Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (2024)

My Family’s Secrets for Making the Absolute Best Spam Musubi at Home!

Spam musubi is one of my all-time favorite foods. Like Shoyu Chicken, Manapua, and Mac Salad – it’s something I’ve eaten my entire life and pure Hawaiian comfort food.

I loved it as a kid and love it even more today thanks to my Mom. She makes the best spam musubi. 😍But don’t just take my word for it, this recipe has been loved by thousands of PWWB readers too!

Mom’s recipe wraps teriyaki-glazed spam, sticky white rice, and furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning) in nori seaweed, creating an irresistible savory-sweet handheld snack – perfect for taking on the go!

this Recipe for Later!

In my family’s experience, there are 3 secrets to making thebest spam musubi:

Nail the ratio of spam and rice:These 2 components need the perfect balance, so you’ll notice that we slice each can of spam into exactly 7 pieces – not 8, not 6…7!!!

Make a killer sauce:Mom’s simple teriyaki-style spam musubi sauce is made with just a couple of pantry ingredients. When you pan-fry it with spam, the sauce thickens and becomes a glossy glaze that clings to the spam beautifully. Its sweetness complements the rich, savory flavor of spam.

Cook the rice well and handle it with care: Musubi rice needs to have the perfect light-yet-sticky texture. Nothing is worse than dense or gummy rice in spam musubi!

If you’ve never made homemade spam musubi before, this is a great recipe to start with! Read the directions carefully and follow along with the step-by-step photos. I hope you love it as much as my family does! ♡🥰🙌🏼

4.5 from 12 reviews

Featured Review

It was amazing! Thank you for the helpful video and step by step instructions. My family loved it and you made it fun and easy!

Christina

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What is Spam Musubi? A Bit of History…

Musubi, also known as onigiri or omusubi, is a Japanese rice ball with a deliciously rich history.

Traditionally it’s a triangular-shaped handheld comfort food made with steamed rice and fillings wrapped in nori seaweed. I’ve had fish musubi, vegetable musubi, and even fried chicken musubi!

Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (2)

What’s spam musubi, then? ⇢ Spam musubi is Hawaii’s take on this Japanese food made with local-style ingredients. Barbara Funamaura, a Japanese-American woman living in Hawaii, is credited with inventing Hawaiian spam musubi around the 1940s. Her creation took the beloved Japanese rice ball and used spam, a canned mixture of ground pork and ham, as the musubi filling.

Today, spam musubi is one of the many dishes that reflect the unique blend of cultures on the Hawaiian islands and is an iconic local Hawaiian food.

Is Musubi Sushi?

I’ve heard spam musubi described as “spam sushi” or “sushi made with spam” but that’s definitely an oversimplification. While musubi may share some basic characteristics with sushi, it’s a completely different Japanese food. One of the biggest differences is that musubi uses plain steamed rice while sushi is made with rice seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar.

Spam – A Totally Underappreciated Ingredient!

Growing up on the mainland, I always felt a bit out of place with my love for spam. Its popularity in Hawaii doesn’t compare to that on the mainland, but popping open a can of spam fills me with instant nostalgia for the islands and my Hawaiian family.

First created by Hormel Foods in 1937, Spam was distributed as a convenient, protein-packed food for soldiers in World War II.

Since then, locals have come to love it for its rich, salty flavor and unbeatable convenience. It’s the perfect add-on for many local Hawaiian dishes, like saimin, spam and eggs, and pork chow fun.

Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (3)
Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (4)

Aside from spam, you’ll need just a few simple Hawaiian pantry staples to make homemade spam musubi, including a short or medium grain white rice (my family swears by Calrose rice!), Japanese furikake seasoning for added umami flavor and texture, and sushi nori – a roasted seaweed to hold everything together.

All that’s left is a handful of other pantry staples (dark brown sugar, shoyu (soy sauce), mirin, and sesame oil) to make up a simple teriyaki sauce and you’re ready to make spam musubi at home!

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How to Make Spam Musubi

Homemade spam musubi is like homemade sushi in that practice makes perfect!

Your first musubi may not be your most beautiful, but you’ll get the hang of it as you keep rolling. I promise it will be delicious no matter what!

Step-by-Step Video

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Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (17)

1

Cook the rice. Be sure to rinse your rice thoroughly, then transfer to a rice cooker, cover and cook according to manufacturer directions. Why? ⇢ Rinsing rice prior to cooking removes any starches from the surface of the rice, which helps create the perfect light and sticky texture. If rice is not rinsed properly, it will have a gluey or gummy consistency once it cooks – no good!

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2

Prepare the teriyaki spam musubi sauce. Simply whisk together dark brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil, then microwave for about a minute until the sugar dissolves. Prep Tip! ⇢ This sauce is great to make ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

3

Pan-fry the spam. Spam renders as it quickly cooks in a skillet, creating added depth of flavor and an irresistible crispy golden-brown crust. After cooking the spam for a few minutes on each side, reduce the heat and spoon the spam musubi sauce over each piece. Why? ⇢The sauce will thicken as it cooks, creating a savory-sweet glaze that clings to the spam.

4

Prepare the nori. Cover your work surface with a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper then grab a sheet of sushi nori. Place the nori with its shiny side down on the work surface and the rough side facing up. Make sure that the longer side of the nori is closest to you, then place the outer box of your spam musubi mold on the center of the nori. The long edges of the musubi mold need to be parallel to the long sides of the nori. At this point, you’re ready to build the musubi!

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Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (25)
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5

Build the spam musubi in the musubi mold. Each piece of spam musubi has 3 distinct layers. Here’s what you will do:

  1. Add a layer of rice. The most important thing here is to gently handle the rice so it stays nice and light! Tip! ⇢ Try not to compact the rice as you are scooping or packing it. Instead, fill the mold almost entirely with rice and pat it lightly to ensure it is level.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of furikake. Don’t be shy here! A few tablespoons of seasoning on top of the rice adds a ton of flavor and texture to the musubi.
  3. Top with the teriyaki spam. Place the slices of pan-fried spam right on top and you’re done!

6

Remove the mold. The easiest way to remove the spam musubi mold is to apply a bit of pressure first. Press the mold lid firmly down at the center and then continue pressing out to the edges. Why? ⇢ This helps ensure the spam musubi is nice and compact so it wraps up easily (and doesn’t fall apart as you roll it!). When it feels right, hold the lid down and pull the musubi mold box up to remove it.

Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (27)
Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (28)
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7

Wrap the spam musubi. The sushi nori is already well-positioned to wrap around the spam musubi. Take the side of the nori that’s facing you and pull it up to fold it over. Then roll the spam musubi away from you so it wraps up in the nori and seals itself shut. Tip! ⇢ Dampen your fingers and run them along the last edge of nori to help create a tight seal.

8

Repeat, slice, and serve! Your first 2 spam musubi are ready, so now you just have to repeat the process a few more times. Once wrapped, slice each spam musubi in half crosswise, right between the pieces of spam. Tip! ⇢ Always slice musubi with a clean, wet knife to create a clean edge and help prevent sticking.

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I can’t wait for you to try my family’s Best-Ever Spam Musubi! It’s my all-time favorite, and I think you’re going to love it too!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can alsosnap a photo and tag@playswellwithbutteronInstagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (31)

Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.5 from 12 reviews

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 7 musubi 1x
  • Category: Main Dish, Snacks
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Hawaiian, American
Print Recipe

Description

Whether you’re in Hawaii or on the mainland – my Hawaiian family’s recipe forHomemade Spam Musubiis thebest! Cut planks of rich and salty canned spam are pan-fried until golden, then glazed in a simple teriyaki-style spam musubi sauce. From there, the spam is wrapped in nori seaweed with fluffy white rice and lots of furikake seasoning, making the perfect handheld snack.

If you’ve never made homemade spam musubi before, this is a great recipe to start with! We wanted it to be as approachable as possible, so the directions are very detailed and we’ve provided step-by-step photos to help you along the way.

We hope you love it as much as we do! ♡

Ingredients

Scale

  • 2 cups Calrose rice, rinsed well
  • simple teriyaki sauce, below
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 (one) 12-ounce can Spam, sliced lengthwise into 7 pieces
  • 3 1/2 sheets sushi nori
  • heaping 1/3 cup furikake

for the simple teriyaki sauce:

  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, can sub light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil

Useful equipment:

Instructions

  1. Cook the rice:Place the rice in a fine mesh colander and rinse it well with hot water until the water runs clear. This will take a good minute or two – feel free to jostle the rice with your hands as you rinse it to help speed this process along. Once the water runs clear, drain any excess water from the rice, then transfer it to a rice pot. Following the ratios provided on the rice package directions, add water to the rice pot. Cover and cook. Once the rice is done, let it steam and rest for 5-10 minutes before assembling Spam musubi. Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (33)
  2. Prepare the teriyaki sauce:Combine all listed ingredients in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute to dissolve the sugar. Stir to combine then set aside to cool slightly. (Alternatively, you can combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes.)Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (34)
  3. Pan-fry the Spam and glaze with the teriyaki sauce: Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Very lightly spritz with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the sliced Spam in a single layer in the skillet. Cook 4-5 minutes, until lightly browned. Flip the Spam. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the prepared teriyaki sauce over each slice of Spam. Cook 2-3 minutes longer. Repeat flipping and spooning sauce on the Spam 1-2 more times, until the Spam is as browned and saucy as you like and the teriyaki sauce is reduced to a thick glaze. Remove from the heat and set aside for Spam musubi assembly. Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (35)
  4. Prep the nori and musubi mold: Place a large piece of plastic wrap or wax paper on your work surface. Grab a piece of sushi nori. Sushi nori has 2 distinct sides – one is rough and textured while the other is shiny and smoother – and is ever-so-slightly rectangular. Place a piece of sushi nori on top of the plastic wrap/wax paper such that its shiny and smooth side is facing down and one of its slightly longer sides is closest to you. Place the outer box of the musubi mold on the center of the nori such that its long edge runs parallel with the longer sides of the nori. Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (36)
  5. Build the Spam musubi: Use a rice paddle to scrape a small amount of rice off the top of the rice pot. Be sure to scrape off the top rather than digging, which compacts the rice – we want our musubi rice nice and light! Gently add the rice to the musubi mold, filling it almost entirely full. As you fill the mold, use the edge of the rice paddle to gently pat the rice down into a uniform level but, again, avoid pressing down on the rice too much. Once the mold is filled with rice, sprinkle a generous amount of furikake seasoning over top, about 1-2 tablespoons. Arrange two slices of the teriyaki Spam side by side in the musubi mold.

  6. Assemble and wrap the Spam musubi:Place the musubi mold lid on top of the Spam. Press down on the lid firmly, starting at the center and working your way to the outer edge. Once you reach the outer edge, press down on the lid firmly with your thumbs and pointer fingers while using your pinky fingers to simultaneously pull the musubi mold box up. Set the box to the side, then remove the musubi mold top off of the Spam and set aside. Gently-yet-firmly pull the side of the nori sheet facing you up and tautly fold it over the Spam – the nori should stick to the Spam. Brush a little water over the opposite edge of nori, then tautly roll the musubi away from you, sealing the musubi shut. The musubi should be seam side down at this point. Set aside – it will continue to tighten up as it sits.

  7. Repeat Steps 4-6 with the remaining rice and teriyaki Spam. Your last musubi will only have one piece of Spam, so simply slice the sushi nori in half crosswise and assemble the musubi using only one half of the mold. Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (46)
  8. Slice and serve: Run a sharp knife under warm water, then slice the double musubis in half crosswise (between the two pieces of Spam), creating 2 individual Spam musubi. Be sure to rinse the knife with warm water before slicing the next musubi – this helps create a clean cut. Enjoy immediately!Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Hawaiian Family Recipe, Step-by-Step!) (47)

Notes

  • Ingredient Notes:
    • Spam Varieties:Spam comes in a number of different varieties. My family always makes Spam musubi using the original variety, labeled “Classic,” which I don’t find to be too salty when used with the right ratio of rice. If you prefer to use a reduced-sodium variety, go for it!
    • Rice for Spam musubi?:For best results, use either short-grain or medium-grain white rice for your spam musubi. My family is partial to Calrose-style medium-grain white rice (preferred brands: Botan and Kokuho Rose), though sushi-style short-grain white rice can be used to make Spam musubi as well.
  • Storage and Reheating: If you don’t plan to enjoy all 7 Spam musubi immediately, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper and store in the refrigerator. Leftover Spam musubi will keep for up to 5 days. You can enjoy it cold straight from the refrigerator, but I think leftover Spam musubi ismuchbetter warm. To reheat, simply place it in the microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute, then carefully unwrap and enjoy.

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography byRachel Cook, Half Acre House.

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