7 Best Orzo Substitutes

Do you love eating orzo but don’t have it on hand? Don’t worry! Here’s the list of best orzo substitutes you can swap with. 

Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta, so these substitutions should be similar in taste and texture.

The best substitutes for Orzo include Arborio, Couscous, Quinoa, Fregola, Short-Grain Brown Rice, Acini di pepe, and Pearl barley.

These substitutes can help to add different veggies into your diet and make for a new dish that will satisfy your appetite!

What is Orzo?

Orzo is a type of pasta that’s shaped like grains of rice. It has a small hole in the center which makes it perfect for soups and stews!

It can be made from semolina, wheat flour, or even whole-wheat flour. Despite its name, no rice is used to make orzo pasta.

Orzo is often found in pasta salads, casseroles, or soups. It could be used as sides for meals such as chicken fajitas with sautéed peppers and onions or spaghetti carbonara with smoked salmon.

Let’s go through the list of substitutes now! 

7 Best Orzo Substitutes

1. Arborio

This Italian rice is an ultra-creamy short-grain rice that provides an excellent substitute for orzo. Arborio has the same texture and the same taste as orzo does when cooked!

Arborio allows you to use extra veggies like carrots, broccoli, etc., so your meal is more nutritious and healthy.

2. Couscous

Couscous and orzo are both made from durum semolina. They are very similar, but couscous cooks faster than orzo. It has a great texture that can also be substituted for orzo.

Couscous can be prepared in a few minutes and is often used as an accompaniment to meat main courses like lamb shanks.

Couscous dishes include chicken tajine with raisins and almonds. Use veggies like broccoli, peas, green beans to add extra color and flavor to your meal.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa Substitutes

Quinoa has been used as an alternative for rice and couscous, so why not orzo as well? It is an amazing gluten-free alternative to orzo.

Quinoa is a grain that’s packed with high-quality protein and contains more essential amino acids than any other cereal. Like orzo, it has a light, nutty flavor that can be used in soups or served as a side for main dishes.

Quinoa is delicious when mixed with veggies like mushrooms, peas, corn, and tomatoes. This mixture can replace the orzo in any dish you want!

4. Fregola

Fregola originates from Sardinia but it has become popular around Italy because of how tasty it is. It is made out of semolina flour mixed with water to produce small beads.

Fregola is the perfect size to substitute for orzo in any dish. It can be boiled and used as a side for all different kinds of meat, like chicken, lamb, etc. But it’s also delicious mixed with veggies!

Make your own Fregola salad by including olives, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, green asparagus, etc.

Fregola can be served as small pasta balls or larger like couscous—both are equally delicious!

5. Short-Grain Brown Rice

Brown Rice

Short-grain brown rice is long grain rice that has been finely milled to produce the short, round grains.

It is a type of rice that’s sticky when cooked, so it can be used to replace orzo in pasta dishes! It will give your dish the same nutty flavor and great texture you usually get from orzo.

Short-grain is a healthier alternative to most types of rice because it retains its nutrients when cooked and it’s packed with fiber!

The best part is that it’s gluten-free, so no one will have any trouble eating this dish. Like Orzo, short-grain can be used in soups as well as main dishes.

6. Acini di pepe

Acini di pepe is a very small pasta that can be used to replace orzo in any recipe! It’s made out of durum wheat and doesn’t contain any eggs, so it makes the perfect substitute for vegetarians who are looking to add more flavor and nutrients to their dishes.

Acini di pepe is a great substitution for orzo because it’s already shaped like tiny balls, so you can expect the same texture from your dish when using acini di pepe. Besides being gluten-free, this type of pasta is also rich in iron and vitamins!

7. Pearl Barley

Pearl barley is a whole grain that has been made into a small granule. It can be used as a healthy substitute for orzo because it’s packed with fiber and minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, etc.

Pearl barley can be mixed with vegetables to make a tasty salad or soup.

This healthy whole grain has a nutty flavor and earthy flavor that can be added to dishes like risotto or soups, which makes it a great addition to the restaurant kitchen too!

What Does Orzo Taste Like?

Orzo is a very popular pasta shape, but what does Orzo taste like?

Orzo tastes just like rice! Well not exactly… it’s much better than rice. But they do share similar flavors and textures because of how similar their shapes are.

In essence, orzo is the same as rice in terms of flavor. That’s why it works well in dishes that would typically use rice as a base. And you can eat orzo for its side dish in the same way you might eat rice.

How to Cook Orzo?

Orzo is one of the easiest pasta to make. You can use it in almost any dish, and it cooks just as quickly as rice does!

To cook orzo, you’re going to need a large pot filled with water. Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta – then wait for about 10-12 minutes.

You want to cook it long enough that all of the orzo is cooked through, but not so much that it breaks apart and becomes mushy.

Where Can I Buy Orzo?

Orzo is typically sold in bags of 500g or 1kg. It’s recommended that you buy a large bag as this will give you more opportunities to experiment with your new pasta!

You should be able to find orzo in a supermarket, but you can also buy it online if you’re having trouble finding it locally.

The prices are usually pretty affordable for the amount of orzo that you get, and it makes a great addition to any kitchen!

Is Orzo Gluten-Free?

No! Orzo isn’t gluten-free, as it’s made from durum wheat. However, there are many recipes that use orzo and can be altered to make them gluten-free!

What Is a Good Gluten-Free Substitute for Orzo?

If you’re cooking a dish that calls for orzo and you want to make it gluten-free, there are many substitutes that you can use! One of the best substitutes is quinoa because it has a similar flavor to orzo.

What Is the Difference Between Orzo and Pasta?

Orzo is a very small pasta that’s shaped like rice – so it looks similar to other kinds of pasta. Where orzo differs from other pasta is in its size and shape, as well as the ingredients used to make it.

Orzo should be made entirely of durum wheat flour, which contributes to its brown color. However, some pasta may be made with different colors or consist of many ingredients.

Although they look similar on the surface, there are several differences between orzo and other pasta varieties!

Can I Substitute Israeli Couscous for Orzo?

Yes, you can!

There are many substitutes for orzo, but one of the healthiest alternatives to orzo is Israeli couscous. Like orzo, this type of pasta is a small wheat grain that’s very versatile.

What Dishes Are Orzo Good In?

The great thing about orzo is how versatile it is! You can use it in almost any dish because of its shape and size.

One of the best things about using orzo is that you can add it to dishes like soups and salads, as well as side dishes.

Orzo can pretty much be added to any dish that calls for rice! So if you’re making risotto but don’t have any rice on hand, try this out instead. You’ll be surprised at how well it works.

Final Words

In conclusion, Orzo pasta is a type of pasta that’s popular around Italy. It has been found in many different kinds of dishes and used as a substitution for rice. But you might not always have access to orzo—and that’s okay!

Many other kinds of pasta can be used as substitutes for orzo, and they all bring their own unique flavor to the dish. Therefore, you should try them all out in your kitchen and see which one is your favorite!

I hope you found this article helpful in finding the best substitute for that yummy orzo pasta. Have a great day, everyone!

I’m a passionate food blogger on a journey to become a go-to person who can help others prepare delicious foods. I share recipes, food substitutes, and other cooking tips. Read more about my journey...

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