Best-Ever Spam Musubi

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE SALES LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY FULL DISCLAIMER POLICY FOR DETAILS.

My Hawaiian family's recipe for Homemade Spam Musubi is the best – whether you're in Hawaii or on the mainland! Planks of rich & savory 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 white rice & lots of furikake, making the perfect handheld snack. Hawaiian spam musubi is a timeless, totally satisfying comfort food I’ve loved my entire life. Sweet-savory perfection!

Three Hawaiian spam musubi are arranged atop a wooden serving platter. The platter sits atop a creamy white textured surface and a container of Furikake seasoning sits out of focus in the background.

The Absolute Best Spam Musubi Recipe (& Everything You Need to Know to Make Hawaii’s Iconic Snack!)

Spam musubi is one of my all-time favorite foods. It’s something I’ve eaten my entire life – I loved it as a kid & love it even more now thanks to my Mom. She makes the best spam musubi. 😍 (To this day, every trip to my folks’ house includes a fresh batch of Hawaiian spam musubi lovingly wrapped up to bring back home with us!)

Mom’s spam musubi recipe wraps teriyaki-glazed spam, sticky white rice, & furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning) in nori seaweed, creating an irresistible handheld snack. Every bite is pure Hawaiian-style comfort. So needless to say, I’m so excited to share this treasured recipe with you!

While it’s such a humble little snack, the devil’s really in the details. There are a couple of key secrets to making the perfect spam musubi:

  • Nail the ratio of spam & rice. You’ll notice we slice each can of spam into 7 pieces – not 8, not 6…7!!! This is exactly why – it creates the perfect ratio of spam & rice.
  • Cook rice well & handle it with care. Musubi rice needs to have the perfect light-yet-sticky texture. Since it’s such an essential element, you’ll see that this recipe details how to properly cook rice & gently pack it into a spam musubi mold.

If you’ve never made homemade spam musubi before, this is a great recipe to start with! Read the directions carefully & follow along with the step-by-step photos, but remember – practice makes perfect. Your first batch may not be picture-perfect, & that’s totally fine. Have fun with it, & no matter what, I guarantee your spam musubi will taste AMAZING. 🥰🙌🏼

Spam Musubi Recipe Highlights

I’m so excited to share my family’s absolute best spam musubi recipe because it’s…

  • THE ULTIMATE ON-THE-GO SNACK. Spam musubi is a classic handheld Hawaiian snack. It’s easy to eat at the beach, on a road trip, during your lunch break…wherever! You can find Hawaiian spam musubi pretty much everywhere on the islands, but it’s also pretty easy to make at home!
  • PERFECTLY SAVORY-SWEET. Rich & savory spam turns perfectly crispy & golden when pan-fried in a lightly sweetened teriyaki-inspired spam musubi sauce. It’s sweet-savory perfection – your tastebuds will seriously be SO happy!
  • PURE HAWAIIAN COMFORT FOOD. This musubi is my #1 comfort food. It always reminds me of visits with my Mom & time with family in Hawaii. There’s so much joy in every bite!

A taste of Hawaii at home! 🤙🏼🌺 ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make the Best-Ever Spam Musubi, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

What is Spam Musubi? A Bit of Spam Musubi History…

Let’s back up: what is musubi? ⇢ Musubi is a Japanese rice ball with rich & delicious history. Also known as onigiri or omusubi, this classic handheld comfort food is often triangular & made with steamed rice wrapped in nori seaweed with a variety of fillings. (I’ve had fish musubi, vegetable musubi, & even fried chicken musubi!) Musubi is an OG road snacks & is popular throughout Japan for its convenient portabability (& deliciousness!).

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 & used spam (a super popular ingredient in Hawaii – more on that in a sec!) as the musubi filling. Like Shoyu Chicken, Manapua, & Mac Salad, Spam musubi is one of many local dishes that reflects the unique blend of cultures on the Hawaiian islands. Spam musubi is an iconic part of Hawaiian food culture enjoyed by locals any time of any day.

Spam musubi vs. sushi. I’ve heard spam musubi described as “spam sushi” or “sushi made with spam” but that’s definitely an over-simplification. While musubi may share some basic characteristics with sushi, it’s a totally different Japanese food. The biggest difference is that musubi uses plain steamed rice while sushi is made with rice seasoned with vinegar, salt, & sugar.

Hawaiian Musubi Ingredients

Hawaiian Spam Musubi ingredients arranged on a creamy white textured surface: Calrose rice, Spam, sushi nori, furikake seasoning, dark brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil.

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The fun thing about learning how to make musubi at home is the fact that you only need a few ingredients. They’re all simple Hawaiian pantry staples:

  • Spam – Spam is readily available in the canned goods aisle of most conventional grocery stores. It comes in several different varieties, but I prefer making spam musubi with original spam (labeled “classic”). If you prefer reduced-sodium spam, it also works great in this spam musubi recipe.
  • Simple teriyaki sauce – Mom’s homemade spam musubi sauce mixes dark brown sugar, shoyu (soy sauce), mirin, & sesame oil to create the perfect savory-sweet glaze for spam.
  • Rice – It’s best to use short or medium-grain white rice for spam musubi. My family loves Calrose rice, but sushi rice is also a great option.
  • Furikake – This Japanese seasoning is a blend of sesame seeds, nori, salt, & sugar. It’s a total umami bomb & it’s amazing sprinkled on top of rice. It’s grown increasingly popular in recent years, so you can find furikake in the “international” aisle at most conventional grocery stores near other Asian ingredients or purchase it online.
  • Sushi nori – This roasted seaweed is commonly used for sushi rolls, but it’s also an essential ingredient in spam musubi – it holds everything together!
Ingredient Spotlight

Spam (A Totally Underappreciated Ingredient!)

If you’ve never spent time in Hawaii, you may be surprised to learn that spam is a celebrated ingredient on the islands. Since spam is a rich & flavorful, it’s a popular add-on for many local Hawaiian dishes, like saimin & pork chow fun. (In Hawaii, you can even order spam & eggs on the breakfast menu at McDonald’s! & for the record…it’s awesome!)

First created by Hormel Foods 1937, Spam was spread around the world as a convenient, protein-packed food for soldiers in World War II. Spam first arrived in Hawaii with the American military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Locals came to love it for its rich, salty flavor & unbeatable convenience. It’s been an iconic ingredient in the local Hawaiian food scene ever since.

In my opinion, spam is a totally underappreciated ingredient outside of Hawaii! 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 my family always found a way to keep it in our food traditions. Popping open a can of spam fills me with nostalgia for the islands & my Hawaiian family. If you’ve never tried spam before, this spam musubi recipe is a delicious place to start!

*Quick Note of Encouragement!

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!

A Taste of Hawaii at Home: How to Make Spam Musubi

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

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

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

2

Prepare the teriyaki spam musubi sauce. This teriyaki-style spam musubi sauce is super easy to prep! Simply whisk together dark brown sugar, soy sauce, mirin, & sesame oil, then microwave for about a minute until the sugar dissolves. Prep Tip! ⇢ This spam musubi 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 & an irresistible crispy golden-brown crust. After cooking the spam for a few minutes on each side, reduce the heat & spoon the spam musubi sauce over each piece. The sauce will thicken as it cooks, creating a savory-sweet glaze that clings to the spam beautifully.

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 & 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!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

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 & light! Try not to compact the rice as you are scooping or packing it. Instead, fill the mold almost entirely with rice & 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 & texture to the musubi.
  3. Top with the teriyaki spam. Place the slices of pan-fried spam right on top & 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 & then continue pressing out to the edges. Why? ⇢ This helps ensure the spam musubi is nice & compact so it wraps up easily (& doesn’t fall apart as you roll it!). When it feels right, hold the lid down & pull the musubi mold box up to remove it.

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

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 & pull it up to fold it over. Then roll the spam musubi away from you so it wraps up in the nori & seals itself shut. Tip! ⇢ Dampen your fingers & run them along the last edge of nori to help create a tight seal.

8

Repeat, slice, & 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 & help prevent sticking.

Spam Musubi Recipe FAQs

What is in spam musubi?

Spam musubi is arguably Hawaii’s most iconic & beloved snack. Like many popular foods in Hawaii, spam musubi is a reflection of the diverse peoples, cultures, & traditions in Hawaii. It was most likely originally inspired by Japanese onigiri (rice balls), but it’s made with a handful of staple ingredients in local-style Hawaiian cooking: spam, rice, & nori. There are countless ways you can prepare spam musubi, but my mom’s has always been my favorite. I think it’s the absolute best spam musubi recipe out there!

Is spam musubi Hawaiian or Japanese?

It’s a bit of both! There is a strong Japanese influence in Hawaii, thanks to Hawaii’s large population of Japanese-Americans. While musubi is a popular Japanese-style rice ball (also known as onigiri or omusubi), spam musubi is said to have first been created in Hawaii by Barbara Funamaura in the 1940s.

What is spam musubi sauce made of?

The key to a good spam musubi sauce is the perfect balance of savory-sweet, which coats the spam in a beautiful glaze. My mom’s spam musubi sauce is a teriyaki-inspired mixture, made of shoyu (soy sauce), mirin (rice wine), dark brown sugar, & sesame oil. 

What rice is best for spam musubi?

Either short-grain or medium-grain white rice is best for making spam musubi. My family is partial to Calrose-style medium-grain white rice. Our preferred brands are Botan & Kokuho Rose.

What spam musubi mold should I use?

There are countless options out there, but this double spam musubi mold is the one I use at home.

Is spam musubi served hot or cold?

Either is fine! After wrapping your spam musubi they will still probably be nice & warm, which I love. But leftovers straight out of the fridge are also tasty.

How to reheat spam musubi?

Warm spam musubi is my fave, so I often reheat it quickly in the microwave before enjoying it. Wrap it in a damp paper towel & microwave for 30-45 seconds, until warmed through. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more storage & reheating guidance!

I can’t wait for you to try my family’s Best-Ever Spam Musubi! It’s my all-time favorite, & 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 also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
A stack of three Hawaiian spam musubi rest atop a wooden serving platter. The platter sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A container of Furikake seasoning and a plate of additional finished spam musubi sit out of focus in the background.

Best-Ever Spam Musubi (Step-by-Step Photos)

  • 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

Description

Spam musubi is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Growing up on the mainland meant that my family was far away from our extended family in Hawaii. Whenever my mom pulled out her spam musubi mold, we knew we were in for a comforting treat that would transport us back to Hawaii after the first bite. Mom seriously makes the Best-Ever Spam Musubi – this is her recipe.

In my experience, there are 3 secrets to making the best spam musubi:

  1. Nail the ratio of spam & rice: These 2 components need the perfect balance, so you’ll notice that we slice each can of spam into 7 pieces – not 8, not 6…7!!! – & this is exactly why. 
  2. Make a killer spam musubi sauce: Mom’s is a simple teriyaki-style sauce made with a couple of pantry ingredients. When you pan-fry it with spam, it turns into a gloriously glossy & thick glaze that clings to the spam beautifully & its sweetness provides the perfect balance for the rich, savory flavor of spam. 
  3. Cook the rice well & handle it with care: Musubi rice needs to have the perfect light-yet-sticky texture. We love medium-grain Calrose rice, but sushi rice works just fine if that’s what is most readily available to you. 

(Note! ⇢ If spam &/or musubi are new-to-you, be sure to read through the blog post to learn more about their delicious history in Hawaii!) 

While nothing beats a warm spam musubi on a beach in Hawaii, I think my family’s spam musubi is the next best thing. 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 & 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 & 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 & cook. Once the rice is done, let it steam & rest for 5-10 minutes before assembling Spam musubi. How to make spam musubi, step 1: Cook the rice. Cooked rice rests in the bottom of a pot-style rice cooker. The rice cooker rests atop a creamy white textured surface.
  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 & cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes.)Prepared teriyaki sauce for spam musubi fills a clear glass mixing bowl that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A small wire whisk rests inside of the teriyaki sauce for mixing.
  3. Pan-fry the Spam & 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 & spooning sauce on the Spam 1-2 more times, until the Spam is as browned & saucy as you like & the teriyaki sauce is reduced to a thick glaze. Remove from the heat & set aside for Spam musubi assembly. How to make Hawaiian spam musubi, step 3: Pan-fry the Spam & glaze with teriyaki sauce. Seven pieces of pan-fried spam that have been glazed with a homemade teriyaki sauce fill a black non-stick frying pan. The pan sits atop a creamy white textured surface.
  4. Prep the nori & 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 & textured while the other is shiny & smoother – & is ever-so-slightly rectangular. Place a piece of sushi nori on top of the plastic wrap/wax paper such that its shiny & smooth side is facing down & 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. How to make spam musubi, step 4: Prep the nori & musubi mold. A single sheet of sushi nori rests atop a piece of plastic wrap that sits atop a creamy white textured surface. The outer box of a double musubi mold is arranged in the center of the sushi nori with the long edge of the mold running parallel with the long edge of the nori. Resting above the nori & the musubi mold is a small bowl filled with furikake seasoning with a spoon resting inside, another small white bowl filled with water, and a small speckled ceramic plate with pan-fried teriyaki Spam resting atop with a gold fork resting on the plate. The musubi mold lids rests alongside.
  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 & 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 & wrap the Spam musubi: Place the musubi mold lid on top of the Spam. Press down on the lid firmly, starting at the center & working your way to the outer edge. Once you reach the outer edge, press down on the lid firmly with your thumbs & 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 & set aside. Gently-yet-firmly pull the side of the nori sheet facing you up & 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 & teriyaki Spam. Your last musubi will only have one piece of Spam, so simply slice the sushi nori in half crosswise & assemble the musubi using only one half of the mold. A finished but uncut Hawaiian spam musubi sits atop a piece of plastic wrap atop a creamy white textured surface. Positioned just above the almost finished musubi is a small bowl filled with furikake seasoning with a spoon resting inside, another small white bowl filled with water, and a small speckled ceramic plate with pan-fried teriyaki Spam. A spam musubi mold rests alongside.
  8.  Slice & 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!A stack of three Hawaiian spam musubi rest atop a wooden serving platter. The platter sits atop a creamy white textured surface. A container of Furikake seasoning and a plate of additional finished spam musubi sit out of focus in the background.


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 & Kokuho Rose), though sushi-style short-grain white rice can be used to make Spam musubi as well. 
  • Storage & Reheating: If you don’t plan to enjoy all 7 Spam musubi immediately, wrap each tightly in plastic wrap or wax paper & 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 is much better warm. To reheat, simply place it in the microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute, then carefully unwrap & enjoy. 

Keywords: spam musubi recipe, hawaiian recipes, hawaiian food recipes, spam musubi, spam recipes

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

Nine finished spam musubi sit atop a gray speckled ceramic plate atop a creamy white textured surface.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

Topics

Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Rating & Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 7.15.22
    Jeff said:

    Made them twice. These are amazingly, amazingly delicious!!

    • 7.18.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thank you, Jeff! Thrilled to hear you love them as much as we do!

FREE Grilling Guide

Tips for your BEST grilling season yet with TONS of delicious recipes + 15 BONUS

go-to grilling marinades!

5-DAY EMAIL SERIES

Jess of Plays Well With Butter stands on a deck behind a stainless steel Weber Genesis II propane grill. In the background, a blossoming tree & a house with beige siding.