Make these easy Vegetarian Sushi Bowls for a quick meal inspired by veggie sushi rolls. Tofu is tossed in a sesame and soy marinade, then baked with cornstarch until crispy. It’s served with sushi rice, tons of fresh vegetables, protein-packed edamame, and a spicy Sriracha mayo. You won’t believe how quick and easy they are to make!
These Vegetarian Sushi Bowls can stand in for your favorite sushi takeout and take no time to toss together. Packed with plenty of whole grains, veggies, and protein, these sushi bowls check all the boxes for an easy healthy meal.
These plant-based sushi bowls are the best of both worlds between fancy (and rather expensive) sushi rolls and an easy-to-make recipe. While most people think of shrimp or salmon when it comes to sushi, we thought we would show off how easy it is to make a vegetarian version.
This recipe delivers big on flavor and textures thanks to the crispy baked tofu, fluffy sushi rice, tender vegetables, and silky-smooth pieces of avocado.
The reason we love this recipe so much is that it’s incredibly affordable. For one, you don’t need any fancy sushi-making equipment. Plus, tofu is one of the most budget-friendly proteins you can buy.
Serve your sushi bowls as a quick weeknight meal, or meal prep the ingredients for easy lunches all week long.
Why You’ll Love Vegetarian Sushi Bowls
- Diet-friendly: This recipe is suitable for vegetarians, and it can easily be adapted to be vegan and gluten-free with a few simple swaps.
- Healthy: Vegetarian sushi bowls are filled with plant-based protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. They’re a great way to eat the rainbow!
- Simple: All you have to do is bake tofu and build your sushi bowls. It really doesn’t get much easier than this. You’ll have dinner on the table in no time!
Ingredients and substitutions
Here is everything you need to make these easy sushi bowls.
- Tofu: We recommend firm tofu for the best texture, but extra-firm or medium will work in a pinch. If you use medium tofu, let it press for about 5-10 minutes longer.
- Sesame oil: Adds a nutty, roasted flavor that complements the tofu. You can also use olive oil, but we really recommend sesame oil if you can get your hands on some.
- Soy sauce: Low-sodium soy sauce helps you better control the overall saltiness of the tofu. For a gluten-free option, use tamari, liquid aminos, or coconut aminos.
- Cornstarch: Creates an ultra-crispy crust on the exterior of the baked tofu. Do not skip the cornstarch! Potato starch works as a replacement if you don’t have cornstarch.
- Sushi rice: Make your own sushi rice with freshly steamed Japanese short-grain rice and seasoned rice vinegar. You can also use plain steamed rice, Brown Rice, Cauliflower Rice, or quinoa if you prefer.
- Vegetables: We love the combination of cucumbers, carrots, and edamame, but feel free to experiment with other veggies! Add radishes, peppers, mushrooms, marinated tomatoes, beets, asparagus, zucchini, squash, yams, and anything else you can think of!
- Avocado: There is nothing better than a bite full of buttery and creamy avocado flavors. If you don’t have avocado, you could try cubed mangoes instead!
- Nori: Provides a quintessential salty, savory, and slightly sweet sushi flavor. You should be able to find nori in the Asian food aisle of the store. If not, you will definitely be able to pick some up at an Asian food market.
- Spicy mayo: Mayonnaise adds a rich flavor while Sriracha and rice vinegar provide a spicy tang that put this sushi bowl over the top.
How to Make Vegetarian Sushi Bowls
Follow these steps to make these delicious veggie bowls.
1. Press the tofu
Pressing tofu is an important step in achieving a perfectly crispy final texture. Drain and slice it into slabs, then press them between a kitchen towel or paper towel with something heavy on top.
You can use a tofu press, but I find a cast-iron skillet always does the trick! Let the tofu press while you preheat the oven and prep the other ingredients.
2. Bake the tofu
Once the liquid has drained from the tofu, cut it into cubes and toss it with sesame oil and soy sauce. Don’t forget to toss it with cornstarch as well since this is another key aspect of achieving crispy tofu!
Bake the tofu on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet for just under 30 minutes, or until it is golden brown in color and crisped on all edges.
3. Mix the sauce
Combine the mayo, rice vinegar, and Sriracha to make the spicy mayo sauce. Remember to taste and add more or less of each ingredient to suit your preference.
For a vegan option, you can replace regular mayo with egg-free mayo. A few brands that sell vegan mayo include Follow Your Heart, Chosen Foods, Primal Kitchen, and Hellmann’s. For a bolder flavor, you can add a splash of soy sauce.
4. Build the bowls
Build your bowls with a layer of sushi rice, then tofu, fresh vegetables of your choosing, avocado, and nori strips! Drizzle as much or as little spicy mayo on top as you’d like.
Best Sushi Bowl Toppings
One of our favorite things about sushi bowls is how unique you can make them taste just by switching up the toppings. Some of our absolute favorites include sesame seeds, pickled ginger, wasabi, green onions, and edamame.
If you are strictly vegetarian or vegan, avoid toppings like furikake (rice seasoning) because it contains dried seafood like bonito flakes, dried baby shrimp, or salmon flakes. Some brands also include eggs in their ingredient list.
Storage and Reheating
If you make the ingredients ahead of time or have leftovers, just follow these simple storage tips to get the most out of your vegetarian sushi bowls:
- Fridge: Once the tofu has cooled, transfer it to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Apart from the rice, the other ingredients can be stored separately. This will make it easy to build a bowl the next time you’re ready!
- Freezer: Sushi rice can be frozen for up to 1-2 months. To reheat it, just steam it in the microwave in a heat-safe bowl in 30-second increments.
Veggie Sushi Bowl Variations
- Make it vegan: To make this recipe vegan, swap out regular mayo for egg-free mayo. And don’t forget to omit the furikake.
- Make it gluten-free: Instead of soy sauce on the tofu, use tamari, liquid aminos, or gluten-free soy sauce if you are sensitive to gluten.
- No tofu: If you’re not a fan of tofu but want to keep it vegetarian, other options include hearts of palm, jackfruit, tempeh, seitan, chickpeas, or more edamame.
- Different sauce: If vegan mayo isn’t your thing, try drizzling some soy sauce, Sriracha, yuzu, or teriyaki sauce over top. You could also make a poke sauce if you don't like mayonnaise. Just combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and Sriracha to taste. Some people add a touch of sweetener as well.
Tips and Recipe Ideas
- Load it with veggies: Add more visual appeal, flavors, and textures by adding lots of veggies to the bowl.
- Quality sushi rice: Since it makes up the base of the bowl, take the time to perfectly cook the sushi rice.
- Sharp knife: Use a sharp knife to cut all of your ingredients precisely and to the same size. It makes the whole eating experience much more enjoyable.
- Make it look nice: You don’t have to do this, but a visually appealing bowl is shown to make food taste better. If you’re not in a rush, take your time!
Meal Prep Ideas
If you decide to make these for meal prep, which I highly recommend, you can make pack everything in advance except for the avocado. To make sure the veggies don't get soggy, sometimes I pack it with the tofu on the bottom of the container. Then I place the right on top of that.
Then all the veggies. This ensures that the spicy mayo sauce won't make any of your vegetables mushy. This works great in a mason jar as well.
How to Make it Vegan
To make a vegan sushi bowl, you just have to make a few small changes to the recipe. First, you will want to swap out the mayonnaise for a vegan mayo.
If you don't like vegan mayo, you can make a vegan poke sauce instead with soy sauce (or coconut aminos), sesame oil, rice vinegar, and Sriracha. If you like a sweet sauce, add some maple syrup or brown sugar.
Not everyone loves tofu so I wanted to offer some alternatives in case you fall into that camp.
- Hearts of palm: I love chopping up hearts of palm and tossing it with the spicy mayo. It is so good and has a similar texture to fish, which is kind of fun.
- Jackfruit: Now that you can get canned jackfruit almost everywhere, it is another good option. Tossed with the spicy mayo, it is pretty delicious.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is another good option. Personally, I like to cut it up into very small pieces since it can be rather chewy in large chunks.
- Chickpeas: Although not my favorite for this recipe, chickpeas do work and add fiber and protein.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about these tofu sushi bowls.
A lot of the flavors in this recipe come from seasoned sushi rice, but you can use regular steamed rice or any rice you prefer.
Yes, you can make the sushi rice, chop the vegetables, and bake the tofu ahead of time. It’s best to keep everything in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. When you’re ready, simply assemble the bowls and add your sauces or seasonings.
Vegetarian Sushi Bowls
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- 14 oz extra firm tofu
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice
- 1 cup cucumber, diced
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 2 sheets nori seaweed, cut into strips
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (or half Greek yogurt)
- 2 tsp Sriracha (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar (more to taste)
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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Drain the tofu and use a kitchen towel to press out some of the liquid. Then slice the tofu into slabs, about 1 inch thick. Place the slabs on a kitchen towel or paper towel. Fold the towel on top of the tofu slices. Place something heavy, like a cast-iron skillet, on top. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to press out as much moisture as possible. You can also use a tofu press.
Once “dried,” cut the tofu into cubes. Toss with the sesame oil and soy sauce. Then toss with the cornstarch, ensuring the pieces are all lightly coated with cornstarch. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through until golden brown and crispy. .
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
The photos also include some seaweed salad, kale, and pea shoots. Feel free to add any vegetables and toppings you like.
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