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Maki Vs. Temaki – What’s The Difference, And How Do You Tell Them Apart?

Sushi is an incredibly popular food, and for good reason! It’s delicious and practically an art form. However, did you know that there are lots of different sushi types?

You were probably aware of that, but do you actually know the differences between them?

If you want to know a little more about sushi – particularly maki and temaki, you’ve come to the right place.

You might know that these two sushi types are roles, but how are they different? Chances are, you’re a lot more familiar with one than the other, but why?

Maki Vs. Temaki - What’s The Difference, And How Do You Tell Them Apart?

If you saw these two sushi types in any decent restaurant, would you know the difference between them?

If not, let’s learn all about them today, so you can identify your sushi and become a pro.  

Maki Vs. Temaki – The Differences

Simply put, you are way more likely to see maki in a restaurant. This type of sushi is the popular one that you will typically see cut in slices.

Temaki, on the other hand, is sushi in a cone! Although these two sushi types are made with the same ingredients, there are plenty of differences between them.

They both use nori sheets, rice, and all the other ingredients you like.

For a quick answer, there are four main differences between maki and temaki: the shape, popularity, skill level for making, and the number of people it feeds.

The characteristic that ties these two together, on the other hand, are the ingredients used. 

So, if you want to take a deeper look  into the differences between maki and temaki, just keep reading!   

The Shape

The first noticeable difference between maki and temaki is the shape. Maki are the normal sushi rolls you often see in restaurants.

They are cylindrical rolls that get cut into either six or eight slices (sometimes more or less), and looks like a Swiss roll, but it’s savory. 

Temaki, on the other hand, is sushi that is rolled into a cone. To do this, a completely different technique is used. The rice is spread out, toppings are added, and you roll it into a delicious cone.

Generally, temaki will look a little bit like a flattened ice cream cone, and the upper part will showcase all the fillings that you chose.

This second form of sushi might also be called “hand roll”, as that’s what temaki literally translates to from Japanese.

Likewise, maki rolls might be referred to as “makizushi”, which actually means “rolled sushi”.

Since every restaurant is likely to use different terminology for their meals, sushi included, it’s important to know their secondary names, too. 

Maki Is Popular

If you walked into a restaurant, you would probably see maki rolls. They are the more popular option of the two, and very widespread.

These can be seen in everyday restaurants, movies, and even cartoons and commercials. This is likely to be the case because they are very appealing to look at, and are basically an art form. 

Temaki isn’t so widely pictured, probably because it isn’t as attractive as maki. There’s a pretty good chance that most people wouldn’t know what they were looking at if they saw temaki.

Unless you have a lot of experience with sushi, would you know if you were looking at temaki?

Because of temaki being less popular than sushi in all areas of life, you can easily recognize maki in daily life. 

Temaki Is Easier To Make

Temaki Is Easier To Make

Unlike maki, temaki is incredibly forgiving when you’re making it. While maki requires perfection and planning, you can kind of get away with anything when it comes to temaki.

There’s nothing precise about temaki, which means that it’s a great option for kids to make. This form of sushi is easy enough for beginners to make.

Sure, you still need some level of control to make temaki, but nowhere near what’s needed for maki. You still need an eye for detail and nimble fingers, but there isn’t as much stress behind it all.

Because of this, it’s a great option for kids to get into and make for themselves, and it’s fun, too!

As always, they will need to be supervised at all times, but this is something they should be able to do.

By the end of it, they will have great results, so it’s impossible to feel bad about the outcome. 

To make this, you need to use a nori sheet that’s a little smaller than you would for maki. Generally, you can get one nori sheet and cut it in half to make two temaki.

The nori will go on a flat surface like a table, then you will add a little rice on top of it. Spread the rice out so that it is even, but one side of the nori sheet is empty.

Once you’ve done that, add whatever fillings you like in the middle of the rice, and start rolling! 

To roll your temaki, begin rolling it on the side where the rice sits. The final section that you roll will be the plain nori side, as this will be used to seal the cone and keep everything together.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how it looks. As long as the cone’s bottom is sealed and sharp so that no rice can escape, you’re good!

When it comes to making maki rolls, measuring out the ingredients is crucial. Too much or too little, and the whole thing won’t look right.

It’s super easy to overfill or underfill maki. When there’s too much, the roll will be difficult to cut through and enjoy, and it won’t look even. 

Temaki Is For One Person

The final big difference between maki and temaki is simple – temaki is meant for one person! This might not be important to you, but if it is, it’s good to know!

While maki is rolled into cylindrical shapes then cut into slices to share, you would find it pretty difficult to share temaki.

If you really wanted to share temaki, you would have to take a bite and share it around. That would clearly be off-putting for a lot of people, especially in today’s climate. 

A maki roll is super easy to share. It’s sliced, and everyone can get their own slice – easy! Moreover, when you order maki, you can usually order a couple of different ones to try out, too.

This allows everyone in the group to get a taste of something a little different, rather than being stuck with one flavor profile. 

Try going to a sushi restaurant and ordering temaki to share, and you might get a couple of funny looks. Truth is, it isn’t worth the trouble if you’re ordering a temaki roll for two.

Go with the easy option instead, and get some maki to enjoy. You won’t have to fight for the last bite!   

The Similarities

Of course, there are some similarities between temaki and maki, too. Obviously, they are both forms of sushi, but anyone who doesn’t know a thing about sushi probably has a lot of questions! 

The Fillings

The biggest similarity between these two sushi forms is what they’re made of. There is no one style or filling that you need to go with when you order these types of sushi.

Sure, the most common ones will include rice, nori, and a form of fish like salmon or tuna, but not all of them! However, this trio is probably the best option to go with, if you’re thinking of trying out some sushi. 

If you’re vegan, there are plenty of options for you as well. You can skip on the fish and just enjoy your nori, rice, and alternative filling like avocado or cucumber.

There are also plenty of options for someone who wants to try different flavor options. Most menus will have a variety of sushi to try, including the infamous California roll.

These rolls are made from cucumber, crab, and avocado, and it’s rolled inside-out. However, this can be turned into a normal maki roll if you would like it to be!

You will not be at a loss for options, and the majority of restaurants will have their unique filling combinations for you to try.

Some will even give you all the power, and you can choose every ingredient you want in your sushi!

This goes for both maki and temaki, and you can have complete free will of ingredients. 

Bear in mind that you will typically only get wasabi if you order nigiri.

If you’re looking for that dab of heat, you will have to indulge in some delicious nigiri side dishes alongside your sushi.

Also, if you are a soy sauce lover, you better take that into consideration when deciding to order maki or temaki.

Dipping your maki in soy sauce is super easy, but the same cannot be said for temaki. Things will get messy, and you might end up with all your fillings out on the plate.

The whole soy sauce ordeal is probably another reason why maki is a lot more popular than temaki.

Most people love soy sauce, and of course you want to dip your sushi in it! For ease of use (and sharing), maki will always come out on top.  

Other Types Of Sushi

Other Types Of Sushi

There’s no point in explaining the differences between maki and temaki without at least acknowledging some other sushi types, too.

This list isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, as there are probably hundreds of different sushi types.

However, we’ve put this together just so that you can learn a little more about other sushi that you might come across on a restaurant menu.

Since so many menus won’t have pictures of the sushi beside it, knowing that the names mean off by heart will always come in handy eventually.


As we just learned, maki is the most common sushi roll you get. It will typically be made of fish like salmon or tuna, and rice, which is then wrapped in nori, or seaweed.

The rolls typically come in slices of six or eight, depending on your chef or personal preferences.

It wouldn’t be unusual to find some maki wrapped in rice paper or thin cucumber slices instead of the usual seaweed.

This is because seaweed has a strong and unique flavor, which many do not enjoy.

Futomaki And Hosomaki

Think of hosomaki like a thinner version of maki with only one filling. Cucumber or salmon maki is hosomaki, as it only contains one filling along with the rice. 

Futomaki, on the other hand, is the opposite. This is like a bigger version of hosomaki, and can have three or more fillings. Popular fillings for futomaki include cucumber, salmon, rice, and roe. 


Think of uramaki as maki that is inside out. It has a minimum of two fillings, which are wrapped in nori, which then gets wrapped in sushi rice.

This rice gets a sprinkling of sesame seeds, or something like crispy onions or roe. Whatever the topping is, it is there to prevent the rice from clumping together or getting stuck on things. 


As we covered, temaki is sushi that’s rolled into a cone. You aren’t limited to the number of fillings you can have, just as long as it can still be rolled up!

This form of sushi is meant for one person rather than being shared because of the way it’s put together.


This is simply fish (usually raw), that is cut into super thin strips and laid over rice like a blanket. With this, you will usually get a little wasabi, too.

You can also opt for tofu or vegetable nigiri. If you opt for ingredients that won’t stick to the rice well (like vegetables), it will be stuck on with a strip of nori, just to keep everything together. 

While nigiri is typically bite sized, it can also be bigger. However, you will always only get one topping, unlike maki. 


This is similar to maki, but it’s a lot more artistic and showy. Ingredients are carefully placed to create beautiful patterns, and roe is typically used as a topping.

A small ball of sushi rice will be carefully placed around the rice, leaving a ½ inch space, which is then filled with ingredients. 


This isn’t a true type of sushi to many, as sushi simply refers to food that is wrapped in vinegared rice.

Sashimi comes with no rice, and is just strips of meat (usually raw), which is served with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and wasabi.

This type of food is generally seen as a delicacy and an art form, and the whole point of it is to be impressed by the quality of the meat. 

Flavors are delicate, so not everyone will be able to appreciate the mildness and quality. Overall, if you’re new to sushi, avoid this all together.

You will simply be paying a lot of money for something you won’t yet be able to appreciate.

Jess Smith