Onigiri just got a major fall makeover, thanks to the addition of pumpkin spice! A must-try for all pumpkin spice lovers.
Yes, I went there. I’m not sure if the rice ball gods will forgive me, but I have gone ahead and paired rice with pumpkin spice, and it’s truly everything you’d expect of a pumpkin spice creation – warm, fulfilling, and inexplicably addicting. Warning in advance though: these are not your typical onigiri. They teeter flirtatiously between savory and sweet. But I have faith that you can all find it in your heart to welcome these little harbingers of delectable fall bliss into your life.
For instance, are you a fan of rice pudding? If you answered yes, then I’m pretty sure you and these pumpkin spice onigiri can be best friends. When my mom made me and my sister rice pudding as kids, I always thought the best part was the warm sprinkle of cinnamon on the top. Well, these onigiri take the prized cinnamon sprinkle to a whole new dimension, thanks to the addition of pumpkin spice. Taking a bite will immediately catapult your tastebuds into “warm and tingly” mode, and your brain? It’ll be completely overtaken by thoughts of pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice frappuccinos, which is pretty much like free therapy because who doesn’t like those things? *Cue pumpkin pie cravings*
These pumpkin spice onigiri check off the 3 traits I consider as being vital to classifying something as “fall food”:
- Aroma: warm rice + pumpkin spice = bone-meltingly divine.
- Color: dusky harvest orange hue that’s the visual embodiment of fall.
- Taste: um, we’re talking about pumpkin spice here – that’s an automatic pass.
Watch how to make Pumpkin Spice Onigiri (45 sec):
And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, honey almonds decided to show up to the pumpkin spice party. For these onigiri, I used my “10 second cheater version” candied almonds, cheater because there’s no oven or stovetop required, and 10 seconds because you literally just add your ingredients and mix. I consider the honey almonds to be an absolutely CRUCIAL element to the pumpkin spice onigiri, so please please please DO NOT leave them out. You can either stuff a generous amount into the middle of your onigiri, or mix them right into the pumpkin spice rice so that you get tasty bits of crunchy honey goodness with every bite. Either way, sprinkle more on top, because you can, and you should.
I incorporated circular versions of the pumpkin spice onigiri into a vegetarian bento box that contained curried cauliflower, pickled carrot ribbons, red pepper kinpira, golden beets, and tamagoyaki sprinkled with some Korean red chili pepper. As added decor, I cut out some beet & carrot “fall leaves”, and also stuck in some sliced cherry tomatoes and almonds. My goal was to have this entire bento be a celebration of fall colors, since I think they all look so beautiful together. Come on, who wouldn’t feel all warm and cozy looking at that for lunch?
If I haven’t convinced you yet to try these pumpkin spice onigiri, then consider this one final appeal that is luxuriously glutinous and near hard to resist: these taste AH-MAZING when warm and drizzled with honey.
Pumpkin spice onigiri are flavored with the warm tastes of fall, and finished with a delectable honey almond crunch coating. A must-try for all pumpkin spice lovers! [Vegetarian, Vegan]
Pumpkin Spice Rice:
- ~ 2 cups cooked Japanese short-grain rice
- 1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling; you want 100% pumpkin)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 4 teaspoons coconut cream or coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend (I use this homemade recipe)
- Sprinkle of salt
Super Easy Honey Almond Crunch:
- 1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
- Onigiri mold
- Plastic wrap
Pumpkin Spice Rice:
- In a bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, brown sugar, coconut cream, pumpkin spice, and salt. Once combined, give it a taste: feel like it could be a bit sweeter? Add a little more sugar. Want a bit more of that pumpkin spice essence? Add some more of that spice. How the pumpkin mixture tastes is totally up to your palette, so feel free to adjust as you see fit!
- Add your pumpkin mixture to warm sushi rice, and mix until the rice is evenly colored.
Super Easy Honey Almond Crunch:
- In a bowl, combine almonds, honey, and brown sugar, and stir until evenly combined. The almonds will probably clump up a bit from the honey, which is okay; you can either leave them as is, or break them up a bit with your spoon.
- With a damp paper towel, wipe the inside of your onigiri mold until it’s completely damp.
- Using a rice paddle or spoon, fill your mold just below the halfway point with warm pumpkin spice rice. Make sure you press the rice gently but firmly into all the crevices.
- With the handle of your rice paddle or spoon, make a small indentation in the center of your rice, just deep enough to hold your filling.
- Spoon your honey almond crunch filling into the indent. Be generous!
- Fill the rest of your mold with rice, until about the 3/4 point – you’ll need some room for the removable top piece to fit on top.
- 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.
- Remove the top piece, and flip the rice mold over, making sure to do this over top 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.
- Idea #1: Coat two sides of the onigiri with the honey almond crunch mix. Use clean hands to gently press it to the sides until it adheres (you can also use a little more honey to help it stick, if necessary). Wrap your onigiri fully in plastic wrap, then gently press and spread the almonds until they evenly cover the sides. Allow to set in the fridge.
- Idea #2: Take a small rectangular strip of nori, and, using a leaf nori or craft punch, punch out a single leaf cutout. Using scissors, cut off any excess nori above the leaf – you should be left with a square of nori with the leaf design in the very center. Place this at the base of your onigiri, right in the very middle. Take the excess nori that was cut off from the top, and apply this to the very bottom of the onigiri and onto the other side, so that it looks like one continuous strip of nori. Finish by coating the sides in honey almond crunch (as in Idea #1). Wrap fully in plastic wrap and allow to set.
- Idea #3: Add honey almond crunch mixture to your pumpkin rice, and mix until evenly incorporated. Shape the rice into balls or a triangle (your call!). Optionally top with a generous sprinkle of almond crunch to finish.
- Feel free to try subbing a different nut for the almonds – I’m thinking pecans or walnuts would both be great options to try.
© Love At First Bento. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use any image without my prior permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your own site, you are required to (1) link back to this post and (2) rewrite any instructions in your own words.
Still not ready for the fall takeover? Get a final dose of summer by making these Watermelon Onigiri.
Tools used to make this onigiri: