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Substitutes for Orzo Pasta

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Orzo pasta may be one of those cooking ingredients that you randomly happen upon from time to time in the grocery store but never buy because you have no idea what to do with it. It has the pastas characteristic flavor and the general appearance of rice. Hence it might be a little confusing. The good thing is, it can work both ways and beyond!

But it might so happen that your local grocery stores do not stock up on orzo pasta, or you have a personal preference for something different in your recipes. In this case, there are many options to consider replacing orzo pasta within your meals.

Some have the same form, similar or better tastes than orzo pasta. As such, they would make for amazing substitutes. Please find out how to properly incorporate them into your recipes for the best results.

What is Orzo Pasta?

Substitutes for Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta is a short-cut pasta that resembles a huge grain of rice. Orzo is generally made with flour, but the whole grain can also be used. It is also frequently made with semolina, durum wheat flour.

In North America, orzo is a common name for this pasta shape, but it is less so in Italy, where the word denotes barley. Orzo is frequently used in Italian soups such as minestrone. It can also be cooked and lightly fried to make a risotto-like dish.

Orzo can be served in many different ways. For example, orzo can be eaten on its own, in soup, or as part of a salad, pilaf, or giouvetsi. It can also be included in a baked casserole. Saffron, chilies, and black beans can color orzo to make yellow, orange, or black pasta.

Uses of Orzo Pasta in Recipes

Substitutes for Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta has a lot of uses, from replacing rice in burrito bowls to being thrown in a Bolognese sauce to satisfying the carb criteria of a grain bowl. This is made possible because of its versatile nature; it has the appearance of rice, the taste of pasta and can be used in both ways and more.

Orzo pasta is useful in loads of mouth-watering recipes. In addition to its unique style and taste, it is especially loved for how quick and easy it is to whip up into a meal. Some of the recipes in which you can typically find orzo pasta are listed below:

  • Greek lentil orzo salad
  • Prawn and chorizo orzo
  • Orzo with roasted vegetables
  • Green baked orzo
  • Creamy lemon garlic orzo with prawns
  • Chicken and orzo stew
  • Baked tomato and mozzarella orzo
  • Baked orzo with harissa prawns
  • Smoky cod, broccoli, and orzo bake
  • Skillet Orzo with fish and herbs
  • Baked Mediterranean fish with lemony orzo
  • Mackerel puttanesca with orzo
  • Orzo bean and tuna salad
  • Mushroom orzo risotto
  • Creamy chicken orzo
  • One-Pot tomato orzo
  • Turkish Rice Pilaf with Orzo

Substitutes for Orzo Pasta

Orzo pasta is well known for its versatile use in several recipes. It makes a great addition to salads due to the chewy texture. It can also be combined with other ingredients to make tasty and nutritious pasta.

There is, however, the possibility that orzo pasta is not available in your local grocery stores, or youre simply craving the taste and feel of something different. Luckily, several substitutes can be used in place of orzo pasta without compromising the wonderful taste of your recipes.

Consider the following options:


Arborio is a short Italian rice variety that contains amylopectin starch, which gives dishes containing a creamy consistency. Although this rice can be brown, it is often sold in white forms. The white forms of arborio contain more starch than the brown variant, hence its greater popularity.

Arborio is perhaps the best option to replace orzo pasta in recipes. This short-grain rice has a similar form to orzo, and when cooked in the same way, it results in a creamier texture. Because of its creamy texture, arborio is ideal for rice pudding, risotto, and other dessert recipes that require a considerable amount of starch.

Arborio can be cooked the same way as regular rice when used to replace orzo pasta in recipes.


Fregola, often called Sardinian couscous, is a traditional semolina pasta from the Italian Sardinia region. This form of pasta is created by hand, using semolina flour (just like orzo pasta) and water to create little beads. People used to dry them out in the sun, but nowadays, they are toasted, giving them a distinct nutty and toasted flavor.

Fregola is a versatile ingredient that combines well with various pasta and rice dishes, including orzo pasta. It is great in risotto, pasta salads, baked casseroles, and a side dish with vegetables like zucchini.

Fregola can replace orzo pasta in seafood, pasta salads, and baked pasta recipes. It can also be used with roasted meats as a side dish.


Couscous is just durum wheat semolina that has been crushed into spheres or small granules. It is a common basic pasta in northern African cuisine, and it is made of semolina, a hard wheat grain. It is commonly mistaken for grain due to its form and small size. While the lesser kinds are usually coarser, the larger varieties tend to have a chewy texture.

This type of pasta is typically served as a side dish with a meat or vegetable stew spooned over it. It’s also great for making spaghetti salads.

Couscous has a characteristic golden hue and a slightly nutty flavor when cooked. Yet, it is neutral enough to be served as a side dish with various dishes. It can also serve as a good enough replacement for orzo pasta when youre in a bind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you substitute risotto for orzo?

No, orzo and risotto are not comparable. Risotto is a delicious Italian dish made with rice and broth that is creamy and decadent. Orzo is pasta that is formed like a grain. While orzo can be used in place of Arborio rice in risotto, the two are not interchangeable.

Can quinoa be substituted for orzo?

Yes, quinoa can be used in place of orzo in healthier recipes

Which is healthier, orzo or rice?

Orzo is pasta with a similar shape, size, and texture to the rice. Whole-wheat orzo has a higher fiber and protein content than regular orzo, making it a healthier option. Despite this, it has a high-calorie content, with around 50% more calories per serving than white rice.


Orzo pasta is a mix of rice and pasta that can be used the way both food items are employed in recipes. Made from durum wheat, it can be incorporated into many recipes, be it tasty salads or nutritious pasta recipes.

If, however, you have no orzo pasta at hand to use in your meals, there are a good number of substitutes that can work in its place. Some of them have similar great-tasting quality and versatility and work excellently in recipes that call for orzo pasta.


What is the best GF substitute for orzo?

The best gluten-free alternatives to orzo are short-grain rice, arborio rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, broken angel hair, or other small shapes of gluten-free pasta. Gluten-free whole grains like millet can also be used, but are not as practical or as accessible as our recommended options.

What is a keto substitute for orzo?

Cauliflower is a great substitute for things like rice, orzo, couscous and quinoa because it can easily be broken down into small pieces that resemble these little grains.

Is orzo pasta similar to rice?

Orzo has a creamier and softer texture than rice. Much like rice, it can double in size when cooked. Orzo is often used in Mediterranean dishes such as pastas and pasta salads. Although orzo is a pasta, it can also be used to good effect in dishes in which you might initially consider using rice.

Can I use vermicelli instead of orzo?

Orzo – Orzo is often used either instead of vermicelli or in addition to vermicelli. It is a rice-shaped pasta that gives the rice pilaf some extra flavor and texture.

Is there a gluten-free version of orzo?

Thankfully, even though traditional orzo is not gluten-free, there are many gluten-free varieties available. Gluten-free orzo may be made from grains other than wheat, including rice, corn, or quinoa. You can also find orzo made from cassava, a root vegetable that doesn’t contain gluten.

Can I substitute orecchiette for orzo?

While Orecchiette is larger than orzo, it is an excellent substitute in soups, salads, or skillet meals.

Is orzo a bad carb?

Orzo has 200 calories per serving. This small pasta is a good source of carbohydrates; one serving of orzo contains 42 grams of carbohydrates and two grams of fiber. You can get more fiber from this pasta by choosing orzo made from whole grain flour instead of white flour.

Is orzo pasta high in carbs?

Orzo has a high carbohydrate content. It has about 78-85g of carbohydrates per 100g. The second highest nutritional content of orzo is protein. Orzo is a versatile product that you can eat with other protein sources.

What is special about orzo?

Orzo is inexpensive, very easy to make and is super versatile! You can serve it warm or cold and the texture is incredible! It’s so tender and smooth and makes the perfect base for salads, but it’s also great for adding to soups, stews and casseroles!

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