What Are The Best Alternatives to Arborio Rice?

Arborio rice is Italian rice used in many different recipes, from risottos to traditional Italian dishes. It has excellent health benefits from being sodium-free to having lots of protein and being a great source of iron.

It is a starchy carbohydrate and can even be made into rice pudding. 

What Are The Best Alternatives to Arborio Rice?

As such a versatile type of rice, it could be your favorite type of rice to use in the kitchen. But what about if you develop an intolerance? Or if you have guests over who are allergic to arborio rice?

Might you be looking for some alternatives? Well, you have come to the right place! In this article, we are going to be looking at Arborio rice and giving you some suggestions on alternatives to stock up on. Let’s jump in.

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice is from Arborio, Italy, and is short-gran rice. It is a part of the ‘super fino’ rice family. It is also produced in the USA, in states such as California, Arkansas, and Missouri.

Arborio rice is high in amylopectin and this is a starch found in rice. As it undergoes less milling than normal long-grain rice, it can retain more of its natural starch content.

When you cook the rice, it releases this starch, and this means you are left with rich, firm, and chewy rice, perfect for risotto and other Italian dishes. It is more expensive than normal long-grain rice but will provide you with the results you are looking for in the recipes that call for it.

You can find arborio rice in the supermarket as well as in specialty food stores online. It is often sold in boxes, canisters, or pouches and is labeled ‘risotto rice’ at times.

How Is It Used?

As we have mentioned, it is traditionally used to make Italian dishes such as risotto. It is popular in this type of dish as it gives it its creamy texture, especially when refined and served as white rice.

You can get it as unrefined brown rice, but this is not as starchy and is not as widely used in risotto. 

You can also make paella with rice, and this is a Spanish dish made with chicken or seafood, saffron, veggies, and Spanish ingredients. Arborio rice can be used for making minestrone too and rice pudding. 

Nutritional Information

In 100 grams of uncooked rice, you will find 356 calories, 6,67 grams of protein, 80 grams of carbs, and 2.2 grams of fiber but no fat.

Health Benefits

Arborio rice is a great source of protein and is packed full of vitamins. It has plenty of vitamin A and C and this help develop strong bones and teeth. The rice also helps with digestion and prevents constipation, helping you to pass gas.

Although it is starchy, the rice is sodium-free and this makes it great rice for those with heart conditions, or people who retain a lot of water. As it is sodium-free, the rice does not affect blood pressure and stops renal overload.

This type of rice also has plenty of iron. In one cup of Arborio rice, you will find 2.7g of iron. Iron can stop you from developing anemia and can also help with oxygen flow to the body.

As iron is required for oxygen transport, this is why it can improve the flow. 

Best Alternatives For Arborio Rice

What Are The Best Alternatives to Arborio Rice?

Carnaroil Rice

This type of rice is our first alternative and is medium-grain rice. It is from the North of Italy and is very similar. If you are looking for a way to make your risotto even creamier, using this type of rice could be your best bet.

It is even starchier and has a firmer texture. This means it can retain its shape better in the cooking process. The flavor is mild this means it can easily take on the flavor profile of what you are cooking it with.

Like arborio rice, it also goes well in a paella dish. 

Israeli Couscous

Israeli Couscous is another alternative to arborio rice and although is couscous as opposed to rice, still acts in the same way. It is pasta that is produced by a combination of semolina flour and water.

It is popular in Mediterranean food and this couscous tends to produce bigger balls compared to normal couscous. It also has a chewy, soft, and bouncy texture with a mild, toasted flavor. 

It would not be the best alternative for making risotto as it only has a modest starch content. However, it could be used in paella if you want to eliminate the creaminess. It is also high in protein and fiber and has lots of selenium. 

Sushi Rice

Although sushi rice you might associate only with being used to make sushi, it makes a great substitute for arborio rice. It is short-medium grain rice and is popular in all kinds of Japanese cuisine.

Although usually paired with seafood, it can also be cooked and used in paella and risotto. It has a high amount of amylose and high starch content, and this is what makes it great with seafood.

It has a mild flavor and is not as rich as arborio rice. However, a lot of people still use it as a replacement. It is also cheaper than arborio rice and so perfect for those on a budget.

Pearled Barley

This arborio rice replacement is whole grain barley, but its outer layer is taken off first. Pearled barley is another perfect alternative to arborio rice and if you are specially making risotto, can ensure you achieve that desired creaminess.

It has the same texture as arborio rice and tastes very similar, however, it does have a small toasted flavor.

It can also be a great substitute to add to minestrone, and other soups you would usually add arborio rice to. It can give soups a rich and creamy texture and taste, as well as bump up the flavor.

Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta might be pasta, but it looks like rice. It is a type of pasta that is specifically rolled to look like rice grains and comes from Italy. However, it is more commonly used across the USA. It has a very neutral flavor, but a chewy texture, and this makes it great to add to salads, soups, and rice dishes.

When it comes to flavor, it can easily take up another flavor profile, so make sure to use orzo pasta when you are making a flavorsome dinner. It is less starchy than arborio rice, so goes well in paella, but not so much in risotto.

Vialone Nano Rice

Vialone Nano rice comes from the south of Italy and is medium-gran rice. It is the alternative on this list that is closest to arborio rice in terms of looks and also makes the best substitutes for any recipe which asks for you to use arborio rice. 

It has a rich and creamy taste but can absorb the flavor of any food that is mixed with it. The rice is a gold standard and very popular in the risotto but has also increased in popularity when making paella.  

Is There An Alternative To Rice On A Low-Carbohydrate or Keto Diet?

Since rice is very high in carbs, when you begin a keto diet, you might be wondering if there is anything you can use in replacement. Luckily, there are plenty of things on the market that can replace rice and keep those carbs low.

The most popular rice alternative is cauliflower rice, which is cauliflower florets that have been grated and shredded so they are the size of rice grains.

You can steam your cauliflower rice and this will resemble steamed rice, or you can stir-fry it the same way you would make fried rice. The possibilities are endless and you can now find plenty of ways to use your cauliflower rice and recipes online too.

Final Thoughts

We hope you have enjoyed this article on arborio rice and the alternatives you can use when someone at your dinner party has an intolerance.

Each type of rice or alternative will provide a different outcome to the dish, but depending on what you are cooking, there is a replacement for everything. So why not try one out today!

Anna Kadance