By learning to make a Philadelphia Roll from scratch, you can have fresh sushi at the ready whenever you like! Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and julienned cucumber is rolled up together in smoky nori seaweed and lightly sweet sushi rice. Whether for a quick lunch or for a gathering with guests, this fresh, flavorful favorite can be whipped up in less than an hour!

A sushi roll is cut into pieces before serving.

If you’re wanting to switch up your sushi taste buds, then the Philadelphia Roll is where it’s at!

Imagine you took a lox and cream bagel and turned it into a sushi roll – that’s exactly what it tastes like!

And much like the California Roll or Avocado Roll, you can feel safe to eat and make this at home since it doesn’t require you to find sushi-grade fish.

(Yup! No worries about giving anyone food poisoning!)

But where do you start when it comes to making your own sushi at home?

If you haven’t already checked out how to make the perfect sushi rice, then you might want to start there. But other than that, I’ll go over everything you need to know in the post below to turn you into a sushi-making queen/king!

With a few ingredients and a couple of simple techniques for rolling sushi, you’ll be making your own Philly sushi rolls in no time! Made directly at home, these are perfect to enjoy solely or to share with friends!

Smoked salmon, rice, nori seaweed, cucumber, cream cheese, sesame seeds are the ingredients for this recipe.

Ingredients

To make this easy Philadelphia Roll recipe you need:

  • Sushi Rice. Freshly cooked short grain rice, seasoned with a sweetened rice vinegar mix, serves as the soft, binding base to practically all sushi. 
  • Nori. Roasted nori seaweed sheets taste the best, bringing a salty, almost briny flavor to the inside of the sushi roll. It can be easily found in most international markets or on the Asian food aisle in most larger grocery stores.
  • Cream cheese. A block of cream cheese is needed so that it can be cut into strips. Avoid spreadable or tub cream cheese, as they will make filling and rolling the sushi more difficult.
  • Salmon. Either hot- or cold- smoked salmon will work, but cold-smoked salmon generally yields the best results. (You can even learn how to make your own smoked salmon at home!)
  • Cucumber. Seedless and julienned into relatively even matchsticks. With the seeds, the cucumber will put off too much water and alter the consistency of the sushi roll.

Note: For more information on preparing sushi rice and julienned cucumber at home, see How to Make Sushi Rice and How to Julienne Cut.

How to Make a Philadelphia Roll

These are the steps to follow to make this Philadelphia Roll recipe. Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.

Prepare Rice and Filling

Prepare about 4 cups of cooked Sushi Rice that has been seasoned with a sweetened sushi vinegar mixture. The vinegar mix should be applied while still hot, so that it can soak in fully, but wait to assemble your Philadelphia Roll until it has cooled to room temperature.

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the cream cheese and your smoked salmon into long, thin strips of about equal thickness on a cutting board. To make cutting the soft cheese a bit easier, pop it into the freezer for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

For this recipe, you’ll also need to know How to Julienne Cut a cucumber for the filling. To achieve the right delicate texture, the cucumber should be julienned to approximately ⅛-inch thick and 3 inches in length.

Spread the Rice

Once your sushi rice has fully cooled to room temperature, place a single sheet of roasted nori seaweed onto the bamboo mat. The rough side of the nori should be facing upward.

Add about a cup of rice on top of the nori, and spread it out gently with a rice paddle or silicone spatula. If you can’t get it all the way to the edges with the utensil, lightly wet your fingers and use them to spread the rice out fully.

Note: A clean tea towel can also be used as a suitable substitution for the bamboo rolling mat.

Sprinkle and Flip

If desired, sprinkle some toasted black sesame seeds across the rice. The sesame seeds add both decoration and a lightly nutty flavor to the outside of the Philadelphia Roll. 

To both prevent it sticking to the mat and make rolling easier, lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the rice. Very carefully flip the rice and nori over, so that the plastic is between the rice and mat.

The nori should be facing upward, and then you can begin filling your roll!

Fill and Roll

Near the edge of the nori closest to you, horizontally lay 2-3 strips of cream cheese, about 1 ounce of the smoked salmon, and a few pieces of the julienned cucumber on the nori. 

The ingredients should be laid out close together, so that when the sushi is rolled the fillings will all be grouped together in one place.

Add a sprinkle of salt over your toppings, if desired.

Starting at the end nearest to you again, lift the mat and curl the edge of the nori and rice over the fillings. Begin rolling, applying very gente pressure and carefully pushing the filling back into place.

Ensure that the plastic wrap isn’t getting rolled up inside the rice as you go, peeling it back as needed. 

Set your finished roll aside, and repeat this process with the remaining ingredients and nori sheets to end up with 4 Philadelphia rolls in total.

Cut into Pieces

The remaining plastic wrap around the sushi may be either left on or removed prior to cutting. Leaving the wrap on is slightly easier, to hold the roll together and prevent rice sticking, but either method will work.

Either way, run a very sharp chef’s knife under cool water to wet the blade and prevent rice from sticking to it, too. Very carefully, slice each roll into about 8-10 pieces each, depending on desired thickness.

Rewet the knife every 2-3 pieces to prevent sticking.

Continue cutting the rolls in this manner until you’ve prepared as much as will be eaten in one sitting. Unused or leftover roll should be left whole if possible, and remain wrapped in plastic while being refrigerated.

Remove any leftover plastic wrap from the pieces of cut Philadelphia roll, and serve arranged on a platter. Add one last sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds for garnish, and serve the sushi with a side of soy sauce, wasabi, and/or pickled ginger.

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Philadelphia Roll is best if eaten within the first few hours of making, but can prepared up to 24 hours ahead of time when stored properly.
  • To Store: To store, keep the leftover portions uncut and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. They will last like this for up to 2 days, after that avocado will brown and rice will harden.
  • To Freeze: It is not recommended to freeze Philadelphia Roll.

FAQs

What’s the difference between Philadelphia, Boston, and California Roll?

A Philadelphia Roll usually features salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber; a Boston Roll has cooked shrimp, avocado, and cucumber; and a California Roll has imitation crab, avocado, and cucumber. Otherwise, these three tasty methods of sushi roll preparation are very similar!

Are Philadelphia Rolls cooked or raw?

Philadelphia Rolls are considered “cooked” when the salmon has been hot-smoked at 165°F or is in shelf-stable form. This makes it free of raw fish, and safe for consumption by pregnant women, children, and those who are immunocompromised.

Why is it called a Philadelphia roll?

Philadelphia Rolls are named after Philadelphia cream cheese, the distinguishing ingredient in the roll. The roll was invented in the 1980s, when the owner of Japanese restaurant Tokio HeadHouse

Homemade sushi is picked up with chopsticks.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Don’t overfill. It can be tempting to pack your rolls full, but allow plenty of space for it to still hold together.
  • Keep it clean. By using plastic wrap and wetting your hands and your knife, you can avoid a mess from the rice sticking.
  • Eat them fresh. Ideally, try to eat any sushi you make directly after preparing it, as the rice can dry out in the fridge.
  • Let it cool. Allow your rice to cool to room temperature before rolling, or it will turn rubbery where it touches the nori.
  • Use your full hand. Use all of your fingers to carefully wind up the roll, to give it support and prevent it falling apart.
Sushi on a plate is shown on the counter with soy sauce.

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5 from 1 vote

Philadelphia Roll Recipe

By learning to make Philadelphia Roll from scratch, you can have fresh sushi at the ready whenever you like! Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and julienned cucumber is rolled up together in smoky nori seaweed and lightly sweet sushi rice.
Yield 4 rolls
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups seasoned sushi rice cooked
  • 4-6 oz. cream cheese cut into 8-10 strips
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber julienned
  • Toasted sesame seeds black, optional
  • 4 sheets nori roasted

Instructions 

  • Prepare the seasoned sushi rice, cut the cream cheese into strips, slice the salmon, and julienne the cucumber.
  • Place one sheet of nori on a bamboo sushi mat rough side-up.* Add 1 cup sushi rice on the rough part of the nori. Spread it out as much as you can with a rice paddle. Then, get your fingertips wet with a little water and lightly spread out the rice to all of the edges.
  • Sprinkle on some toasted black sesame seeds, if desired. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the rice and flip the rice over onto the bamboo mat.
  • Slightly off-center and close to you, place 2-3 strips of cream cheese, 1 ounce of the smoked salmon, and a few pieces of cucumber onto the nori.
  • Starting from the end by you, lift up the mat and begin rolling, pushing back in the filling as you go. Make sure the plastic wrap isn’t getting wrapped up in the roll.
  • Repeat with the remaining nori and filling ingredients until you have 4 rolls.
  • To Cut the Sushi: You can either cut it with the plastic wrap still on (the easiest way!) or remove the plastic and then cut. Either way you’ll want to run a sharp chef’s knife under cold water and cut 2-3 slices at a time. Repeat this until you have cut each roll into 8-10 pieces.
  • If you left the plastic wrap on, remove it before serving. Finish the Philadelphia roll with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and serve with a side of wasabi, sushi ginger, and soy sauce. Enjoy!

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5 from 1 vote

Video

Notes

Meal Prep and Storage

  • To Prep-Ahead: Philadelphia Roll is best if eaten within the first few hours of making, but can prepared up to 24 hours ahead of time when stored properly.
  • To Store: To store, keep the rolls uncut and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. They will last like this for up to 2 days, after that avocado will brown and rice will harden.
  • To Freeze: It is not recommended to freeze Philadelphia Roll.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal, Carbohydrates: 40g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 323mg, Potassium: 215mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 589IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 46mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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