Sushi Without Raw Fish: Easy California Rolls

As an Amazon Affilate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.

What is sushi without raw fish called? California Rolls! Made with rice, avocado, cucumber, nori, and surimi, these rolls are a great introduction to the wonderful world of sushi – especially for people who are a bit squeamish about eating raw fish. They are also fun for kids to make for lunch!

California rolls on a plate.

As an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn a small commission on products I recommend.

This summer, my 11-year-old daughter Sophie decided she wanted to learn how to make California Rolls. I was happy to teach her how to make something easy that she could prepare on her own for school lunches.  

I had some left-over brown rice, an avocado and a cucumber. We popped out to the grocery store to grab a package of nori and some surimi.

If you have an 11 year old, I don’t need to tell you about them. They know everything already. I showed her once, and then she wanted to make them all the time… By herself, thank you very much!

Girl with a mouthful of California Roll.

My 17-year-old, Emma, started asking her sister to make the rolls for her. Then she wanted to learn for herself, so Sophie taught her. They make the rolls themselves, but sometimes fight about the “proper” rolling technique. 

Will their lunches be “perfect?” No. Do they have to be? No, as long as they’ll eat them! They love having “fancy” sushi without raw fish for their school lunches.

Spreading rice onto a piece of nori, (seaweed).

How to Make Sushi Without Raw Fish

To make California Rolls, you’ll need:

  • 3 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package Nori (seaweed)
  • Cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • Sliced avocado
  • Wasabi mayonnaise or wasabi paste
  • Surimi (crabmeat alternative)
Ingredients needed to make California rolls.

Let me preface this by saying I am not a trained sushi chef, so don’t write to me and tell me it’s not “authentic.” My recipe is simply a fun and delicious way to enjoy sushi without raw fish.

Start by adding a thin layer of cooked, cooled rice to a piece of nori. Spread it out to the edges. If you want, add some wasabi or wasabi mayonnaise on top of the rice.

Spreading rice and wasabi mayonnaise on a piece of nori (seaweed).

Top the rice with a layer of surimi. Surimi is often referred to as “imitation crab meat,” but it’s actually made with real seafood – usually wild Alaska pollock. It’s a great source of protein! You can get organic, wild-caught surimi at Whole Foods, either in chunks or in the cylinder form.

Surimi added on top of the rice.

Add thin slices of cucumber and avocado.

Cucumber and avocado added on top of the rice.

Roll away from you, using the bamboo mat to help make the roll tight.

Rolling the California Rolls on a bamboo mat.

Once rolled, slice into 6 or 8 bite-sized pieces and enjoy!

Cutting the California Roll into bite-sized pieces.

If you want to make this sushi without fish, simply omit the surimi and add in something you like such as chicken, cream cheese, tofu or carrots.

I hope you like making these easy California rolls!

Easy California Rolls - California rolls are a great introduction to eating sushi, because they don't have any raw fish in them! | @whatagirleats

California Rolls

California Rolls are sushi without raw fish. So easy, an 11 year old can make them!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer
Cuisine California/Asian
Servings 6 people
Calories 137 kcal


  • 3 cups cooked sushi rice
  • 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 ounces imitation crab rolls
  • 1 large cucumber peeled and sliced into thin strips
  • 2 Tablespoons wasabi paste
  • avocado Sliced
  • 6 pieces seaweed sheets


  • Make the brown rice ahead of time. Whisk rice vinegar and sugar together and toss with cooled rice.
  • Layer rice on top of nori.
  • Spread a thin layer of wasabi or wasabi mayonnaise.
  • Add strips of surimi, cucumber and avocado.
  • Roll tightly and cut into 6 pieces. Serve with soy sauce and pickled ginger.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 137kcalCarbohydrates: 28gProtein: 4gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 219mgPotassium: 104mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 87IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 16mgIron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts


  1. I never tried sushis myself but now that I see your recipe step by step whipped up by a 13th year old girl, I have to try as well! Thank for a great recipe and Happy Birthday to your daughter 🙂 -Del

  2. I love this post Cynthia. For multiple reasons. “knowing that they will mimic my actions, and will grab the imperfect too.” what a fabulous line. Sophie is adorable and she has inspired me to attempt sushi at home. We’re huge fans. Thanks for sharing. xo

  3. I don’t have a roller mat so I just put the ingredients in a row, and just get all the requisite portions of each into my mouth before eating. It tastes remarkably similar. Sushi a la carte, sort of.

  4. 5 stars
    Yahhh! I’ve been tryingg to find cooked sushi rolls for while I’m pregnant. Thank u for making these recipes.

5 from 2 votes (1 rating without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating