A Guide to Sushi for Beginners

Last Updated on June 30, 2023 | 0 Comments
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When it comes to sushi for beginners, there’s a lot to unpack — or should we say unroll? Have you felt overwhelmed and even a tiny bit afraid of the prospect of trying sushi for the first time? No worries, there are plenty of people in the same boat as you.

The good news is that no one expects you to be a sushi expert. However, there are a few basics that are helpful to know before you pick up your first pair of chopsticks.

In this article, you’ll discover different types of sushi, including the best sushi rolls for beginners and how to eat sushi. You’ll also learn about making sushi for beginners, should you love it so much that you want to recreate it yourself — which you very well might! 


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Making Sushi for Beginners

Even if you’re a newbie to the sushi world, you probably know that making good sushi is no cinch and requires proper training. When it comes to making sushi for beginners, you will likely want a professional to show you the ropes. A certain delicate technique must be used in order to ensure that the sushi rolls are visually appealing and don’t fall apart. 

To create the kind of artful-looking sushi you see in restaurants and magazines, consider a live online sushi making class, wherein you’ll be immersed in an educational, interactive class while cooking from the comfort of your kitchen. Since world-class chefs teach these classes, they are perfect for learning about sushi for beginners.

learn the basics of sushi for beginners with online sushi making classes
via Cozymeal

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While you’ll need fresh ingredients, it also helps to have nifty tools like the Global Grub DIY Sushi Kit, which is perfect for sushi for beginners since it comes with sushi rice and other important ingredients.

The Cozymeal Shop also offers more of the best sushi making kits, like the Helen’s Asian Kitchen Sushi Making Kit, which includes molds that help shape sushi for those who want to wow their guests — there’s even a heart-shaped mold!

If you find that you enjoy this cuisine, this AYA Eco Sushi Making Kit comes with authentic bamboo chopsticks for you to keep at home.

Global Grub DIY Sushi Kit
via Global Grub

How to Eat Sushi

Let’s make one thing clear about sushi for beginners: you can still eat sushi if you can’t figure out how to use chopsticks. Frankly, you can eat your sushi however you’d like, because really, the point is to simply enjoy your meal! That being said, there are some guidelines to acknowledge if you’re looking to follow the traditional route. Below are some good practices for how to eat sushi for beginners.

In typical Japanese restaurants, your sushi rolls will come with a green blob, which is wasabi, some folds of pickled ginger and a container of soy sauce. Traditionally, you’ll pour soy sauce into a small bowl and, with chopsticks, put a bit of the spicy wasabi into the soy sauce. Then, you’ll pick up a piece of sushi with chopsticks, dip it into the soy sauce and pop the whole piece of sushi into your mouth, chewing thoroughly.

According to proper sushi-eating etiquette, it is common to eat a piece of ginger in between bites, especially if you are eating two or more different types of sushi. According to the Los Angeles Times, ginger is meant to be eaten by itself; not on top of your sushi roll. It cleanses the palate of old flavors to prepare to enjoy new ones.

how to eat sushi for beginners
via Canva

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Different Types of Sushi

When you’re actually sitting down at a sushi restaurant to order, you may be overwhelmed by the long list of options on the menu. When ordering sushi for beginners, it’s good to know the basic types of sushi that appear at most restaurants. Below is a list of different types of sushi and common sushi terminology.


One of the most commonly asked questions about sushi for beginners is what the difference is between sushi and sashimi. Since many restaurants create separate sections for these two types of dishes, confusion is understandable. Sushi consists of raw fish, various fillings, rice and seaweed paper, all stuffed into a roll. 

Sashimi, on the other hand, is the name for thinly sliced pieces of raw fish. Sashimi can actually be the best sushi for beginners since it’s an easy way to taste a variety of raw fish to decide whether you like it before ordering it in a roll!

salmon sashimi
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Maki is the actual name for a sliced sushi roll, which consists of a seaweed wrapper (nori) on the outside, a layer of sticky sushi rice, and fish or vegetables inside.


Commonly referred to as cone sushi or hand rolls, temaki is like a sushi roll, but instead of being compact and cylindrical, it is looser and cone-shaped. This can also be the best sushi for beginners because it is meant to be eaten by hand.

temaki is a great sushi for beginners
via Canva


Nigiri is almost like an inside-out sushi roll. It consists of a small ball of sushi rice, with a delicate piece of fresh sashimi on top. Sometimes, instead of raw fish, the rice is topped with fruit or wasabi.

Best Sushi for Beginners

California Roll 

The go-to roll for everyone, the California roll is made with cooked crab (sometimes imitation crab), avocado and cucumber. The reason that this is one of the best sushi rolls for beginners is because there is no raw fish inside of it, and it’s made with very mild, easily recognizable ingredients.

california sushi roll
via Canva

Philadelphia Roll 

Have you ever had a bagel with lox and cream cheese? If you enjoy those, a Philadelphia roll is a good place to start for sushi for beginners. A Philadelphia roll consists of cream cheese and salmon, and sometimes avocado.

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Salmon or Tuna Roll 

Basic rolls, like salmon rolls or tuna rolls, are typically made only with sushi rice, seaweed paper and raw fish. For this reason, they are some of the best sushi rolls for beginners who are afraid to try anything too complex. If you already know that you like salmon, ordering a salmon roll is a safe start. Consider making it a salmon avocado roll or a salmon mango roll to introduce more flavors!

a salmon roll is a great sushi roll for beginners
via Canva

Sweet Potato Tempura Roll

Lots of people think that they can’t enjoy sushi without eating raw fish, but this isn’t always true! For anyone who just can’t bring themselves to eat raw fish, a tempura roll is the way to go. A sweet potato tempura roll is perfect for vegetarians or anyone who doesn’t really prefer to eat sea critters, as it consists of just rice and fried sweet potato. If you do like cooked fish, a shrimp tempura roll ( made with shrimp, cucumber and avocado) is also a good choice.

Congratulations, you’re no longer a beginner! Now that you know all of the basic things to know about sushi for beginners, you should feel confident in ordering and eating your first sushi roll. Remember, don’t feel pressured to do everything the traditional way — you are allowed to eat sushi with a fork, and you don’t have to like wasabi!

Once you’ve tried a variety of sushi dishes, experiment by making your own rolls with whatever ingredients you please.

For more fun ways to explore food, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.

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