15 Substitutes for Arborio

Substitutes for Arborio
Photo by Rob Wicks

Arborio rice is a bowl of prevalent Italian rice that, while delectable, is also quite expensive and difficult to find in certain parts of the country.

If you’re looking to save money on your grocery bill and broaden your culinary horizons, here are substitutes for arborio rice that will make your dish stand out from the crowd.

1. Brown Rice

Brown rice is part of th great substitutes for arborio rice. It has a nutty flavor that pairs well with many dishes. Plus, it’s a whole grain, so it’s healthier than white rice.

To cook brown rice, simply simmer it in water or broth for about 45 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on the brown rice you’re using, but it must take at least 30-45 minutes to get soft and tender.

2. Jasmine Rice

Rice cooked in jasmine can be substituted as a gluten-free option and provides an aromatic quality that some people prefer over the nutty taste of brown rice.

3. Cooked Quinoa

Cooked quinoa can be used as an alternative to Arborio because it produces a fluffy texture when cooked like pasta.

4. Lentils

Lentils are great for making soups and purees because they break down into thick pieces after being boiled and pureed.

5. Bulgur Wheat

Bulgar wheat is a whole grain with a nutty flavor and a chewy texture. It’s perfect for dishes like risotto, where you want the rice to have some bite. Plus, bulgur wheat is packed with nutrients like fiber and protein.  

6. Bomba Rice

This Spanish variety is shorter and rounder than Arborio and plumps up beautifully when cooked. If you can’t find bomba, another good option is Calasparra rice, which is also from Spain. It has a delicate texture and flavor. 

7. Risotto Rice

Instead of using regular white or brown rice in a risotto, use this variety. You’ll get the desired creaminess without all the cream or butter in the dish.

8. Quinoa

Gluten-free oats or oatmeal can be used as substitutes for arborio rice. When cooked, they provide a similar creamy texture. Oats are also a healthy alternative, packed with fiber and protein.

To use, simply cook the oats in water or broth until they are soft. Then, add them to your dish in place of the arborio rice. For instance, you could put 1 cup of cooked quinoa into a soup instead of 2 cups of arborio rice.

9. Cauliflower

You can also use riced cauliflower as an excellent substitute for Arborio rice. To do this, start by cutting the cauliflower into small pieces and then running it through a food processor on high speed until it resembles the size and shape of grains.

After this is done, bring a pot of salted water to boil on the stovetop before adding the cauliflower (along with other vegetables).

10. Pearled Barley

This chewy grain is an excellent substitute for arborio rice in risottos and other Italian-style dishes. To cook, simply simmer in water or broth until tender.

You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the barley’s quality. For a more authentic risotto, look for Italian-grown pearled barley. We like this one from King Arthur Flour!

11. Israeli Couscous

This toasted pasta is one of the great substitutes for arborio rice. It has a chewy texture and can absorb flavors well, making it a versatile ingredient. Israeli couscous is also known as ptitim.

To cook, simply boil in water or broth until tender. The cooking time depends on the size of the couscous grains but usually takes about 10 minutes.

12. Farro

Farro is more nutritious than arborio rice. It’s a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins. It has a nutty flavor that pairs well with other ingredients in dishes like risotto and pilaf. Farro has a chewy texture that adds interest to dishes like salads.

Also, farro is more versatile than arborio rice. You can use it in sweet or savory dishes. It also holds up better when cooking for a long time. 

13. Orzo

This pasta is an excellent substitute for arborio rice because it has a similar shape and texture. When cooked, orzo becomes creamy and light, making it the perfect addition to any dish.

Plus, it’s easy to find in most grocery stores. The only downside is that you can’t buy just one box like you can with regular-sized boxes of pasta.

14. Vialone Nano rice

Vialone Nano is a type of rice that is used in Italy. It is medium-grain rice with a higher starch content than other types of rice. This makes it perfect for dishes like risotto, where you want the rice to be creamy and have a lot of flavors.

Vialone Nano is also great for making sushi or other Japanese dishes. Arborio is often used for these recipes because of its high starch content.

However, if you can’t find Arborio, using Vialone Nano as substitutes for arborio rice will still produce tasty results.

15. Japanese rice

Arborio rice is a type of short-grain white rice that is commonly used in Italian cooking. It has a high starch content, which makes it perfect for dishes like risotto and paella. However, plenty of Japanese rice is available if you’re looking for a substitute for arborio rice. 


Arborio rice is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. However, a few substitutes for arborio rice can be used in its place. These options are easy to find in stores. Also, they are a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins.

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