What is Orzo?
Learning about orzo and the best substitute for orzo pasta is important. Pasta, orzo, or risoni is a durum wheat product with a higher-than-normal quantity of gluten. However, barley is not a common ingredient in orzo pasta.
The Italian word for orzo is “barley.” This pasta has a unique shape that resembles a grain or a grain of rice. Pastina, which means “little pasta,” is the category in which this rather small pasta belongs.
What is a Good Substitute for Orzo?
If you run out of orzo, I’ll list the top substitutes, describe how to prepare them, and offer a few recipes you could find useful for preparing a meal:
Acini di Pepe
Although it’s smaller, this is extremely comparable to orzo. Another semolina-based pasta with a tiny, rounded shape is acini de Pepe. The pasta’s name indicates its size and shape. Supermarkets are fairly simple to locate.
How to Cook and Use Acini Di Pepe
Add onion and celery to a pan with hot oil. Cook it until it’s soft on medium heat. You should add and stir wine. The spaghetti is ready to serve. This can be a good orzo substitute in soup. When making light soup, choose this kind of pasta because of how easily it fits the pot. Additionally, this pasta, similar to orzo, works well as a stand-in for creating pasta salads.
- Spicy garlic chicken with acini di pepe pasta & snow peas.
- Acini di pepe pasta in vegetable soup.
- Acini di pepe salad.
You can find this as the best substitute for orzo. This short-grain rice resembles orzo in shape, and the texture will be creamier when cooked in the same manner. This rice is an Italian kind, containing amylopectin starch, which gives the food a creamy texture. This rice is usually brown.
How to Cook and Use Arborio
You can prepare this kind of rice in the same manner as conventional rice. You should place it in a pot or pan with 2 cups of salted water and then boil it. It must simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid dries. This kind of rice can be a wonderful alternative when making cold salads, soup, and other foods.
Recipes with Arborio
- Arborio rice and white bean soup.
- Roasted vegetable risotto.
Like quinoa, amaranth is a gluten-free pseudocereal available as a seed and flour. Its preparation is similar to rice; many use it in savory and sweet recipes. Fiber, protein, vitamins, and antioxidants are all abundant in amaranth.
It tastes sweet, nutty, herbaceous, and somewhat peppery and has a crunchy texture. Amaranth is a flexible ingredient that you may roast, pop, cook, and use in various recipes. You can use it in place of orzo pasta in salads, soups, stews, pilafs, and other recipes.
While the flavor will not be the same as orzo pasta’s, it will improve and give a pleasant nutty flavor and crisp texture.
In hot recipes, sides, and casseroles, You can substitute brown rice for orzo due to their similar textures.
In your recipes, you may easily obtain broken spaghetti as a replacement for orzo pasta. You must break the spaghetti into 1-inch (25.4-centimeter) pieces and add them to your meal. Toasted spaghetti will give your dish an even richer nutty flavor and a beautiful brown color. You can replace orzo with broken spaghetti in soups, salads, and risotto.
You can cook the versatile vegetable cauliflower in various ways, including stir-frying, roasting, steaming, sautéing, or air-frying. It is typically used in soups, casseroles, salads, stir-fries, and other foods. It has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Cauliflower rice is one of the orzo pasta substitutes that you may use in your recipes.
Cauliflower rice has a similar feel to rice and is from grated or finely chopped cauliflower. With cauliflower rice, you can make rice-based recipes like fried rice, risotto, and stir-fries. However, you can add it raw to salads to give them a wonderful crunch. If you’re following a gluten-free diet, cauliflower rice is a great orzo pasta substitute.
In northern Africa, this is a common type of pasta that you serve with meals. Semolina, a hard wheat grain, is in use to make it. It frequently gets mistaken for grain due to its size and form. Grocery stores are a convenient place to find it.
How to Cook and Use Couscous
In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. In addition, add flavored chicken or vegetable stock to the liquid. Add a pat of butter, a little salt, and a little olive oil. After adding it, turn off the heat and cover the pot. Allow the liquid to soak for 5 minutes.
Commonly served as a side dish, you can top this pasta with a meat or vegetable stew. You can also use it to make spaghetti salads.
Recipes With Couscous
- Roasted veg and couscous salad.
- Chicken and couscous one-pot.
- Spice and honey salmon with couscous.
Another excellent alternative to orzo pasta is ditalini pasta. You can consider using the ditalini pasta substitute in salads, stews, broths, and soups. Ditalini pasta comes in both smooth and ridged types, and it has the shape of little tubes.
Durum wheat flour makes this pasta cook fast due to its size. To obtain a similar texture and flavor, you can use ditalini pasta in dishes instead of orzo pasta.
Whole-grain wheat, called farro, is similar to barley. It typically appears in risotto, soups, and salads and has a chewy texture and nutty flavor. Farro is a historic grain in whole, semi-pearled, and pearled forms. It is high in protein and fiber.
The fastest to cook is the kind that has removed all of its bran, known as pearled. Use farro instead of orzo pasta to achieve a similar nutty flavor and chewy texture in your recipes. Farro is not a suitable alternative to orzo pasta for those following a gluten-free diet because it contains gluten.
It is the procedure to create freekeh. Arabic words for “rub” include freekeh and farik. While the wheat grains are still green, everything begins.
After picking up, roasting, and grinding, the grains are from the wheat heads. Because you collect young, green grains at their peak, freekeh has a superior flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Since freekeh is a wheat product, it contains gluten. Its chewy texture and nutty, smokey flavor are reminiscent of brown rice.
Freekeh is a flexible grain that works well in various recipes, including stews, soups, salads, pilafs, stir-fries, and many others. To create a dish with wonderful flavor and texture and is also packed with nutrients, use freekeh in place of orzo pasta.
This is a traditional type of semolina pasta from the Italian island of Sardinia. Small beads of semolina flour combine with water to create this pasta.
How to Cook and Use Fregola?
You can use four cups of salted water and a large pot to prepare this pasta, which you then boil over medium heat. One cup of fregola is sufficient. Till it’s al dente, cook it (about 8 to 10 minutes). Drain it and lay it out to chill on a baking pan if you’re creating a salad.
When making baked pasta, pasta salads, and seafood soups, swap this variety of pasta in place of orzo. You can also serve it as a side dish with roasted meats.
Recipes With Fregola
- Sardinian fregola with lamb.
- Fregola sarda pasta with tomatoes.
- Fregola with seafood.
Small, low-cost legumes known as lentils come in various sizes and colors, including yellow, brown, green, red, and black. They are a common ingredient in many cuisines and a good source of protein for vegan and vegetarian diets. Salads, stews, soups, casseroles, pilafs, pasta, and other foods contain lentils.
Lentils come in a variety of colors, each with a distinct flavor. While yellow and red lentils have a sweeter, earthier taste, black and green lentils have a more earthy, somewhat peppery flavor. You can use any lentils in place of orzo pasta, but you’ll need to tweak the cooking time to get the optimum texture and flavor.
The same grass family Poaceae is home to a wide variety of cereal grains recognized by millet. The sizes, hues, and forms of millet grains vary. They come in three different forms: flakes, whole, and flour. Pearl millet is one of the most popular types of millet.
A gluten-free cereal grain with a high level of protein, fiber, and antioxidants is millet. This ancient grain is best for various meals, including soups, pilafs, salads, stir-fries, casseroles, and stews. However, add it to muffins, biscuits, quick bread, or cooked as porridge.
The flavor and texture of millet are moderate, somewhat sweet, nutty, and fluffy. In salads, soups, and other side dishes, it works well as an alternative to orzo pasta. To get a more nutty flavor, toast the millet before cooking.
The semolina flour used to make most other forms of pasta makes orecchiette, a tiny ear-shaped pasta. In addition to holding the sauces well, their distinctive form gives your food a lovely appearance.
Orechiette has a distinct texture that is chewy at the edges and soft in the center. Typically, they come with meatballs, ricotta cheese, pancetta, cauliflower, and tomato sauce on the side. Orecchiette can take its place in salads, soups, and other recipes that call for orzo pasta.
A cereal grain with a moderate nutty flavor and chewy texture is barley. It is a wholesome diet rich in fiber and trace minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, and selenium.
There are two types of barley: hulled and pearl. Hulled barley is chewier and has a light golden brown hue than pearl barley because its processing is not like that. On the other hand, Pearl barley lacks an outer bran layer.
It has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. To name a few, soups, stews, risottos, salads, stir-fries, and casseroles all require pearl barley. It is an excellent alternative to orzo pasta, but remember that it takes longer to prepare.
Another orzo substitute gluten-free option is here. A common grain in South American cooking is quinoa. It is healthful and has the highest protein content of any grain. This grain is an excellent cooking component and can aid with weight loss. Additionally, it has antioxidants that are good for your health.
How to Prepare and Use Quinoa
All you need to prepare this side dish is 1 cup of quinoa, 2 cups of water, and salt (according to taste). Use the rinsed quinoa in your container. Use quinoa to make pilaf, salads, sauces, soup, and other foods. Quinoa will give the additional dish flavor and improve its nutritional value.
- Crockpot quinoa tacos.
- Quinoa salad.
- Quinoa soup.
Stelline is a tiny, star-shaped pasta that cooks up quickly and easily. In addition to many other foods, it is best in soups, sauces, broths, and salads.
Stelline is a member of the pastina family and is from durum wheat flour, occasionally with the addition of eggs. Stelline cooks more quickly than larger pasta forms because of their compact size. Pasta made with stelline is not just tasty. Your dishes will look nicer as a result.
Small Elbow Macaroni
Small elbow macaroni is a flexible pasta used in various cuisines, including macaroni and cheese, meatball soup, and pasta salad. They have a semicircle form, are short, and are frequently related to the famous macaroni and cheese dish.
Soups, salads, casseroles, stir-fries, and other meals also call for small elbow macaroni. They will work well as orzo pasta substitutes in your dishes, even if they are larger. The main drawback is that they will require more cooking time than orzo pasta.
Short-Grain Brown Rice
Because of its petite, long, and wide shape, this rice earned its moniker. If you must follow a gluten-free diet, you can use this kind of rice in place of orzo. Despite having a few more calories than white rice, it has more fiber and protein than white rice, which gives it more nutrients and many health benefits.
How to Cook and Use Short-Grained Brown Rice?
For around 30 minutes, boil the rice in water. Return the rice to the pot after draining any extra water, cover it, and let the rice soak up any moisture for ten minutes. Use this kind of rice in salads, as a side dish for vegan dishes, and even with meat.
Recipes With Short-grained Brown Rice
- Mushroom-brown rice risotto.
- Oven-baked brown rice.
- Vegan brown rice sushi.
Semolina flour is ideal for making the small, tube-shaped pasta known as tubettini. They are tubetti’s diminutive counterpart. Tubettini pasta comes in ridged and smooth versions.
Although you can use them in different cuisines, tubettini are typically for soups, stews, and salads. Tibettini can be best in dishes in place of orzo pasta to achieve a similar texture and flavor. These tiny tubes give your food a terrific flavor because they absorb flavors.
Teff is a traditional Ethiopian grain that is very nourishing. It is a variety of millet devoid of gluten and available as whole grain and flour. Teff comes in a variety of hues and types. However, they are tiny seeds with a faint hazelnut flavor and nutty aroma.
Teff flour is a wonderful gluten-free substitute for regular flour and is best for various baked items, including crackers, bread, waffles, and cookies. You can use Teff in soups, casseroles, stews, pilafs, salads, and your morning porridge.
Teff can add crunch to muffins, cereal, steamed veggies, soup, and salad. To give your dishes a comparable flavor and texture to orzo pasta, teff works well as an alternative.
You can easily replace orzo with jasmine rice or long-grain wild rice. Although You CAN use it in place of orzo in soups, it works far better in casseroles and other hot foods—a wooden bowl with white rice. White rice can work well as an orzo alternative in several recipes.
Is Orzo Gluten-Free?
Although orzo may resemble rice grains, it cannot be gluten-free because it is a product of Durham wheat semolina. Anyone with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or who needs to avoid gluten for any other reason shouldn’t eat orzo.
While cooking, you can swap orzo out for any gluten-free substitutes I’ve listed below. While the flavors and textures won’t be identical, they can be similar and provide a great substitute for gluten-containing kinds of pasta. Potential gluten-free substitutes for orzo include
- Arborio rice.
- Short-grain brown rice.
Depending on how you use orzo in your recipe, there is probably a gluten-free substitute that will be OK for you.
Common Kitchen Uses for Orzo
Orzo pasta is incredibly adaptable. The following are the most typical culinary use for orzo:
- Soups: Like this flavorful soup made with lemon and orzo.
- Cold salads/side dishes: You can always bring this perfect orzo salad to a picnic.
- Hot main dishes/pasta dishes: We frequently eat this creamy chicken orzo with asparagus at my house.
- Casseroles: This cheesy broccoli and orzo bake in one skillet is delicious!
How is Orzo Prepared?
You can prepare this kind of pasta in a variety of ways. There are numerous cooking methods because of the size and shape of the food. Below, I’ll give you some advice and suggestions on how to prepare orzo so that you can enjoy a wholesome meal.
- The typical method is to prepare it similarly to pasta: bring water to a boil, season with salt, and add the orzo raw. If you want it al dente, give it 8 or 10 minutes.
- Drain the liquid afterward, and then add butter or olive oil.
- You can also prepare it in the same manner as rice. All you have to do is combine the orzo with cold water in a saucepan and heat it to a boil. Reduce the heat after it begins to boil, and cover the pot until the liquid dries out.
- Another option involves making pilaf with orzo, which combines cooking risotto with boiling rice. Place the orzo, oil, and finely chopped onion in a pan. Twenty minutes or so of cooking will get the liquid completely absorbed.
Top Orzo Recipes to Finally Highlight This Tiny Noodle
Orzo may be one of those items you see in the grocery store but never actually purchase because you need to figure out how to prepare it. And we don’t blame you if you’re a little perplexed.
It can be challenging to determine what type of dish will benefit from having the appearance of rice but the flavor of the pasta. But that’s exactly what makes these tiny treats so lovely — they’re ideal.
Orzo has a variety of delicious uses, such as taking the place of rice in burrito bowls, tossing in Bolognese sauce, or contributing to the carb content of grain bowls. Here are some orzo recipes that you can try first.
Orzo Recipes With Poultry
One-Pan Chicken and Spinach Orzo
Although using pre-cooked rotisserie chicken simplifies preparation, browning your chicken only adds 5 minutes to the cooking time.
Whatever you decide, the meat gives this simple pasta dish a welcome protein boost. It adds the right amount of cheese without going crazy with only 1/4 cup of Parmesan.
Mexican Chicken Salad With Orzo
Replace the rice with pasta to give this Mexican dish a touch of Italian flair. It’s a delectably ideal hybrid of a pasta salad and a burrito bowl, complete with chicken, avocado, black beans, and corn.
Orzo With Turkey Sausage and Kale
Even while the orzo on the stovetop feels decadent, its ingredients are surprisingly nutritious. Kale and red peppers give color, vitamins, and minerals, and turkey sausage offers a lean source of protein. The recipe makes pasta night feel good with luscious olives and creamy feta.
One-Pot Chicken, Chickpeas, Orzo
This straightforward dish includes chicken and chickpeas, making it a quick but protein-rich dinner on hectic nights. You should marinate the chicken overnight for the best flavor, but the 5-minute preparation time is well worth it when you eat the juicy, cumin- and paprika-seasoned flesh the next day.
Turkey Orzo Soup
Turkey instead of chicken creates a minor flavor change, and the rice-like orzo makes it much simpler to get some of that carby activity into every bite. The recipe is comfortable while still tangy and vibrant, thanks to parsley, lemon, and the customary carrots and celery.
Orzo Pasta Recipes With Beef
Beef and Orzo Skillet Meal
You can prepare this weeknight-friendly orzo dish in a single skillet, and it is super convenient without being monotonous. Lean ground beef and spinach give nutritional benefits, but the acidic green olives and crumbled feta add flavor and texture punch.
Even if you might not have tried this Greek comfort food dish, once you do, it will undoubtedly become a staple for supper. Whole-wheat orzo adds some fiber to the meaty dish, and the beef simmers in a distinctive tomato broth fragrant with cinnamon and mint.
One-Pot Orzo Bolognese
This Bolognese has many of the same ingredients as the traditional dish—ground beef, tomato paste, and a lot of garlic—but a few significant variations give it a unique flavor.
A few handfuls of peas add color, and the addition of mushrooms gives it more meatiness. The sauce doesn’t slide off a fork when you use orzo instead of spaghetti because you can scoop up big, meaty chunks with a spoon.
Orzo Recipes With Pork
Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Strawberry Orzo Salad
If you try this grain-based salad, which combines pork and strawberries, you’ll wonder why the two flavors aren’t combined more frequently.
The combination of sweet and savory flavors is unbeatable, and the chewy orzo and crunchy cucumbers provide even more texture. Its tangy homemade balsamic dressing makes it the salad that can outshine entrée.
Orzo Pilaf With Italian Sausage
Orzo is the quick-fix option for getting a straightforward pilaf on the table because it just takes 10 minutes to cook as opposed to at least 20 minutes for rice. Adding pork sausages gives the dinner a little more substance, and the number of dried herbs and raisins scattered throughout the dish readily offers a depth of flavor.
What is the Best Low Carb Substitute for Orzo?
Compared to other orzo substitutes, cauliflower rice, quinoa, couscous, and barley have fewer carbohydrates.
What is the Healthiest Alternative to Orzo?
Orzo has more carbs than cauliflower rice, quinoa, couscous, and pearl barley. In addition to having vitamins and minerals, lentils, farro, and fregola are extremely healthful alternatives to orzo.
What is the Best Gluten-Free Substitute for Orzo?
You can substitute orzo with quinoa, arborio rice, brown rice, white rice, cauliflower rice, and small gluten-free pasta like this Gluten Free Acini de Pepe.
The Final Say
Finding a flavorful substitute is considerably simpler because most pasta and grains don’t have much flavor. Arborio rice, acini de Pepe, pearl barley, or fregola are all appropriate substitutes for orzo if you’re looking for an alternative.
The ideal choice, however, will vary depending on your motivation for seeking an option. To determine which choice is perfect for your food, we advise reading through each entry on this page.
You’ll discover that the cooking times for each component on this page vary according to their sizes. Please pay close attention to this because it’s simple to undercook barley or overcook couscous. You can add most of the little pasta varieties toward the end of cooking, but their cook times will still vary slightly.