Sushi without cucumber | Order these or make your own to avoid
You’re not alone! Cucumber is one of the most common ingredients in sushi, but it’s not for everyone.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of delicious alternatives that will make your sushi taste just as good – if not better.
Despise the slimy texture of cucumber or its bland taste? Try substituting it with avocado, ginger, or green onion instead. These ingredients will add a new dimension of flavor to your sushi that you never knew was possible.
And don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for help – most Japanese restaurants are more than happy to accommodate requests for custom sushi without cucumber.
So next time you’re craving some sushi, go ahead and order without cucumber – you won’t be disappointed!
But don’t worry, I’m also sharing my favorite sushi roll recipe without a trace of cucumber in sight!
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Can you have sushi without cucumber?
- 2 Does sushi in Japan have cucumber?
- 3 The best alternatives to cucumber in sushi
- 4 Best sushi rolls without cucumber: 16 best rolls
- 4.1 Tuna Roll (Tekka Maki)
- 4.2 Salmon roll
- 4.3 Spicy tuna roll
- 4.4 California crab roll
- 4.5 Traditional spider roll
- 4.6 Unagi roll
- 4.7 Soybean Roll (Natto Maki)
- 4.8 Pickled Daikon Roll (Oshinko Maki)
- 4.9 Salmon and avocado roll
- 4.10 Dried Gourd Roll (Kanpyo Maki)
- 4.11 Yellowtail and Scallion Roll (Negihama Maki)
- 4.12 Tuna and Scallion Roll (Negitoro Maki)
- 4.13 Avocado Philadelphia roll
- 4.14 Teriyaki roll
- 4.15 Golden roll (deep-fried)
- 4.16 Salmon nigiri
- 5 How to make sushi without cucumber: Salmon, avocado & cream cheese roll
- 6 Takeaway
Can you have sushi without cucumber?
The answer is a resounding YES! Just like when avoiding avocado, there are many delicious and healthy alternatives to cucumber that can be used in sushi.
Try avocado, ginger, or green onion for a new and exciting flavor profile.
But the thing is that not all sushi maki contains cucumber, to begin with. There are many other types of sushi that don’t use this ingredient, so feel free to explore and find the perfect sushi for you.
Most Japanese and American sushi rolls contain cucumbers – just think of the dragon roll and California roll.
But, not all rolls do and some, like the classic salmon roll, contain only raw fish and the sushi rice.
Does sushi in Japan have cucumber?
Cucumber is a traditional ingredient in Japanese sushi.
So yes, most sushi contains cucumbers in Japan. For example, the kappamaki (cucumber roll) is very popular and one of the simplest traditional sushi rolls available.
Cucumber sushi rolls are popular because they are tasty and suitable for those who don’t really like the taste of sushi.
It’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans because it doesn’t contain fish or seafood either. Also, this roll is very low-calorie and one of the healthiest options.
The Naruto roll is another Japanese type of sushi. Here, the fillings are wrapped in cucumber instead of rice. This is the second most popular way to use cucumber in sushi.
The best alternatives to cucumber in sushi
The most popular alternatives to cucumber in your sushi are these three ingredients:
- Spring onion / green onion
- Pickled daikon radish
Best sushi rolls without cucumber: 16 best rolls
When you’re making sushi at home, you can make any roll and either remove the cucumber from the recipe or substitute it with avocado, ginger, green onion, carrots, bell peppers, or another favorite vegetable.
If you’re at a sushi restaurant, here’s what you can order.
I’ve included both traditional Japanese rolls and Americanized sushi too.
Tuna Roll (Tekka Maki)
This is the traditional Japanese raw tuna roll with cooked rice, nori, and just the tuna – no other additions. Americans like to add mayonnaise.
The tuna roll is always on the menu of a sushi bar because it’s simple and tasty. It’s preferably made with sushi-grade tuna.
The salmon roll is probably the best raw fish sushi to try if you want to get familiar with the flavors of this dish.
It is made with vinegared rice, raw salmon, and nori – that’s it, just three simple ingredients.
Spicy tuna roll
The tuna roll is one of the most popular sushi maki without cucumber.
It’s made with rice, nori, raw tuna, sriracha mayo. Green onions, avocado, and sesame seeds are optional but not required.
Sometimes, canned tuna is used.
California crab roll
This is a popular American sushi roll made with tinned or fresh crab meat or imitation crab (surimi). The other ingredient is avocado.
The simple crab roll should not be mistaken for the king crab roll which usually contains cucumber and cream cheese.
Traditional spider roll
Some places add cucumber and avocado to the spider roll but the classic version doesn’t contain it.
A spider roll is similar to a shrimp tempura roll, but instead of shrimp, it uses crab tempura. The addition of spicy mayonnaise elevates it a notch.
The spicy topping of a spider roll and numerous other popular sushi rolls is made with Japanese mayo at most Japanese restaurants.
The unagi roll is made with freshwater eel. The cooked eel is coated in soy sauce and wrapped in rice and seaweed.
A variation of this sushi roll includes avocado alongside the cooked eel and some eel sauce drizzled on top.
Fishy sushi not your thing? Learn all about the best sushi rolls without fish that you can make or order
Soybean Roll (Natto Maki)
This is another popular simple sushi roll from Japan. It contains fermented soybeans, seasoned rice, and it’s wrapped in nori.
Pickled Daikon Roll (Oshinko Maki)
The daikon radish is a good substitute for cucumber too. This roll is popular at traditional Japanese sushi restaurants.
The sushi rice and roasted nori roll contains a delicious pickled daikon radish filling. It is a salty and crunchy yellow filling, perfect for those who like pickled food.
Salmon and avocado roll
This roll can sometimes contain cucumber at the sushi restaurant.
However, usually, it is made with raw salmon or smoked salmon and a piece of avocado rolled in sushi rice and nori.
It’s a great roll to try if you like eating raw fish and want a similar flavor to the California roll. You can also add spicy mayo to improve the taste.
Dried Gourd Roll (Kanpyo Maki)
This roll is very uncommon in the States but it’s a delicacy in Japan.
It’s made from a type of gourd, also known as calabash fruit. It’s dried, peeled, rehydrated, and then seasoned in a mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar.
Yellowtail and Scallion Roll (Negihama Maki)
Negihama maki is similar to negitoro maki in that it comprises tender sliced yellowtail fish sashimi. The only other filling is scallion which has a strong flavor.
Yellowtail sashimi is popular among sushi fish fans because of its high-fat content and sensitive texture.
Tuna and Scallion Roll (Negitoro Maki)
Negitoro maki is a staple at many sushi places. It’s also a raw fish roll, made from the skin of the tuna belly and combined with fresh scallions.
It’s one of those delicate rolls best served with wasabi, shoyu (soy sauce), and pickled ginger (that you can make at home yourself).
Avocado Philadelphia roll
This type of sushi tends to vary from place to place depending on the sushi chefs.
The Philly roll can contain just some cream cheese and avocado (or cucumber in some places) or a piece of fish wrapped in cream cheese, rice, and nori.
Usually, it’s made of lox with avocado and cream cheese.
This sushi is a top favorite among those are don’t like or can’t have raw fish but still want a succulent sushi roll.
It’s really quite the basic roll with some teriyaki chicken, the occasional avocado slice, rice, and nori. Teriyaki sauce may be drizzled on top.
Golden roll (deep-fried)
If you don’t like raw ingredients, then the deep-fried golden roll is the one to try.
It’s filled with avocado, imitation crab meat, salmon, tuna, panko, and eel sauce.
Ok, this is technically nigiri, not a sushi maki roll (I explain the difference here), but it’s worth trying.
It is a slice of raw fish (salmon) on a bed of seasoned rice. It’s often served as “sushi” in Western restaurants.
How to make sushi without cucumber: Salmon, avocado & cream cheese roll
- 1.5 cups sushi rice
- 2 cups of water preferably filtered
- 1/4 cup of seasoned rice vinegar
- 6 sheets of nori sushi-grade seaweed
- 1 batch of ready-cooked sushi rice
- 1/2 lb of raw salmon make sure it’s sushi grade and very fresh
- 4 oz of cream cheese like Philadelphia that’s sliced into thin strips
- 1 avocado sliced
- soy sauce for serving
- wasabi and pickled ginger for serving optional
- Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on the stovetop with water. Choose the sushi rice setting if you have one or the regular white rice setting if not.
- Once rice is done cooking (about 25-30 minutes), pour the seasoned rice vinegar on top and mix well until all the grains are covered. Now it's time to start making the sushi rolls.
- On a bamboo mat, place your seaweed.
- Place an even layer of sushi rice and smooth it out slowly and gently using a rice paddle.
- Next, top the rice layer with salmon, cream cheese slices, and avocado slices.
- Roll up the ingredients into tight rolls.
- Slice them using a sharp yanagiba or other sushi knife and serve with soy sauce, wasabi paste, and pickled ginger.
Don’t have a rice cooker? Here’s how to cook sushi rice without a rice cooker
As you’ve seen by now, there are plenty of sushi rolls that don’t contain cucumber.
So, whether you’re avoiding cucumber because you don’t like the taste or you’re looking for a different option, there are still many delicious sushi rolls to choose from.
Keep in mind that avocado is the best green substitute but onion and ginger work too. Besides, you can always use the ingredients you like if making sushi at home.
If you want to be sure your restaurant sushi rolls don’t contain cucumber, pick the rolls which only have one filling like salmon rolls.
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.