Do you eat onigiri cold? Often yes, but it’s delicious hot as well

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  September 11, 2021

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Onigiri is a very popular food in Japan, often viewed in their culture as to how Americans view sandwiches because of its convenience.

They are rice that has been molded into cylindrical shapes and wrapped in seaweed. Each one will have a different filling, often using seafood, meats, or vegetables.

While pickled plum and tuna-mayo seem to be some of the more popular flavors, there are many to choose from.

Many people who aren’t familiar with onigiri wonder how it’s served. Do you eat onigiri cold?

Do you eat onigiri cold? Often yes, but it's delicious hot as well

Japanese people will usually eat onigiri served cold. If you ever take a trip to Japan, you may notice onigiri in fridges at almost every place you visit. This is because it’s one of their staple go-to foods when they need a quick bite to eat.

One of Japan’s most popular foods

After a day in Japan, it’s not hard to tell that the people living there love onigiri. When touring the cities, you can find it just about anywhere you go.

From restaurants to train stations, and even convenience stores. Japanese convenience stores are known as conbini.

Japanese people are always on the go, so it’s likely you’ll find a conbini on every block. In every conbini, there is plenty of onigiri.

Upon entering a conbini, it’s common to see a nice variety of ready-to-eat onigiri for sale in their refrigerators. Onigiri is made to be eaten the day of, and customers can enjoy them cold from the refrigerator.

Also read: Where to buy onigiri (and can I buy it online)?

Should onigiri be eaten cold?

While it’s common to eat onigiri cold, you can serve it either hot or cold. Many people prefer to eat it when served hot because grilled onigiri has a very tasty crispy texture.

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When onigiri is cold, it is softer and doesn’t have that appetizing crunch to it. However, eating it hot or cold is a matter of preference.

Meat eaters usually prefer to eat hot onigiri because the fat in pork and beef settles. Often when they try to eat a cold meat-filled onigiri, the texture is similar to biting into butter.

A lot of people are turned off by that greasy and chunky texture. For this reason, it’s better to eat meat onigiris when they’re hot.

However, vegetarian or seafood-filled onigiri can be just as enjoyable cold as they are when they’ve been grilled.

A lot of people will say that the taste of onigiri is so delicious, it doesn’t matter if they are hot or cold.

Read next: How to make triangle onigiri | Recipe + info for this traditional Japanese snack

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.