What is Beef Negimaki? A Guide to This Flavorful Japanese Dish

Beef negimaki is a classic Japanese appetizer that combines thin slices of tender beef wrapped around scallions and grilled to perfection. The combination of savory beef, sweet teriyaki flavors, and fresh scallions makes negimaki an incredibly tasty dish.

In this complete guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about making beef negimaki at home, from ingredients to cooking techniques.

What Does Negimaki Mean?

The name negimaki comes from two Japanese words:

  • Negi – meaning scallion or green onion
  • Maki – meaning roll

So negimaki literally translates to “scallion roll”. It refers to the rolls of beef wrapped around scallions that are the hallmark of this dish.

Negimaki Ingredients

The primary ingredients in classic beef negimaki are:

  • Beef – usually flank steak or other thin cuts like sirloin tip or flap meat
  • Scallions – also called green onions
  • Soy sauce – for flavoring the beef
  • Mirin – sweet Japanese rice wine
  • Sake – Japanese rice wine
  • Sugar – to balance out the salty and sweet flavors

You can also find some variations that use asparagus or leeks instead of scallions for a different flavor profile.

How to Make Beef Negimaki

Making great negimaki at home takes a few steps but it’s worth the effort for this unique appetizer. Here is an overview of the basic process:

Prep the Ingredients

  • Slice the beef very thin – It needs to be pounded or sliced to about 1/8 inch thick. This allows it to wrap around the scallion easily. Flank steak works best.

  • Blanch the scallions – Quickly boiling them makes the scallions tender but still crisp. Shock in an ice bath after blanching.

  • Make the teriyaki marinade – Combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. Marinate the sliced beef in this mixture briefly.


  • Wrap beef around scallions – Lay 3-4 pieces of beef in a square. Place blanched scallions in the center going horizontally. Roll up tightly.

  • Secure with toothpicks – Use toothpicks to hold the roll together in a couple places by threading through the beef (not the scallion).


  • Grill over high heat to sear the outside while keeping the inside tender and rare. Turn frequently.

  • ** Reduce extra marinade** while grilling. Brush negimaki with glaze and serve warm.

Tips for Making Great Negimaki

Follow these tips for restaurant-quality negimaki at home:

  • Chill beef before slicing very thin
  • Cut across the grain for tenderness
  • Blanch scallions briefly to retain crispness
  • Don’t over-marinate beef – just 5 minutes
  • Roll up tightly around scallions
  • Grill quickly over very high heat
  • Let rest 5 minutes before slicing to serve
  • Brush with reduced teriyaki glaze

What Does Negimaki Taste Like?

When done right, negimaki is a wonderful balance of flavors and textures:

  • The beef is tender, juicy, and lightly charred from the grill
  • Notes of sweet and salty from the teriyaki glaze
  • Fresh, bright flavor from the scallions
  • Touch of umami savoriness from soy sauce and mirin
  • Little bite of crispness from the scallions

The overall effect is a dish that is sweet, salty, beefy, and fresh all at the same time. It’s a very craveable flavor profile.

How to Serve Negimaki

Here are some ideas for how to serve negimaki:

  • Slice into 1-inch pieces and arrange on a platter for easy finger food
  • Serve alongside steamed rice as part of a Japanese meal
  • Offer as an passed appetizer at parties
  • Top negimaki pieces with spicy mayo for extra flavor
  • Add a salad for a light dinner

It can be served at room temperature but is best enjoyed freshly grilled and warm.

Other Types of Negimaki

While beef is the most common, you can also find negimaki made with:

  • Chicken breast
  • Pork tenderloin
  • Salmon or tuna
  • Firm tofu

The same basic method of wrapping thin slices of protein around scallions applies. Chicken and salmon negimaki are especially popular alternatives to beef.

Can You Make Negimaki Without Scallions?

You can certainly make negimaki using other ingredients besides scallions, but they provide that signature fresh, crisp element that balances the rich beef. Some alternatives include:

  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Watercress

However, scallions are definitely the traditional choice that pairs best with the rich beef flavor.

What to Serve with Negimaki

Some tasty sides that pair well with beef negimaki include:

  • Steamed white rice
  • Miso soup
  • Edamame
  • Gyoza (Japanese pan-fried dumplings)
  • Cucumber salad
  • Seaweed salad
  • Quick-pickled vegetables

A simple rice bowl with miso soup and some negimaki on top makes a complete and balanced Japanese-inspired meal.

Make an Easy Negimaki Stir Fry

If making the rolls seems too difficult, you can simplify things by essentially making a negimaki-flavored beef and scallion stir fry.

Just combine thin sliced beef, sliced scallions, and teriyaki sauce in a skillet and cook over high heat until beef is browned. Serve over rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

Where to Find Negimaki on Menus

If you want to try negimaki without making it yourself first, look for it at these types of restaurants:

  • Japanese steak and grills
  • Sushi restaurants
  • Japanese izakayas
  • Asian fusion eateries
  • Hibachi grills that offer appetizers

It’s most commonly ordered as a starter or shared appetizer. The negimaki rolls are often sliced into bite-sized pieces for easy eating.

How to Store and Reheat Leftover Negimaki

You likely won’t have much negimaki leftovers since it tastes amazing fresh off the grill. But you can store and reheat it a couple ways:

  • Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container up to 3 days
  • Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through
  • Add to fried rice or noodle dishes

Just keep in mind that the texture will soften after refrigerating compared to freshly grilled.

Is Making Negimaki Difficult?

There are several components to negimaki that require care like slicing the beef thin, making the rolls, and quick grilling. So it’s not quite as easy as throwing a casserole in the oven.

However, none of the steps are incredibly complex for an intermediate home cook. With a sharp knife, a little patience, and some practice you can master making restaurant-quality negimaki at home.

Enjoy This Unique Japanese Appetizer

Beef negimaki combines traditional Japanese flavors like soy, mirin, and sake with tender beef and fresh scallions. It requires thinly slicing beef, rolling it around scallions, andquick grilling to create a tender and flavorful appetizer. While it takes some effort, the complex sweet, salty, beefy flavors make it worth learning how to make negimaki at home. Add it to your repertoire for an appetizer that will impress guests.

Beef Negimaki (Teriyaki Steak Rolls with Scallions) 牛肉のねぎ巻き (Recipe) | OCHIKERON | Create Eat Happy


What is Negimaki in English?

Negimaki is a traditional Japanese dish consisting of thinly pounded meat that’s marinated in teriyaki sauce, wrapped around scallions and grilled. (Negi is the Japanese word for scallions; maki means roll.)

What is the best beef in Japan?

Japan’s “top three” wagyu brands — specifically Matsusaka Ushi, Kobe Beef, and Ohmi Beef — all hail from the Kansai region of Japan. While their bloodlines all trace their origins to Tajima beef, a subspecies of Japanese Black cattle from Hyogo Prefecture, each of these wagyu brands boasts a unique flavor profile.

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