Spicy Crab Roll (Kani Rolls)

Make a Delicious Spicy Krab Roll in the Comfort of Your Home! This spicy kani roll is filled with kani lettuce and seasoned sushi rice. It contains many of the same ingredients as our beloved Sushi Bake.

Kani in sushi is inexpensive and contains no raw fish; perfect for those who avoid eating uncooked seafood. Here are 20+ more imitation crab recipes.

What is kani sushi

Kani, also known as kanikama, is imitation crabmeat made from surimi, minced white fish processed to taste and look like crabmeat. Anything called Kanikama Sushi, Kani Roll, or Krab Rolls are made with imitation crab meat versus real crab meat.

Check out our What is Kani guide for more information.

Photograph of labels detailing the ingredients for a kani roll.

Sushi ingredients

For the sushi rice you will need short grain sushi rice, unseasoned rice vinegar, sugar and salt.

To make the spicy crab roll recipe, you will need imitation crab, mayonnaise, sriracha, and nori sheets. Sesame seeds are an optional garnish.

How to make kani rolls

Making homemade sushi rolls recipes is easy once you get some practice. If you’re already a sushi pro, skip the graphics and go to the next section.

Make the sushi rice

You can cook the sushi rice on the stovetop or make a batch of our Sushi Rice Instant Pot.

Plate of sushi rice with chopsticks.

Make the filling

While the rice is cooking, prepare the kani filling. Shredded kani in a clear bowl next to rice and sesame seeds.

Build the role

Place the nori sheet on the bamboo mat, followed by 1/2 cup sushi rice, sesame seeds, and the kani salad filling.

Kani salad on nori sheets and a bamboo mat.

Roll the roll

Using two hands, roll the nori sheet tightly around the fillings. It should be firm enough so the roll won’t fall apart, but not too hard as the fillings will squeeze out the sides.

Sushi roll on a bamboo board.

Cut the roll

Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll into 1 inch sushi pieces. Run the knife under cold water between cuts (without drying it).

On a white cutting board, cut the sushi roll with a long sharp knife.


This spicy crab roll recipe can stand on its own, no additional sauce needed. However, if you’re looking for an extra layer of flavor, drizzle it over a sushi sauce recipe.

Eel sauce in a white bowl with a silver spoon.


crab roll

Use fresh crab meat instead of imitation crab meat to make a crab roll. The texture changes because real crab meat and imitation crab sticks don’t have the same shape or firmness. Baked crab legs would be excellent here.

Rice paper sushi

Don’t you like Nori? Replace the nori sheets with rice paper or soy paper.

Spicy crab roll

Do you like things over-spicy? Double or triple the sriracha. It adds warmth without changing the overall flavor of the dish.


All side dishes are optional and depend on your taste: sesame seeds, avocado slices, togarashi or tobiko or masago.

Crab imitation on a cutting board next to a sharp knife.

How to shred the crab

There are several ways to prepare kani:

  • Unroll the crab and use a knife to cut it into equal pieces (pictured above).
  • Peel with your fingers like spiked cheese.
  • Use two forks to “rip” the pieces apart (our least favorite option).

recipe tips

  • Use Japanese mayonnaise (Kewpie) for a fuller flavor. It makes a creamier dressing than using regular mayonnaise.
  • Don’t like spicy sushi? Omit the sriracha all together.
  • Wipe and wet the knife between cuts to keep the roll from sticking and breaking apart. Here is the sushi knife we ​​use and recommend.
  • Serve immediately after serving for the best freshness, texture and flavor.

Cut buns on a white plate with chopsticks.


There are a few sushi utensils that make sushi rolling MUCH easier. Here are our favorite gadgets:

bamboo mat If you decide not to purchase a sushi mat, simply use plastic wrap to aid in the rolling process.

Sharp and wet knife Be sure to wipe and wet the sharp knife between cuts to reduce rice sticking to the knife.

serving ideas

Spicy cucumber salad, pickled cucumbers, daikon radish go well with this dish, as does edamame.

Spicy tuna sushi on a speckled plate with soy sauce.

Spicy tuna rolls
tuna roll
Avocado Roll
Tuna Sashimi

Not sure what the differences between sushi and sashimi are? Read our sushi vs sashimi guide!

drink pairings

Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Champagne, Citrus IPA or Sake

For more tips on pairing sushi and wine, check out our Best Wine With Sushi guide.

Sushi plate with text "best wine with sushi".

Spicy Crab Roll (Kani Roll)

Make a delicious spicy crab roll at home in under 30 minutes! This spicy kani roll is filled with kani lettuce and seasoned sushi rice. It contains many of the same ingredients as our beloved Sushi Bake. You will love making sushi rolls recipes at home!

Preparation time: 10 protocol

Cooking time: 0 protocol

Sushi rice: 30 protocol

Total time: 40 protocol

Course: Appetizer, dinner, lunch, main course

Kitchen: Japanese

Keyword: Kani Recipes, Sushi Recipes, Sushi Roll Recipes

Calories: 459kcal

Author: Darcey Olson

Costs: $5

Sushi Rice (Stovetop or Instant Pot):

  • Instant pot: Check out the complete guide to making sushi rice in the Instant Pot.stovetop: Place the rice in a colander and place under cold running water until the water runs clear (about 2-3 minutes). Place rice and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and let it rest covered for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and carefully fold in the vinegar, sugar and salt.

Spicy Crab Roll:

  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the kani salad. In a medium bowl, combine the shredded kani, mayo, and sriracha and gently mix to combine.

  • If you have a sushi mat, wrap it in plastic before rolling or place it in a large Ziploc bag. If you don’t have a mat, no problem – just use plastic wrap.

  • Place a sheet of nori, rough side up, on the sushi mat. Wet your hands with cold water (it keeps the rice from sticking to your hands) and spread 1/2 cup sushi rice edge to edge. Be careful not to over-compact the rice or it will become mushy.

  • Sprinkle sesame seeds over the rice.

  • For a rice-side roll, turn the nori over so the rice is facing down. For a rice-inside roll, have the rice face up. Inner rice rolls are recommended for beginners as they are easier to roll and seal.

  • Lay 1/2 of the kani salad on the side closest to you in a straight line.

  • Starting on the side closest to you, using a firm grip, roll the nori around the fillings. Carefully unroll the bamboo mat and set aside.

  • Use a very sharp knife to cut 1 inch pieces of sushi. Run the knife under cold water (without drying it) between cuts to prevent the rice from sticking to it.

  • Repeat steps 2-9 to make the second roll. Sushi is best served immediately.

Note 1 – Short grain sushi rice is the key to great sushi! They cannot replace long grain rice or any other short grain rice. You can find sushi rice in the international aisles of most grocery stores.
Note 2 – Shred the Kani
You must shred the kani before building the scroll. Here are a few different ways to accomplish this, in order of our favorite methods:

  • Roll out the shrimp and use a knife to cut them into equal pieces.
  • Peel with your fingers like spiked cheese.
  • Use two forks to “shred”.

Note 3 – Kewpie Mayo is recommended but not essential.
Note 4 – Start with 1 tsp and add more until your desired level of spice is reached.

Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 90G | Protein: 9G | Fat: 6G | Saturated Fatty Acids: 1G | Polyunsaturated fat: 3G | Monounsaturated fatty acids: 1G | Trans fats: 0.01G | Cholesterol: 8thmg | Sodium: 2109mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 3G | Sugar: 8thG | Vitamin A: 73ie | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 2mg

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