The California roll is the “gateway roll” for many into a world of sushi. And it’s easy to see why:

  • The ingredients are simple: Crab, cucumber, avocado, rice, and seaweed.
  • There is no raw seafood, making the California roll ideal for those who are hesitant to eat or make raw seafood sushi.
  • No raw fish needed also eliminates the need to track down sushi grade fish – something inaccessible to many.
  • California rolls are typically one of the cheapest sushi rolls on menus and in the grocery store.
  • California rolls are simple and delicious.

How to make cheap California rolls at home. You'll spend WAY less when you make homemade sushi at home!

How Much Are California Rolls?

Prices vary widely depending on where you live, where you shop, the season, and the availability of ingredients. But here are the current prices for California rolls in St. Paul, Minnesota:

  • High-end sushi restaurant: $9.95
  • High-end grocery store: $8.95
  • Regular grocery store: $6.99

California rolls are typically not the most expensive sushi rolls on the menu. But they’re still not cheap.

Which is why you should learn to make your own California rolls at home – on a budget, of course!

Making Your Own California Rolls At Home: The Cost

What you'll need to make homemade California rolls at home. Click through for instructions!

  • Avocado: $1.25
  • Cucumber: $.99
  • Imitation crab (1/ 2 package from ALDI): $1.32
  • Seaweed: $2.00 or 5 sheets
  • Sushi rice (1/2 package from Target): $1.69
  • Rice vinegar: $.25

Total cost for 5 rolls: $7.50
Cost per roll: $1.50

Note: I did not include the cost of sesame seeds (optional) and accompaniments (soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi). If you choose to use these, the price will be higher – albeit not too much. 

Making Sushi At Home: The Process

How to make California rolls, uramaki style, with the rice on the outside. It's easier than you'd imagine!

Scroll down for detailed recipe instructions. But here’s the process, in a nutshell:

1: Gather ingredients
2: Make rice, and allow to cool
3: Julienne cucumbers
4: Wrap sushi mat in plastic wrap (so rice won’t stick to the sushi mat)
5: Cut off top 1/3 of the seaweed sheet.  Place on sushi mat. 
6: Using damp hands, gently pat rice on top of seaweed sheet

How to make homemade California rolls at home, with crab, cucumber, and avocado.

7: Flip the seaweed over and add fillings (cucumbers, crab, and avocado) toward the bottom of the sheet.
8: Using the sushi mat, start rolling up, tucking the sushi roll in to ensure a tight roll.
9: Tighten roll and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to cut.
10: Cut ends off, if desired. Cut each roll into 8 pieces.

Making your own California rolls at home is easy and MUCH cheaper!

Do I Need Any Special Equipment? 

Yes. You’ll need a sushi mat to make homemade sushi at home: Here’s a cheap mat that will do the trick.

Otherwise, you’ll need seaweed sheets, which is quite easy to find in most larger grocery stores as well as Super Target, Walmart, and Asian grocery stores.

Homemade California rolls at home: Make your own homemade sushi and save LOTS of money!

How To Roll Sushi Rolls

Here’s short video (2:44) showing you how to assemble sushi rolls: 

More Cheap Sushi Recipes

How to make cheap California rolls at home. You'll spend WAY less when you make homemade sushi at home!

Cheap California Rolls

Yield: 5 sushi rolls

See photos above for a visual on assembling California rolls.
Serve with soy sauce, pickled ginger, wasabi, and other desired sushi accompaniments.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Rice vinegar

For sushi rolls

  • 5 sheets seaweed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cucumber, seeds removed, julienned
  • 4 ounces imitation crab (flake style or leg style)
  • White or black sesame seeds, optional

Instructions

  1. Prepare sushi rice. Rinse rice with cold water. Place in a heavy-duty saucepan with water. Turn heat on to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until rice is cooked. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once rice is cool, sprinkle with rice vinegar - 1 tablespoon should do it. Set aside until ready to assemble rolls.
  2. To assemble sushi rolls: With seaweed sheet laying horizontally in front of you, cut off top 1/3 of seaweed. Using a sushi mat wrapped in plastic wrap, lay seaweed shiny side down. Using damp hands, top with sushi rice. Flip seaweed over so rice is facing down. Place crab, cucumber, and avocado slices toward the bottom of the seaweed. See photo above in post for a visual. Start rolling the sushi from top to bottom, making sure that you are keeping the roll tight - you don't want it to fall apart when you slice it. Repeat with remaining rolls. Sprinkle each roll with sesame seeds (optional) and cut into 8 pieces.