The Best Philadelphia Roll Recipe

If sushi rolls are one of your go-to favorites when you’re out to eat, but you can’t justify spending the money all the time, then this easy recipe will show you how to make your own Philly rolls at home so you can enjoy them whenever you want.

What Is A Philly Roll?

A Philadelphia roll is a type of rolled sushi made out of smoked salmon, sushi rice, cucumber, cream cheese with a nori seaweed sheet and is often covered in sesame seeds once rolled. The Philly roll is an inside out sushi roll where the rice is on the outside of the nori seaweed sheet instead of being inside the wrapping as a filling.

The Philadelphia roll gets its name from the brand of cream cheese ‘Philadelphia’ that is normally used in this kind of sushi roll. Back in the 1980s in Philadelphia, Japanese food was mostly consumed by expats as Westerners were not yet convinced of eating raw ingredients that were so hugely popular in Asia. 

It was the Japanese chef Ai Saito who moved to the city of Philadelphia after moving there with her husband and her children. She was inspired by the typical North American bagel that contained smoked salmon and cream cheese and wanted to create a sushi roll using these ingredients so locals in the area would feel less intimidated to try sushi.

Decades on and Philly rolls have become of the most popular types of sushi that you can order all over the world. 

What Are The Main Ingredients In A Philly Roll?

The main ingredients found in a traditional Philly roll are cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumber all wrapped in a nori seaweed cheese and covered with cooked sushi rice and some sesame seeds. 

How To Make A Philadelphia Roll

This recipe makes just one roll and you’ll need half a sheet of nori to make this. If you want to make numerous quantities of Philly rolls then you’ll need to adjust the recipe card at the bottom of this article accordingly.

  1. Lay out your bamboo mat on a flat surface and lay a plastic wrap on top
  2. Place half your nori sheet onto the mat horizontally (shiny side facing down)
  3. Add ¾ cup of your sushi rice to the nori sheet and spread evenly
  4. Flip your sheet over so the rice is facing the mat and add your filling to the nori sheet
  5. Begin rolling the sheet by placing your thumbs underneath the mat and lifting the edge up and over the filling
  6. Roll the mat away from you and keep the roll tight as you roll it to keep everything together, keep rolling until the ends meet
  7. Remove the mat and wrap and then sprinkle your sesame seeds on top of the rice

How To Make Your Sushi Rice

Making sushi rice is a bit different from making regular rice. You’ll need to use rice and water at a 1:1 ratio and it is best done in a rice cooker to get the best consistency.

Once your rice is cooked, transfer it to a bowl to cool down slightly and then mix in sushi vinegar to season the rice and to turn it into traditional sushi rice. 

How Healthy Are Philadelphia Rolls?

When eaten in moderation Philadelphia rolls are a good light afternoon snack or lunch, however, smoked salmon and cream cheese are quite high in calories so you can easily rack up your calories for the day just munching away on these tiny delights. One serving of these Philadelphia rolls contains 318 calories however depending on whether you’re eating them as a snack or a main meal then you may feel inclined to make and eat more as they are only small.

Philadelphia Roll Recipe Card

These Philly rolls are ideal to take with you for lunch at work or even taking on a weekend picnic with friends. If you’ve never made sushi before then you may find it a bit fiddly, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to make a bunch of these in no time to share amongst your friends and family. 

Prep Time: 10 mins     Cooking Time: 20-30 mins      Total Time: 40 mins

Serves: 4 people      Calories per serving: 318kcal


  • 3 cups of sushi rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • ⅘ tbsp of sushi vinegar
  • 12oz smoked salmon
  • 12oz cream cheese
  • 1.5 cucumbers
  • 6 sheets of nori
  • 3 tbsp of sesame seeds

Equipment Needed:

  • Rice cooker or a pot to cook the rice
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp knife
  • Bamboo mat
  • Plastic wrapping

Prep Instructions: 

The best way to efficiently complete this recipe is by preparing all your ingredients out in front of you so you have everything within arms reach. 

  1. Cut your cream cheese into ½ inch strips and set aside on a plate
  2. Cut your 1 and a half cucumbers into ½ inch strips and place on a plate
  3. You can also choose to slice your smoked salmon into smaller strips to make it easier to wrap the sushi roll
  4. Make up a small bowl of vinegar water ready for when you need to dip your fingers in later


  1. Rinse your short-grain sushi rice with some water and then add it to your rice cooker with your 3 cups of water and leave it to cook for around 30 to 40 minutes depending on what kind of rice cooker you have. If you’re cooking your rice on the stove then monitor whilst it cooks to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan
  2. Once your rice is cooked, transfer it to a large bowl and leave it to cool down for a few minutes before adding your sushi vinegar and stirring it in (if you don’t have sushi vinegar you can use a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt)
  3. Next, lay out your bamboo mat on a flat surface and lay a piece of plastic wrap on top to prevent the rice from sticking to the bamboo when you begin to roll it
  4. Rip one piece of nori sheet in half and place it horizontally on the bamboo mat. The nori piece should be placed near the bottom of the bamboo mat (nearest to you) but with a gap, so you can easily roll the Philly roll when you’re finished
  5. Dip your hands into the vinegar water to prevent the rice from sticking to your hands as you begin making the roll
  6. Take around ¾ cup of your cooked rice and spread it evenly across the nori sheet (if you feel that there’s too much then remove some as you don’t want the roll to be too big to roll)
  7. Then flip over your nori sheet so that the rice is facing down towards the plastic wrap on the bamboo mat
  8. If you’ve already cut your smoked salmon into small ½ inch strips then start placing it on top of the nori sheet. If you haven’t already cut your smoked salmon then fold it into smaller (½ inch) strips to place onto the sheet
  9. Then also add your small strips of cream cheese and cucumber to the nori sheet horizontally across the nori sheet (don’t over pack as it will make it more difficult to roll)
  10. Then once you’ve placed everything onto your nori sheet, place your thumbs underneath the bamboo mat and gently lift the edge up and over the filling inside
  11. Start rolling the bamboo mat away from you and apply light pressure to keep it packed and secure but not too hard otherwise the filling will seep out of the sides. Keep rolling until the ends meet
  12. Then remove the bamboo mat and the plastic wrap and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top of the roll
  13. Cut your roll into 8 pieces and serve it with some soy sauce or wasabi mayo