Missing sushi on a Whole30? This keto-friendly and rice-free California Hand Roll is packed with crab and avocado and it’s so easy, even the kids can help you make homemade sushi!

An closeup picture of a homemade Whole30 and keto California hand roll filled with fresh crab, sliced cucumber, avocado, and sprouts.

Whole30 & Keto-Friendly Sushi

California Hand Roll (a.k.a. Crab and Avocado Temaki) is my favorite Whole30- and keto-friendly recipe when I’m craving sushi! We’ve been sushi fans since forever, so temaki—seaweed-wrapped hand rolls—with spicy crab salad make regular appearances in our kitchen. I usually have all the ingredients for these rolls in our fridge and pantry, and luckily for us, it’s still Dungeness crab season around here, so even the fresh stuff’s readily available. It’s a breeze to throw together this no-cook recipe. In fact, everyone in the family can assemble their own, which means even less meal prep for me.

Three gluten-free and Whole30 California hand rolls stacked on a black plate, next to a dipping bowl with coconut aminos.

What kind of crab do you use?

In this California hand roll recipe, it’s important to source the highest quality crab available. Obviously, the best choice is to use fresh cooked crab meat that you make yourself or buy from a trusted fishmonger. The second best choice is the canned crab jumbo lump meat that is found in the refrigerated section in the seafood department. Don’t use shelf-stable canned crab meat because the texture is dry and mealy and the flavor is off.

If you can’t find high-quality crab, use cooked shrimp or salmon instead!

Toasting the nori is key!

Besides high quality crab meat, toasted nori (a.k.a. edible seaweed sheets) is the small difference between your hand rolls tasting ho-hum and amazing. At the grocery store, you can buy nori (a.k.a. dried edible seaweed sheets) toasted or not, but even if you buy toasted nori, they’ll taste better if you quickly crisp them up over a gas burner or under a broiler.

Someone holding a white plate with toasted nori sheets cut in half to make California hand rolls or Temaki.

Eat them as you make them!

The toasted nori softens as soon as it comes in contact with filling, so you should definitely make the California Hand Rolls fresh. At our house, I have all the ingredients ready to go and every one grabs a piece of toasted nori to make their own hand rolls—eating them as they go. This way, the labor is divided and you can gobble up the rolls as quickly as you can make them.

Time to make homemade Whole30 California Hand Rolls!

Makes 16 hand rolls

Ingredients:

  • 8 standard-sized nori sheets
  • 1 pound cooked lump crab meat
  •  2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons Paleo Mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Juice from ½ medium lime
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large Hass avocado pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 2 small Japanese or Persian cucumbers cut into matchsticks
  • Handful of radish sprouts or micro greens
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Equipment:

  • All of my recommended kitchen tools are listed here.

Method:

If the nori sheets are already toasted and you are pressed for time, you can skip the toasting part, but even toasted nori can be perked up with a little heat. 

Toast each nori sheet over a gas burner on low, by slowly fanning it back and forth until the color turns bright green.

Using a pair of metal tongs to fan a piece of nori over a gas burner to toast it for California sushi hand rolls.

No gas stovetop? You can also toast the nori in the oven. Turn on the broiler with the rack about 6 inches from the heating element. Place two pieces of nori on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for only 10 seconds or until they turn green and smell toasty.

Two sheets of nori (seaweed sheets for sushi) in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet are being toasted in an oven.

Cut each piece of nori in half width-wise so you have 16 pieces of toasted nori.

Someone using kitchen shears to cut a toasted sheet of nori in half width-wise to make Whole30 and keto California hand rolls.

In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, scallions, mayonnaise, red pepper flakes (if using), and lime juice.

Squeezing lime juice into a bowl filled with the filling ingredients for Whole30 and keto California sushi hand rolls.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.

Someone using a red silicone spatula to mix up the filling for gluten-free and low carb California sushi hand rolls.

To assemble each roll, hold a piece of nori shiny-side down, and scoop 2 tablespoons of the crab mixture onto the left side of the rectangle. The filling should be at a diagonal, running from the top left corner to the bottom center of the nori.

Someone adding the filling to the California hand roll on a rectangular piece of toasted nori.

Top the crab with a slice of avocado, a couple of cucumber slices, and sprouts.

Adding the sliced cucumber, avocado, and sprouts on top of the crab salad on a piece of nori.

Fold the bottom left corner of the nori over the filling before wrapping the long part of the nori around the crab and vegetables…

Wrapping the toasted nori around the filling to assemble a homemade California hand roll.

…to form a cone. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if desired.

Closeup up of a homemade California hand roll filled with crab, avocado, and cucumbers.

Eat immediately!

A closeup of a California hand roll on a gray plate next to a small bowl filled with coconut aminos.

[Originally posted on January 19, 2015. Updated on February 23, 2020.]


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

California Hand Roll (Whole30 Crab and Avocado Temaki)

4.92 from 12 votes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
These Whole30-friendly California Hand Rolls filled with crab and avocado will scratch your sushi itch!

Ingredients 
 

  • 8 toasted nori sheets
  • 1 pound cooked lump crab meat
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons paleo mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large Hass avocado pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 2 small Japanese or Persian cucumbers cut into matchsticks
  • Handful of radish sprouts or micro greens
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Instructions 

  • If the nori sheets are already toasted and you are pressed for time, you can skip the toasting part, but even toasted nori can be perked up with a little heat. 
    Toast each nori sheet over a gas burner on low, by slowly fanning it back and forth until the color turns bright green.
    No gas stovetop? You can also toast the nori in the oven. Turn on the broiler with the rack about 6 inches from the heating element. Place two pieces of nori on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for only 10 seconds or until they turn green and smell toasty.
  • Cut each piece of nori in half width-wise so you have 16 pieces of toasted nori.
  • In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, scallions, mayonnaise, red pepper flakes (if using), and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
  • To assemble each roll, hold a piece of nori shiny-side down, and scoop 2 tablespoons of the crab mixture onto the left side of the rectangle. The filling should be at a diagonal, running from the top left corner to the bottom center of the nori.
  • Top the crab with a slice of avocado, some cucumber, and sprouts. Fold the bottom left corner of the nori over the filling before wrapping the long part of the nori around the crab and vegetables to form a cone.
  • Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and erve immediately—don’t let the nori get soft!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 256kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 15g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g

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

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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5 Comments

  1. Great recipe! If you don’t use all of the crab mixture during one meal, how long will this last refrigerated? Does the quality of the crab deteriorate?

  2. 5 stars
    These flavors. Thank you for giving me something to fill the sushi void during whole 30 without sacrificing any flavor. So gd good.

  3. 5 stars
    Oh. My. Goodnessssss. This was CRAZY awesome. I made a huge platter of fixings to go with the crab and my hubby and I scarfed the entire thing! Lol At first we looked at it and thought, “oh well never eat all of this” … And suddenly the plate was empty. So good. We did everything from your recipe plus added some mango slices and jalepenos with a side of kimchi. To die for. Thank you.