On my never-ending quest to get my 4 year old son to eat more, I’ve become obsessed with making cute Bento Box lunches. This Panda and Friends Bento Box was my very first attempt and I thought surely, it was more food than he could finish for lunch. I couldn’t have been more wrong – he ate the entire box! And thus begins my new Bento Box Breakdown series where I will teach you how to make these adorable creations. I promise, it’s a lot easier than it looks!

panda onigiri bento box recipe rice balls pinterest - Bento Box Breakdown: Panda Onigiri and Friends

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I purchased my supplies at the local Japanese market, but if you don’t have one near you, no worries. Everything is also available online at Amazon (links for everything you need below)!


Supplies needed

  1. Mini Round Silicone Cups
  2. Stainless Steel Vegetable Cutters
  3. Animal Egg Molds
  4. Animal Picks
  5. Panda Rice Mold Kit
  6. Bento Box

You will also need rice (I like to use individual rice bowls for convenience if I don’t already have a pot cooked) and roasted seaweed sheets (sushi nori).



To Make Animal Shaped Egg

Hard boil large (not XLarge) eggs. While still hot, peel and press into Animal Egg Molds. It’s ok if the egg is a little big and squeezes out the sides – you’ll trim these off later!

Close and place into an ice bath for about 10 minutes. Open carefully and remove from mold to use immediately. (I like to store the eggs in the refrigerator in their molds if I am not using them right away.)

To Make Tomato/Carrot Flowers

Slice a large carrot and use Vegetable Cutters to make shapes. Use Animal Picks to attach grape tomato to flower shape.

STEP BY STEP VIDEO: How To Make Panda Onigiri

Arrange everything together and you’re finished!


  1. My niece was just telling me about how she wants to take a bento box for her school lunches. She is going to love this. Anything that encourages kids to eat healthy is a winner for me.

  2. I will be starting to make packed lunches this next year and LOVE the idea of this. How cute would it be to open up a lunchbox with these little guys inside. Almost too cute to eat. Almost.

  3. I have always wondered how they shaped the rice! I feel much better knowing that it wasn’t all by hand! HOw cute and thank you for the tutorial.

  4. This is such a cute idea. Both of my kids loved cute lunches when they were younger. It made them more likely to finish everything!

  5. I’m so happy to see this post. My daughters and I have been using bento boxes and onigiri molds for longer than I can remember. My girls got into anime and manga and I fell in love with them, too. We go to anime conventions around the US (mostly midwest but typically do to east coast ones and one in Dallas every year, too). I recently bought this same panda mold (and have yet to use it) and I have some car-shaped egg molds that I really love. I have other onigiri molds – flower and heart shapes – and some cute sushi molds. Of course, one of our favorite things to put in our bentos are those little hot dogs where you cut two slits about half-way up the length before cooking them so they separate out and look like legs (they look like four-legged octopuses).

    I have some fun Japanese cooking items, including a fish-shaped three-dimensional mold that I use to make taiyaki (sweet red bean paste in a pastry that is basically pancake batter).

  6. You are so clever! My kids would have flipped if I had made them a lunch like this! I did make flower veggies on occasion, and added a note quite a bit, but this is just amazing. Sharing!

    1. Thanks Kelly. It actually only took me a few minutes to make this lunch – maybe 10? You should try it!

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