Rice is the quintessential base for many dishes around the world. With half the global population consuming rice, sometimes as many as three times a day, it’s worth taking a look at this ubiquitous grain and what alternatives are out there for folks looking to substitute something new for this staple.



One of the most popular alternatives to rice is quinoa. This South American crop has sated humanity’s hunger for the last three to four thousand years. And while it’s technically a seed, it is recognized as a whole grain; rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and dietary minerals. Quinoa is also similar to brown rice in terms of nutrients, making it a no-brainer when making this delicious butter chicken. You might also enjoy quinoa instead of rice in this one-pot lemon parmesan shrimp with broccoli, like this recipe that has all the warmth you want on a chilly day, plus essential nutrients that will make your body happy.



Another popular option is, of course, riced cauliflower which only has 25 calories per cup compared to brown rice which has 216 calories. And you don’t have to buy pre-riced cauliflower to enjoy this tasty alternative. Raw cauliflower can be riced in just a few quick pulses of any food processor. Once riced, cauliflower can tag in to any recipe that otherwise calls for white rice. Try this butter chicken and rice recipe, substituting riced cauliflower for white rice. Plus, it takes minutes to make so you’ll be enjoying this in no time!



Did you know barley makes a great rice alternative? It’s especially good as a risotto substitute, being higher in fiber than risotto. While it takes a little longer to cook barley (hulled barley may take up to 45 minutes), it is well worth the effort when you switch out dumplings or rice for a barley base in this delicious quick rotisserie chicken and dumplings. Your dinner guests will be salivating for this scrumptious bowl.



Not to be outdone by its cousin cauliflower, broccoli actually makes a delicious substitute for rice and works in almost any dish. Not only are green vegetables generally good for you, broccoli has 74% fewer calories than white rice. Making this switch is easy, especially in recipes like this Korean twice-fried chicken. Replace a bed of white rice with riced broccoli to save on calories and add some green to your dish.



While often mistaken for a grain, couscous is actually a pasta and when compared to white rice, has more protein, vitamins, and minerals. Like rice, couscous takes on the flavor of the meal you’re preparing, so you won’t be surprised by a taste that’s unfamiliar. For example, you won’t notice a change in taste or texture when you use couscous in this Galbi, a Korean-style BBQ short rib dish. You’ll relish the sweet, sticky taste while enjoying more protein and other nutrients.



Like couscous, orzo is a pasta and is the same shape and size as an average grain of rice. And like rice, it’s gluten free. Orzo is an excellent substitute and is particularly delicious in dishes like this zesty orzo salad.



A staple of Mediterranean meals for centuries, farro is a whole grain. Similar to barley in its size and nuttiness, it provides you with 20 percent of the recommended daily value of fiber. It also requires a somewhat longer cooking time, depending on whether you’re working with whole farro (30-40 minutes) or pearled/semi-pearled farro (15-20 minutes). But when it’s used as the base for this lemony chicken and rice soup, you’ll wonder why you haven’t made the switch sooner.



And let’s not forget the ever-popular starch, potatoes. These toothsome tubers can be riced and used in place of white rice in just about any dish. Potatoes have a slight advantage over rice, offering more vitamins A, B, and C, and fewer calories and carbohydrates. They’re a perfect match for dishes like pesto butter chicken, either as a riced or mashed bed.


The options are nearly endless so try swapping out your rice for one of these substitutes. You’ll experience new tastes and textures, not too far from what you expect from rice, and you’ll be treating your body right by adding in many core nutrients that are lacking in rice.