Sushi Roll VS Hand Roll: How Are They Different?

Sushi is one of the most popular dishes in Japanese cuisine. It’s recognizable and famous all around the world. While many people see sushi as essentially including fish, the key ingredient of the recipe is actually vinegared rice.

The recipe often contains seafood or fish, though it’s not a necessity. Two common ways of serving sushi are as sushi roll and hand roll.

Though often confused as being different recipes, a comparison of sushi roll vs hand roll shows that the difference isn’t all about the recipe, but it’s very much related to serving. 

Let’s take a deeper look to get a better understanding of the difference between sushi roll and hand roll.

Sushi Roll vs Hand Roll – The Major Points

The Serving Size Is The Key To Hand Roll vs Sushi Roll

Sushi roll, also known as maki, is usually served in small pieces cut out of a roll. Generally, each roll is divided into six to eight pieces. 

The word maki literally translates to rolled sushi, while norimaki translates to nori roll. As such, the rolled sushi, or sushi roll, involves a preparation of sushi that has been rolled into a cylindrical or tubular shape. Generally, the roll is wrapped in a layer of roasted seaweed, called nori. 

Once properly rolled, the dish is cut into six to eight pieces, thus forming the serving of sushi roll. Conventionally, this roll is eaten using chopsticks.

Hand roll, also known as temaki, is quite similar. A layer of nori is covered with sushi rice, then topped with fish or other fillings. It’s then rolled into a conical shape. The cone is somewhat small and is intended to be eaten directly by hand. 

To sum up, a sushi roll provides six to eight pieces and is intended for consumption using chopsticks. On the other hand, a hand roll is smaller in size, conical in shape, and is intended as a single serving for one person. It’s usually eaten by hand. 

What Is A Hand Roll Sushi?

To put it rather simply, hand roll sushi is a serving of sushi wrapped in nori (roasted seaweed). The overall shape of this wrap is conical and its serving size is usually for one person. The general method for eating it is to hold the cone in the hand and eat the hand roll sushi directly. 

A cone of hand roll sushi is usually smaller than a sushi roll. The reason is simple; hand roll sushi has a serving size for one person, while the sushi roll is intended to serve more than one person.

What Is A Sushi Roll?

Sushi roll is a very popular Japanese dish. To make this dish, sushi rice (vinegared rice) is layered with fish or other fillings. Then, this combo is wrapped in a roll of seaweed (nori) and given a cylindrical shape. 

Often, cooks use bamboo mats to give shape to the roll. This also has the advantage of keeping the seaweed, rice, and fillings in place. This approach results in a classic sushi roll look, with the outer layer of seaweed followed by a thick layer of rice, while showing off the filling in the center.

Once the roll is ready, it’s cut into six to eight pieces. The idea here is to serve the dish to multiple people. It’s recommended to use chopsticks for eating sushi rolls.

Summing Up Differences Between Sushi Roll And Hand Roll

Sushi roll and hand roll both use the same ingredients and are pretty much the same recipe. The key difference here is in the serving and portion size. Here are the points of note:

  • Shape: Sushi roll is usually cylindrical or tubular, while hand roll is conical.
  • Preparation: Once prepared, the sushi roll is cut into several pieces, while the hand roll is not cut.
  • Serving: Sushi rolls are consumed using chopsticks. Hand rolls are meant to be consumed by hand.
  • Portion Size: An average sushi roll is large and intended for more than one person. A hand roll represents a single serving for one person.


How Many Calories Are In A Roll Of Sushi?

The amount of calories in a roll of sushi depends on several factors. These include the size of the roll, its ingredients, and toppings. Changes to either of these could alter the overall calorie count or nutrition content of a sushi roll. 

Sushi rolls that contain fish, veggies, and don’t include extra sauces, tend to have a lower calorie count. On average, you can expect an 8-piece sushi roll to have somewhere between 250-300 calories.

How Many Pieces Of Sushi Are In A Roll?

There is no set number of pieces of sushi in a roll. The number really depends on how many pieces you want to cut and how big of a roll you start with. Conventionally, a roll results in six to eight pieces. However, many rolls also offer 10 pieces or more.

How To Roll Sushi Without A Mat?

There are many ways to roll sushi without a mat. A simple idea is to use a parchment paper bigger than the nori. Use the parchment paper as leverage to roll the nori and thus create your wonderful sushi rolls. 

Another useful idea is to use a thick towel in place of the bamboo mat. Place the towel under the nori and leverage it to fold the sushi roll.

How To Eat A Hand Roll?

A hand roll can be eaten directly by hand. The best way to eat the temaki is to hold it in your hand, then take a bit off the wider and open section. In a way, it’s quite similar to eating a taco. You could also think of the conical temaki as similar to an ice cream cone and eat it the way you would eat the cone.

How To Make A Hand Roll?

To make a sushi hand roll, start by placing the piece of norimaki on a flat surface. Now, spread the rice over the nori (seaweed). You don’t have to cover the entire area of the seaweed with rice. 

It might be a good idea to leave about a quarter to one third of the seaweed without the rice. This empty side will become useful when you roll the cone. Keep a few grains of rice to a side, these will be used later to seal the nori. 

Now, add your choice of fillings on top of the rice. These can be veggies, fish, or anything else you prefer. 

Once this is done, lift one corner of the nori (the one with rice and fillings) and place it on the diagonally opposite end that has rice. Remember, there is a portion of nori left when you circle these two parts. Do not attach two diagonally opposite parts of the nori together at this point. Remember, we’re supposed to make it into a cone, not fold it.

Once this part is done, roll the folded cone onto the remaining norimaki. Use a few grains of rice on the nori towards the bottom of the cone. This will help seal it shut. Your sushi hand roll is ready!


As becomes clear in this comparison of sushi roll vs hand roll, they’re both incredibly similar dishes. In fact, the recipe for both of these is exactly the same! The point where they differ is serving.

The sushi roll is made cylindrical, then cut into several pieces meant to be eaten with chopsticks. The hand roll is a relatively smaller, uncut cone. Its portion size is meant for one person and it’s supposed to be eaten by hand.

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