Caramelized and savory spam paired with sticky rice and nori. A delicious and portable snack any time of the day. It's so easy to make, customizable, and can be made without a mold!
Spam musubi is a classic snack influenced by American, Japanese, and Hawaiian cuisines. It's made with seared spam, soy sauce, rice, and crispy seaweed.
Our honeymoon in Hawaii was full of comfort foods like this garlic furikake chicken and spam musubi.
We ordered a few musubis from Musubi Cafe Iyasume and they were delicious!
It's the perfect portable snack to take on a hike or the beach!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
- The flavors are textures are addicting. The saltiness and smokiness of the spam is complimented by a sweet glaze and the roasted nori provides an additional layer of umami-ness. The fluffy and sticky rice brings everything together.
- It's make ahead friendly! You can easily make a batch of spam musubi ahead of time for a lunchbox, or bring it to a picnic or party.
- It's customizable! Change up the toppings by adding avocado, bacon, egg, kimchi, eel, or cucumber. The possibilities are endless.
- It can be made without a mold! No need to buy a musubi mold or line a spam container with plastic wrap. I'll show you how to form the rice freehand style.
Spam Musubi Ingredients
- Medium grain rice- I used Calrose rice by Homai. Look for the terms "medium grain," "short grain," or "sushi rice." Short grain rice is stickier and preferred, but it was difficult to find so I used medium grain rice.
- Spam- I used the reduced sodium spam. Feel free to use a different variety.
- Soy Sauce- My go to is Kikkoman soy sauce.
- Rice vinegar- I like adding a splash for some acidity to balance the sweet and salty flavors. You can try substituting with mirin or water.
- Sugar- white granulated sugar to create a glaze and balance the savoriness with sweetness. You can substitute with brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup but measurements may vary.
- Furikake- totally optional. I like adding furikake for an additional layer of flavor and texture. I love the nuttiness from the sesame seeds. You can find it at an Asian grocery store or in the international aisle of your grocery store.
- Dried seaweed- nori sheets to wrap the spam and rice.
How to Make Spam Musubi (without a mold)
- Brown the spam then add the sauce to glaze the spam.
- Form the rice into 8 oval rectangles.
- Place a strip of nori down vertically, then place a piece of spam in the middle, and sprinkle on furikake.
- Top with rice and wrap the nori around to form a musubi.
How to Make Spam Musubi Using a Spam Can
- Clean and dry the spam can. Be careful of the sharp edges. Line it with plastic wrap with extra hanging outside of the can.
- Press the rice into the can, sprinkle on furikake, and top with spam.
- Lift everything out of the can using the plastic wrap.
- Wrap a piece of nori around the spam and rice.
- Spread the cooked rice onto a sheet pan to cool faster.
- Dip your fingers in a little bit of water to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands.
- Experiment and add other toppings to the spam musubi.
- Seal the nori with a dab of water or use a few grains of rice to act as "glue" if it doesn't stay in place.
- Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. This way the rice is nice and soft.
Spam is made by Hormel Foods and is made of processed pork. It became popular during World War II as it was difficult to deliver fresh meat to soldiers.
The term "musubi" originates from the Japanese dish "omusubi" or "onigiri" meaning rice ball. It is traditionally white rice formed into triangular or cylindrical shapes and wrapped in nori.
Nori is dried seaweed usually in the form of thin sheets and is used to wrap sushi or onigiri. It has naturally sweet and salty taste.
You may see some short or medium grain rice, like Nishiki, labeled as sushi rice. The smaller grains have more starch content which makes the rice stickier and keep its shape.
For this recipe I used California Calrose rice by Homai.
Sushi rice can also refer seasoned sticky rice used for sushi, which includes rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
I've seen some spam musubi recipes use seasoned sushi rice, but classic Hawaiian spam musubi uses plain sticky rice.
If you don't plan on eating the spam musubi within 2 hours or are making them ahead of time, you can store them in the refrigerator or freezer.
Tightly wrap the spam musubis individually with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 3 days or place the wrapped musubis in a freezer safe bag for up to 2 months.
Thaw the musubis in the fridge then microwave for 30 seconds or until warm to soften the rice.
How to Make Hawaiian Spam Musubi (Without a Mold)
- 2 cups uncooked short or medium grain rice
- 1 can spam 12 ounces, cut into 8 even slices
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Furikake optional
- 2 sheets nori (roasted seaweed) cut into 8 even strips
- Cook the rice: Add the rice into a pot and rinse a couple of times until the water runs clear. Add water according to the package instructions and based on your preferred cooking method.*
- Cool the rice: Once the rice is done, fluff it up using a fork and let it cool. To cool faster, transfer to a large mixing bowl or sheet pan if desired.
- Brown the spam: Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium heat and cook the spam for 3 minutes on each side or until browned. The fat will render from the spam and caramelize it.
- Glaze the spam: In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Pour it over the spam and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Flip the spam to coat evenly and turn off the heat.
- Form the rice: Take ½ cup of rice and form it tightly into a rectangular oval to mimic the shape of spam.
- Form the musubi: Place a strip of nori down vertically on a work surface, then place a piece of spam in the middle, sprinkle on furikake, and top with rice. Wrap the nori strip around to form a musubi. If the nori doesn't stay in place, seal it with a dab of water or use a few grains of rice to act as "glue." Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- I used 2.5 cups of water with Homai calrose rice using the stovetop method. Cover and bring the rice to a boil then immediately turn the heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. Once the rice comes to a boil, refrain from opening the lid during the rest of the cooking process.