Sticky Rice Balls Recipe

Sticky Rice Balls on a Parchment-lined baking sheet

Sticky Rice Balls Recipe

This tasty and fun sticky rice ball recipe from my cookbook Real Baby Food are a streamlined riff on onigiri, the popular Japanese snack. This version is stuffed with mega-nutritious salmon, but you could fill them with almost anything, including leftover chicken or vegetables.

Since rice can be a tricky texture for learning eaters (it can lead to gagging), consider saving them for when you have a more confident eater at the high chair, maybe nine or ten months. And skip the salt and soy sauce until 12 months.

To take these over-the-top for bigger kids and grown-ups, drizzle on some Kewpie mayo and/or Sriracha. Chef’s kiss!

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months. Bookmark or pin this one; it’s a recipe you’ll want to make again and again over the years.


3 cups water

2 cups sushi rice, rinsed

Kosher salt (optional)

2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

8 oz. salmon filet

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. soy sauce (optional)

  1. To make the rice: In a medium saucepan, bring the water, rice, and 1/2 tsp. salt (if using) to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, for 20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, adding the sesame seeds.
  2. To make the salmon: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the salmon on the baking sheet. Rub with the sesame oil, and drizzle with the soy sauce, if using. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Allow to cool, then lift the salmon off the skin, place in a bowl, and flake with a fork. Set aside.
  3. To assemble the rice balls: Have a bowl of cool water at hand. When the rice is still hot but cool enough to handle, wet a 1/3 cup measuring cup. Fill the cup loosely with warm rice. Make a hole in the middle of the rice, about halfway down. Press a scant tablespoon of salmon into the hold. Top with more rice, filling to the brim and covering the filling completely. Gently shake the rice out of the cup, and with wet hands shape the rice into a ball. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, re-wetting your hands whenever the rice gets too sticky.

Makes about 15 two-inch rice balls

For more snacks and finger foods for babies and toddlers, check out my cookbooks Real Baby Food and Baby-Led Feeding and sign up for my newsletter!

Jenna Helwig