The 9 Best Basmati Rice Substitutes
Where would we be without Basmati rice?! For years this fluffy white rice has been a permanent fixture in many of our food cupboards and pantries.
People who use Basmati rice swear by its delicious light flavor and beautiful texture and would never be without it. But, is there a good substitute if you run out and can’t make it to the store?
What are the best substitutes for Basmati rice? Basmati rice can be substituted with other types of long-grain rice, such as American long-grain or Jasmine rice. You can also substitute Basmati rice with non-rice alternatives including orzo, bulgur wheat, and cauliflower rice.
Got a recipe that asks for Basmati rice, but your cupboard is bare? Don’t panic, these substitutes will make sure your dish still tastes delicious!
Let’s take a look at the 9 best substitutes for Basmati rice and how to use them.
What Is Basmati Rice?
Basmati rice is traditionally served in Indian and other South Asian cuisines. This rice originates from the foothills of the Himalayas and is still mainly grown in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Basmati rice is a variety of long-grained rice and requires a warm but damp climate to thrive.
Basmati rice is often served plain, and its subtle but delicious flavor perfectly complements stronger sauces such as curries and chili con carne.
It will also soak up flavors when cooked as part of the main dish, such as a classic biryani.
Basmati rice can also be flavored with spices, most commonly with saffron which is used to make authentic pilau rice.
What Does Basmati Rice Taste Like?
You might think of rice as a plain, boring foodstuff used to soak up other flavors, but Basmati rice has other ideas!
The word Basmati means fragrant in Hindu, and that perfectly sums up this delicious rice.
Basmati rice is packed full of flavor and aroma. Compared to other types of rice, it is spicy, nutty, and floral.
The texture of this long-grain rice means that when it is cooked properly, the grains will not stick together.
This means each individual grain of rice will be coated with the flavors of the food you are serving it with.
Can You Substitute Basmati Rice?
Although traditionally Basmati rice is the rice of choice for authentic Indian cuisine, you will be glad to hear that you can substitute many other types of rice instead!
So, if you only have one other type of rice, you can use this in place of your Basmati rice.
Alternative types of rice will have different characteristics to Basmati rice, so they may alter the flavor or texture of your dish.
They may also have longer or shorter cooking times or may need cooking by a different method.
There are also non-rice alternatives that can be used as substitutes for Basmati rice.
Which one of these you choose depends very much on your dish, but some of them can work very well as a Basmati rice substitute.
9 Best Basmati Rice Substitutes
So now we’ve got you all excited about Basmati rice, we need to turn our thoughts to what you can use as a substitute for this delicious rice.
There are plenty of options available, so don’t be disheartened if your Basmati rice supply has run out!
Here are the 9 best substitutes for Basmati rice:
1. American Long-Grain White Rice
Using another type of white long-grain rice is the closest possible substitute to Basmati rice.
American long-grain rice is a plain white rice that is not as fragrant as Basmati rice but will work well in flavorsome dishes such as curry and chili con carne.
This rice is also a good substitute for dishes that ask for cold cooked rice, such as rice salads.
American long-grain white rice is cooked using the same method as Basmati rice, so can be substituted like-for-like in your dish.
This substitute is less expensive than some other types of rice and is also widely available in grocery stores.
Most people will likely have some American long-grain white rice in the cupboard already, so if you have run out of Basmati rice this is an easy swap!
2. Long Grain Jasmine Rice
If you’ve never used Jasmine rice before, you will love the subtle but delightful taste of this rice.
Jasmine rice is a form of long-grain white rice that is similar in flavor to Basmati rice but becomes more moist and sticky when cooked.
This rice does have a slightly different and stronger aroma than Basmati rice, but this should not affect the overall flavor of your dish.
This makes Jasmine rice the perfect substitute for basmati rice if you are cooking Asian-inspired dishes such as Thai green curry or veg-packed stir fry.
Jasmine rice needs slightly less water when cooking than other types of long-grain rice, but other than this it is cooked in exactly the same way as Basmati rice.
3. Popcorn Rice
Popcorn rise is a hybrid of Basmati, so it is no surprise that it makes an appearance on this list!
Grown in Louisiana, popcorn rice has a similarly rich and nutty flavor to Basmati rice. The aroma is slightly milder, so it will not overpower the other ingredients in your dish.
Like American long-grain and Basmati rice, the texture of this long-grain rice means that when it is cooked properly, the grains will not stick together.
Popcorn rice may also be known as wild pecan rice or Louisiana pecan and can be found in many grocery stores.
4. Cauliflower Rice
It’s been hard to miss the craze for cauliflower rice! Popular with people on low-carb and keto diets, this carb-free rice substitute can make a delicious, low-calorie alternative to Basmati rice.
Unlike most types of rice, which can make you feel full and bloated, cauliflower rice will add a touch of lightness to your dinner.
Cauliflower rice is quick and easy to make, but it is cooked in a very different way to Basmati rice.
The best way to cook cauliflower rice is to sauté it in a skillet, to preserve the texture and flavor of the cauliflower.
To prepare cauliflower rice you just need a box grater, although using a food processor is a much faster method.
5. Long-Grain Brown Rice
Long-grain brown rice is the healthier version of white rice, so is a great substitute if you need something to replace your Basmati rice.
Brown rice is actually the same grain as white rice but has been left with the germ and bran intact.
All forms of long-grain rice come with a brown or white version, so you may find American, Jasmine, Popcorn and even Basmati rice comes in the brown alternative.
The main thing to bear in mind with brown rice is that the nutty flavor is much more pronounced, and may well overwhelm other flavors in your dish.
It will stand up well to thick, rich sauces, but does not work with light and fragrant dishes.
Brown rice also takes much longer to cook, and needs more water to absorb.
Couscous is a popular type of pasta commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking.
Made with flour and water, the grains – or pearls – of couscous are smaller than grains of rice but work just as well when it comes to absorbing flavors.
With a subtle flavor, couscous will work with many different types of dishes.
However, many people think of couscous as bland, so you may prefer to pair it with stronger flavors and sauces.
The lovely thing about couscous is that it soaks up any flavors used during the cooking process really well, so you can add herbs and spices to perfectly complement your dish.
Couscous is quick and easy to make but requires a very different technique to rice. It is combined with boiling water and simmered briefly, before being left to stand and absorb the water.
To avoid a stodgy lump of couscous make sure you fluff it well with a fork before serving!
7. Bulgur Wheat
Bulgar wheat is a whole wheat, consisting of small, cracked pieces of wheat grains.
It is most commonly used in Mediterranean salads such as tabbouleh and can make a great Basmati rice substitute for both hot and cold dishes.
Like most whole grains, bulgur wheat will take longer to cook than white rice. Boil in water until tender, then drain the excess water before serving.
Quinoa is a seed that makes a great substitute for Basmati rice. It is very nutritious and also gluten-free.
Quinoa contains twice as much protein as Basmati rice, making it a great protein source for vegetarians.
This delicious little seed cooks quickly in boiling water and will absorb any remaining liquid when left to stand. Fluff it lightly with a fork before serving.
Orzo may look very much like rice, but it is actually pasta! One of the smallest forms of pasta – apart from couscous – orzo is nearly identical to rice in shape, size, and texture.
These tiny little grains are a lovely substitute for Basmati rice but do not have the same nutty and fragrant flavor.
They are also higher in calories, so it is a good idea to reduce the total serving by a third to compensate for this.
To prepare orzo, boil it in water over medium heat until al dente – normally about 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure it is drained well before serving.
If you still have a few more questions about rice racing through your mind, we have you covered.
What is the healthiest type of rice?
Rice is a staple diet for many people around the world, providing a cheap and nutritious source of energy.
There are many different varieties of rice, varying in color, flavor, and nutritional value.
Some are packed full of nutrients that benefit health, while others are described as ‘empty carbs’ – filling and tasty, but not that nutritious.
The healthiest type of rice is brown rice. Brown rice contains the bran layer and the germ of the rice grain, which is where the nutritional benefits come from.
Brown rice has three times more fiber and is higher in protein than white rice. It also contains antioxidants, which have been linked to reducing the risk of health conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers.
Choosing brown over white rice can also help regulate blood sugar and insulin, a hormone that supports healthy blood sugar levels.
This can make it a good choice for people with diabetes. These qualities also help to stave off hunger, making you feel full for longer.
What is the best type of rice for fried rice?
If you haven’t tried making fried rice with leftover rice, you are really missing out! Ready in a matter of minutes, fried rice is a great way to use up leftovers and reduce food waste.
The best type of rice to use for fried rice depends on the dish you are making. Chinese fried rice is normally made with long-grain rice.
Thai dishes will normally use Jasmine rice, and Japanese fried rice is made with short-grain rice. Basmati rice is used for Indian fried rice recipes.
But if your type of leftover rice doesn’t match your recipe, don’t panic! All types of rice will work well whatever the type of cuisine, so just carry on and make whatever you fancy.
But there is one important thing to remember – the best fried rice dishes are made with rice which was cooked the day before and chilled overnight in the fridge.
This is because cold, day-old rice will dry out in the refrigerator and will have the right texture to make the perfect fried rice.
Freshly cooked rice is quite moist and will clump together in the pan, giving a stodgy and dense texture to the dish.
It will still taste amazing though, so if you don’t have cold cooked rice then go ahead and cook up a batch!
What is the best type of rice to use in a rice cooker?
Rice cookers are miraculous contraptions – creating perfectly cooked rice with the minimum of fuss!
If your boiled rice always ends up stodgy, sticky, and overcooked, it might be worth giving a rice cooker a try.
But what is the best type of rice to use in a rice cooker? The good news is that your rice cooker can cook any type of rice to perfection.
So you can cook long-grain, short-grain, Jasmine, Basmati, American ….. the list goes on!
And that’s not all. Rice cookers can also be used to cook other grains, such as quinoa, barley, or bulgur wheat.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, rice cookers can also be used to make delicious dishes such as poached pears, braised ribs, or even pizza!
What is short-grain rice?
Short grain rice is used to make dishes that require dense, thick cooked rice. The starchy nature of short-grain rice means that it will become sticky and stodgy when cooked, with the grains clumping together.
It absorbs juices and flavors well and is popular in many different types of cuisines around the world.
These are the most common types of short-grain rice:
Pudding rice is a type of short-grain rice, used to make dishes such as rice pudding (you could have figured this out on your own, right?!).
And yes, we’re stating the obvious again, but short-grain sushi rice is used to make sushi.
Risotto rice is also a short-grain rice used to make, erm…… risotto!
Like long-grain rice, short-grain rice is normally available in both brown and white varieties.
The brown version is more nutritious, but white short-grain rice gives a better pudding-like texture.
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