One thing I think most of us can agree on is that sushi is delicious. The combination of seaweed, rice, fish, and vegetables or fruits makes for an incredible taste sensation, and also adds a lot of texture and variety into a single bite. 

The flavors might seem simple on the surface, but there is a ton of thought and complexity that goes into designing and creating any single type of sushi. 

But, if you’ve ever been to a traditional Japanese restaurant or even a sushi bar that uses Japanese terms for the items on offer, you might have been a little confused by the different sections for maki and temaki. 

It turns out that maki and temaki, along with the other types of food we broadly call sushi, are a bit more different than you might expect. Here’s what you need to know. 

Shape and SizeRolled and then sliced into bite-size pieces. Cylinders or cones are designed to be held in the hand and eaten in several bites. 
Common IngredientsRice, seaweed, sashimi-grade fish, vegetables, fish roe, saucesRice, seaweed, sashimi-grade fish, vegetables, fish roe, sauces
Portion Size
How is it eaten? Maki, or sushi rolls, are actually finger food in Japan. They are small bite-sized pieces usually. Elsewhere maki may be eaten with chopsticks. Temaki is designed to be hand-held food, 

What is Maki?

Maki is the term for rolled sushi. These rolls can have rice on the inside or the outside of the rolls, and are often on the simpler side, with only a couple of ingredients and often just one kind of fish instead of several. 

While there are fancier versions of maki, including rainbow rolls that have multiple types of fish on the outside and the inside of the roll, the typical maki roll can be made with 5 or less ingredients. That way, you can enjoy the unique flavors of every single ingredient to their fullest, including the harmony of seaweed, rice, and fish being perfectly balanced. 

Maki rolls are generally around 6-8 inches long and are sliced into single bite-sized pieces before they are served. Maki should be easy to fit in your mouth, so a single roll is usually cut into 6-8 pieces, all about an inch wide. 

Sometimes, larger versions of maki are made where there is a design in the middle, formed by the ingredients, and then revealed when the roll is cut. However, this is rarer since the goal of a good piece of maki is a good balance of flavor rather than a cute design. 

Different Types of Maki

There are a lot of different types of maki. Even a single ingredient difference between rolls is enough to make it a different kind of roll. The simplest maki are made with only three ingredients, seaweed, rice, and fresh fish like salmon or tuna. More complicated maki may include vegetables, more than one type of fish, or sauces. 

Here are a few examples: 

  • California Roll: California rolls aren’t traditional, as the name would suggest, but they’re a good example of maki. The combination of crab, avocado, cucumber, rice, and seaweed makes a California roll slightly sweet as well as delicious. The rolls tend to be small and bite-sized, perfect for maki. 
  • Tuna Roll: Tuna rolls are some of the simplest preparations of maki out there, being made of rice, seaweed, and often just tuna, or tuna with a single sauce or vegetable pairing. 

There are also three different size types of Maki: 

  • Hosomaki: Small
  • Nakamaki: Medium
  • Futomaki: Large

How Do You Make Maki? 

Maki is typically made with the aid of a bamboo mat that allows you to roll the ingredients tight together. A sheet of seaweed is placed on the mat and a thin layer of rice is spread over the seaweed. Then a line of ingredients, including fish, vegetables, and sometimes sauces, are placed on the rice. Sometimes the seaweed is flipped, so that the rice is on the outside, and the ingredients are on the inside against the seaweed. 

Then, the mat is used to tightly curl the roll. From there, the finished roll is cut into pieces before serving. 

Delicious Maki Ingredients

Maki can be made with tons of different ingredients. Consider experimenting with salmon, tuna, snapper, scallops, squid, eel, and yellow tail, and vegetables like cucumber, avocado, carrots, jalapeno, green onions, bell peppers, or even asparagus or mushrooms. 

Some soft fruits can also be used, like mango, strawberries, and pineapple. Coconut milk can also be added to sauces or even the rice for dessert sushi. 

Certain kinds of fish roe (eggs), and lots of different sauces can also be added. 

Great Maki Recipes You Should Try

If you’re looking for good sushi recipes, All Recipes has a great maki-making guide that can help you choose ingredients and walks you through the process. And, especially if you’re making sushi in the summer, Tasty has an excellent recipe for fresh fruit sushi for desert! 

What Is Temaki?

Temaki is similar to maki and uses basically the same ingredients as maki. However, temaki translates to hand rolls, while maki translates to rolls. 

Temaki are the form of sushi that was often made at home, on boats, and on the go. It can be made without many tools and is less particular about the size and shape of ingredients. Temaki can also be a good way to use the leftover bits of fish after cutting the fish into the desired shape for maki rolls. 

Basically, temaki are a slightly more rustic, and much more portable, version of sushi. 

In fact, if you’ve seen the ‘sushi burritos’ that have been popular in the last few years, those are basically just oversized temaki! 

Different Styles Of Temaki

There are many different kinds of ingredients that can be added to temaki, but this more relaxed form of sushi doesn’t really have specific styles of temaki, unlike maki and other kinds of sushi. 

There are two basic shapes for temaki. One of them is a simple cylinder, a round shape. But a more common version of temaki is a cone, a bit like an ice cream cone. 

One of the nice things about temaki is that there is more space inside, so it’s easy to load your temaki with different ingredients, including a range of vegetables and fruits, so they are highly customizable. 

Plus, temaki are easy enough to make that you can do a make-your-own night in the comfort of your own home! 

How Do You Make Temaki? 

Temaki are typically made directly in your hand, and the size of the roll depends on how big a roll you can comfortably hold. Simply hold the sheet of seaweed in the shape you want and add seasoned sushi rice to the inside. You can use your fingers or a spoon to push the rice up the sides of the seaweed. 

Then layer in your choice of fish vegetables, sauces, and other ingredients until you have a temaki roll you’re happy with! 

Temaki Ingredients and Toppings To Experiment With

Ingredients include all the same fish, fruits, and vegetables as maki, but you can also use some larger vegetables and fish as well. Fresh greens, like microgreens, watercress, and even baby bok choy leaves are also an option when you’re making temaki.

Top Temaki Recipes You’re Sure To Love

This temaki recipe from Hungry Huy not only gives a great demonstration of make your own temaki rolls, but also gives you some great resources for the high-quality ingredients you need for delicious and safe temaki and maki. 

Feasting at home has another great take on temaki using smoked salmon, which can be easier to find, and the perfect amounts for a whole temaki party! 

Wrapping Up: What are the key differences between maki and temaki? 

The main differences between maki and temaki are really just how they are shaped and rolled, and then how they are eaten. Temaki is a great, less formal, version of sushi that can be made and customized individually, while maki rolls are made and then sliced into bite-sized portions. 

Both are delicious, can be made with a vast array of flavors, and can be a fun weekend dinner, or a fantastic meal for summer get-togethers! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Which is healthier, Maki or Temaki?

Maki and temaki can both be incredibly healthy, depending on the proportions of fish to rice, vegetables, and seaweed you use. It’s a good idea to try and use at least 2 or 3 different vegetables when you’re making either maki or temaki, even if you don’t put them all into every roll. Sides like ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce can also add to the nutrition, but they do bring a little extra salt and sugar into the meal as well. 

Q2: What kinds of fish are safe to use in maki and temaki? 

Saltwater fish of any type people typically eat is safe for making maki and temaki assuming it’s fresh enough. Freshwater fish isn’t safe to eat raw and shouldn’t be included in maki or temaki unless it’s been fully cooked or smoked first. 

The only fish you should use in homemade maki or temaki is sashimi-grade, which means that not only if the fish high quality, but it’s also required to be very fresh. Typical sashimi-grade fish was caught and processed within 24 hours of being sold, and should be eaten within no more than one or two days. 

Q3: Why is sushi sometimes called maki?

Maki is a term that comes directly from the Japanese language and is a diminutive of makizushi, which roughly translates to sushi rolls. In Japan, what people in the United States call sushi is really only a sub-set of the variety of similar meals that are all different kinds of sushi. The rolled kind we tend to eat outside of Japan is more properly called makizushi, or maki in informal situations. 

Q4: What is fancy sushi called? 

You might have been expecting something a little different from sushi the first time you ordered makizushi or maki, but maki is actually the type of sushi most people outside of Japan are most familiar with. Nicer sushi, often made by the head sushi chef, or using the best seasonal ingredients available, is called omakase sushi. Omakase sushi is considered so special that it’s only really ordered on special occasions, and the chef often brings the sushi out piece by piece, explaining each one, and witnessing the enjoyment of the diner. 

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Kate founded DrizzleMeSkinny in 2014. Since then she has shared nearly 1000 weight watchers friendly recipes with DrizzleMeSkinny's over 500,000 social media followers.

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