My kids are not very fond of sushi but my husband is a huge sushi fan. This can make mealtimes a little complicated. It is hard to please everyone!
After many conversations, I discovered that my kids specifically don’t like the “scary black seaweed” that is used to wrap sushi. I admit it can be an acquired taste!
Luckily, there are tons of seaweed substitutes that I can use in place of seaweed to make sushi!
I can make my husband happy with his classic seaweed sushi and get my kids to eat sushi just by changing the wrapper. Total mom win!
The best substitute for nori seaweed to make sushi is rice paper. Soy wrappers are another fantastic seaweed substitute with a subtle flavor. Use bonito shavings to replace seaweed in soups. Thin, deep-fried tofu is a good snack for when you don’t have seaweed chips on hand.
1. Rice Paper – Best Substitute for Nori Sheets for Sushi
Rice paper is typically used to wrap spring rolls. It is common in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine. It is a very thin sheet of crisp paper made from rice.
Rice paper is soaked in water, making it flexible and soft. It has a slight chewy texture but a basic, plain taste that won’t interfere with the flavor of your sushi.
It is perfect for people who do not like the flavor of nori. Even the plain color will be pleasing to kids!
Wrap your sushi filling in softened rice paper and you will have a fantastic, seaweed-free sushi roll!
One sheet of rice paper has 20 calories, almost no fat, and 4 grams of carbs. There is only 19 mg of sodium in a sheet of rice paper making it a great, low sodium substitute.
Fresh lettuce leaves can be used to perfectly wrap sushi. Large romaine lettuce leaves or collard greens work best.
Choose lettuce with big, flexible leaves that can easily wrap around a sushi roll.
Place a lettuce leaf on a bamboo mat then spread your sushi roll fillings in a thin layer. Use the bamboo mat to roll your fillings inside your lettuce then slice and enjoy!
Shiso is a type of Japanese basil. It is often used in Japanese cooking so it fits right into a sushi meal!
Shiso has a fresh flavor and aroma that is great with rice, fish and vegetables. The large leaves are flexible and soft so they will wrap right around your sushi rolls.
Use the same quantity of shiso to replace nori seaweed sheets. ¼ ounce of shisho has zero calories, zero fat and also zero sodium.
It is a healthy substitute for seaweed and also one that tastes delicious. That bright green color is super pretty, too!
4. Cured Meats
Use thinly sliced deli meat like prosciutto to replace nori seaweed. Prosciutto is very thin, just like seaweed. It is also soft enough to roll into a sushi log.
Cured meat has a salty taste that is similar to the taste of seaweed. Cured meats do have a stronger taste but may be perfect for someone who isn’t a fan of the umami flavor of seaweed. You will be surprised how tasty sushi prosciutto and soy sauce can be!
The meat will naturally be higher in calories than seaweed. Prosciutto, for example, has 35 calories per ½ ounce and 3 grams of fat. It will also make your sushi not vegetarian-friendly so keep this in mind when you use this substitute.
5. Thin Omelets
The egg is used in sushi recipes all the time. Savory eggs taste good with rice vinegar and soy sauce. This is why a very thin omelet is a great substitute for nori seaweed.
Whisk eggs together and then pour the mix into a rimmed sheet pan to bake until the eggs are set.
Cut the skinny omelet into sheets and let them cool. Cooled eggs are more flexible and easier to roll.
Use plastic wrap to roll the sushi rather than a bamboo mat. Plastic will hold the egg together better.
Add a little salt or soy sauce to the egg mix to make it compliment your sushi even more. Eggs are packed with protein and, while they may have more calories than nori, they are very healthy.
6. Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon is a very popular sushi topping. Rather than just use smoked salmon to garnish sushi or inside a sushi roll, try using it to replace nori. Salmon is already thinly sliced and ready to roll!
Salmon has a rich, smokey flavor that is delicious with vinegar rice. Try using smoked salmon in place of seaweed for vegetable rolls. The hearty meat will add a lot of interesting flavor to the veggies.
Place your smoked salmon sheets on a piece of plastic wrap and then spread the vinegar rice and sushi fillings onto the salmon. Use the plastic wrap to make a roll then slice and enjoy!
7. Cucumber Wraps
Thinly sliced cucumbers can make a great substitute for seaweed. Cucumbers have a nice crisp texture like nori. They are also practically calorie-free, just like seaweed.
Use a mandolin slicer to shave very thin pieces of cucumber. Layer them onto a bamboo mat then spread your sushi fillings on top.
Carefully roll the cucumber slices around the fillings then slice and enjoy!
The mild flavor of cucumber is perfect for anyone who doesn’t like the flavor of seaweed.
Cucumber is pretty neutral so this seaweed substitute may help encourage kids to try sushi.
8. Origami Wraps Fruit and Veggie Puree Wraps
Origami brand wraps are an incredible seaweed substitute. The paper-thin wraps are made with fruit and vegetable purees.
They can be used exactly like nori but have a totally different taste and appearance.
You can choose between wrap flavors like carrot ginger, green apple, or barbecue original flavor. I love the mango Origami wrap. It is perfect for California rolls. The fruit puree wraps roll nicely and are very easy to use.
The wraps are vegan. Gluten-free, non-GMO, fat-free, and low carb. They only have 15 calories per wrap making them very comparable nutritionally to nori.
9. Soy Wrappers – Best Dried Seaweed Substitute
Soy wrappers are another readily available, packaged substitute for seaweed. They can be found in most specialty grocery stores or you can order them online. They are gluten-free, low in calories, and completely cholesterol free.
Use soy wrappers exactly as you would use seaweed wraps to make sushi. Soy wrappers have a very mild flavor making them perfect for anyone who doesn’t like the flavor of seaweed. These wrappers are so mild, you won’t taste them at all!
You can also break sory wrappers into smaller, crispy pieces and use them as an arame seaweed substitute or dulse seaweed substitute.
Arame seaweed and dulse seaweed are both flaked, dried seaweeds that are mostly used as a garnish. Chopped soy wrappers are perfect for substituting these dried seaweeds in any recipe!
Hondashi is a brand of dashi granules. The granules taste like the classic dashi soup or broth and have a nice crunch.
You can use them as a dried kombu seaweed substitute or as a hijiki seaweed substitute.
They are perfect to replace any kind of dried seaweed pieces in any recipe. Sprinkle hondashi into soup or over salads for a nice crunch. They have a fantastic salty flavor that is very similar to seaweed.
You can find hondashi granules in a specialty grocery store but you may want to order a bottle online. It will keep in your pantry for months!
Spinach has a very light taste. It is not bitter like some raw leafy greens. It can add a lot of flavor to a broth and give soup a similar flavor as kelp.
Use the same quantity of seaweed as kelp in a miso soup recipe. This recipe from Minimalist Baker is fantastic. It only takes 15 minutes to make amazing, homemade miso!
One whole cup of spinach has only 30 calories and no fats. It is also full of vitamins and minerals, just like seaweed.
Spinach can help boost immunity, promote eye health, and aid in weight loss.
12. Bonito Shavings
Bonito shavings are small pieces of dried fish. They are also called bonito flakes. Bonito shavings are commonly used to make dashi broth and can be used in place of seaweed to make soup.
Bonito shavings have a very powerful flavor. They have an umami taste that is also attributed to seaweed.
Add the same quantity of bonito flakes to replace seaweed and you will have a delicious soup.
13. Thin, Fried Tofu – Best Seaweed Substitute for Snacking
Crispy fried tofu can help satisfy your craving for a salty seaweed snack.
This recipe from The Hidden Veggies will show you how to make crunchy, delicious fried tofu. Eat this as a snack and you will be replacing seaweed with a protein-rich, low-calorie snack.
Try adding seasoning to the fried tofu. A little salt and pepper are necessary but some cayenne pepper or soy sauce can really make fried tofu a treat. Slice the tofu thin to make it even more chip-like.
14. Pork Belly
A crispy, crunchy fried pork belly is a fantastic substitute for seaweed chips. Fried pork belly is salty and savory. It also has the perfect amount of crunch.
You can make your own crispy pork belly using this recipe from Recipe Tin Eats. Drizzle it with a little soy sauce or add a touch of salt and pepper.
Eat the fried pork belly while it is warm and crispy for the best flavor.
Pork belly has about 147 calories per ounce with 15 grams of fat. It may not be the most nutritious food but it does make a great snack! Everything is in moderation, right?
15. Liquid Fish Fertilizer – Best Substitute for Seaweed Fertilizer
Fish emulsion is made from the by-products of the fishing industry. It is rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, just like seaweed fertilizers. It is known to help promote plant growth and enrich the soil.
Add fish fertilizer to the soil before planting seeds or starter plants. It will have a very powerful smell but that will dissipate after a day or two. It can be applied in the same quantity as seaweed fertilizer.
16. Iodine Fertilizer
Use iodine fertilizers to mimic seaweed fertilizers. Iodine fertilizers are also called soil conditioners. They help soften the soil and feed the plants at the root level.
You can find iodine fertilizers in most garden stores. It should be applied to moist soil in the spring before the planting season. It will make plants thrive just like a good seaweed fertilizer.
What is Nori Seaweed?
Nori seaweed is known as the “sea vegetable”. It is a species of seaweed belonging to the algae genus Porphyra.
It grows wild off of rocks in the shallow waters of the Pacific and North Atlantic oceans.
The seaweed is harvested in large sheets, pressed, and dried. The dried seaweed has a dark green, almost black color. It is very thin and crisp when dry but flexible and tender when moistened.
Nori is the type of seaweed most often used to make sushi. It is also seasoned and sold as a savory snack, almost like a seaweed chip. Nori is the most popular culinary seaweed in the world!
Is Seaweed Healthy?
Seaweed has high amounts of vital nutrients. Most seaweeds are very high in potassium, iodine, vitamins A, B, C, E and K. Seaweed has more iodine than any other vegetable which is important to regulating thyroid function.
Seaweed, like nori, has unsaturated fatty acids. These help nourish brain cells and can lower cholesterol. Nori also has amino acids which help build muscle.
Seaweed can be high in sodium which could lead to kidney disease or raised blood pressure. However, you’d have to eat a lot of seaweed in order to experience these negative side effects!
Here is a quick look at the nutritional makeup of nori seaweed. These quantities are for one sheet of nori that is about 3.5 grams.
Uses For Seaweed
Seaweed, especially nori, is most often used to make sushi. However, there are lots of uses for all different kinds of seaweed. Here are a few of my favorites.
- To make broth for soups
- To add a crispy topping to a salad
- To wrap sushi
- As a crunchy snack
- In place of lettuce in a salad
- As a fertilizer or soil conditioner
- As mulch
Seaweed is a very multi purpose sea vegetable. However, if you don’t have it on hand, there are plenty of great seaweed substitutes to choose from!
Dried Seaweed Substitutes
Dried seaweed is often used to make sushi rolls or to sprinkle over a salad. Dried seaweed makes a great garnish and a perfect way to add a little extra nutrition to a meal.
Substitute for Seaweed in Soup
Classic Japanese Miso soup is made with dashi broth. This is a type of seaweed broth that is made using dried kelp. The kelp seaweed gives the soup it’s rich, interesting flavor.
Substitute for Seaweed Fertilizer
Seaweed is a fantastic fertilizer and usually made with kelp seaweed. Seaweed has so many awesome uses!
Seaweed fertilizer adds lots of iodine to the soil which helps promote plant growth. It also adds potassium, zinc and nitrogen to the soil.
Seaweed is a very healthy food. It is a staple in many Japanese recipes like sushi rolls and soups.
There are lots of great seaweed substitutes for those who don’t like the taste of seaweed or if you just can’t find seaweed in your local store. Creative cooking can lead to great new things!
Easy California Roll
California rolls are one of my favorite types of sushi. I use this recipe all the time and my family loves it. I do use cucumber slices as a seaweed substitute for my kids but classic nori for my husband and myself.
- 1 sheet nori seaweed
- 1 cup Japanese Sticky rice, cooked
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp olive oil
- 2 pieces of imitation crab
- ½ avocado
- Soy sauce
- Place the cooked white rice in a bowl and add the vinegar, sugar and olive oil. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
- Place the seaweed on a bamboo mat then spread the rice across the seaweed.
- Place the imitation crab sticks and sliced avocado along the bottom of the sushi covered nori. Keep everything in a straight line across the sticky rice.
- Use the bamboo mat to gently roll the sushi roll.
- Slice and serve with a little soy sauce.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 1039mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 4gSugar: 11gProtein: 10g
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.