What is the Best Sushi Rice Substitute, Top 3 Favorites

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By Ashley Woodward • Last Updated: February 16, 2023

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What is the Best Sushi Rice Substitute

A good sushi must have the best sushi rice, but what if you don’t have it available? It’s a big No-no when you use rice varieties not recommended by experts so better check out what is the best sushi rice substitute in this brand new post.

Turning Japanese

turning Japanese

Japanese cuisine is also taking over the world today. Sushi and sashimi are two of the most popular dishes that everyone loves. The secret to a great sushi is the rice. It is not called a sushi if you are not using the traditional Japanese rice or Japonica rice.

We previously discussed about the importance of rice in Japanese culture so it is no wonder why they love to cook. In today’s world, there is already sushi rice readily available at the groceries. But what if they ran out of stock, what will you do?

What is the best sushi rice substitute that you can use? Read along to find out.

Sushi Rice

sushi rolls

Japanese rice is a very special short-grain, almost transparent from Japonica variety. There are two famous types of Japanese rice namely: ordinary rice and glutinous rice. Ordinary rice is best for sushi and sake while glutinous rice is best for mochi.

Sushi is vinegared rice mixed with sugar, salt, and variants like seafood, vegetables, fruits, and sometimes meat. Sushi is either raw or cooked.  We have learned the great story of sushi in the previous post, what is the best sushi rice cooker.

Sushi is great for appetizers and even stand-alone meals. Like I can eat sushi the entire day! Because of its overwhelming global acceptance, sushi rice is now one of the most in-demand rice varieties.

But what if you didn’t find any sushi rice available at the grocery? Don’t fret! I’ll tell you the secret about what is the best sushi rice substitute.

Sushi Rice Proxy

sushi on wooden hangiri

The secret to a very good sushi is the rice itself. If you take a bite, you will notice the sticky yet soft rice subtly added with seasoning. Sushi rice is very distinct that you cannot just use any white ricejasmine ricebasmati rice, and more.

Traditionally people use brown rice for sushi. Rice is first brown before the polishing and milling process. Since ancient Japanese didn’t have machines, they pound rice manually.

Brown rice is nutty and chewier so it doesn’t make that good sushi rice. Today, there are coin-operated rice milling machines available throughout the rural Japan.

Top 3 Favorites

Arborio Rice

The Italian risotto rice or Arborio rice is best for sushi alternative because of its short to medium grains and sticky texture.

However, Arborio rice is a bit ‘chalky’ but still a good substitute for sushi rice when you don’t have anything left.

Calrose or California Rice

Most groceries in the US don’t have sushi rice readily available unless you visit an Asian grocery or buy online. However, you can use the California rice as sushi rice substitute.

California rice also Calrice or Calrose, is the best alternative to any Asian dishes. This is a type of rice from Japonica variety which has similar texture to Japanese rice.

The Japanese-American owners wanted to bring the taste of Japan to their people living in California. This is the reason why they cultivate and harvest such variety.

California rice is perfect for any Japanese cuisines, such as sushi rice.

Glutinous Rice

As we mentioned above, there are actually two types of Japonica rice, the ordinary and the glutinous. If the ordinary Japanese rice is not available, you may use the glutinous rice type.

Glutinous rice is also medium-short grain variety which is abundant in South Asia like Thailand. This type of rice is perfect for desserts or rice dishes like rice pudding, mango-sticky rice, and more.

Although a bit sticky for sushi yet there is not much difference. Apart from glutinous rice, any short-grained rice is good to use as sushi rice substitute.

What matters here is the manner of cooking. Find out how to make the best sushi rice below!

How to Cook Sushi Rice

Now that you know the best sushi rice substitutes, you can now start making sushi rice. Don’t confuse sushi rice a rice variety okay? Sushi rice is ready-made rice which has been seasoned with vinegar already.

The best way to cook sushi rice is by using a rice cooker. Most modern rice cookers have sushi rice cooking settings which make it easier.

Rice cookers have great benefits and advantages especially in cooking other dishes. You can check out the best Japanese rice cookers too for the brands that may suit your needs.

If you have the rice and the rice cooker ready, follow these steps and we’ll cook the greatest sushi!

What you need:

rolling sushi
  • 2 cups of uncooked sushi rice or the best substitute
  • Water
  • Dashi stock (cooled off)
  • ¼ cup of Rice vinegar
  • And salt


  1. Wash the rice thoroughly under running water. This is to remove excess dust and starch. Do this at least twice.
  2. Drain the rice using a colander and leave it for about 30 minutes
  3. Place the rice on to the rice cooker inner pot and add water. Let it soak for 30 minutes to an hour depending on the age of the rice you got. The older the rice, the longer soaking it needs.
  4. After the soaking time, rinse off water and pour the cooled dashi stock as per the rice to water ratio.
  5. Place the inner pot into the rice cooker and turn it on with the correct cooking setting.
  6. When the rice is cooked, place the rice inside a wooden hangiri or any large bowl that can absorb excess moisture
  7. Add the ¼ cup rice vinegar into the rice and mix it carefully using a rice spatula
  8. Fan the rice while mixing it with vinegar for proper absorption. Remember the key in making great sushi rice is on the process.
  9. Serve it warm or prepare the other sushi ingredients.

Learn how to cook sushi rice in a rice cooker in this quick and easy video!

So Sushi!

I bet you cannot wait any longer to try making sushi rice when you get home, don’t you? Well we pretty much summed up what we need in making great sushi rice and the best possible substitutes we can use.

When you bought too much sushi rice and don’t know what to do with it, store it longer by checking out how to store rice longer.

If you got other quick and easy tips on cooking sushi rice, let us know in the comments below!