a sharp knife dipped in water (re-dip between cuts) to slice it into 1-inch pieces.
  4. Repeat with the remaining nori sheets and fillings until everything is gone. Then, sprinkle the veggie sushi with the toasted sesame seeds, and enjoy!

Serve the tofu vegetable maki with extra soy sauce for dipping (or your favorite dipping sauces like wasabi, spicy mayo, teriyaki sauce, etc.) and, optionally, some pickled ginger.

Top Recipe Tips and Notes

  • Be patient: Our top tip for anyone new to sushi rolling is to have patience. It may take several rolls to get the hang of how much to fill them and how to roll them properly. But at least they’ll still taste great!
  • Keep a water bowl nearby: You’ll need it for your fingers and to dampen your knife when slicing the vegetable tofu sushi rolls.
  • Less is more: It’s important not to overfill the veggie sushi to avoid struggle when rolling it. Likewise, make sure to cut the fillings into thin matchstick pieces.
  • Have fun experimenting: You can play around with plenty of veggies and fruits to make delicious vegan sushi. Make it with several types or even single veggies. Have fun!
  • Use a sharp knife: Also, dip it in water when slicing the tofu sushi roll.
  • Don’t want the hassle of rolling? Why not try this as a sushi bowl instead, piling everything up in a bowl and drizzling it with sauce/soy sauce.  

FAQs

How to make sushi without seaweed?

There are several options you have. First, you could use rice paper wrappers or special colored vegetable sheets/soy paper sheets. Alternatively, core out a cucumber and add the rice and fillings to the inside for a fun take on vegetable sushi rolls.

Is sushi vegan?

While sashimi and other sushi with raw fish aren’t vegan. It’s easy to make vegan sushi rolls with a combination of sushi rice, seaweed, and any of your favorite vegan fillings.

Can I substitute the sushi rice?

It’s possible to use several options, like brown rice, quinoa, and couscous, to make sushi. However, as they aren’t naturally ‘sticky,’ their preparation method will need adjusting.

completed Vegan Sushi Rolls with Crispy Tofu spread out along a white surface

Storage Instructions

This homemade vegan sushi is at its best when made and enjoyed fresh. However, the longer it sits, the soggier the outside will become, and the rice inside will dry out and harden.

If you want to make it in advance or store any leftovers, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, store in the fridge, and enjoy them within 1-2 days. It’s best to leave the roll whole and then cut it into pieces right before serving. Allow it to come to room temperature before eating it for the best results.  

More Delicious Vegan Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Vegan Sushi Rolls with Crispy Tofu

5 from 21 votes
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
These Vegan Sushi Rolls with Crispy Tofu are delicious! They're crispy, crunchy, tender, delicious, nutritious, easy to customize, and perfect for beginners!

Ingredients 

  • 1 package of firm tofu sliced to ½' thick
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups of sushi rice also called sticky rice (we used purple jasmine sticky rice blend)
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 carrot julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
  • 1 package of toasted nori seaweed sheets
  • 3 ½ cups of water
  • 3 Tablespoons of agave
  • 1 Tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of salt or to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and arrange tofu slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with soy sauce or tamari and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, dividing it evenly among slices. Rub slices on both sides so they get coated and place in the oven to bake, roughly 10 minutes on each side, flipping once. Remove them when they are golden brown and crispy and have puffed up a little bit, and let them cool. Once cool, slice into ½' wide strips and set aside.
  • Once tofu is in the oven, prepare sushi rice according to package directions. Let cool.
  • Slice all veggies and place on a cutting board next to sheets of seaweed. Get a small bowl of cold water and place it nearby (this will be for dipping your fingers in). Once rice has cooled slightly, add sweetener, rice vinegar and salt and stir to combine.
  • Lay one sheet of seaweed on a clean work surface and place about 1 cup of rice on top. Dip your fingers in the water bowl and use them to press rice onto seaweed, spreading so it reaches the edges and forms a thin layer all the way around. Leave 1' of seaweed at the top free from rice. Lay a small amount of each veggie in a line across the middle of the sushi roll, taking care to only put a few pieces of each. Less is more here. Begin rolling away from yourself, over the veggies, squeeze tightly to get a good tight roll and keep rolling until you reach the end. Dip your finger in the water and run along the bare edge of seaweed to seal. Let rest for a minute before slicing into one inch pieces and placing on a plate. Repeat until all rice and/or fillings are gone. Your first few rolls may look a little funny but they will still taste great, they start to look better after a few tries. Sprinkle it with toasted sesame seeds.

Notes

  • Be patient: Our top tip for anyone new to sushi rolling is to have patience. It may take several rolls to get the hang of how much to fill them and how to roll them properly. But at least they’ll still taste great!
  • Keep a water bowl nearby: You’ll need it for your fingers and to dampen your knife when slicing the vegetable tofu sushi rolls.
  • Less is more: It’s important not to overfill the veggie sushi to avoid struggle when rolling it. Likewise, make sure to cut the fillings into thin matchstick pieces.

Nutrition

Calories: 615kcalCarbohydrates: 101gProtein: 21gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 1136mgPotassium: 614mgFiber: 9gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 5178IUVitamin C: 59mgCalcium: 216mgIron: 5mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Renee Press
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Keywords: asian recipes, easy, fire and earth kitchen, glutenfree, healthy, homemade, how to make sushi, howtomake, ideas, Japanese, plant based sushi, plantbased, recipes, sushi, vegan, vegan sushi
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Renee Press

Renee Press is the founder of Fire and Earth Kitchen in Seattle WA. which offers cooking classes, food coaching, and chef services. She’s on a mission to make vegan, gluten-free cooking easy, accessible, and delicious for everyone. fireandearthkitchen.com

More about Renee Press

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