Quick Nori Roll with Cucumber and Avocado Recipe

Quick Nori Roll with Cucumber and Avocado

It all started with this photo on Gena’s Instagram feed. Gena is the author of the excellent blog The Full Helping, and she has long extolled the virtues of the vegetable nori roll as a quickly and easily assembled snack: her site offers almost a dozen examples, including this latest version.

The process is not unlike that which leads to maki, but here you forgo the seasoned rice altogether — this saves time and effort, and also means you don’t have to plan ahead — in favor of fresh vegetables, lots of them.

I was so inspired by that latest shot that I went out and got some cucumbers and sprouts the very next day to make my own, and I have been weaving variations on that theme about twice a week since then — that’s how enthused I am.

Although Gena likes to apply a thick layer of some sort of spread — think hummus or cashew cheese — directly on the nori sheet, I start with the sliced cucumbers as I prefer my nori to stay as crisp as possible* — the drier, the crisper — and find it most pleasing to bite into the crunchy layer of cucumbers first.

My Take on Nori Roll

Having played around with various ingredients, I have now determined the foundation I like to build on (cucumber, avocado, sprouts, sesame), and will add whatever little things I have on hand — leftover chicken or fish, tofu, spread or dressing, crudités, greens, and herbs. I have a great fondness for the mango and jicama version I make as an affectionate nod to the maki served at Bob’s Kitchen.

Mini Cookbook of Vegan Staples

These make for a lovely item to add to the mix when we’re composing a lunch or dinner from sundry elements (see “leftovers night” in my Menu Planning Tips & Tricks). You could offer them as finger food as well, cut into maki-style slices, and I’ve been known to fix myself a nori roll as a refreshing afternoon treat, too.

* For optimal texture, I like to eat the roll the moment it is made, but of course it’s fine to let it sit while you make the others, or if you’re packing them for lunch at the office or a picnic.

Quick Nori Roll with Cucumber and Avocado

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Cucumber and Avocado Quick Nori Roll Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Makes 4 rolls.

Cucumber and Avocado Quick Nori Roll Recipe


  • 4 sheets nori seaweed (available from natural food stores and Japanese markets)
  • 450 grams (1 pound) cucumbers, thinly sliced with a mandolin slicer (I don't peel my cucumbers; see note)
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • ground chili powder (optional)
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced into thin wedges
  • 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) tofu, or cooked chicken, or fish (raw and super fresh, or cooked), cut into strips
  • long-stem sprouts or sprouted seeds
  • soy sauce, for serving
  • Optional additions
  • simple tahini sauce
  • raw cashew cheese or other spread
  • pink radishes, thinly sliced with a mandolin slicer
  • large handful of small salad leaves, such as baby spinach or baby kale
  • fresh herbs, especially shiso or cilantro
  • 1/2 ripe mango, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 small jicama, peeled and cut into strips


  1. Have all the ingredients ready and portioned out into four equal servings before you begin, and have a small bowl or glass of water close at hand.
  2. Place a sheet of nori on a clean and dry cutting board, shiny side facing down and longest edge facing you.
  3. Starting from the left edge, arrange the cucumber slices in overlapping rows on the nori, leaving a 3-cm (1-inch) margin of uncovered nori at right.
  4. Sprinkle with sesame and ground chili powder, if using.
  5. If using tahini sauce or cashew cheese, drizzle or smear over the cucumber now.
  6. If using sliced radishes or salad leaves, arrange in a single layer on top of the cucumber now.
  7. Arrange the bulkier fillings -- avocado, tofu, sprouts, herbs, mango, jicama -- in an even, vertical pattern, about 5 cm (2 inches) from the left edge.
  8. Nori Roll
  9. Rotate the cutting board by a quarter of a turn counter-clockwise so the uncovered strip of nori is furthest from you. Using both hands, start rolling the sheet of nori from the edge closest to you, folding it up and over the fillings, then rolling it snugly away from you (see note).
  10. Just as you're about to reach the uncovered strip of nori at the end, dip your fingertips in the bowl of water and dab the nori lightly so it will stick.
  11. Set aside, seam side down, and repeat with the remaining ingredients to make three more rolls.
  12. Nori Roll
  13. Slice into halves or thick slices using a sharp chef knife. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.
  14. Nori Roll


  • The exact variety of cucumber matters little for this recipe. What's more important is to pick smaller cucumbers that feel heavy for their size and are nice and firm throughout -- older cucumbers start shriveling up from the tips. Before slicing any cucumber, give it a taste to make sure it's not bitter. If it is, it will probably be more palatable peeled.
  • I find it unnecessary to use a sushi-rolling mat here. Just use both your hands with your fingers splayed out to cover the width of the roll; you'll quickly get the hang of it.


Easy Nori Rolls, Avocado and Cucumber

This post was first published in May 2014 and updated in August 2017.

  • Great idea, I was looking for paleo-friendly alternatives for sandwich! Any idea how long can I keep this roll in the fridge?

    • From a food safety perspective, it should keep 2-3 days, well wrapped, but for optimal texture it would be best to make it only a few hours in advance, or the previous night at the most.

  • i absolutely love this idea for a roll.

  • Beautiful! I will put this on my to-make list.
    Thank you again Clotilde.

  • I am truly amazed at your rolling skills sans sushi mat. The rolls look even and tight. Simply gorgeous.

  • the kale project

    I hold nori rolls close to my heart. My mom would make them for me all the time for school lunches and little did everyone know while making fun of them that 15 years later they would be all the rage! Thank you for the reminder of a great idea!

    • Love that story — who’s laughing now? :) Did you appreciate them back then, or resent the weird non-sandwich?

  • I’m so impressed by these!! They look incredible!


  • Roberta

    fantastic Clotilde! As for bitter cucumbers, I have learned from my granma to cut the tips and then vigorously rub each tip on the opposite side of the cucumber (if this makes any sense in English). The whiteish watery froth you obtain by doing so is the bitter part – so you just have to wash the cucmber well and you’re done!

    • How intriguing! I’m not sure I picture the maneuver the correct way, though. Do you “scratch” the pointy tip on the cut side of the cucumber?

      • Roberta

        Exactly, but you scratch the cut side of the tip on the opposite cut side of the cucumber

        • Thank you! I found this video. Is that how you do it too?

          • Roberta

            Yes, that’s it, but I scratch tip “A” on cut side “B” of the cucumber – it seems that you get more of that foamy water out (or at least, that’s what my grandma said and I trusted her!)

  • Maria

    Looks great! May I ask where you source your jicama? I’ve never seen it in the Paris region.

  • Annabel Smyth

    Oh, that does look good! I think I should also like it with cream cheese, sometimes. But, alas, even though I can sometimes find nori in my local supermarket, I know from bitter experience that my rolls would not look neat and tidy! They would probably taste good, though.

    • I wouldn’t have thought of using cream cheese, but now that you mention it I’m 100% on board!

  • Cowen Park Kitchen

    Yum, yum. I have been trying to incorporate more seaweed into my diet lately. I feel great when I eat more of it, plus…it’s delicious.

  • Wai Sim

    I’ve made mine with pickled cucumber sticks and pickled carrot sticks.

    • That’s such a great idea. Would you share your preferred method for picking cucumber and carrot sticks when you have a moment?

      • Wai Sim

        Hi Clotilde, I don’t use exact measurements as it’s not typical of Asian cooking. Just season to taste. I use rice vinegar (Japanese brand – Marukan), sugar and salt from memory. I also season the rice with vinegar, sugar & salt (gradually stir into cooked rice).

        You could add brown rice or black glutinous rice to white rice for more colour, texture and nutrition.

  • gloria

    these look awesome Clotilde Amazing idea! My daugther loves sushi and she is a veggie so these rolls look perfect. We love avocados too:) thanks

    • I hope your daughter enjoys these! I love how quickly and effortlessly they can be assembled, yet feel like a real treat.

  • This look amazing. Sushi without fish :) – love it. And the pictures are amazing. How did you slice the cucumbers so thin btw?

    • I use a mandolin slicer: this is the model I own and love. It doesn’t cost very much, doesn’t take up a lot of space, but I use it several times a week to prepare vegetables.

  • Interesting idea! Love sushi with avocado and always had it with sushi rice. But your vegetarian version looks so great too! Avocado + soy sauce + nori will taste awesome!

  • This looks absolutely stunning, I love that you incorporated her cashew cheese with few of her refreshing veggies. I made her Avocado, Asparagus Quinoa Sushi Rolls yesterday and we finished them within a day – so good with hot sauce and wasabi!

  • This is a great recipe. I love everything about it – it’s incredibly versatile, healthy, and flavourful… Great work. I featured it in my round-up of vegetarian paleo dishes this week (http://immigrantstable.com/2015/01/09/best-vegetarian-paleo-recipes), so thanks for sharing!!

  • Great idea, for sure I’ll make the rolls soon.

  • Aimee Rosenbaum

    I’m a newbie to making sushi at home, but I’ve looked for nori at the store and have seen two types. Raw and toasted. Does it matter which one to use here?
    This looks so delicious by the way!! I can’t wait to try!!

    • I believe the ones I use are the toasted kind — more flavor and more crisp.

      • Aimee Rosenbaum

        Thanks for the response!! I’m gonna have to try these today!

  • Cassidy

    I made these last night and they were amazing!Thank you for sharing this recipe. I did have a problem with the nori being very hard to bite or rip apart. Any suggestions on how to soften it for next time?

    • Try toasting it briefly in the skillet! If the nori is fresh and suitably dry, it is actually easy to bite into. It can be hard to bite into if it has too much moisture.

    • Livres

      Wave it over an open flame.

  • Dave

    So maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I made these last night and then tried to eat them for lunch, and they fall apart completely. How do you keep them together? I layered the cucumbers, sliced them thin and did my best to make them look just like your pictures. Any tips for a nori newbie? I want these to work, I have plenty of cucumbers right now

    • It is likely that you haven’t rolled them up tightly enough. Nori is fairly sturdy, so you can go ahead and roll it up tight. :)

  • Peppermint Dolly

    These look fab!!


  • Andreas

    I made this last week – it’s very delicious!!

  • benny black

    yes please..

  • kareemachan

    I made these with some cream cheese in the middle – to die for! Merci beaucoup!

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