Sushi vs. Maki? What are the differences, or are they the same?

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  December 23, 2020

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Have you ever tried Sushi? What about Maki? If you want to know what Sushi Maki is, keep reading for insight on this Japanese dish.

A lot of people ask, is Maki and Sushi the same? Sushi vs. Maki, what are the differences exactly?

If you’ve ever seen Sushi on the menu as well as Maki, just know that Maki is just one of the types of Sushi that you can order. Maki is the fish or vegetable with rice rolled in nori (seaweed). But there are other types of sushi besides maki.

sushi vs maki

Read all about the different kinds of sushi in our in-depth post here

The recipe requires the use of vinegar rice for the preparation with added ingredients i.e., salt and sugar.

The meal usually accompanies plenty of other edibles like, often with some sugar and salt, attending a variety of ingredients like vegetables and seafood.

Even tropical fruits are used occasionally with it.

The garnishing is extensive with sushi, and the flavor is enhanced with the use of vinegar.

Sushi vs. Maki

This Japanese dish, Sushi is made out of rice and is often confused with Maki. The ones who confuse it with maki should know that Maki is a variant or a kind of Sushi.

Basically Maki is the name for sushi rolls, you most commonly find in the West.

Another common name for it is rolled Sushi. Typically, when someone wants to try Japanese cuisine, Sushi is at the top of the list. The variety of sushi dishes is endless.

Sushi, especially sushi rolls are famous all around the world. I think the most common image that comes to mind when you think of maki is the California roll, although maki is most often used to describe the small and simple sushi rolls with nori on the outside.

The California roll is a sushi roll filled with imitation crab meat called surimi, cucumber, and avocado. It’s most popular in America and Western Europe and is not Japanese.

Learn all about the differences between American and Japanese sushi in our post here

Well, let us clear up the old sushi versus maki conflict. As stated earlier, Sushi is the main rice dish of Japan, maki, on the other hand, is a sushi type – rolled sushi.

The former comes garnished with additives like seafood, vegetables, and vinegar flavor.

Another exciting presentation of Sushi is as a roll inside nori, which happens to be a compressed well-dried sheet of seaweed.

Brief History of Sushi Maki

The exciting fact presented by google is the name Hanya Yohei, who is the creator of Sushi. This famous dish of today was initially presented in Tokyo, which was known as Edo at that time.

The man behind this fantastic yet delicious creation is Hanaya Yohei. Soon after the development, it was named after Edomae Zushi finding its name in the name of fish from where it was taken.

Read more: Hanaya Yohei’s rebel history

This very fish used in the recipe was taken from Edomae or now known as Tokyo Bay.

Maki sushi appeared around the time that Nori, or seaweed sheets were invented in the 1750s. Since the Nori was easy to use, people started to experiment.

The first rolled sushi was invented and it was a mix of rice and other seasoned ingredients.

The word “makizushi” first appears in 1749 in a book called Ryōri Sankaikyō (料理山海郷). It did not refer to the same Maki dish we are familiar with these days.

It was the term for seafood rolled with the aid of a bamboo mat.

But, the concept is still similar to modern maki.

Who invented the Maki?

As you just read, a variant of the Maki was invented many centuries ago. The Gunkan Maki, a special type of Maki was invented in 1941 at the Ginza Kyubey restaurant. They began to serve rolled sushi with a large variety of ingredients and toppings. It really made the maki popular all over Japan.

What is Maki in Japanese?

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Maki is the Japanese word for “roll”. That’s why sushi maki is translated into a sushi roll. Maki is an abbreviation of the word Makizushi.

Is Maki raw fish?

There is a common misconception that Maki is a raw fish dish but it’s not necessarily true. Maki rolls can contain raw fish as their ingredient. However, Maki is not a term for raw fish. You can find sushi maki with all kinds of fillings, including raw fish, other seafood, meats, and vegetables.

If you think about Maki as raw fish, you’re mistaking it for sashimi – a raw fish dish. It is served without rice and contains raw slices of fish, especially tuna or salmon.

How do you eat Maki?

There are two ways to eat Maki sushi.

The first: use chopsticks to grab a one roll at a time. You can dip the roll in soy sauce then eat it.

The second: use your hands and grab a roll. Place it between your thumb and middle finger and lift it to your mouth.

What is in Sushi and how is it prepared?

Sushi is known as a rice-based dish. The main ingredient is sticky rice. The sushi rice has a unique appearance that is short and sticky, as seen with Japanese grain.

The complementary components can be fish, chicken, pork, seafood, and vegetables. These can serve both as a topping or a filler.

The flavor may be enhanced with condiments, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.

Sushi has gained popularity all around the globe. The most common sushi rolls are the Dragon roll and the California roll in the West.

Technically, it has two main parts: One is shari and another called neta.

The two components of Sushi are:

What are the three types of Sushi?

Most people are familiar with the 3 types of sushi because they are popular worldwide.

  1. Maki – the rolled-up sushi, wrapped in Nori (seaweed).
  2. Nigiri – Sliced raw fish on top of a ball of rice.
  3. Sashimi – Sliced raw fish served on its own without rice.

Then what is in Maki?

Other types of maki sushi:sushi vs maki

The maki follows exactly the same recipe, like that seen with Sushi. But then why do we have a different name for it?

Also read: here are the best sushi kits reviewed

So here lies the answer, maki comes in a wrapping which is sushi presented in nori.

Are there any variants of Maki?

Yes, various kinds and subdivisions of maki also, just like Sushi. Maki has different names depending on the size of the roll.

Some of them are listed below:

What are the other types of Maki and Sushi?

So the case with Sushi is that there are several types. These are catered and presented all over the globe.

They also come with a unique flavor, name, and presentation, making it a different class altogether.

Also read: sushi for beginners, a complete guide

Sushi Maki Recipe: California Roll

The California roll is an American invention or take on sushi rolls. It is one of the most popular menu items at sushi restaurants across the Western world.

It’s not difficult to make, so you can actually make it at home. Here is the recipe.

sushi vs maki

Sushi Maki California Roll

Joost Nusselder
The recipe for the world-famous California roll.
No ratings yet
Servings 4


For the Sushi Rice

  • 1 ⅓ cup sushi rice
  • cups water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • tsp salt

For the filling

  • 8 ounces imitation crab meat sticks
  • 3 sheets Nori seaweed sheets
  • ½ English cucumber
  • 1 avocado
  • tsp sesame seeds toasted


  • Rinse and cook the sushi rice for 15 minutes on low heat. Let it sit for 15 minutes if not cooked in a rice cooker.
  • In a bowl, microwave the salt, sugar, and vinegar for short 15 second bursts twice until all solids are melted.
  • Cut the Nori sheets in half. Unwrap the crab meat.
  • Cut the cucumber into thin sticks about 1/3 inches wide.
  • Peel and cut the avocado into thin sticks 1/3 inches wide like the cucumber.
  • Place the rice into a large bowl and mix in the vinegar mixture.
  • Dampen hands with water. Place the Nori sheet on a bamboo mat. Place the sheet with the long side lined up with the mat's bottom.
  • Put 1/6th of the rice onto the Nori and press to even out the rice to the edges of the sheet.
  • Sprinkle the rice with a small amount of sesame seeds.
  • Add the rest of your filling ingredients to the sheet. Add only a small portion on each sheet to avoid overstuffing.
  • Fold the top half of the mat over and press to make the rice compact.
  • Fold the bottom part as well until the top and bottom are touching. The mat should completely wrap your roll.
  • Now start rolling the sushi roll away from you. The roll should be completely round.
  • Take of the bamboo mat and cut up your roll into 6 pieces with a damp cool knife. Then cut each roll in half crosswise.
  • Serve sushi within an hour for a fresh taste.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Also read: learn how to make the perfect sushi sauce with one of our recipes

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.