You’re about to make Risotto for your fancy Italian-themed dinner when all of a sudden… Where’s the Arborio rice? That’s the main ingredient and gives the whole dish that creamy texture!
We forget to buy vital ingredients for our dishes sometimes, don’t worry, it happens.
Or there are times when we can’t easily find arborio rice in local supermarkets. But that doesn’t mean your Italian meal is ruined, and you can use a substitute for Arborio instead!
Save your dinner and check out any of these Arborio rice substitutes we recommend trying.
What Is Arborio Rice?
Arborio rice was originally grown in Arborio, a region of Piedmont, Italy. Today, many places cultivate it worldwide. (*)
It’s pearly white, short-grain rice with a fatter grain compared to long-grain rice. Because it goes through less milling, it keeps most of the starch content.
As a result, the rice releases its starch as it cooks, which creates a creamy and rich texture, the signature of an amazing risotto.
Besides Risotto, you can use Arborio rice to create paella, rice pudding, or minestrone, adding creaminess and richness to many of these dishes. Furthermore, Arborio rice can be used for casseroles, baked dishes, and even shakshuka.
How do You choose the right Alternative To Arborio rice?
It all depends on the dish you’ll make!
- For the closest flavor, we recommend using Vialone Nano, Carnaroli, or Baldo rice.
- If you want sweet and nutty flavors, opt for Jasmin, Basmati, or brown rice. Or you can use quinoa, couscous, pearled barley, or farro wheat.
- When cooking Risotto, rice puddings, pilaf, or stews, we recommend using sushi rice, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Calrose, Jasmine, or brown rice.
- You can use Calrose or red cargo rice, orzo pasta, pearled barley, couscous, quinoa, or farro wheat when making salads.
- You can use farro wheat, pealed barley, couscous, quinoa, or orzo pasta for those who don’t want rice.
The Best Arborio Rice Substitutes When You Need A Replacement!
Unfortunately, Arborio rice might be tough to find, and it’s more expensive than others. If a recipe you plan to make calls for this particular ingredient, but you have none around, try these est Arborio rice alternatives:
1. Sushi Rice
Sushi rice comes from Japan, a bit farther from Italy, though it can replace Arborio rice in many dishes. This is short-grain rice with a sticky consistency, making it suitable to use as a substitute for Arborio rice.
Sushi has a mildly sweet and sour flavor and feels warm and starchy.
You can use this to create Risotto or arancini as it provides the similar richness and creaminess Arborio rice offers. While it doesn’t look similar to Arborio rice, it has a similar thickness.
Take note to not overcook the rice, or it loses the mild flavor!
2. Short Grain Rice Like Carnaroli Rice
Carnaroli rice is also called the caviar of rice, with firm grains that release starch when cooked.
This Italian rice is suitable for baked dishes and stews, and it’s a great substitute for Arborio rice because of the creamy and rich texture it brings out.
Many like using this as an Arborio rice substitute as it adds subtle nutty flavors to dishes, making it suitable for cheesy paellas and rice.
We recommend roasting the Carnaroli rice in fat before adding liquid; that way, it has a much better aroma and flavor! Furthermore, this rice variety is more resistant to overcooking compared to Arborio.
3. Vialone Nano
This is an Italian rice variety known for its unique texture. It’s a semi-fine and medium-grain rice that’s more resistant to heat and overcooking but still adds the creamy and rich texture you desire from Arborio rice. In fact, many people say that Vialone Nano is creamier!
The rice provides a delicate herby aroma, pairing excellently with vegetables, particularly pumpkins and mushrooms.
We highly recommend using Vialone Nano as an Arborio rice substitute when preparing clam and shrimp risotto. The delicate flavor and rich texture will highlight the seafood and warm flavors.
If you plan to use this rice variety, we suggest adding more broth and cheese rind, which intensifies its flavors.
4. Baldo Rice
You can use this versatile Italian rice variety to replace Arborio rice in various recipes.
There are two kinds of Baldo rice: Classic has medium-sized grains that aren’t thin yet elongated, having a fleshy consistency. Piedmont Baldo is honey-colored with stiff grains, requiring more cooking.
We recommend using Baldo rice for cooking rice pudding, pilaf, souffle, or Risotto. With its delicate flavor, this rice works best with curry or grilled meats. You can also use it for paella instead of Arborio rice.
5. Jasmine Rice
This is long-grain rice you’ll find in a lot of Asian recipes, having a fragrant and nutty flavor. Some think it tastes like fragrant flowers and buttered popcorn!
While jasmine rice won’t stick, compared to other sticky rice varieties, that’s because it’s fluffy and delicate with lightweight grains.
That said, it’s stickier compared to basmati rice and will have a soft and moist texture once cooked. When using this for Risotto, it will be a tad fluffy with a floral aroma, perfect to pair with meats, particularly fried chicken!
6. Orzo Pasta
This isn’t rice, but you can use Orzo pasta as a substitute if you cook it right. Naturally, it has a chewy texture, but you get the similar rich and creamy texture Arborio rice offers after adding a certain amount of liquid.
This is a good Arborio rice substitute if you want a neutral taste. It’s also very versatile and can be added to soups, stews, or salads.
7. Farro Wheat
If you want a non-rice substitute, then we recommend farro wheat, which looks similar to light brown rice with a complex nutty flavor similar to oats and barley.
You can find farro wheat in Italian recipes and salads, complementing nuts and cheese.
When preparing Risotto using farro wheat, you can do so without soaking as it would cook faster.
This isn’t a traditional Arborio rice substitute, but you can use quinoa in different recipes. It has a fluffy and crunchy texture with a sweet and nutty taste, adding the rich and creamy texture you want if cooked correctly.
Quinoa is pretty easy to cook, and you can make it creamier by using milk or cream to the recipe. We recommend using it in soups, salads, stews, stuffings, or porridge, calling for Arborio rice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it’s possible to use regular rice instead of Arborio rice when you have none. White rice is a good option and will still have your dish taste delicious, and the cooking process remains the same. While you may achieve the same flavors, the consistency will be different, though.
Risotto rice is similar to pudding rice, but they are not the same. They have high amounts of starch, so they become creamy and sticky, which is why you can use pudding rice as an alternative to risotto rice and vice versa.
It’s possible to create Risotto without wine, though it won’t end up being as aromatic and flavorful.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, our list of substitutes for Arborio rice helped you out! Try any of these suggestions for your next Italian-themed meal, and let us know what you think!