Topping the charts as one of our favorite sushi recipes, this Philadelphia Roll is so easy to make at home with our simple step-by-step guide! Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and julienned cucumber are rolled up together in smoky nori seaweed and subtly sweet sushi rice. They’re fun to make and even more fun to eat with a side of soy sauce and wasabi!

Homemade sushi is picked up with chopsticks.

After getting a bamboo mat for a birthday gift, I went on a sushi roll making kick! The first rolls turned out absolutely horrendous, but after a lot of trial and error, I was finally able to conquer the craft of rolling sushi at home. Well… at least somewhat. I’m no sushi roll master, but I did learn a few pointers that I’ll be sharing with you below.

I started with the oh-so-popular California Roll, and then got more experimental with variations like this vegetarian Avocado Roll and ultimately, this Philadelphia Roll you see here.

(If you have never tasted one for yourself, imagine you took a lox and cream cheese bagel and turned it into a sushi roll!)

And as you might have noticed, none of these rolls were made with raw fish. While I’m a HUGE fan of eating all the raw rolls at sushi restaurants, I hesitate to suggest making them at home unless you are absolutely certain you can get your hands on some sushi-grade fish.

(If you learn better by watching someone demonstrate, then make sure you check out the video at the bottom of the recipe card!)

Smoked salmon, rice, nori seaweed, cucumber, cream cheese, sesame seeds are the ingredients for this recipe.
Email this recipe!
Simply enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! You’ll also get the newest recipes from us every week!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Notes about the ingredients needed for this Philadelphia Roll recipe are below. Jump to recipe for the exact measurements.

  • 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.

Special Equipment for Sushi Making

  • Bamboo Mat: The main kitchen tool you’ll need when making sushi rolls at home. While you can use a simple dish towel, a sushi mat makes the process much easier.
  • Non-stick Rice Paddle: This helps ensure the sticky sushi rice adheres to the nori instead of sticking to the paddle.
  • Sharp Knife: A sharp knife is essential for cutting vegetables into thin, long strips and for slicing the sushi roll into pieces.

How to Make a Philadelphia Sushi Roll

Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts. Jump to recipe for the printable instructions.

1. Prepare the sushi rice and filling ingredients.

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

Carefully cut the cream cheese and smoked salmon into long, thin strips of equal thickness. To make cutting the soft cheese easier, pop it into the freezer for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

To achieve the right delicate texture, the cucumber should be julienned to approximately ⅛-inch thick and 3 inches in length.

2. Spread the rice onto the nori sheet.

Place a single sheet of roasted nori seaweed onto the bamboo mat, rough side-up.

Add roughly a cup of rice onto the nori, and spread it out gently with a rice paddle or silicone spatula. 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.

3. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and flip nori over.

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 from sticking to the mat and to 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!

4. Add filling ingredients and roll nori using the mat.

Near the edge of the nori closest to you, lay 2-3 strips of cream cheese, about 1 ounce of smoked salmon, and a few pieces of julienned cucumber. Keep the ingredients close together for better rolling. Sprinkle salt if desired.

Starting at the edge nearest to you, lift the mat and curl the nori and rice over the fillings. Roll gently, pushing the filling back into place as needed. Ensure the plastic wrap doesn’t get rolled up inside the rice.

Set the finished roll aside and repeat with the remaining ingredients to make four Philadelphia rolls in total.

5. Cut sushi roll into pieces.

You can leave the plastic wrap on or remove it before cutting the sushi. Leaving it on helps hold the roll together and prevents rice from sticking.

Wet a very sharp chef’s knife under cool water to prevent sticking, then carefully slice each roll into 8-10 pieces, rewetting the knife every 2-3 slices.

Continue cutting until you’ve prepared as much as needed. Keep unused rolls whole, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerate.

Remove plastic wrap from cut pieces and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Storing Leftover Sushi Rolls

For the best taste, enjoy homemade sushi rolls immediately after making. To store, keep uncut rolls wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. They will last up to 2 days before the rice hardens.


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 by the owner of Japanese restaurant called Tokio HeadHouse.

Sushi Roll Making Tips

  • Avoid overfilling the rolls, as this makes it difficult to roll them up tightly.
  • Keep a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands and prevent the rice from sticking.
  • Allow the sushi rice to cool to room temperature before rolling to avoid a rubbery texture when it touches the nori.
  • Cut ingredients into thin strips so you get a bit in each bite.

More Sushi Recipes

Enjoy the delicate, clean taste of fresh homemade sushi by learning how to make even more of these amazing recipes:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 1 vote

Philadelphia Roll Recipe

By learning to make a Philadelphia Roll from scratch, you can have fresh sushi at home whenever you like! Smoked salmon, cream cheese, and julienned cucumber is rolled up together in smoky nori seaweed and lightly sweet sushi rice.
Chopsticks are used to pick up a homemade Philadelphia Sushi roll piece.
Yield 4 rolls
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 30 minutes
Total 45 minutes
An image of an envelope sealed shut with the Evolving Table logo.

Email this recipe!

Enter your email and we’ll send it directly to you.


  • 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


  • Prepare the seasoned sushi rice, cut the cream cheese into strips, slice the salmon, and julienne the cucumber.
    4 cups seasoned sushi rice
  • 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.
    4 sheets nori
  • 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.
    Toasted sesame seeds
  • 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.
    4-6 oz. cream cheese, 4 oz. smoked salmon, 1 small cucumber
  • 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!
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 1 vote



  • Bamboo mat: If you don’t have one, a dish or tea towel will also work great for rolling!
  • Storage: For the best taste, enjoy homemade sushi rolls immediately after making. To store, keep uncut rolls wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. They will last up to 2 days before the rice hardens.
  • Sushi Rice: Learn how to make your own sushi rice with this recipe here. Make sure to let this come to room temperature completely before rolling the sushi.
  • Filling: Avoid overfilling the rolls, as this makes it difficult to roll them up tightly.
  • Prevent Sticking: Keep a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands and prevent the rice from sticking.


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.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

You May Also Like

Thanks for
Stopping By!

I’m London! Join me as we cook up nourishing meals for you and your loved ones and learn a few healthy cooking tips and tricks!

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating