Make some healthy sushi using this NO-FAIL brown sushi rice guide. This brown sticky rice is perfect for sushi, dessert, rice bowls, and more! If you want to make the perfect fluffy but sticky rice, wait no more!

Rice paddle scooping up healthy brown sushi rice, with a bowl of sticky rice in the background.

Why You Will Love This Sushi Brown Rice

  • πŸ₯— Healthy & Nutritious: Brown rice is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making it a healthier alternative to your regular sushi/sticky rice.
  • πŸ“‹ Clear Instructions: Step-by-step guide (including photos!) makes the process a breeze.
  • πŸ‘ No-Fail: Get perfect results every single time.
  • 🍣 Sushi for All: Enjoy the beloved sushi experience, including those who prefer whole grains.
  • 🌟 Versatile Dish: You can also skip the sushi seasoning mixture and get sticky brown rice for your grain bowls, dessert pudding, and more!
A bowl of brown sushi rice in a white dish plate, with a bamboo sushi mat underneath.


Just two ingredients to make the perfect brown sticky rice:

  • Short Grain Brown Rice: The star ingredient! Be sure to use short-grain rice to make sure that they are sticky.
    • The longer the grains are, the less starch they contain, meaning that the rice will be less sticky. This is why basmati (a type of long-grain rice) is so fluffy and won’t typically stick together!
  • Water: To cook the rice in!
Short grain brown rice, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt with labels.

And if you’d like to make brown rice sushi, you also need:

  • Rice Vinegar: The classic vinegar used in sushi rice seasoning.
  • Sugar: Adds sweetness to the sushi rice.
  • Salt: A natural flavor enhancer!

Check the FAQ section below for ingredient substitutions!

Will any rice work for sushi?

No, not any rice will work for sushi. You need rice that sticks to make sushi.

So for a healthier alternative to sticky sushi rice, you can use:

  • short-grain brown rice, or
  • 1 part short-grain white rice (regular sushi rice) + 1 part regular brown rice

Having said that, traditional Japanese sushi is rarely cooked using brown rice. Although Japanese do eat brown rice since it’s healthier, 99% of the time, authentic Japanese sushi uses regular white sushi rice.

Three bowls of short grain white rice (regular sushi rice), short grain brown rice, and medium grain/regular brown rice.

Where can I buy short-grain brown rice?

Short-grain brown rice is available in supermarkets, or in organic shops. One trick I learned is that you do NOT want to necessarily look for one labelled as “brown sushi rice”. Usually, they are just labelled as “brown short grain rice”.

However, short grain rice varieties are stickier and therefore also work in sushi recipes, even if they are not labelled as “sushi rice”. So don’t be fooled by labels, and just make sure that your rice has short grains like the picture above!

Close-up of short grain brown sticky rice taken from above.

Is sticky brown rice healthy?

In general, brown rice has more nutrients than white rice, making it a healthy alternative. Eating brown rice reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and improves heart health, as explained in this WebMD article. It is also rich in fiber and studies conclude that whole grains could reduce heart disease risk by up to 22%. Talking about plant power! 🌱

How to Make Brown Rice Sushi

Cook the rice either in a rice cooker or on the stovetop using 1.5 to 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice.

If you’re cooking your rice on the stovetop, cooking it covered gives the best results. But to be honest, if I leave mine covered, I sometimes forget that I’m cooking rice, risking the rice to burn. So most of the time, I cook it uncovered and it always turns out fine!

After your rice has cooked, cover the pot with a lid for 5 minutes. This traps the steam inside the pot, preventing rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

For sticky rice, you’re done here. But if you’re making brown sushi rice, read on!

A small pot of cooked healthy sushi rice taken from above, on top of a pot coaster.

Make the vinegar mixture by combining rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Mix until dissolved, microwaving in 15-second increments if they are not fully dissolved.

Now transfer the cooked rice to a large glass baking dish, a really large bowl, or a hangiri/sushi oke if you have it. Avoid using any metal dish since vinegar reacts with metal.

Pour in the sushi vinegar mixture gradually, gently folding it into the rice with a rice paddle or silicone spatula. Continue folding the rice until all rice grains are coated well.

Do NOT mix the rice vinegar mixture directly into the pot with the uncooked rice. Only add it after the rice is cooked!

Let the rice sit to cool down to room temperature for 10-15 minutes. You can also use a fan to speed up the process.

Do NOT skip this cooling down step since warm rice makes the nori sheet soft and harder to roll!

And that’s all, you get yourself the perfect Brown Sushi Rice, always at any time! Now if you want inspiration on how to serve this, check out some of my sushi recipes below for inspiration!

A simple bowl of brown sushi rice in a large white bowl, on a white marbled background.

No-Fail Tips

  • Follow Package Instructions: There are so many varieties of brown rice and any good brand would give accurate instructions, so always follow this first.
  • Correct Water to Rice Ratio: If the package instructions is missing, stick to the recommended 1.5 to 2 cups of water per 1 cup of brown rice.
    • Remember that cooking rice is NOT like cooking pasta! You do NOT want to rinse the rice after cooking. You should be able to measure just the correct amount of water so there will be no need of draining.
  • Use a Timer: Brown rice takes longer than white rice to cook, with some taking up to 30 minutes. You can not speed up this process so just use a timer so you won’t burn your rice!
    • And in the meantime, you can prepare the other ingredients needed to make your sushi!
A bowl of healthy brown sushi rice in a white bowl on top of a sushi mat, taken at an angle.

Gimme the Sushi Recipes!

Ok ok I hear you! Here are my top 3 recipes using brown sushi rice:

Or go simple with these maki rolls: Kappa Maki (Cucumber Roll), Natto Roll, or Umeshiso Roll. Or try my Mango Avocado sushi, or my Inari Avocado Roll where you don’t need a sushi mat to get sushi!

I’m not in the mood for sushi. What other recipes can I make with my sticky brown rice?

Try making some rice porridge/pudding, or make something like the Thai mango sticky rice! You can also just use it in your grain bowls, like in this Poke Rice Bowl.

A bowl of brown sticky rice on top of sushi mat with chopsticks, rice grains, and a brown napkin around it.

Storage and Meal Prep Instructions

Storage: Store your cooked brown sushi rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Meal Prep: Brown rice is perfect for a healthy meal prep! Make a large batch and store it in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Scooping up brown sticky rice in a baking dish using a white rice paddle.

FAQ (Ingredient Subs + Other Questions)

Brown rice retains the bran and germ layers, making it have more bit to it and therefore chewier when compared to white rice.

Yes, but adjust cooking times accordingly.

Diluted white vinegar (2 parts white vinegar to 1 part water) can be used as a substitute. Other clear vinegars may impart a subtle flavor, such as an apple-like aroma with apple cider vinegar.

If you don’t have sugar, you can use any flavorless sweetener of your choice. However, sweeteners with intrinsic flavors like honey or maple syrup will slightly alter the taste of the rice (e.g., honey’s taste or maple syrup’s mapley flavor), so keep that in mind when using them.

Also note that honey is technically not vegan, if you’d like to be more conscious of that!

Absolutely! Just be sure to NOT add the rice vinegar mixture to the instant pot metal insert since vinegar reacts with metal.

No you don’t have to. Washing the rice also removes the starch, making it less sticky, which is why I don’t recommend doing so if you want sticky brown rice.

Healthy brown sticky rice on a baking dish with a white plastic rice paddle, taken from above.

Want More Vegan Asian Recipes?

Look no further! For all of my sushi recipes, check them out here in the Recipe Index.

This brown rice is also great when served with my Easy Marinated Tofu. And if you add some vegetables, you basically have this Healthy Poke Rice Bowl within minutes! One more thing, since we Indonesians love our rice, this also pairs great with my Indonesian Crumbled Tempeh for a quick weeknight meal!

Healthy Brown Sushi Rice (Brown Sticky Rice): Your ULTIMATE Guide

A bowl of healthy brown sushi rice that will get sticky, on top of sushi mat with chopsticks.
Make some healthy sushi using this NO-FAIL brown sushi rice guide. This brown sticky rice is perfect for sushi, dessert, rice bowls, and more!
Jem @ The Fruity Jem
Cook Time 30 minutes
Cooling Down Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Serving Size 4 servings


  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 1.5 to 2 cups water or according to package's instructions

For the Sushi Seasoning (only if you're making sushi rice, skip otherwise)

  • 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop according to package instructions. For general instruction, use 1 cup of brown rice with 1.5 to 2 cups of water.
  • If you're cooking your rice on the stovetop, cover your pot with a lid once your rice is cooked. This step lets the cooked rice steam for about 5 minutes, preventing the rice from sticking to the bottom of your pot.
    If you only want brown sticky rice, you're basically done here, but read on if you want brown sushi rice!

(Optional) Only If You're Making Sushi Rice

  • Meanwhile the rice is cooking, combine rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Mix well until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
    If they are not fully dissolved, microwave in 15-second increments.
  • Then transfer the cooked rice to a baking dish, a really large bowl, or a wooden hangiri. Gradually pour the vinegar mixture into the rice while gently folding and mixing with a rice paddle or silicone spatula. Be careful not to mash the rice. Continue folding until the rice is well-coated.
  • Let seasoned rice cool down to room temperature, for about 10-15 minutes. You can also use a fan to make this step faster, but do NOT skip this step. Warm rice softens the nori sheet, making it harder to roll the sushi.
    That's all, you're done!


Please scroll up to the post above for more detailed explanation about tips to make this recipe no-fail, the types of rice you can use, ingredients substitutions, cooking techniques, serving suggestions, and more!

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  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this guide! It’s so hard to find brown sushi recipe that works but this one does!!