6 Substitutes for Sushi Rice

Sushi is delicious and surprisingly easy to make at home, because all you need is seaweed, sushi rice, and any other ingredients you want to add. While nori sheets and other components are easy to find, sometimes you realize that you don’t have the right kind of rice. Are there different kinds of rice (or other foods) that work instead of sushi rice? 

Here’s what you can substitute for sushi rice:

  1. Short grain rice
  2. Brown Rice
  3. Cauliflower sushi rice
  4. Quinoa
  5. Couscous
  6. Soba Noodles

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La Tienda Peregrino Brand Bomba Paella Rice

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Sushi Quinoa by Top Tier Foods

RiceSelect Original Couscous

Hakubaku Organic Soba

RiceSelect Organic Arborio Rice

There are several substitutes for traditional sushi rice. In this article, I will tell you about the most popular substitute grains and how to cook them properly. I will also talk about more health-conscious sushi rice substitutes for low-carb or calorie diets. 

  1. Short Grain Rice

Sushi rice is just short-grain rice. The shorter the grain on rice, the stickier it gets when it is cooked. Sticky rice is ideal for sushi because it holds the ingredients inside the roll and keeps the nori wrapped around them. 

The best way to make rice for sushi is to cook rice in a water and rice vinegar mix. While you don’t necessarily need to do this if it’s short-grain rice, medium-grain rice will need a little extra rice starch to become sticky enough for sushi. Either way, the rice vinegar (or rice flour, if you have it) will make the rice stick together more. 

When making sushi, you can use any short or medium grain rice (although short grain works better). These types of rice work well for sushi: 

  • Arborio rice 
  • Bomba rice
  • Glutinous rice (also called sticky rice)
  • Valencia rice (medium grain) 
  • Carnaroli rice (medium grain) 
  1. Brown Rice 

Brown rice is similar to white rice. Although the grains are longer in brown rice, it is a whole grain and can still become sticky if it’s cooked right. Brown rice has many more nutrients and minerals than white rice, so it has become very popular as a substitute in many rice dishes. You can also substitute it in sushi if you cook it properly. 

To make brown rice stickier, you might have to soak it for several hours before cooking it. If you’re making sushi with brown rice, make sure to add the rice vinegar and maybe some sweetener before cooking it. A standard rice cooker will work well to ensure the brown rice is cooked thoroughly. 

Brown rice cooks a lot longer than white rice and remains hard for much longer. Because of this, the rice can be extremely chewy and overpower the taste of the more delicate ingredients in sushi. While it won’t taste the same as white sushi rice, brown rice is a great substitute. 

  1. Cauliflower Sushi Rice 

While brown rice offers more minerals and vitamins than white rice, it still comes with a pretty high carbohydrate count. If you are looking for a rice substitute for health or diet, the best option is cauliflower sushi rice. 

You can find pre-packaged cauliflower rice, or you can rice your own cauliflower. Either way, once the rice is prepared, it will roll well in the sushi rolls. If it doesn’t get sticky enough, you can add some rice vinegar or mix a little honey in to make it stay. 

  1. Quinoa 

Rice is not the only grain that sticks well in a sushi roll. White rice is traditionally used because of its light, neutral flavor, but the most crucial part is the texture. Quinoa is a very healthy grain that works well to stick the nori to itself and create a sushi roll. It can be cooked in a rice cooker and used for any type of sushi. 

  1. CousCous 

Couscous is another grain with similar properties. Made of small grain balls, couscous does a great job of sticking to the seaweed and provides a very similar texture to white rice. However, couscous is a gluten-containing grain, so it might not be the best substitute if you are trying to avoid gluten. 

  1. Soba Noodles 

Soba noodles are a unique way to make sushi. They are Japanese pasta made from wheat. While it might sound strange to put noodles in sushi, these noodles work very well in place of traditional sushi rice. They have a very different flavor, however, and work well with more potent sushi ingredients. 

Tips for Using Substitutes for Sushi Rice

When making sushi, you are entirely in charge of the ingredients. You can make a classic California roll, a shrimp tempura roll, or your own sushi invention using the ingredients you have on hand. The beauty of sushi is that the only essential elements are the seaweed and the rice. In America, you can find “sushi rice” packaged in stores specifically for home sushi chefs. 

Sushi rice is a bit of a misnomer; in reality, the correct form of rice for sushi is any short or medium-grain rice. Traditionally, there is no such thing as “sushi rice.” Sushi chefs use rice prepared to be stickier instead of dryer. 

The most essential thing in a sushi roll is to have a grain that keeps the roll together and helps the nori sheets stick. Otherwise, the ingredients would fall out, and the seaweed wouldn’t stay rolled. However, it doesn’t have to be sushi rice. This list provides substitutes for the sushi rice you’d find packaged in a store (except for the last option). 

If you are counting calories or carbs and want to skip the rice altogether, that’s possible. Although the sushi won’t form in the same way without rice, you can roll seaweed around your other ingredients. To get it to stick better, you can use cream cheese or another sauce in the roll itself. 

Although short-grained rice, such as sushi rice, is the best option for homemade sushi, several other options are available if you want to try something different. Sushi rice substitutes can make an at-home sushi night much more doable without taking away from the delicious flavor of the sushi itself! 


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