Nigiri Vs Maki (Remarkable Differences)

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Difference Between Nigiri and Maki



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You might wonder what the difference between Nigiri vs Maki is. 

Well, that is precisely what we’ll discuss on this page, giving you all the information required to know exactly which of them is right for your dishes. But how is nigiri different from maki?

Nigiri is served slices of raw fish on top of pressed mounds of vinegar rice on a wooden tray, while maki is usually the same roll that carries different ingredients such as layers of fish, rice, veggies, and seaweed — cooked or raw. 

You might think you know a thing or two about sushi. But things could get confusing real fast when looking at the menu at the Japanese restaurant. 

You see different rolls and sushi made with similar ingredients that might sound strange to you, especially if you’re an American. And I bet the two sushi many people aren’t clear about that are likely to be at the top list are Nigiri and Maki

Here is a tiny expo: 

Nigiri isn’t rolled like Maki.

What Is Nigiri?

Nigiri is a type of sushi with a thinly sliced drapery of raw or cooked fish over a clustered sweet and tangy vinegared rice. 

In Japanese, Nigiri means “two-finger,” which refers to the rice portion’s size. And this small delicious treat creates a superb mouthfeel. 

Nigiri is not always served in fish. There is a variety of seafood options like octopus, squid, or shrimp, but never meat

Although, most sushi first-timers confessed nigiri sushi with salmon, bluefin tuna, or halibut are more palatable. 

Furthermore, it is usually served on a wooden tray with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and Wasabi. 

And one last thing:

Nobody eats the Nigiri with chopsticks. You will be using your thumb and middle finger to hold the sushi.

Ensure to wash your hands with the hot towel you are served with. 

What Is Maki? 

Maki, makizushi, or norimaki is a Japanese sushi roll stuffed with various fillings — perfect for appetizers or finger food at potlucks or parties. 

Maki is commonly served in rolls with a Japanese spicy horseradish called Wasabi and pickled ginger, also known as gari shoga.

Maki features layers of seafood, veggies, rolled up inside nori (seaweed), and vinegared rice. 

Also, Maki may contain either raw or cooked seafood. And it has fish-free varieties perfect for vegans, such as avocado roll and cucumber roll. 

Besides that, there is a lot of Maki sushi rolls, and they are: 

  • Kappa-maki: cucumber rolls
  • Shibazuke rolls: eggplant pickled with shiso
  • Tekka-maki: raw tuna sashimi rolls
  • Shinko-maki: takuan, yellow pickled daikon rolls

But all Maki sushi is eaten in a single bite — at least as it is meant to be –and is usually dipped in soy sauce. 

Nigiri Vs Maki: Key Differences

Nigiri Vs Maki

Below are the primary differences between nigiri vs maki that you should know:


Nutritionally, Maki captures the upper hand due to its fish, rice, veggies, and seaweed layers.

I’m not saying Nigiri isn’t nourishing at all. But the nutritional content is lacking even if it is pretty similar to Miki. For instance, Miki is stuffed with loads of protein and relatively low on calories.

The rice incorporated is responsible for the calories and carbs supplied. Meanwhile, the seaweed and veggies provide the meal with a significant amount of vitamins and minerals vital for proper hormone function.

As for Nigiri, it lacks seaweed, which brings down the mineral content. Everything is still intact — the fish for protein, the rice that provides calories and carbs. 

How They Are Served

Both are served differently — this is where you should capitalize on.

Nigiri isn’t served in a roll, whereas Maki is always the same roll that carries different ingredients such as layers of fish, rice, veggies, and seaweed — cooked or raw. 

On the other hand, Nigiri is served slices of raw fish on top of pressed mounds of vinegar rice on a wooden tray. 

While both look similar, the difference is clear. Both can are served with pickled ginger and Wasabi with a small soy sauce. So don’t be fooled. Focus on the packaging instead. 


You are likely to have heard Maki or Nigiri if you’re a first-timer. They are the two of the most popular types of sushi. So if you’ve been confusing one for another, I hope this article has helped state the difference. 

Perhaps when next you are faced with these two treats, you know which is which. You can even learn about more sushi if you go check out our list of the most popular types of sushi rolls. 

Learn about the vast and intimidating world of sushi and be more confident about your choice next time you are out at your favorite sushi restaurant.

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