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Spam Musubi

Spam musubi perfectly balances sweet, savory, and umami flavors. Take one bite, and it’s clear why musubi is a popular lunch and snack food in Hawaii.

Spam musubi is a true Hawaiian gem that has won over the taste buds of people far beyond the Pacific Islands, including myself. There is nothing not to like about it. You have crispy, lightly glazed spam with salty nori and perfectly cooked rice that serves as a neutral element, bringing together the two boldly flavored ingredients. Every bite is meaty, salty, and sticky. Moreover, spam musubi is so easy to make.

Spam Musubi

Why You’ll Love Spam Musubi

Inexpensive – Spam, rice, and nori are all you need, which may be $12. You can’t beat that, especially when you realize you’ll have more rice and seaweed to use in other recipes.

Fun – I don’t know about you, but I enjoy recipes requiring assembly. They get your hands a little dirty, creating a pleasant sensory experience. It can quickly become a group activity and presents the opportunity to personalize your food.

Portable – Pop one into a lunch box, wrap spam musubi in plastic or transfer it to a sandwich bag to take with you. Since spam musubi is best at room temperature, it’s perfect when you’re on the move.

Easy to customize – Spam musubi is one of those dishes that you can make your own. From changing up the glaze to adding fresh elements, the options are endless.

What is SPAM?

SPAM is a fully cooked spiced ham luncheon meat that contains pork with ham, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, and sodium nitrite. SPAM was originally called “Hormel Spiced Ham,” but its name was later shortened to SPAM, derived from the “Sp-” in Spiced and the “-am” in Ham.

Optional Tools to Use

I highly recommend using a spam musubi slicer, aka egg or luncheon meat slicer, and spam musubi molds. The slicer will cut the spam into perfectly even slices while the molds will easily form nice rectangle shapes. You can find spam musubi kits on Amazon or at a local Daiso.

Spam Musubi Ingredients Notes

To make spam musubi, you will need the following:

  • Spam: The recipe suggests low-sodium SPAM since the classic variety of the meat product is very salty. Moreover, the glaze includes soy sauce, which is high in sodium. However, use what you like. Low-sodium spam combines pork and chicken, while classic spam is all pork, which may be a deciding factor. If you go the classic route, consider low-sodium soy sauce.
  • Short-grain rice: Unlike long-grain rice, short-grain rice is sticky when cooked, which is essential for spam musubi since the rice is formed into a rectangle about the size of a slice of spam before nori enters the equation. Using another type of rice could make the assembly a nightmare.
  • Nori: You’ll need full sheets for this recipe.
  • Sugar: Plain, granulated sugar is all you need. It gives the dish balance and helps the spam crisp up and caramelize.

You’ll find the complete ingredients list with amounts in the recipe card below!

Spam Musubi Ingredients

How to Make Spam Musubi

  1. Make the rice: Once washed well, add rice and water to a pot, leave it to soak to plump the grains, then cook until all the water is absorbed. Once done, the rice needs a little steam before it is ready. 
  2. Cool the rice: Hot rice doesn’t work for spam musubi and would be hard to handle. Give it time to cool to room temperature.
  3. Cook the spam: Is spam already cooked? Yes, but to achieve a caramelized result, it’s browned in a pan, then lightly coated in a delicious soy sauce glaze.
  4. Assemble and serve: Shape a portion of rice into a rectangle about the same size as a slice of spam, place it on top of the spam, roll both in a strip of nori, and repeat! They will be done before you know it.
Ready To Make Spam Musubi

Variations, Substitutions, and Cooking Tips

Watch the rice – Although you don’t want to check it constantly as it cooks, do so occasionally to avoid overcooking. When all the water is gone, take the rice off the heat.

Consider using a rice cooker – If you have one, definitely put the kitchen appliance to use. They make cooking perfect rice a breeze.

Try sushi rice – You know how spam is super salty? The vinegar and sugar used in sushi rice counteract that to create a balanced flavor profile.

Shaping the rice Portion out a ball of rice and use the empty Spam can to gently smash it down, then use the open end to cut out the rectangular shape to match the Spam slices.

Switch up the glaze – A bit of garlic would be delicious. You can add chili flakes for heat, pineapple juice for a fruity touch, or use maple syrup/honey to make it refined sugar-free.

Add teriyaki – The sauce is sweet, tangy, sticky and goes well with spam musubi.

Dipping – Use a little low sodium soy sauce and wasabi, or ponzu sauce for dipping the finished product.

Storage and Freezer Tips

Spam musubi is best stored at room temperature and eaten within a few hours. The second-best option is the refrigerator. Just pop them in an airtight container and chill for no longer than a day. Unfortunately, the rice hardens and develops an undesirable texture the longer they’re stored at a cool temperature. Do not freeze.

How to Reheat

Spam musubi stored in the fridge can be reheated in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to bring it to room temperature. Unfortunately, the nori may become soggy and chewy. Despite the texture change, the flavors will still be on point! Spam musubi made the right way is tasty no matter what.

Spam Musubi

Spam Musubi

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Spam musubi perfectly balances sweet, savory, and umami flavors. Take one bite, and it’s clear why musubi is a popular lunch and snack food in Hawaii.



  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain rice
  • 20 fluid ounces water

Spam Musubi

  • 2 teaspoons neutral oil of choice
  • 1 (12-ounce) can low-sodium spam
  • 2 fluid ounces water
  • 2 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 cups cooked short-grain rice
  • 3 sheets nori, cut into 2x8 inch strips



  1. Quickly rinse the rice under cool running water and drain a few times until the water is mostly clear to remove excess starch. Remember to agitate the rice with your hands to wash the grains thoroughly.
  2. Drain the rice well, then transfer it to a heavy-bottomed pot with the measured water.
  3. Leave the rice to soak in the water for 20 minutes. This helps to plump the grains to promote tender rice instead of mushy rice.
  4. Partially cover the pot with the lid and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  5. Reduce the heat to low once boiling, and fully cover the pot. Cook for 12-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Check the rice occasionally. Any water present indicates that the rice needs to cook a bit longer.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat, leave the cover on, and let the rice steam for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this time.
  7. Uncover the rice, fluff (preferably with a rice paddle, then transfer to a bowl to cool to room temperature.

Spam Musubi

  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the oil once the skillet is hot, then add the slices of spam once the oil is hot.
  3. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crisp.
  4. Whisk the water and soy sauce together in a small bowl.
  5. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the spam slices.
  6. Pour in the soy sauce and water mixture once the sugar melts. Pour around the spam as opposed to over the spam.
  7. Continue to cook the spam for 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway through. The soy sauce and water mixture meld with the sugar during this time to create a light glaze.
  8. Transfer the spam slices to a plate to cool to room temperature.
  9. Place a strip of nori vertically onto a cutting board/work surface.
  10. Place a slice of spam perpendicular to the strip.
  11. Dampen both hands, then form a ½ cup of rice into a ball.
  12. Firmly press the ball into a rectangular shape about the same size as the slice of spam.
  13. Place the rice on top of the spam.
  14. Carefully roll the spam and rice in the nori, sealing the end with water.
  15. Rinse your hands and repeat.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 195mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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Monique McArthur
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