Bento Box Breakdown: Panda Onigiri and Friends

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! (scroll down to the bottom to watch the video tutorial).

panda onigiri bento box recipe rice balls pinterest new

Pin this post for later!

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.

panda rice balls bento box lunch 2

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.

panda rice balls bento box lunch 3

Open carefully and remove from mold by flipping over and tapping.

panda rice balls bento box lunch 4

Remove the one (or two) that you will use immediately, but you can store extras in the refrigerator in their molds if you are not using them right away. I recommend leaving them in the same container that you used for the ice bath.

Trim off any excess by pinching and pulling off with your fingernail or you can use a small paring knife.

To Make Tomato/Carrot Flowers

Slice a large carrot and use Vegetable Cutters to make shapes. Use these 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!

panda rice balls bento box lunch 7

panda rice balls bento box lunch 8

44 thoughts on “Bento Box Breakdown: Panda Onigiri and Friends”

  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. Oh my gosh. This is so adorable. My 4 year old is going to school this year. I want to pack her lunchbox like this.

  3. 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.

  4. I can practically see the happy smiles already when a child opens their lunch box and sees these. Such a cute idea!

  5. Those pandas are such a cute idea! You did an awesome job putting this together, I can’t wait to see more ideas.

  6. OMG.. those are so cute. I need to be more creative with my son’s lunch. Both my boys are not great with eating. Maybe this will help.

  7. This was such a cute lunch you made. I’m glad you are sharing the tutorial and I finally found out how you made the seaweed panda face :)

  8. OH my gosh that is the cutest thing I have ever seen! My son already loves rice and this would make it so special!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. This is perfect for my daughter! She loves plain rice and hard boiled eggs. I really need to get this for her since she starts kindergarden soon!

  12. 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).

  13. 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!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.