What is the Best Arborio Rice Substitute, A Great Risotto Alternative

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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What is the Best Arborio Rice Substitute

Arborio rice is the perfect rice for risotto, but what if you run out of this grain? What will you do in this scenario? Better find out what is the best Arborio rice substitute in this new post.

Flavor of Italy

Arborio rice is highly regarded among the best rice varieties in Italy. It originates from a town in the Po Valley, called Arborio.

That’s how it got the name. Arborio is a short grain Italian white rice, which is used in popular Italian dishes, such as a risotto.

The reason it’s widely used in the preparation of risotto is that the Arborio rice is packed with starch, which is ideal for risotto.

Sushi requires the rice to stay in shape and the Arborio rice excels in that region, as well.

Arborio Rice

Is Arborio Rice Healthy

Arborio rice goes back a long way. It used to grow in Italy, but its cultivation in California and Texas in the United States has picked up steam recently. This rice species has a variety of size selections to choose from.

The largest grain size in this collection is called the ‘superfino’. Its use in the United States is regular. In addition, the Arborio rice is found in a brown rice state, too. Though, the starch content in the brown rice is quite low, compared to the white rice.

There a lot of rice species and it can get a bit tricky to identify a particular rice specie. Separating Arborio rice from jasmine and basmati rice is difficult. Basmati rice is a white, extra-long grain, which is extensively used to cook food in Pakistan.

You can identify jasmine rice with the sensational floral aroma that it possesses. You are already aware about the appearance of Arborio rice.

Essence of Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is a delicious dish to eat. Eating it along with Arborio rice makes it tastier. The creamy consistency in risotto is created due to the starch being released from the Arborio rice during cooking.

The starch releasing process is what makes the risotto a luscious dish to eat. The common white rice is not suitable for this starch releasing process, hence Arborio rice is used.

As tempting the flavor of risotto is, due to the starch releasing process, it does take quite a long time to make. You’ll have to wait at least 20 minutes to get well-cooked risotto at any particular restaurant.

Favored 4 Substitutes

Carnaroli Rice

carnaroli rice

One of the most used alternatives to make risotto is the Carnaroli rice, instead of Arborio rice. The Carnaroli rice has medium grains and primarily grows in Pavia, Novara.

Its cultivation is also found in the Vercelli provinces of Northern Italy. Many people around the world prefer to eat their risotto, cooked with Carnaroli rice.

The starch content in Carnaroli rice is better than in Arborio rice. The texture of the Carnaroli rice is also more definite than Arborio rice.

Carnaroli rice makes risotto creamier than Arborio rice, although it does take a longer time to prepare risotto with this rice variety.

Vialone Nano Rice

You can also make risotto using Vialone Nano rice. This rice is from the medium-grain rice family.

The areas in the southern Provincia di Verona, Veneto, are known for growing Vialone Nano rice in huge quantities.

Quite a few people enjoy eating their risotto with Vialone Nano rice. The grain of the Vialone Nano rice is round and thick, which makes the kernel of this rice species hard to crack.

The reason behind the low consumption of the Vialone Nano rice is that it’s scarcely found on the food market. There are only a few select places that sell Vialone Nano rice.

Sushi Rice

Cooking Sushi Rice

Sushi rice is a great alternative to use, if you are out of Arborio rice. The sushi rice is a short-grain rice, which comes from Japan.

This rice is used mostly to make sushi, since it tends to get a bit sticky when it is cooked.

It has a similar texture to Arborio rice. Sushi rice can add the creaminess that you require in a recipe.

It won’t be as smooth as Arborio rice, but it’ll be good enough. Due to this, it does not need any additional additives, such as cornstarch.

Quinoa Rice

Quinoa Rice

You can easily substitute Quinoa rice, in the event you are out of Arborio rice. The Quinoa is a protein is a high-protein grain, which originates from the Incan tribes in the Andes Mountains in South America.

In addition to containing high-protein, the Quinoa has 8 essential amino acids, too. Quinoa does not have the starchiness that the Arborio rice possesses, but it has high nutritional value than the Arborio rice.

Due to this reason, it’s a perfectly suitable substitute. If you are looking to get some creaminess in your risotto using Quinoa rice, just add cream or milk.

Cooking Arborio Rice

You’ve learnt what the best substitutes to Arborio rice are and now, you can cook Arborio rice yourself. Arborio rice can be cooked inside a rice cooker, but the method we’ll be showing today is the traditional way of cooking rice in a sauce pan.

Arborio Rice Substitute

You’ll need:

  • 250 ml of Arborio rice
  • 500 ml of water
  • 1 table spoon of olive oil
  • a pinch of salt (optional)


  1. Choose a pot, preferably medium-sized. It may be the one in which you usually cook rice. Cooking stove should be set to medium-high heat.
  2. Place the pot on the stove, wait a few minutes until the water starts to boil.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of oil for a better taste. Some people try to avoid salt for various reasons, so if you don’t want salt, you don’t need to add it. It is worth considering to add sea salt. According to dieticians and doctors, it’s the healthiest type of salt because it contains little sodium. In addition, it has selenium, zinc and magnesium. Bubbling in a pot may stop for a moment after adding the above ingredients.
  4. Gently mix the water with salt and oil. After a while, add your rice.
  5. When the water starts boiling again, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with lid.
  6. After reducing the heat to the minimum, we have to wait until the rice absorbs all the water. It usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes.
  7. You’ll know the rice is ready, as it becomes creamy. Remove the rice from the pan onto a plate. Wait a moment until the rice cools down.
  8. Voila! Your arborio rice is ready to eat.

Delicious Arborio Rice

After reading this blog post, your craving for the Arborio rice will have definitely rocketed. I bet you will be making this rice, once you get home. The fiber contents of the Arborio rice are extremely beneficial for you and you should eat this rice at least once a month.

Eating a risotto with this rice would make the taste more exotic and that’s what food lovers look for in this day and age.