Sushi Roll vs. Hand Roll: What are the Differences?

Different variations have been available since sushi has become more prevalent in modern food culture. One of these sushi variations is the hand roll. This article will tell you about the differences and similarities between sushi rolls vs. Hand rolls.

What is Sushi Roll?

hand roll vs roll

Sushi roll or makizushi is the type most of us associate with when the word sushi is uttered. It’s derived from ‘Maku,’ which means ‘to wrap or coil around.’

The sushi roll has a cylindrical shape wrapped in nori or other ingredients and packed with delicious fillings such as seafood and vegetables. It’s often made from a big roll and then cut into smaller pieces for a bigger serving.

There are two types of sushi rolls: hosomaki and futomaki. Hosomaki is the type of sushi roll that is much thinner and only contains one or two ingredients. On the other hand, futomaki has thicker slices and a diverse number of fillings.

Sushi rolls are very accessible as they are the most common type of sushi served worldwide, along with nigiri sushi. Various famous sushi such as California maki, spicy tuna roll, and Philadelphia roll is a sushi roll.

Although nori or dried seaweed sheet is commonly used to wrap and serve makizushi, various innovative Japanese restaurants also offer wraps such as eggs and salmon. Inside-out sushi rolls also have the nori as a filling rather than the coil on the top, like Boston rolls.

What is Hand Roll?

regular roll vs hand roll

Hand roll or Temaki is a cone-shaped variety of sushi. Its name is derived from the fact that you will need to use your hands only for its preparation and eating.

The hand roll is characterized by its triangular and cone-like shape held by a dried nori sheet. It’s often compared to the form of an ice cream cone.

Unlike makizushi or sushi rolls, hand rolls can be filled with many ingredients and are not limited to rice. Vegetables and fruits can also be fillings with seafood, chicken, and other meat.

Unlike sushi rolls, you can freely eat a hand roll, whether standing up or walking, akin to burritos. They are also much easier to prepare and wrap as they do not need sushi mats. It’s also much versatile with fillings and ways to eat.

Sushi Roll vs. Hand Roll: Comparison Chart

Sushi Roll

Hand Roll

Other names



Is it a type of sushi?



Type of Cuisine 









Rolled with

Sushi Mat


Does it Contain rice?


It does not Always Contain Rice

Does it Contain nori?

It does not Always Contain Nori


Eaten with

Chopsticks or Hands

Only Hands

Sushi Roll vs. Hand Roll: The Similarities

hand roll vs sushi roll

Although they are different in name, sushi roll and had roll has many similarities they share, such as:

They are Both Types of Sushi

Even though they have vast differences in their presentations, sushi rolls, and hand rolls are both a type of sushi. They are often filled with rice, vegetable, and cooked or raw seafood. However, both sushi also has variations that do not have these traditional ingredients.

For example, sushi rolls and hand rolls both have vegan varieties, and both do not contain any form of meat or animal products.

Both Can Contain Rice

Although hand rolls can also contain various ingredients such as fruits, most varieties have rice. On the other hand, sushi rolls need rice as a primary part of their ingredients. With that said, both can contain rice, especially in most traditional sushi bars.

Both Can Contain Nori

Although the contemporary version of sushi rolls has alternative wrapping ingredients such as salmon and egg, nori is still the primary ingredient for a sushi wrap. Hand rolls, on the other hand, always use nori as their wrap as other ingredients have a hard time maintaining the structure.

Both are Staple in Japanese Cuisine

Both sushi rolls and hand rolls are a staple in Japanese cuisine as sushi dishes. However, sushi rolls are more accessible compared to the latter.

Sushi Roll vs. Hand Roll: The Differences

temaki vs maki


One of the most apparent differences between a sushi roll and a hand roll is its shape. The sushi roll has a circular shape as its preparation includes a rolling mat. On the other hand, the hand roll has a cone shape, perfect for holding all the ingredients together.


Sushi rolls are much smaller than hand rolls as they can range from 1.5 inches to 2 inches in length. When making a sushi roll, the large roll is cut to form a small bite-size, perfect for chopsticks or hands.

Hand rolls are much larger at around 4 inches to 6 inches in length that need multiple bites to finish rather than bite-size sushi rolls.


The way of preparation for these varieties of sushi is vastly different, although it still has similarities. For the most part, their ingredients can be used interchangeably, such as with nori, seafood, and vegetables.

Sushi rolls are made using a sushi mat, a tool commonly made with bamboo. It gives the sushi its cylindrical structure.

Hand rolls are made without the use of a sushi mat. It’s made only with hands, thus the name. However, making hand rolls can be much more complicated than sushi rolls, especially if you don’t have prior experience in making sushi rolls.

Ways of Eating

Since sushi roll is smaller, you can eat it with a chopstick or hands. Sushi rolls are also mostly eaten with others due to their larger serving.

The hand roll has a bigger but more structured shape, so you can freely eat it with your hands. Although you can try to eat it with chopsticks, the large size of the sushi will make it challenging. Its eating method is comparable to those of burritos.

Using your hands makes the grip on the food much more secure. Hand rolls are often consumed with individual serving rather than the multiple servings in sushi rolls.

Pros and Cons of Sushi Roll

hand roll vs regular roll



● Can feed multiple people

● Bite-size

● Much Easier to Prepare

● Limited ingredients

● It can't be eaten on the go

● Can be pricier

Sushi rolls are perfect for serving multiple parties of people. You can also feed more people by dividing a whole roll into six to eight servings. However, since it needs more ingredients and time to prepare, it can also be pricier than a hand roll.

Its bite-size pieces are great for both chopsticks and hands. It’s also made the eating process much easier as you can eat it with one bite. However, sushi rolls are made to be eaten on a dining table rather than an on-the-go food because of their size.

Its preparation process can be much easier with the help of sushi mats. Unlike hand rolls, you can make sushi rolls without much of a learning curve.

However, one of its glaring cons is that the filling is often limited. Sushi rolls have either crab, shrimp, salmon, or tunes and vegetables like avocado, cucumbers, and carrots as a filling.

If you are not fond of these ingredients and buying your sushi roll outside, you might have a more challenging time finding the perfect sushi for your tastes.

On the brighter side, sushi rolls are more accessible than hand rolls.

Pros and Cons of Hand Roll

maki vs temaki



●  Can be eaten on the go

● Bigger size

● Easier to eat

● Many variations

● Cheaper

● Harder to prepare

● Can be pricier

One of the hand rolls pros is that you can eat it on the go. Whether standing or walking, you can properly eat a hand roll as you don’t need any other tools such as chopsticks. Its bigger size is also perfect for a quick and hearty meal.

However, unlike sushi rolls, hand rolls are not meant to serve large parties of people but for individual servings. If you are looking forward to eating a sushi solo, hand rolls are perfect for you with their bigger size and individual serving.

People who do not know how to use chopsticks will also have a good time eating hand rolls as they do not require them. In fact, hand rolls are specially designed with the use of hands rather than utensils.

It’s also much cheaper per serving compared to sushi rolls as it does not need large quantities of ingredients. Unfortunately, hand rolls are less accessible than sushi rolls which are present in most Japanese and Asian restaurants.

Benefits of Eating Sushi Rolls and Hand Rolls

Both sushi rolls and hand rolls are a good source of vitamins and other nutrients, especially if they are made with traditional ingredients. Raw or poached seafood such as salmon or tuna is a good source of omega-three fatty acids. Various vegetables such as cucumber, avocado, and carrots also have many nutrients.


Sushi rolls and hand rolls might have many similarities, but both dishes can still stand in their own unique way. We hope this comparison between sushi roll vs. Hand roll helps you find the perfect sushi variation.

Sushi Roll vs. Hand Roll What are the Differences

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