13 Sushi Rice Substitutes You May Have at Home
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
Who doesn't love an authentic sushi roll now and then? After a long day, there's probably nothing you would rather do then come home and make a roll of your favorite Japanese dish. But you don't have any sushi rice, but you probably have a sushi rice substitute you can use already in the kitchen.
You may get surprised to learn that other ingredients can make a passable stand-in for sushi rice. While it isn't exactly the same as the actual sushi rice, there are some alternatives that are easy to find and make great-tasting rolls.
13 Sushi Rice Substitutes
With our list of every reasonable sushi rice substitute, you'll be able to meet your craving for any types of sushi pretty easily. You might discover you like one of these even better, because rules are made to be broken.
Brown rice is an excellent alternative to sushi rice, as it's more nutritious. Besides, this is whole grain, so it has the bran and germ intact, which makes it higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice. This kind of rice has even more fiber than long-grain or medium-grain varieties.
It's better to use short-grain brown rice while making sushi, and it needs to be soaked for several hours and mixed with some sweetener to gain desired taste and sticky texture.
This rice has a lower GI than white rice, which means that it digests more slowly and provides added fiber. As a sushi rice replacement, it's very suitable, though some may argue otherwise.
Black rice, also called forbidden rice or purple rice, boasts an anthocyanin color. Well, at first, it might look like black, but it's a vivid, dark purple. The best part about making black rice sushi is that you can stick to the standard ratios of ingredients used in traditional sushi rolls, thanks to its binding properties.
Besides, black rice has a nutty taste; that's why you can use it just like any other type of rice. It's a traditional Chinese luxurious food item for the upper class, but today it's becoming more common.
This kind of rice is naturally gluttonous, dense, and sweet, and it's a great substitute for sushi rice if you're looking to cut back on sugar. To top it off, black rice is a whole grain that is rich in antioxidants that helps to reduce cholesterol.
As a result, you can substitute sushi rice with this one to maximize the nutritional value of your food.
Milk rice is a delicious dessert that you can make with short-grain white rice and milk, and it's an excellent substitute for sushi rice in many dishes.
You can cook it in water with vinegar, just like regular sushi rice, and then add all of the other ingredients. It's as simple as ABC!
And you might just be pleasantly surprised to discover that this rice sticks together pretty nicely, given that sushi rice is often sticky. This is a quality you want in any rice substitute.
It's important to mention that milk rice is smaller and sweeter than regular rice, so the texture of your sushi will be different. However, it'll still taste good!
Couscous is a type of pasta produced from semolina flour, and it has a similar flavor to pasta and a more brownish hue than sushi rice. The strong binding qualities making it an absolute sushi rice substitute.
That being said, it's not pretty ideal for people who are on gluten-free diets as couscous contains gluten grain.
Now comes the critical part of cooking sushi using couscous as the method is a little bit tricky. You need to pour boiling water on it and cover it with a lid so the grain can absorb water. Meanwhile, to avoid too much stickiness, add a tablespoon of olive oil.
You can also mix in seasonings and spices as you would to make regular sushi more flavorsome. This can be a great way to make couscous rice more delicious.
Pudding rice is small, making it perfect for a sushi rice substitute unless you have any specific recipe for sushi rice in your mind.
It's actually made with cornstarch and water, so it has a texture similar to actual rice. You can add the vinegar as it cooks, which will also make it take on that familiar flavor profile. If cooked properly, this rice offers perfect shape and consistency, just like authentic sushi rice.
Regular White Rice
For those who enjoy sushi rice, there is still this option. Sushi rice can be substituted with any type of plain white rice, and the dish will still taste excellent. It works great for nigiri sushi (the kind with various types of shrimp and raw fish laid across the top)
Sushi is short-grain, but white rice is long-grain, yet when it comes to taste, you won't notice much of a change in flavor for white rice. Make sure you simply prepare everything as you would for sushi.
Quinoa is an excellent alternative to sushi rice because it's grainier and earthier than traditional sushi rice but still has that same delicious taste. Quinoa has more protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
The color of this grain is slightly yellowish, so your sushi rolls will look somewhat different than they would if made with traditional white rice. But don't let that stop you from trying it! The flavor will be just as delicious.
Quinoa has a similar texture to rice, so it's easy to use as a rice substitute for sushi. You can boil it according to the instructions on the package, and that way, you can make it crispier or softer.
Arborio rice is a short grain, oval-shaped rice that is used in many dishes, including risotto and rice pudding. It's also the perfect match for sushi.
It also boils extremely fast, which means you can make your favorite dishes in record time. Finally, it absorbs flavor just as well as sushi rice does.
For chefs, arborio rice makes excellent sushi and keeps its structure, and yields a creamy risotto when mixed with the cooking liquid.
The Arborio rice originates from Italy. However, it's also grown in Texas and California, so if you're looking for it in North America, you may have better luck finding it outside Italy.
When you're making sushi, cauliflower rice is the perfect and healthiest substitute for regular rice. It's not only low-carb and starch-free, but it also packs a lot of nutrients into one little serving.
Cauliflower rice is created by shredding the heads of cauliflower in a food processor to the desired consistency. So, you can either purchase it pre-packaged or create it yourself.
This sushi rice substitute is a great way to enjoy the appearance, but unfortunately, not the taste, thickness, or texture of sushi rice. Meanwhile, when replacing sushi rice, you can add sugar, mayo, vinegar, or seasonings to keep the rice grains together.
Risotto rice is a great alternative to white rice when you want something that's similar in texture but doesn't stick together. You can get it in stores pretty easily; most importantly, it's simple to cook.
If you're making sushi with risotto rice, consider adding a small amount of short-grain rice like vialone nano to the recipe. This will help your food hold together better by re-creating the sushi rice stickiness. You'll need it for sushi types that are just balls of rice with some types of clams placed on top, as an example.
Nonetheless, a blend of different types of rice labeled as "risotto rice" will cook and taste very different from traditional sushi rice. So, make sure you check the ingredient list before buying.
While this rice is a type of risotto rice, it deserves its own mention. Carnaroli is a medium-grain rice that comes from several provinces in Northern Italy. Compared to regular risotto rice and arborio rice, this has a a more firm texture, has a longer grain, and contains more starch.
Carnaroli rice is considered a luxury rice (it's what you get at restaurants), and it's appreciated for its ability to maintain its form (meaning it doesn't get mushy) thanks to the amount of amylose it contains. This makes it a great sushi rice alternative, as you can imagine.
Carnaroli rice is a luxury because of the costs associated with storing it during the aging process. Most is aged a year and the more rare (and expensive) kind are aged for seven years in temperature controlled silos.
Also known as Valencia rice, this sushi rice option is grown in Eastern Spain and is a common ingredient there now, though it may not be that well known beyond the borders. Speculation is that in the past that this rice was brought to Spain from India.
This is a short grain rice, which works well for sushi but the main issue is that, depending on where you live, you'll not only have a hard time getting ahold of it but that it'll likely be more expensive than it needs to be.
If you want to stay away from rice altogether, you can go out on a limb and try soba noodles. This is a Japanese noodle where the primary ingredient is wheat. If you've had ramen noodles, imagine them being thicker with a slightly different flavor profile but still similar, and you'll get the idea.
You'll find it easier to cook the noodles first in their long form and then slice them into manageable sizes to roll in the sushi. You don't need the pieces to be as small as a grain of rice, but I wouldn't go much longer. They should be sufficiently sticky to work, especially if you're rolling it inside the norimaki (seaweed wrap).
A Sushi Rice Substitute You Will Enjoy
The sushi rice substitutes we've listed above will both provide a healthy alternative to cooking rice and give you the perfect base for sushi rolls. In general, these substitutes are intended to enhance the flavor and texture of your sushi rolls, so they generally lack the sticky consistency of traditional sushi rice.
Some substitutions can be used in place of traditional sushi rice, while others may be used to augment it.
You can also substitute similar sushi ingredients, but ideally, you should use sushi rice if possible. However, you can use what you have at home as a sushi rice substitute. Make a change and enjoy the authentic taste of the sushi recipe at home.