Can You Freeze Sushi?

Sushi is a traditional Japanese dish that consists of vinegared rice topped with slices of seafood – typically raw fish – and a smidge of wasabi. Since the raw ingredients degrade quickly at room temperature, sushi must be kept chilled at a low temperature prior to serving. So can you freeze sushi?

If say, you made too much sushi or you’ve got leftover sushi from your favorite Japanese restaurant, is freezing a good idea at all? Most people think that freezing sushi will degrade the quality of the fish because ice crystals will form within the fish.

Sushi piece in sticks
Image used under Creative Commons from Tony Gladvin George

You might be surprised but the “raw” seafood used in sushi has been frozen for several days prior to being cut for the dish! In fact, US regulation requires tuna to be flash frozen seconds after the fish has been harvested to retain freshness.

That means it’s perfectly safe to freeze raw seafood used as ingredients for sushi. What about the rice and other ingredients, do they keep well in the freezer?

How you prepare the sushi rice for freezing will affect the grain’s overall texture. Usually, packing cold rice for freezing will lead to dry, crumbly, or hard results. If you are making sushi from scratch, it’s best to 1) pack the vinegared rice separately from the raw seafood and 2) pack the rice while it’s still steaming in an airtight container.

What about sushi leftovers? Can you freeze it? Technically, any type of food can be frozen. However, sushi does not freeze well. The rice and the nori wrapper could become soggy, broken to bits or simply unappetizing to look at once thawed. That being said, thawed sushi is safe to eat. So really, the choice is yours.

When kept in the fridge, sushi will only keep for 10 to 24 hours. But when kept in the freezer, sushi will keep fresh for up to 3 months. Of course, it’s best to consume sushi as soon as you can for optimal flavor and texture. Below is the step by step guide on how can you freeze sushi:

Sushi plated
Image used under Creative Commons from baron valium

How to Freeze Sushi?

Freezing Homemade Sushi

If you are making sushi at home and you’re anticipating a lot of leftovers, it’s best to freeze the ingredients separately. Just assemble the ingredients after thawing. To do this, just prepare the ingredients as you normally would such as washing the block of fish or raw seafood, cooking and seasoning the sushi rice, etc.

Once this is done, prepare several airtight containers. Place the fish in the first container. Do not slice the fish, do this only when you are ready to prep the sushi for serving. This will prevent frost from ruining the texture of the fish. Seal the container with the airtight lid, write the storage date and then stick in the freezer.

Spoon the vinegared rice into the second container. The rice should be steaming hot, not cooled to retain the grain’s sticky, moist consistency. Seal the container with the airtight lid, write the storage date and then stick in the freezer.

Finally, pack the nori wrapper in a resealable plastic bag. Squeeze the air out prior to sealing then write the storage date. Stick the plastic bag in the freezer and you’re done.

Freezing Leftover Sushi

Since leftover sushi is fully assembled, expect the texture or flavor to change after the dish has been thawed. Just place the leftovers in an airtight container and seal with the lid. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

Sushi ready for eating
Image used under Creative Commons from samantha celera

How to Defrost Frozen Sushi?

To defrost the frozen sushi, just transfer the container from the freezer to the fridge. Leave the sushi to thaw for several hours to overnight. Never thaw the sushi by letting it stand at room temperature. This increases the risk of contamination and bacterial growth! Once the sushi has been defrosted, it’s ready to eat. Since sushi is served chilled, it doesn’t require reheating at all.


Sushi is one of the healthiest and most popular Japanese dishes for a reason. The savory taste of the vinegared rice pairs so well with the fresh seafood, nori, and wasabi. Freezing sushi may be tricky and will require trial and error but as long as the dish won’t go to waste, all that effort is worth it! Now that you know how can you freeze sushi, there’s no need to worry about what to do with your leftovers.