Hand Roll vs Cut Roll Sushi – What’s The Difference?

Most individuals who enjoy fish have had sushi, a delectable Japanese export. Since new sushi establishments are opening daily, many people find comfort in it.

There’s a good possibility that you considered cooking this dish if you like to get your hands dirty in the kitchen. Sushi preparation at home appears simple in theory. You may find recipes on several culinary websites. However, the application might be somewhat difficult.

There are a few things to know before being fully immersed in this Japanese culinary expertise. We will introduce you to the hand-roll and cut-roll methods of making sushi in this article.

Do You Know What Sushi is?

The mention of the word sushi invokes a picture of raw seafood. While seafood is an ingredient in some sushi varieties, it is not the main one. Most types of this dish are vegetarian, featuring veggies and, at times, tofu.

Vinegared sushi rice, also known as sumeshi, is the primary ingredient. Medium-grain white rice is a preferable base. However, short grain and brown rice can also work.

Sushi is a food roll, starting with a sheet of edible seaweed, known as nori. The next layer is a generous serving of sumeshi. The other inclusions are as per your preference. It may include seafood like squid, tuna, octopus, or crab meat. Optionally, you can go all vegetarian and top up the layer with desired vegetables. The ingredients are, most of the time, raw, which gives this food a unique savor.

The sushi chef rolls the layers to set all the ingredients together. Accompanying this meal is a sauce, with soy sauce as the standard base. It is the rolling action that brings us to the two preparation techniques; hand and cut roll.

What is Cut Roll Sushi?

It is a rolling technique that results in a long cylindrical form. In sushi joints, it goes by maki. The name originates from maku, Japanese for coiling. Makizushi or sushi rolls are other names for cut roll sushi. Ingredients include nori, sumeshi, seafood, and vegetables. A bamboo rolling mat is a must-have.

Preparation of this meal starts with setting down the bamboo rolling mat. On the mat, you put the seaweed. A layer of vinegared rice follows, together with seafood and veggies. Once everything is in order, the chef rolls the sushi into shape, aided by the rolling mat.

The result is tubular sushi, around 7-8 inches long. The next step is cutting it into 6 or 8 pieces using a special knife. You now have your maki, commonly served on a wide platter. On the side are soy sauce and gari, which is sweet pickled ginger.

Maki is a communal dish eaten in a group using chopsticks.

What is Hand Roll Sushi?

It is not different from the cut roll type when looking at the ingredients. The contrasting point is the roll. For hand roll sushi, referred to as temaki in Japanese, the result is a cone.

With all items layered on the seaweed sheet, the chef rolls it into a large cone. It is a one-person meal, eaten immediately after dipping in soy sauce.

Cut Roll vs Hand Roll Sushi

The two have a handful of similarities. For instance, their preparation can have the same ingredients. When making this Japanese dish, you must have the seaweed sheet and vinegared rice. For the other additions, your creativity and preferences come to play.

Moreover, you can have them with a sauce of your choice. Soy sauce does justice to sushi, same as wasabi and pickled ginger.

The differences, the most noticeable ones are the sushi shapes and sizes. Cut roll sushi starts with a broadsheet of nori and ends up in a long cylindrical form. After cutting, you get small pieces, which you can eat in a single bite.

Hand roll sushi begins with half the sheet of nori. It ends in a large conical shape that does not require cutting. It can fit on your hand, where you will need several bites to finish it.

The two rolls also differ in the manner of serving. Cut rolls come in a wide platter, suitable for communal eating. You use chopsticks to pick the pieces. Hand rolls come on a smaller plate and are eaten by hand.

You can store the sushi rolls for future consumption. For hand roll sushi, you have to eat it immediately as it may get spoiled.

Preparation of hand roll sushi is easy and fast and does not require complex utensils. On the other hand, cut-roll sushi preparation might be pretty tedious. A bamboo rolling mat is a crucial tool to have. It helps in achieving well-formed rolls.

The other utensil to have is a sushi knife for cutting the roll into small pieces. If in a commercial setting, the chef may need an electric roll cutter. It is an implement that will cut the roll into perfect pieces.

If you want to prepare sushi at home, you can start with the hand-rolled type. It is easy to make and does not require additional utensils. With time, you can shift to the smaller sushi rolls when you are a pro.

Types of Cut Roll Sushi

In your path to becoming a pro sushi maker, you need to know about the existing types. There is a probability that you have had many forms of this delicacy, and you did not know.

The following are other varieties of cut roll sushi.


It is a popular sushi serving characterized by its thin stature, about 1-inch thick. The slenderness is due to it having a single layer of fillings. In total, it has three ingredients, including nori, sumeshi, and an extra layer of your liking. There are other types of Hosomaki, depending on the last filling.

Tekka maki is a standard variety, with the final layer of the sushi being raw tuna. It should be sushi-grade fish. Tsunamayo maki is close to tekka maki. The difference is the latter’s use of canned tuna and some mayonnaise. Negitoro maki uses chopped scallion and tuna.

Related: Does Canned Tuna Go Bad? How Long Does it last?

Vegetarian versions include nakko maki and kappa maki. The former uses soybean filling, while the latter has a cucumber.


When talking about maki, most of the time, the dish is futomaki. It is a common type of cut roll sushi that is thicker than hosomaki. It has plenty of ingredients, going up to ten in extreme situations.

The sticky vinegar rice holds the fillings together. Choice fillings can be avocado, crab sticks, raw seafood, cucumber, and eggs.

A seven-layered futomaki is a delicacy in the Japanese holiday of Setsubun. The holiday marks the beginning of winter. People eat an uncut futomaki facing a particular direction for good luck.

While there are no specific fillings, eel, egg, and shiitake mushrooms are popular. In America, there are futomaki types like the spider roll. Its ingredients are crab meat, mayo, avocado, and cucumber.


The food can best be described as the American sushi version. A noticeable attribute is its inside-out layering. On the outer layer is sumeshi, with nori being inside. It was probably a way for Americans to enjoy the dish as they accustomed their palates to seaweed.

As rice is the outermost layer, uramaki needs immense care when preparing. The Philadelphia roll is a popular uramaki dish. Its fillings are avocado, smoked salmon, and cheese. Additionally, there is the caterpillar roll featuring eel, cucumber, and avocado.

Related: How Many Cups Of Rice In A Pound?

How to Prepare Cut Roll Sushi?

With the right guide, making cut roll sushi is a walk in the park. You need to have all the utilities, such as the sushi knife and bamboo rolling mat. Plus, check that you have all the right ingredients, with seaweed sheets and rice being first on your list.

The Sushi Rice

The first step is preparing rice. Medium-grained white rice works fine. Start by washing it to get rid of starch, which will make it sticky when cooked. When the rice is ready, season it with vinegar to give it the required smack. You may also use a dash of sugar and salt on the rice.

The Filling

With your rice ready, you focus on the fillings. Here you can get creative as you want to get the desired outcome. The ingredients should be fresh, especially when using seafood. Freshness prevents you from contracting diseases, plus the savor will be awesome.

As a beginner, you can start with hosomaki sushi. Use one filling for a taste test. If it’s good, you can feature more fillings.

Items to sample are tuna, raw seafood, avocado, crab meat, and cucumber.

Rolling Maki

The deciding factor of your trial is in rolling. Pro sushi chefs can roll using their hands to get perfectly formed cylinders. This feat might be challenging for you, hence a bamboo rolling mat comes in handy.

Lay down the mat and place the nori, shiny side down. Pick half a cup of rice to cover two-thirds of the nori sheet. Spread the rice evenly so that it is less than 0.75 inches thick. You can dip your fingers in water for easy handling of the sticky rice.

With the rice set, introduce the fillings. Put the fillings in a way that they won’t spill when rolled. Guided by the bamboo mat, roll the sheet gently. The sticky rice will hold all the ingredients together.

Cutting Maki

The final step in having sushi rolls ready is cutting. A sushi knife will do an excellent job in dividing the tube into equal portions. Have a mental picture of the portions and cut gently through the layers.

Wipe the knife’s blade and wet it after every cut. This prevents the rice from sticking to it, making it hard to use. Serve the cut-roll sushi with a sauce of your choice.

Types of Hand Roll Sushi

Unlike maki, temaki does not have further subdivisions. It looks like an ice cream cone due to its conical shape. You should eat it immediately as the rice can make nori soggy then hard when it dries up.

How to Prepare Temaki?

A thing to love with hand roll sushi is how easy it is to prepare it. You do not need any utensils, as your hands will tackle every step.

Have the fillings ready. Prepare any ingredients that you will need to layer up your sushi. Cut the seaweed sheet halfway and place it on your palm. The placement angle should allow for hassle-free rolling when you put the other ingredients.

Layer roughly half a cup of rice on the nori. You can spread it to have a 45-degree layering angle. Introduce the other fillings. Ensure that they are not excess to the point of spilling.

How to Roll Temaki

Hold the bottom part of the sheet and start rolling it into a cone with the help of your palms. Once it forms a perfect cone, place it on a plate. Serve it with pickled ginger, which you will put at the open end of the cone.

Safety Tips

When handling food, you should maintain the highest safety standards. For sushi, you have to be extra keen, especially when dealing with raw ingredients like seafood.

If you have seafood, ensure you get it fresh. Refrigerate it before use as it is quite volatile and may go bad fast. Additionally, handle seafood with different utensils. For example, do not use the same knife to cut fish and veggies. This will prevent cross-contamination.

If there are leftovers, refrigerate or discard them. If there is raw seafood in the sushi, discarding is the ideal way to handle it. Putting it in the fridge can bring about severe complications when consumed.

Moreover, be careful when handling the sushi knife. Its blade is sharp and slight mishandling can be fatal. Also, clean the knife thoroughly before using it on another dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the Difference Between Hand Roll and Cut Roll Sushi?

Rolling refers to the last process of making sushi. There are two techniques of rolling: hand and cut roll. The two techniques also refer to their results. Hand rolling is the simplest way, where you use half of the seaweed sheet.
You place it on your palm and roll it, with its fillings, to a conical shape. The outcome is a large serving, which you eat by hand.

Cut rolling uses the entire sheet of seaweed, giving you tubular sushi. You cut it into small pieces and eat it as a group, using chopsticks.

2. What Type of Sushi is Sashimi?

It is a food closely related to sushi, however, it is not a type of sushi. It consists of thin-sliced raw fish eaten with sauce. Sashimi does not have rice or seaweed sheet.

3. Is Nigiri the Same as Maki?

In Japanese, maki is cut roll sushi and is a common delicacy in most restaurants. Nigiri is a dish close to sushi that many people wrongly classify under uramaki. The confusion is due to having uncovered rice.

Nigiri consists of a serving of rice, topped up with raw fish. There is no rolling, so we may consider it a different type of food.

4. Is it Safe to Eat Sushi?

Sushi is safe to eat if well prepared. It may be risky if there are raw ingredients, mostly seafood. Nevertheless, there is no need to worry if everything is fresh and you followed the right steps when making it.


Sushi is a delicacy that never disappoints. With a suitable sauce, it can easily be your comfort dish. You may take the love of this Japanese creation a notch higher by grasping its recipe.

To be a pro sushi maker, you have to master the rolling techniques. In this article, we introduce you to hand roll and cut roll sushi. It is a reference to the method of getting the sushi into shape. Go through the techniques and pick one to try for your next recipe.

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