arborio rice

What Are The Best Substitutes for Arborio Rice?

There are two basic rules for you to make the perfect risotto: the first is that the rice must be creamy, but not watery. 

In other words, it must be able to be eaten with a fork. And the other essential and most important? Use the right rice.

When we talk about arborio rice we refer to a very special variety of Italian rice, the grain is short and with a particular flavor due to a large amount of starch it has. 

Due to its high starch content, it is perfect for cooking risotto thanks to its creaminess. But what happens when you want to eat good creamy rice and you don’t have arborio rice? Don’t worry, you only need to find a substitute.

Here we will tell you the best alternatives to arborio rice.

First of all, you should know that there are 3 types of rice according to the shape of its grain: long, medium and short. 

All of them have carbohydrates as their main nutrient, followed by vegetable proteins. They contain almost no fat and are easily digestible.

If what we want is strictly rice with the most similar characteristics to arborio we should use a Japanese variety, the main one is the Carnaroli rice.

#1. Carnaroli Rice

Carnaroli rice originates from Novara and Vercelli (Italy) around 1945. It is a medium-short, round and off-white grain rice. It has a higher percentage of starchy than arborio, which has made it a perfect substitute for how well its grains stick together. The cons? It is more expensive and difficult to find.

If we follow the path of Italian rice we find the Vialone nano.

#2. Vialone Nano

This rice is characterized by a semi-fine and its grain is medium, it is cultivated in the Veneto region (Italy), because of its high heat resistance it may take longer to cook but it gives it a special texture. The cons are the same as those of the carnaroli: more expensive and even more difficult to find.

Some Italians also use Balo, Calriso or Maratelli rice (although this is unusual).

If you are in a hurry or don’t have any shop nearby where you can find the rice mentioned above, don’t worry. There are other easier alternatives for your pocket and your time, the main important key is to remember the characteristics with which you will always win:

● Short or medium-grain rice 

● Firm texture

● High starch content

Following this, we can use sushi rice or jasmine rice.

#3. Sushi Rice

Sushi rice is part of the Japanese variety (the same as the Italian arborio and carnaroli). Its grain is short and has a uniform white color. It’s glutinous, sweet, creamy and once cooked has a pleasant texture. Advantages: cheap and easy to find. 

Trick for sushi rice: don’t rinse it before you cook, this way you better maintain the starch. 

#4. Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is cultivated in Southeast Asia and if we don’t have sushi rice this is a good alternative. 

It’s long but the grains tend to come together when cooked. Many people say that this variety of rice has a nice flavor similar to roasted nuts. 


  • Cheap
  • It works for many recipes apart from the risotto.

For the more adventurous there is always the possibility of creating recipes with substitutes such as pearl barley or farro. If you want to go even further you can try making a base similar to risotto with whole wheat, barley or couscous.

At the end of the day, the pleasure of cooking is also to go where the imagination allows us.

arborio rice alternatives

*Featured Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos

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