Christmas Lights Onigiri - These bright & festive rice balls are perfect for bento box lunches, holiday parties, and Christmas themed appetizers! Filled with a crazy addictive chestnut & brussels sprouts filling, learn just how fun & easy making and decorating these onigiri are with an easy to follow video tutorial + step-by-step instructions. |

Christmas Lights Onigiri w/ Chestnut & Brussels Sprouts Filling

  • Author: Shannon
  • Yield: 4 Onigiri
  • Category: Onigiri


Spread the holiday cheer with these fun & colorful Christmas Lights Onigiri! Includes recipe for a tantalizing chestnut & brussels sprouts filling, plus easy to follow instructions for making your very own edible Christmas light decorations. {Vegetarian options}


Food Items:

  • ~1 cup short-grain Japanese rice, cooked
  • Nori seaweed
  • 1 slice white cheese (such as provolone, swiss, or white Kraft Singles)
  • 3 – 4 baby spinach leaves (can also use basil, shiso, or arugula)

Chestnut & Brussels Sprouts Filling:

  • 5 brussels sprouts, finely shredded
  • 3 – 4 chestnuts (roasted or boiled), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 slice thick-cut smoked ham, cut into 1 cm cubes (leave out to make this vegetarian)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Recommended Tools:



  1. Heat a pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the smoked ham cubes and pan-fry until they become crispy and golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  2. Using the same pan (no need to rinse), add shredded brussels sprouts and cook over medium heat, until they become fragrant and start to crisp up around the edges (feel free to add a little more oil, if necessary). Season with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Add the chestnuts and ham into the pan, and mix until warmed through. Transfer everything to a bowl to cool before using to fill your onigiri.


  1. Using the teardrop food cutter, cut out a bunch of “light bulbs” from the white cheese. I used approximately 8 cheese light bulbs per onigiri, but feel free to use more or less.
  2. Color one side of each cheese light bulb with the edible food markers; I colored mine red, green, blue, and yellow, but feel free to use whatever colors you’d like.
  3. With a clean pair of scissors, cut the spinach leaves into long, thin strips – these will become the “cords” for the Christmas lights.
  4. Using scissors, cut your nori seaweed into 8 squares (you’ll need 2 squares per onigiri). The squares should be slightly bigger than the onigiri mold you’ll be using. Stack all the squares on top of each other, and cut small slits along all the edges and corners (this will help the nori to conform to the rice better).


  1. With a damp paper towel, wipe the inside of your onigiri mold until it’s completely damp. Also wet the removable top piece.
  2. Using a rice paddle or spoon, fill your mold just below the halfway point with warm rice. Press the rice gently but firmly into all the crevices of the mold.
  3.  With the handle of your rice paddle or spoon, make a small indentation in the center of your rice; this will help to hold some of the filling in place.
  4. Add your filling to the middle of the rice, ensuring your leave a border of untouched rice on all sides. Be generous with the filling, and pile it up a little if necessary!
  5. Fill the rest of your mold with rice, until about the 3/4 point. Use a chopstick or back end of a spoon to gently push the rice down along the edges of the mold, until the top layer of rice connects with the bottom layer of rice. If your onigiri mold is clear, check and see if you can see any filling poking out along any of the sides; your goal is to see only white rice on all sides of the onigiri. If you see any filling sticking out, add a little more rice and/or press down with your chopstick again in that spot until all you can see is rice.
  6. Take the removable top piece and insert it into the mold. Push with gentle pressure until the top piece is fully inserted into the mold.
  7. Remove the top piece, and flip the rice mold over, making sure to do this over top of a sheet of plastic wrap. If your rice mold has little push indents on the bottom, push it gently with your thumb, then gently tap the bottom and sides of the mold until the onigiri slides out.
  8. Place one square of nori (shiny side up) atop your onigiri, and press it against all 3 sides until it hugs the onigiri. At this point, don’t worry if the nori doesn’t conform perfectly to the onigiri. Flip the onigiri over and repeat on the other side with a second square of nori, making sure to place this nori square at an angle to the other piece of nori (this ensures all edges will be covered). Wrap the entire rice ball tightly in plastic wrap, and gently smooth down the edges with your hands. This is where you want to make sure all the nori is conformed nicely to your rice ball, as the moisture + plastic wrap will help to mold it to the rice. Allow the onigiri to rest for a while before you remove the plastic wrap.
  9. Repeat Step 8 on remaining onigiri, until all are wrapped up in nori.
  10. Using tweezers, carefully place the strips of spinach across one side of your onigiri in a random zigzag pattern (you can use my pictures as an example, if you’d like). I added 3 “cords” to each onigiri. Don’t fret if your spinach strips aren’t long enough; simply connect 2 shorter strips together to create one long line. If they aren’t sticking, dab a little bit of water onto either the nori or the spinach strips, and/or, once you’ve added all the spinach cords, wrap the onigiri carefully in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for a little bit, as the moisture will help the spinach to stick better.
  11. Using tweezers, add your colored cheese lights bulbs all along the spinach cords, in whatever pattern you’d like. Again, I used about 7 – 8 cheese light bulbs per onigiri. Use some mayo or honey to help them stick better.


  • Feel free to substitute the smoked ham with any cured meat product you’d like; I’m thinking bacon, prosciutto, or pancetta would all work equally as well. Of course, omit the ham completely to make this 100% vegetarian!

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