9 Amazing Arborio Rice Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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You may need arborio rice substitutes for certain dishes, so having these in your pantry will help you avoid any recipe disasters!

Arborio rice is a starchy, short-grain rice with a rounded shape. When cooked, it remains chewier than some long-grain rice, and it can have a pleasing crunch. Arborio rice can be cooked on the stove-top in a 2:1 ratio of water to rice and enjoyed plain, but if you’re seeking out this rice variety, you are probably making sweet rice pudding or a deliciously creamy risotto. In either of these recipes, the firmness of the grains and high starch content are what combine to make a decadent creamy bite. If you don’t have arborio rice, however, there are some fine substitutes.

Top Arborio Rice Substitutes

Top arborio rice substitutes include carnaroli, vialone, sushi rice, farro, basmati rice, jasmine rice, and pearled barley. You may also substitute it with quinoa or orzo.

A bowl of arborio rice on a wooden table

Arborio rice Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Carnaroli or Vialone

These are both Italian varieties that have high starch contents. You may even find that you like the flavor of these in your risotto as much or better than Arborio rice, but as with many Italian imports, there will likely be a higher price tag.

Japanese Sushi Rice

This is an excellent substitute that you can find at almost any supermarket or specialty Asian grocer. Follow your recipe as written and enjoy similar results in terms of creaminess and flavor.

Sushi rice in a bowl kept on a jute cloth

Always wash your sushi rice to get rid of the starchy powder on it. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Farro

This Italian wheat is a good substitute as it gets cooked very fast and can easily trick your taste buds. Farro can be cooked in 25 minutes without soaking.

Jasmine or Basmati Rice

These are great substitutes as a side or in a rice pudding recipe but likely won’t work as well for risotto.

Starchy Grains or Pasta

These common foods can be used in similar ways to substitute for Arborio rice in risotto recipes or as a side dish.

Whole Grain or Pearled Barley

These readily available grains all have great texture and will contribute a chewy, nutty flavor to your dish.

Quinoa

This is a complete protein and has a wonderful vegetal flavor and crunchiness. Add some spring vegetables for a great flavor complement!

A couscous bowl and quinoa bowl

Both couscous and quinoa can be used as a base for salads or as a side dish. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Israeli Cous Cous or Orzo

Both of these are excellent options. These short, dense, and silky pasta will impart a different flavor, but are creamy and delicious as a side dish or cooked into a risotto-style dinner.

Bulgur Wheat

As a substitute, this can work, and it cooks up very quickly, making this is a great weeknight option.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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