9 Best Substitutes for Basmati Rice

Basmati Rice Substitute

Basmati rice is more than just a side dish; it’s an experience. Known for its distinctive aroma and slender, long grains, this variety of rice has an elegance that makes it a star ingredient in a plethora of cuisines, particularly Indian and Middle Eastern. Originating from the Indian subcontinent, Basmati rice stands out for its unique chemical profile that imbues it with a nutty fragrance and fluffy texture when cooked. This elevates it from being a mere accompaniment to a feature that can make or break a dish. But what happens when you run out of it or simply want to explore other options?

Our article provides not just alternatives but presents grains that can hold their own, offering unique textures and flavors that can enrich a wide array of dishes. We don’t merely list substitutes; we offer a comprehensive guide on how to cook each one, and in what dishes they shine the brightest. This approach allows you to make informed choices based on the specific culinary needs of your recipe. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a cooking enthusiast, this guide will equip you with the knowledge to navigate beyond the comforting aroma of Basmati rice.

What is Basmati Rice?

Basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice native to the Indian subcontinent. Famous for its distinctive aroma and fluffy texture when cooked, it is often used in a variety of Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. What sets Basmati apart is its unique chemical composition: it has a higher concentration of aromatic compounds than most other rice varieties, imparting a characteristic fragrance that elevates any dish it graces.

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Quick View of Substitutes For Basmati Rice

  • Jasmine Rice
  • Long-Grain White Rice
  • Brown Basmati Rice
  • Arborio Rice
  • Wild Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Bulgur Wheat
  • Farro
  • Couscous

Best Substitutes For Basmati Rice

Finding the right substitute for Basmati rice hinges on understanding the particular culinary needs of your dish. Here we delve into detailed descriptions of each alternative, examining their unique characteristics and best use-cases.

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice, native to Thailand, serves as a compelling stand-in for Basmati rice. Both share similar long grains and a perfumed aroma, albeit the scent of Jasmine is somewhat floral compared to Basmati’s nutty fragrance.

Cooking Jasmine Rice: Unlike Basmati, Jasmine rice is stickier. It requires less water and a slightly adjusted cooking technique. You might want to rinse the rice multiple times to remove excess starch, then cook it in a 1:1.5 ratio of rice to water.

Applications: Jasmine rice is perfect for dishes that call for a slightly stickier texture, like Thai curries or stir-fries. Its floral aroma also pairs well with spicy or citrus-infused dishes.

Long-Grain White Rice

Long-grain white rice is a more neutral option, less aromatic but equally versatile. This rice type is more forgiving, making it a preferred choice for those less accustomed to cooking rice.

Cooking Long-Grain White Rice: This type of rice generally requires a 1:2 ratio of rice to water. The grains separate nicely when cooked, offering a fluffiness that is comparable to Basmati.

Applications: Long-grain white rice can be used in a plethora of dishes including casseroles, stir-fries, and soups. Its neutrality makes it an excellent backdrop for stronger flavors like garlic, saffron, or robust spices.

Brown Basmati Rice

Think of brown Basmati rice as Basmati’s whole-grain cousin. It’s less refined, offering more fiber and a slightly chewier texture.

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Cooking Brown Basmati Rice: This variety requires a longer cooking time and a bit more water (1:2.25 ratio), compared to white Basmati rice.

Applications: Brown Basmati rice works beautifully in dishes that can accommodate its chewier texture—think grain bowls, salads, and even stuffed vegetables.

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice might seem like a wild card in this list. However, this Italian short-grain rice has some attributes that make it a viable substitute.

Cooking Arborio Rice: Arborio rice absorbs more liquid, and therefore flavors, than Basmati rice. The cooking ratio is often 1:4, and constant stirring is advised to release its starch and achieve creaminess.

Applications: Ideal for risottos and rice puddings, Arborio rice can also be used in dishes where its creamy texture is desired, perhaps in a luxurious, spice-infused biryani.

Wild Rice

Wild rice, technically a grass, brings a nutty, earthy flavor and a chewy texture that can make your dish stand out.

Cooking Wild Rice: It requires a more extended cooking period and typically a 1:4 rice to water ratio.

Applications: Wild rice works splendidly in salads, casseroles, and stuffings where its distinctive flavor and texture can shine.


Quinoa is not a rice, but its grain-like qualities make it a superb alternative, especially for those seeking a gluten-free option.

Cooking Quinoa: It generally requires a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water and about 15-20 minutes of cooking time.

Applications: Quinoa is a versatile player and can be used in salads, stews, or as a side dish to accompany a variety of mains.

Bulgur Wheat

Another whole grain, bulgur wheat, offers quick cooking time and a somewhat nutty flavor.

Cooking Bulgur Wheat: Typically, a 1:1.5 ratio of grain to water is used, and it cooks in just about 10-15 minutes.

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Applications: Bulgur wheat is excellent in pilafs, tabbouleh, or any dish where a softer, less sticky texture is desired.


Farro, an ancient grain, has a chewy texture and a nuanced, earthy flavor.

Cooking Farro: Generally, you’d use a 1:2.5 ratio of farro to water and cook for about 30-40 minutes.

Applications: Ideal for grain bowls, salads, and even risottos where its unique character can be showcased.


Technically a pasta, couscous can act as a quick and easy substitute for Basmati rice.

Cooking Couscous: Couscous cooks in a matter of minutes. Just pour boiling water over it, cover, and let it steam.

Applications: It’s great for salads, grain bowls, or as a side dish where a fluffier, less sticky texture is desired.

Substitutes for Basmati Rice: Nutritional Profile

GrainGlutenCalories (¼ cup)FatCarbsFiberProtein
Jasmine RiceYes1600g36g0g3g
Long-Grain White RiceYes1700g39g0g4g
Brown Basmati RiceYes1801g40g1g4g
Arborio RiceYes1600g37g0g3g
Wild RiceNo1600.5g34g2g6g
Bulgur WheatYes1500g34g4g5g

Conclusion: The World Beyond Basmati

In a gastronomic world as rich and diverse as ours, running out of Basmati rice doesn’t have to be a culinary crisis. As we’ve explored, there are numerous substitutes, each offering their unique texture, aroma, and taste profiles. From the floral notes of Jasmine rice to the nutty, chewy allure of farro, these alternatives are more than mere stand-ins. They bring their culinary essence, enriching your meals in their unique ways.

Experimentation is the lifeblood of cooking. Perhaps the lack of Basmati rice in your pantry is the universe’s way of nudging you towards culinary diversity. So, the next time you find yourself reaching for that familiar bag of Basmati, remember that a world of grains awaits your exploration. Venture forth, cook, and let your taste buds decide. Happy cooking!

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