Rice is a staple in many kitchens, including mine. Yet, with dietary restrictions and new fad diets, there is always a need to find rice alternatives. Instead of making meals that aren’t as tasty, you can try a better substitute.
What Is Rice?
This grain is the seed from a grass species known as Oryza Sativa or Oryza Glaberrima. Since it contains a high amount of starch, it is considered to be a carbohydrate. Rice is a staple in many cultures, including Asian, Latin American, and African.
There are over 40,000 species of rice, but white rice is the most common. All rice is a good source of vitamins and minerals, however, brown rice contains more fiber.
Since it is so common, many of us never think of skipping it, but its high carbohydrate and caloric content may be a reason to reconsider.
See more: Basmati vs Jasmine Rice Difference
What Can I Replace Rice With?
If you need to save calories, can’t find any, or simply want something new, then these best rice substitutes are perfect for you:
For Sushi, Risotto, Curry, and Keto Diet
#1. Cauliflower Rice
This choice is not a starch, it is cauliflower that is ground into a very fine texture that resembles rice. Cauliflower is a vegetable full of vitamins and minerals, and fiber, so it is a great alternative that also happens to be low carb and low calorie.
Use cauliflower rice to make low-carbohydrate sushi, risotto, curry, and if you follow the ketogenic diet.
You can find cauliflower rice pre-packaged in many grocery stores, usually frozen or by the produce section. However, it may be cheaper to prepare it yourself by using a food processor or a blender.
Use the same amount as you would rice, but keep in mind that the texture is different.
Quinoa is a seed that becomes soft and grain-like when it is cooked. Since it is a seed, it contains fewer calories and is high in protein. Most people consider quinoa a superfood, as it contains all essential amino acids.
You can find quinoa in any grocery store these days, as it is a popular food for those following a plant-based diet. Quinoa works well in making curry and sushi, and in replacing risotto. In a low-carbohydrate diet, you may be able to eat quinoa, but a strict keto diet doesn’t allow it.
See More: Quinoa Shelf Life
#3. Chickpea Rice
This alternative is the product of chickpeas turned into a fine texture that resembles rice or orzo. It is high in fiber and protein, which makes it safe for those following a keto diet. This choice is denser, but it can work when making a healthy risotto, curry, or stir-fry.
While not as popular, chickpea rice is usually available in any health or organic store. Use ½ cup for every cup of rice, as it is much denser than white rice. You may also need to add more sauce or seasoning when using chickpea rice.
#4. Shirataki Rice
This choice comes from the konjac root originally from Asia. Though it isn’t rice or even a carbohydrate, it does have a very similar texture and appearance. Use shirataki rice if you follow a strict keto diet, or want to save calories in making curry, risotto, or any other rice-based dish.
Finding this alternative may be a bit harder, but you can try an organic market or a health store. Use double the amount, as this choice is very light, and it contains virtually no calories.
For Stuffed Peppers, Cabbage Rolls, and Paleo Diet
Couscous very closely resembles rice, and it is high in protein. Surprisingly, this is a type of pasta that is native to the Mediterranean region. To replace rice, you should use double the amount, as couscous is smaller and finer.
You can buy couscous in any grocery or organic store, but for whole wheat, you may have to look elsewhere. Use this choice in cooking stuffed peppers, cabbage rolls, as a side dish, or if you follow the paleo diet.
This grain is a relative of rye and wheat, but it is chewy and earthy in flavor. While it has relatively the same amount of calories as rice, it is higher in protein and fiber. You can buy barley in any grocery store, usually by the oatmeal or cereal grains section.
Use the same amount as you would rice, but consider that barley is denser, so you may want to add more seasoning too. This is a great choice for stuffed vegetables, like peppers or cabbage rolls, and as a side dish.
#7. Bulgur Wheat
This is another rice replacement that is higher in fiber and protein. Bulgur wheat is simply a mix of whole wheat grains. This choice is common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods, but it works great in stuffed peppers, stuffed cabbage, and if you follow the paleo diet.
Even though not every store has it, you can try a grocery store or an organic market. You will need more water to prepare bulgur wheat, and you may want to use ⅔ cup for every cup of rice.
Farro is another whole-wheat choice that has a similar flavor to rice. Like quinoa, farro has a high amount of protein and also contains some fiber. You can use farro as a side dish, in stuffed vegetables, and if you are on the paleo diet.
To substitute for rice, use the same amount of farro, but take into account that the texture is a bit chewier. You can probably find farro near the rice section in any grocery store, but your organic market will certainly have it, too.
If you want to cut calories, some food options to substitute for rice include riced cauliflower, riced broccoli, shirataki rice, and bulgur wheat. Keep in mind that the texture and flavor will be different, so you may need to add more seasoning or sauce to counterbalance.
Potatoes can replace rice as a side dish. Still, in terms of texture and flavor, potatoes aren’t an adequate choice. Also, keep in mind that potatoes are high in calories and starch just like rice.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in comparison to rice. Brown rice is a good alternative if you need the texture and flavor. Otherwise, you can substitute it for sweet potatoes in soups, stews, or side dishes.
Many of us take rice for granted, as it is a daily ingredient in our kitchens. Yet, there are cases in which rice isn’t suitable, so finding an alternative is essential. Any of these 8 options will work but always check for flavor and texture.