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How To Store Onigiri: An Easy Quick Guide

Onigiri (おにぎり) is a popular Japanese snack made with rice and shaped into triangle or ball shapes. If you are like me, you love the snack but aren’t quite sure how to store onigiri.

Today, you will learn how long onigiri lasts and how to store it.

Once you know these simple steps, you won’t feel like you need to wake up super early to make your onigiri. You can make it the night before and store it in the fridge.

This is a closeup of onigiri.

A Bit About Onigiri

Onigiri is a popular rice snack that originates from Japan. Most of the time, these are considered savory snacks or Japanese comfort food

They tend to be in the shape of a triangle but sometimes come as formed balls of rice. You can enjoy them without stuffing, but typically, they are filled with ingredients. 

The filling usually includes:

  • Pickled plums.
  • Salted salmon.
  • Dried bonito flakes (dried fish shavings).
  • Any other salty or sour ingredient. 

Onigiri has a typical shelf life of a few hours at room temperature due to its rice and filling components, which can spoil if not stored correctly, but don’t worry because today, you will learn how to store onigiri and get your questions answered.

This is wrapped up onigiri.

How To Tell If Onigiri Is Still Good

First, trust your senses when it comes to figuring out if onigiri is good or if it has gone bad. Check the rice and the filling to tell if the onigiri is still fresh. 

The rice should be soft and moist, not hard or dry. The filling, if any, should not have an off smell or color. If the onigiri was at room temperature for more than 4 hours, discard it to avoid any potential foodborne illness.

To tell if onigiri is still good, look for the following signs:

  • The rice should be moist and not dry.
  • The filling should not be discolored or spoiled.
  • The onigiri should not have any strange smells.

If you see any of these signs, it is best to discard the onigiri.

Signs That Onigiri Has Gone Bad:

  • Bad odor. If it smells rotten or smells unusually sour, it has likely gone bad.
  • Changes in color. 
  • It is slimy
  • Mold is growing

If you see any of the above signs, your onigiri has gone bad. 

This is different types of onigiri.

Storing Onigiri At Room Temperature

Yes, onigiri can last at room temperature for about 4 hours. To store onigiri at room temperature, wrap it in plastic wrap or use onigiri wrappers to prevent it from drying out. However, remember that onigiri with perishable fillings should not be left out for more than 2 hours.

Tips for short-term storage:

  1. Use plastic wrap or onigiri wrappers: This keeps moisture and protects the rice from external contaminants.
  2. Keep in a cool, dry area: Avoid direct sunlight or warm places.

Refrigerating Onigiri

Refrigeration is a good option if you plan to eat your onigiri within a couple of days. Onigiri can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To refrigerate onigiri, use an airtight container to place them in to prevent them from absorbing odors from other foods in the fridge.

Steps for refrigeration:

  1. Wrap it up: Use plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container to retain moisture.
  2. Before eating, let it sit: Remove the onigiri from the fridge 20-30 minutes before eating, as rice can become hard when cold. This will allow it to reach a near-room temperature and regain some softness.

Important Note: Before putting the onigiri in the refrigerator, make sure that it has come to room temperature. Don’t put it in the fridge if it is hot or warm.

Freezing Onigiri

For longer storage, onigiri can be frozen for up to 1 month. To freeze onigiri, wrap each rice ball in plastic wrap and then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container.

When you’re ready to eat your frozen onigiri, let it defrost in the refrigerator overnight or microwave it for a couple of minutes until it’s heated through.

The bottom line

Storing onigiri properly is critical to enjoying this delicious Japanese snack at its best. Whether you’re keeping it at room temperature, refrigerating it, or freezing it for later, remember that the quality of your onigiri depends on how well you store it. 

So, the next time you make or buy onigiri, remember these storage tips to ensure you’re enjoying your onigiri at its freshest and tastiest!

This is a closeup of onigiri.

How To Store Onigiri

Prep Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes

Here is how to store Onigiri mushrooms in the refrigerator. 


  • Onigiri
  • Plastic Wrap


  1. Make sure the Onigiri is at room temperature. Don't store them if they are hot.
  2. Wrap it up: Use plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container to retain moisture.


Don't wash fresh Onigiri prior to storing it. You will wash it when you are ready to use it. 

This is wrapped up onigiri.
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