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Don’t have rice or trying to work around a dietary restriction? Here are the best ideas for a rice substitute to use in your cooking.

Rice substitute
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Looking for a rice substitute for your diet? Rice is a staple grain in many cultures of the world. It’s considered a healthy whole grain, and brown rice in particular has lots of nutrients and fiber. (See Brown Rice vs White Rice for more.) But are you looking to mix up your rice routine, or want a lower-carb option? Here are a few of the best rice substitute options to include in your diet, gluten free and otherwise.

Best rice substitute

1. Quinoa (gluten free)

The best rice substitute? Quinoa! Quinoa is a gluten-free whole grain that has more protein and fiber than rice. 1 cup cooked quinoa has 8 grams protein and 5 grams fiber. That means:

  • Protein: Quinoa has 1.6 times more protein than brown rice, and double that of white rice.
  • Fiber: Quinoa has 1.5 times more fiber than brown rice (white rice has virtually no fiber).

Quinoa is also a low glycemic index (GI) food, which means it has little effect on your blood sugar levels. This makes it more suitable for people with diabetes. Brown rice is a middle-level GI food and white rice is a high-level GI food. Read more at Quinoa vs Rice.

Recipes: Here’s How to Make Quinoa and Instant Pot Quinoa.

2. Cauliflower rice (gluten free)

Cauliflower rice is another popular rice substitute. What is it? It’s cauliflower that’s chopped into small pieces, with a texture resembling rice. You can make your own cauliflower rice, or buy it frozen. Cauliflower rice has less calories and carbs than rice. 1 cup of cooked cauliflower rice has 25 calories and 5 grams carbs, vs. 1 cup of cooked white rice has 200 calories and 45 grams carbs (source). Some cons to cauliflower rice? It’s not as filling as rice, and some people don’t like the flavor.

Recipe: Here’s how to make cauliflower rice:

  • Chop 1 medium head cauliflower into large florets (for 6 to 7 cups total).
  • Place half of the florets into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fully chopped and the cauliflower resembles grains of rice. Remove the “rice” to a bowl and process the remainder of the cauliflower.
  • Cook the rice: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower rice and a few pinches kosher salt and cook until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

3. Lentil rice (gluten free)

Another rice substitute? Lentil rice! Lentil rice is a new product that has been gaining some traction here in the US. Lentil rice has 5 times the fiber and 2 times the protein of traditional white rice. You can’t make lentil rice at home. We found ours in our local grocery, or you can buy lentil rice online.

4. Farro (whole grain)

Here’s a rice substitute that’s a healthy whole grain: farro! Farro is an ancient whole grain that can be used as an alternative to rice or pasta. It has a chewy texture and nutty taste that’s similar to barley, but it cooks much faster. 1 cup cooked farro has 220 calories, 47 grams carbs, 8 grams protein and 6 grams fiber (source).

Recipes: Here’s How to Make Farro or Instant Pot Farro.

5. Freekah (whole grain)

Freekah is an ancient grain that hails from the Middle East. Similar to bulgur wheat, it comes from the durum wheat plant, harvested when the wheat is green. Freekah is chewy with a lightly smoky flavor. 1 cup cooked freekah has 202 calories, 45 grams carbs, 7.5 grams protein and 11 grams fiber (source).

Recipes: Here’s How to Make Freekah.

Here are some brown rice recipes and rice recipes:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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