These keto sushi rolls taste just as good as the real thing! This easy low carb cauliflower sushi recipe gives you all the flavors we love about this Japanese treat, only without all the carbs.
I've been missing sushi so much!
When we go to a Japanese restaurant, there is just not a lot of choice since I've gone on a low carb diet. Nearly all dishes contain either masses of rice, or come with sauces that are high in sugar (like teriyaki sauce).
I tend to stick to miso soup, edamame beans and sashimi. However, this is never a truly satisfying meal. Sashimi, as most of you will know, is pieces of raw fish. It's delicious, but not something you'll want to fill your stomach with. Plus, it's really expensive.
Oh, how have I been having sushi cravings!
The problem with regular sushi rolls is - you guessed it - the rice.
Can you eat sushi on keto?
The base ingredient in traditional sushi is a vinegar-flavoured sticky rice. Rice is gluten-free, but it is starchy and it will affect your blood sugar levels. 100 grams of cooked sushi rice contains 28.7 grams of carbs (source: Livestrong).
Therefore, it is not suitable for the keto diet.
It was time to make ketogenic sushi without rice!
Now, of course it would be possible to make no rice sushi - that is, to simply leave out the rice altogether and just fill the nori sheets with fish and vegetables.
But I am a big fan of cauliflower rice (check out my Keto Cauliflower Egg Fried Rice!). And I think my cauliflower sushi mimics the texture of sushi rice really well.
The ‘rice’ is gently sautéed to al-dente. This takes away the slightly pungent cauliflower flavour you get with eating it raw.
It is then mixed with mayo or cream cheese to provide the stickiness you get with normal sushi.
Lastly, I've added apple cider vinegar (or use white vine vinegar) instead of mirin and roasted sesame seeds for sushi authenticity and a bit of wow.
My keto-friendly cauliflower rice sushi contains just 4.3g net carbs and 301 calories per serving of 6-8 pieces!
Here are the ingredients we're using:
For the rice: cauliflower, oil and vinegar, cream cheese and white sesame seeds. You can use apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.
For the filling: smoked salmon or sushi grade raw salmon, cucumber, red bell pepper and avocado
To roll: 2 nori seaweed sheets
To serve: pickled ginger, coconut aminos or soy sauce, wasabi or a spicy mayo such as sriracha mayonnaise.
This section contains step-by-step instructions and photos that show how to make this recipe. See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
1.) Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse using the S blade until they resemble rice.
You may need to do this in several batches to get a good consistency.
2.) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non stick frying pan or cast iron skillet. Fry the cauliflower on a low to medium heat until al-dente. Remove from the pan and allow to fully cool.
3.) Dry fry the sesame seeds in a non stick pan until golden. Allow to cool.
4.) Once the rice has fully cooled, place in a bowl and mix with the cream cheese or mayonnaise, vinegar and sesame seeds.
5.) Meanwhile, prepare the veggies. Slice the cucumber and pepper into thin strips, discarding the seeds. Slice the avocado.
6.) Place the nori on a bamboo sushi mat. If you don't have one, use plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Add the rice, leaving about 1 centimetre of space at the two opposing seal edges. Layer the cucumber, pepper, avocado and smoked salmon and once edge and tightly roll using the bamboo mat.
Brush the sealing edge with a little water and press to seal.
Slice into keto sushi rounds with a sharp knife and repeat for the second roll.
There are lots of options.
I used smoked salmon for convenience. But you can of course use raw sushi grade salmon or tuna if you prefer. It's important to use sushi grade fish and NOT raw wild salmon. Sushi grade (i.e. farmed) is required for safety. Which makes me wonder - have you tried my Superb Salmon Ceviche?
Other fish and seafood fillings we have tried are cooked smoked mackerel, cooked prawn and crab.
Don't buy imitation crab meat as it may contain added sugars or starches.
There’s no added salt in this keto sushi recipe because of the salt in the smoked salmon. But if you are using raw salmon, you can add a pinch of salt to the cauliflower rice.
I chose the Japanese sushi staples avocado and cucumber plus peppers, because I wanted a pop of colour. Other possible vegetable fillings for cauliflower sushi would be cabbage, bean sprouts, courgettes, a little carrot, kale, spinach, watercress, rocket, or even roasted low carb veggies - all finely sliced.
Ensure the cauliflower rice is fully cooled before mixing with the cream cheese or mayonnaise mix to prevent the nori sheets from shrivelling up.
Ideally, use a bamboo mat to roll. If you don't have a bamboo roller, use plastic wrap. Cling film will help you make a nice neat and tight keto sushi roll.
Use a very sharp knife to cut and clean your knife between cuts.
For a green sushi replace the cauliflower with broccoli rice. Just follow the same method but use broccoli florets instead of cauliflower.
For a spicy tuna roll use canned tuna mixed with mayonnaise and sriracha in place of the salmon. Also, add black sesame seeds.
I have not yet tried making keto California rolls. California roll is an "inside out" sushi wrap. This means the rice is on the outside and the filling such as avocado, crab, cucumber and spicy mayo is on the inside. My feeling is that cauliflower rice just won't have the same sticking power as it's lacking the starch in rice.
This recipe is best enjoyed fresh. I don't recommend to store keto sushi for longer than a day in the fridge. The cauliflower will start to release liquid after that and the sushi will become soggy.
If you want to save time on the day, consider preparing the cauliflower rice a day ahead. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container.
This way, you don't have to wait for it to cool down and you can assemble everything in one go.
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Low Carb Keto Sushi Rolls (without rice!)from Sugar Free Londoner
Note: The servings slider only changes the first amount in each line and not any subsequent amounts. Please make your own calculations where necessary.
- bamboo rolling mat
- 10.5 oz cauliflower 300g
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2.5 tablespoon cream cheese or mayo
- ½ tablespoon white sesame seeds
- 7 oz sugar free smoked salmon or sushi grade raw salmon 100g
- ½ medium cucumber seedless (100 g)
- ½ red or yellow bell pepper 50g
- ½ large avocado thinly sliced (100g)
- 2 nori sheets
- Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse using the S blade until they resemble rice.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non stick frying pan or cast iron skillet. Fry the cauliflower on a low/ medium heat for 5 - 6 minutes until al-dente. Remove from the pan and allow to fully cool.
- Prepare the veggies. Slice the cucumber and pepper into thin strips, discarding the seeds. Slice the avocado.
- Dry fry the sesame seeds in a non stick pan for 4 - 5 minutes on a low - medium heat until golden. Allow to cool.
- Once the rice has fully cooled, place in a bowl and mix with the cream cheese or mayonnaise, vinegar and sesame seeds.
- Place the nori on a bamboo mat or clingfilm. Add the rice, leaving about 1 cm at the two opposing seal edges. Layer the cucumber, pepper, avocado and smoked salmon and once edge and tightly roll using the mat. Brush the sealing edge with a little water and press to seal. Slice into rounds with a sharp knife and repeat for the second roll.
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First published August 2020. Republished in August 2022.