Food Fondles

Is Sushi Gluten Free? A Roll Of Clarity: Find Out The Gluten Free Status Here

Probably the most well known Japanese dish, sushi is very popular worldwide. But is sushi gluten free? The answer is it can be depending on the ingredients. Sushi can be very versatile and healthy, filled with many different ingredients such as avocado, cucumber and other vegetables to meat and seafood such as tuna. If you have a gluten intolerance or are celiac, it is imperative to know if every ingredient of your favourite sushi is gluten free. In this article, I will tell you what to look out for, and potential sources of gluten in your favourite sushi.

What is sushi?

Sushi originates in Japan and is a rolled food consisting of seasoned rice, with rice vinegar, salt and sugar, nori paper and fillings of seafood, chicken and/or vegetables. Often the seafood, such as tuna or salmon, can be raw. Whilst the rice and nori are naturally gluten free, it is important to understand if the fillings themselves can contain gluten. 

Is sushi rice gluten free?

Sushi rice, or Japanese medium grain rice, is a particular type of rice that is used for sushi making. The sushi is seasoned with rice vinegar, salt and sugar. When sushi rice is cooked, it is a sticky consistency, due to the higher starch content. Sushi rice is gluten free, and seasonings such as rice vinegar, salt and sugar should also be gluten free. 

Look out for gluten in Sushi:


Tempura is typically shellfish or various vegetables coated in a batter and fried. This is not gluten free as tempura batter contains wheat flour. You will find some sushi flavours consisting of tempura or coated prawns. 

Imitation crab or crab sticks

A popular sushi filling, imitation crab meat often contains gluten due to its starch content, which is predominantly wheat flour. Don’t get me wrong, you can find crab sticks in your supermarket that do not have wheat flour in them, however when buying your favourite Californian roll at your local sushi joint, you do not know which crab sticks they have used. I tend to avoid any sushi roll with imitation crab for this reason.

Soy sauce

The age old condiment that gets us gluten free people every time. Soy sauce is not gluten free. Those who are not gluten intolerant have a hard time understanding this! Avoid dipping your sushi into soy sauce unless the restaurant can provide you with gluten free soy sauce. Alternatively, bring your own!

Teriyaki sauce

One of the most popular sushi fillings is teriyaki chicken. Teriyaki sauce contains soy sauce which renders it not suitable for those with a gluten allergy. Unless specified, teriyaki chicken sushi is not gluten free.

Japanese omelette

This one came as a surprise to me. My local favourite sushi place told me I could not get the prawn avocado and Japanese omelette sushi due to there being gluten in it. Unfortunately, they use flour to thicken up the omelette and add soy sauce to create flavour. 

Katsu chicken

Another popular sushi filling, Katsu chicken is coated in panko breadcrumbs, which are not gluten free. Avoid katsu chicken sushi.

Gluten free sushi fillings:

Raw tuna or salmon

Salmon or tuna sushi is naturally gluten free. Raw seafood is very popular in Japan. Not to everyone’s taste, but this sushi is delicious and full of flavour from raw seafood. 

Any Vegetable

Vegetables such as cucumber and avocado are popular sushi fillings you will find at almost every sushi restaurant. Most places have vegetable maki or sushi. 

Cooked Tuna

This sushi filling is my favourite. I love cooked tuna sushi. The tuna is usually mixed with Japanese mayonnaise, making for the most perfectly salted and tangy filling for sushi. 

Cooked Prawns

Another favourite of mine, if the prawns are boiled or cooked with no coating or marinade then this filling is gluten free. Usually accompanied by a vegetable such as avocado, the prawn adds a perfect crunch to the soft rice and avocado.

Gluten Free Sushi Recipe

Making sushi is very easy! See below recipe and instructions for making gluten free sushi. The method is slightly adapted from Gluten Free Cuppa Tea.


2 cups sushi rice

2 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

Japanese mayo

Sushi fillings – cooked tuna, vegetables, prawns, any gluten free filling of your choice!



Gluten Free Soy Sauce

Pickled Ginger


  1. Wash and cook the sushi rice. Usually, sushi rice needs more water than other rice, so it is 1 cup of sushi rice to 1.5 cups of water. Bring the rice to a boil, then lower the heat and cover for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave for a further 15 minutes, not removing the lid.
  2. Heat the rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar in a saucepan until the salt and sugar has dissolved. 
  3. In the meantime, cut up your vegetables and prepare your filling. If you are making tuna sushi, mix tinned tuna with Japanese mayo. 
  4. Once the rice is cooked, mix the rice vinegar seasoning into the sushi rice. 
  5. Lay out your sushi mat and nori paper (make sure the glossy side of the nori is facing down) and place your sushi rice evenly over the nori. Leave about a centimetre at the end to close off your roll. Have some water near you for dipping your fingers in after you touch the rice as the rice is very sticky!
  6. Add your fillings to the base of the roll.
  7. Roll! Ensure you tuck the end in after the first roll and keep the roll nice and tight.
  8. Wet the centimetre at the end to ensure the roll closes properly.
  9. Use a wet and sharp knife to cut your rolls into pieces of sushi.
  10. Devour and enjoy with pickled ginger, wasabi and gluten free soy sauce!

Want to know which other cuisines are gluten free? See this post!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top