13 Best Rice substitutes in some dishes

There are times when you want to cook a delicious dish but then go through your pantry and find you are out of some ingredients or you just don’t want to add carbs to your meal today. Whatever the reason!

Do not give up. Right there in your pantry, you have great substitute ingredients for rice to help you out with your planned meal.

One rice type for one purpose

As you may know, the secret of cooking relies on the quality of the ingredients. To get style-restaurant rice preparation it is essential to use a specific type of rice.

For the risotto, medium-grain rice is the correct type. Its chewy, tender, and a little sticky texture give risotto the iconic consistency and taste. It also works with rice puddings and paella.

Long-grain rice, like this one https://carolinarice.com/products/white-rice/ is the preferred one for making preparations like pilafs, curry, bowls, casseroles, and stir-fries.

different size of rice

Fried rice, Spanish rice, Jambalaya, and coconut rice are some of the dishes with this type of rice where a firmer, light, and fluffy texture is required.

Short-grain rice has a soft and sticky texture. This consistency is for making sushi, rice balls like Arancini, and dumplings.

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Make some Rice substitutions

For getting a perfect rice dish, the recommendation is to use a specific type of rice, since success relies on the rice texture. But, sometimes you cannot follow this rule.

When switching from one type of rice to another, you must be cautious. It may serve very well, or it may fail miserably. You can change between the different rice types if there is any other solution, but the texture will be affected.

Remember, the texture is the key. So, you cannot cook risotto with long-grain rice because it has a firmer consistency, and the final dish calls for creaminess.

However, some dishes turn out very well when switching the type of rice. For example, you can use short-grain rice for making fried rice or paella. The results are pretty acceptable.

For the risotto, you can use short-grain rice instead of Arborio, which is a medium-grain type.

Even if it is not the recommendation, you can make some tries and then take note of which works better for some dishes. In these attempts, you may have to change the cooking process and time.

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Other rice alternatives

Imagine you want to prepare a rice dish, but you do not have any package of rice in your pantry. Do not worry; this also has a great solution.

There are numerous ingredients that work well as rice substitutes.

Couscous is a great substitute for rice

Some of them are:

  • Barley: It has the shape of oats. When cooked, the texture is chewy. You can use barley instead of rice in soups and risotto.
  • Farro: It has a chewy texture. It goes well in fillings for stuffed vegetables, and stews.
  • Quinoa: It is a tiny seed with a chewy and fluffy texture. It works as an alternative in fillings, and side dishes for tacos and curries.
  • Cauliflower: It is commonly used as riced cauliflower. It is formed by cutting the cauliflower in a food processor until getting tiny rice-shaped pieces. You can prepare Mexican rice and green rice with it.
  • Broccoli: It is prepared the same way as riced cauliflower. You can eat it raw or cooked by steaming or sautéing.
  • Couscous: This semolina flour grain has a tender texture. It is a great substitute for stews, salads, side dishes, and more.
  • Orzo: It is small pasta with a rice shape. It perfectly substitutes rice in risotto, salads, soups, and stews.
  • Bulgur: It is similar to couscous. It is composed of small cracked bits of whole wheat. You can use it in any rice dish, preferably in salads and stews.
  • Cabbage: It is used finely chopped as a rice alternative. You can cook it when you need a blank side dish.
  • Chickpea Rice: When you put chickpeas in a food processor, you get a rice alternative. It needs more time to cook, but you can get a delicious ingredient for making stir-fries and burritos side dishes.
  • Zucchini: It is well-known as a pasta substitute, but it works as well as a rice alternative. Cut in a food processor to get a rice-like texture. It can be used for salads and rice accompaniments.
  • Oats: It gets fluffy when cooked. It has a blank flavor and can be included in soups, stews, and bowl meals, curries, and casseroles.
  • Freekeh: It is a type of green wheat roasted and rubbed to make a grain. It has a smoky and nutty taste. It is used in salads, soups, and casseroles.
Freekeh another good choice to use instead of rice

Conclusion on rice alternatives

Rice is a versatile ingredient that everybody uses in daily meals. On some occasions, you have in mind to make a rice recipe but do not have the appropriate type of rice. You wonder if you can cook with another type of rice or any other ingredients.

Fortunately, rice taste is mild and makes it possible to use different types in a lot of recipes. You only need to be aware of the desired texture in rice dishes. Short-grain and medium-grain rice are interchangeable in many recipes.

However, you cannot use long-grain rice in recipes with short-grain rice, because a difference in texture will be immediately noticed on the palate.

Other grains and vegetables can be used as rice alternatives. They also have a blank flavor like rice, and the texture is pretty acceptable.

FAQs related to rice alternatives

What is the best rice for risotto?

Arborio is the traditional rice for risotto. It is medium-grain rice with a chewy texture which gives the iconic risotto’s creaminess.

Besides, you can also make risotto with barley, farro, quinoa, couscous, and oats. When cooked, they acquire a creamy texture.

What is the best rice substitute for paella?

Traditionally, paella is prepared with Bomba rice, a short-grain rice variety. It absorbs more cooking liquid without getting mushy. Rice alternatives are Arborio, jasmine, Calrose, long-grain rice, and Calasparra rice.

If you do not want to use rice, you can make it with Orzo, chopped cabbage, and cauliflower rice.

What rice substitute can be used for making fried rice?

Quinoa, orzo, couscous, and cauliflower rice are great substitutes in fried rice. They have to be tossed in butter or olive oil to make them crispy.

Are all rice alternatives gluten-free?

Let’s begin by saying that all rice types are gluten-free. And vegetable alternatives like broccoli, cabbage, zucchini and cauliflower are naturally gluten free, So they are the safest options for people with allergic sensitivities.

If you would like to use other grains, quinoa and oats are the preferred gluten-free rice alternatives.

How can I cook zucchini instead of rice?

For cooking zucchini in rice dishes you have to grate it with the coarse side of a box grater. Then, make sure to squeeze it to drain the excess liquid.

It cooks faster than rice, because you do not have to add water to boil or steam it. You have to sauté zucchini in butter or oil, add vegetables, salt and pepper.

How can I cook Farro?

Farro is a whole grain that has a nutty flavour and a chewy texture. To cook it, pour some farro in a big pot of water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low heat and cook for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork after draining.

You can easily used it in salads, bowls, casseroles, stews, and a variety of other dishes in place of rice.

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