7 Best Substitutes for Orzo Pasta You Should Know

Having a dish made up of Orzo Pasta is divine because it tastes heavenly and has the power to lift every individual’s mood, regardless of gender and age. Don’t you agree? Orzo is a famous ingredient of Italian cuisine that is the most integral ingredient of soups and cold salads.

But, what to do when you are craving Orzo Pasta cuisine, but you don’t have it in your kitchen? Or if you need to stop it due to dietary restrictions?

Have you ever planned to figure out its substitutes?

We know, if you are Orzo Pasta addicted, then it is hard to give up on it! Therefore, we have covered your back and provided you with the 7 best substitutes for Orzo Pasta that can magically deliver you the same taste to cherish and the same aroma to feel.

So, Let’s dig into which ingredients can give you fun, like Orzo Pasta!

Firstly, we will discuss what Orzo Pasta is!

What is Orzo Pasta?

Orzo Pasta, in English, is known as “little Pata,” which is the core part of so many dishes. It is made up of semolina flour, which is basically created by using durum wheat.

Here the confusion is that it is considered a part of a grain food group and can be produced with whole-wheat flour, but meanwhile, it is not whole-grain.

On the other hand, it has a complete resemblance to rice, but it is not gluten-free- despite this, you can use it when you are on a diet. A mysterious yet tasteful ingredient, indeed!

Orzo Pasta comes in various colors (green, orange, black), but its taste remains the same. Orzo can be cooked as you cook rice or any other pasta; moreover, it can be cooked only in 8-10 minutes. A cup full of uncooked orzo can produce two cooked cups of it.

Orzo is usually combined with rice when you are cooking rice pilaf. It is a very famous ingredient throughout Europe. These small pasta pieces can be made at home by just cutting pasta dough into small pieces.

Dried Orzo is priced similar to other common pasta. It can be used in various ways and is an amazing ingredient. Keep in mind while cooking it to drain it well, and use olive oil to keep it from sticking.  Put it in a refrigerator before adding it to a salad.

Orzo Pasta- a tiny yet enormously heavy ingredient on the taste buds!

●    How to use Orzo?

Honestly, when you first pick up a bag of Orzo Pasta, you might think it will be a complicated task to prepare it.

But it is as simple as any other pasta shape!

  • For cooking, just bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the Orzo pasta, stir and lower the heat. Cook it, about 7 to 9 minutes, then drain the pasta and serve it with anything you want.
  • If you want a creamier result, you can cook Orzo just the way you cook your rice; boil 1/2 cup of water for each cup of Orzo, add salt, simmer, and stir it occasionally.

Keep stirring until your pasta is all done and the most water is absorbed. In the end, get the pot covered and let it be in the same position for two more minutes.

  • If you are cooking a soup, ensure that you add Orzo at the end of simmering to protect it from overcooking.

Can you Substitute Orzo Pasta?

Orzo Pasta is a versatile ingredient that cooks in a matter of time, just like other kinds of pasta or rice. You can serve this delicious pasta in hot and cold form; it depends upon your choice, though.

Though Orzo has a unique taste and flavor, its taste can be replaceable if needed. There is a long list of ingredients that can serve you like Orzo Pasta, and many of them will dodge you like these are Orzo Pasta in actuality. Cauliflower Rice, Farro, Barley, Ditalini, Acini di Pepe, Arborio Rice, Quinoa, or even Couscous are the most popular substitutes of Orzo Pasta, which are being used globally.

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Choosing a relevant substitute becomes challenging at some points because every substitute can be used for different purposes. Though these substitutes are the same in taste as Orzo, they are different in size and shape; thus, you can pick by considering their specifications.

So, it is time to dive into the best substitutes of Orzo Pasta while- you can pick any of these when you are in dire need of an Orzo substitute.

7 Best Substitute for Orzo Pasta that You Should Know

1: Acini de Pepe

Acini de Pepe is a kind of pasta created from semolina, and it means “seeds of pepper,” which is small and round.

Basically, it is the shape of Acini de Pepe that makes it an excellent substitute for orzo. If you use it in a soup or stew at the end of cooking, it’ll be ready to serve within a few minutes.

You can use this Acini de Pepe in various ways; the most common is, boil the Acini de Pepe in water until it gets soft, then strain and mix it with your favorite pasta sauce.

Another thing that you can do is let the pasta cool down, then make a pasta salad by tossing chili, parmesan, creamy mayonnaise, and Italian Herbs.

2: Fregola

If you want to bake pasta or make seafood soups, Fregola is generally an ideal alternative for Orzo. Fregola is as tiny as Orzo, but it contains a different shape (beads) from Orzo.

Fregola, just like Orzo, can also be formed from Somalia Flour.

Compared to the North African form of Couscous, which is primarily found in stores, fregola beads are usually larger. Fregola also offers a unique flavor of nuts that comes through the toasting process.

Compared to the North African form of Couscous, which is primarily found in stores, fregola beads are usually larger. Fregola also offers a unique flavor of nuts that comes through the toasting process.

If you want to give an extra layer of flavor to your dish, you can use Fregola. You can prepare it and use it precisely the same way as Orzo.

Fregola tastes delicious in seafood bisques, pasta bakes, pasta salads, or even a hearty side dish besides roasted meat or fish.

3: Arborio Rice

Arborio Rice is famous for its significant role in risotto. Once you cook it, it will turn out deliciously creamy- you can mix it into any recipe that will be an excellent replacement for Orzo.

Cold salads, soups, and stew will be appetizing with the addition of a little amount of Arborio Rice.

Furthermore, it will also help you to cut down your daily carbohydrates intake. One cup of Arborio Rice contains 52 grams, but Orzo contains 64 grams.

Most of the pasta and grains do not have ample flavors, but Arborio Rice adds a lot to them. Choosing Arborio Rice as a substitute is literally worth it!

4: Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower is a great substitute for things like Orzo as it can be used as a side dish along with meat, fish, poultry, or your favorite vegetable dish.

Cauliflower rice is actually an excellent choice for people who are on a gluten-free diet.

However, Cauliflower Rice doesn’t deliver the same texture or flavor because it badly spreads into an unfamiliar texture when you add it to a liquid pot of soup. Yet, apart from watery dishes, it adds wonders to the taste.

5: Couscous

Couscous is an ancient dish of the North African countries; moreover, it is also a popular staple dish in Algeria, Italy, and China.

It is a kind of semolina pasta, tiny in size, and you can cook it very speedily, somehow, in the blink of an eye.

You only need to boil couscous when you cook it; furthermore, you can spray olive oil into the dry grains. It will keep them moist, and in this way, they will not stick to each other.

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Pour the measured amount of boiling water on the couscous, place a plate over the bowl for 10-15 minutes and let it soak up the water and be fluffy.

As far as taste is concerned, it is a bit sweet and a nutty flavor that works well along with several other dishes.

Just like Cauliflower Rice, you can cook and plate up couscous separately.

You can enhance Couscous’s flavor by sprinkling a few pinches of salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs.

6: Pearl Barley

Barley is another substitute for Orzo Pasta; it is a power pack that contains calcium, fiber, and some other healthy trace elements. Pearl Barley has a slightly nutty flavor and a fantastic chewy texture; it is an outstanding material to add to vegetable or beef soup.

You need to prolong the cooking time if you are using Barley as a substitute for Orzo Pasta. When we compare the cooking time of Orzo and Barley, Orzo takes less time for cooking: Barley takes 30 minutes to get ready when you add it to a simmering liquid, but Orzo takes only a few minutes.

Tip: Though, Barely takes an extended time for cooking, you need to avoid unpleasant and tough Barley.

7: Ditalini Pasta

The name Ditalini means “little thimbles.” It looks like a small tube-like pasta which is similar to macaroni pasta. This ingredient is perfect for adding in Pasta e Fagioli, a creamy seafood pasta, or minestrone.

The Ditalini is like a tube-shaped pasta, and its shape makes it unique and popular as it lets it pull sauce, a bit of meat, or any ingredient inside. In this way, you can feel its flavorsome and mouthful taste in each bite.

Fortunately, Ditalini takes the exact same time in cooking as Orzo takes.

To cook it, you need to take 4-6 quarts of water to boil it, add salt according to taste. Then, add pasta, stir it, and bring the water back to a full boil. Cook it for 8-10 minutes and then drain the pasta.

If you are making a cold pasta salad with Ditalini Pasta, rinse it briefly in cold water to end the cooking process, and it will also help in eliminating the extra starch.

You are not supposed to rinse it after cooking because the pasta will be served warm with sauce.

Note: The small size of Ditalini can easily disappear in thick sauces so, keep in mind that do not overwhelm your dish with a lot of sauce or other ingredients. If you add vegetables and other spices, it will enhance the taste.

How to Pick the Best Substitute for Orzo?

If you do not have an Orzo at home, you can substitute it with any other ingredient, but to select any other ingredient, you need to consider what dish you are going to make and what taste you want.

Therefore, to pick the best and relevant substitute, you need to crack your need to pick the substitute.

If you are striving to cherish a particular texture of pasta in your dish, you have to pick that appropriate shape and size.

  • Without Grains: If you are searching for a substitute for cooking a dish without grains, you might choose cauliflower rice, which is famous nowadays.
  • With Grains: If you need grain rather than pasta, try Barley or Farro- both are a nice substitute for Orzo.

So, by keeping the above factors in mind, you can choose a relevant ingredient.

Basically, Orzo is being substituted for two reasons.

  • You want to eat gluten-free pasta.
  • You don’t have Orzo at home.

What is a Good Substitute for Orzo?

Every substitute is incredible in its way, but the best substitute for Orzo is short-grained rice like Arborio. It is so because both Orzo and Arborio have a similar shape and texture, so when you cook them, they both create a creamy texture in the same way.

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Acini di Pepe is also a fantastic alternative to Orzo, especially when you make soup.

The recipes you can make with Arborio are

  • Arborio Rice and White Bean Soup
  • Arancini
  • Roasted Vegetable Risotto

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Orzo Gluten-Free?

Orzo is typically not gluten-free. Therefore, it is not suitable for people who have a gluten allergy or don’t want to eat food that has gluten.

Anyhow, nowadays; it’s few brands of Orzo are making an alternative option that is gluten-free.

There is a long list of substitutes that you can choose as the replacement for Orzo, but finding the most suitable substitute is not easy.

What makes Orzo Unique?

Orzo is a unique food as it is not available in many variants. Dried Orzo uses rainbow colors that give an unusual appeal in your soups and salads, while some Orzo is made with organic wheat. Orzo can be cooked quickly, but a pot of rice takes more time to cook and soften. Very often, it can be plated and eaten in just a few minutes.

Obviously, Orzo’s impact on cuisine is unbeatable- you can find it in tons of homemade and restaurant dishes.

What Does Orzo Taste Like?

Basically, Orzo is not tasteless; like other pasta, you can not judge its flavor separately while eating it in a meal.

It has a nutty flavor but really a good texture. It also brings out the flavor of sauces and seasoning you add to it.

Actually, Orzo tastes like pasta, but they look like rice.

Is Orzo a Pasta or Rice?

Orzo is delicious, but the confusion is whether it is pasta or rice?

Nevertheless, Orzo looks like rice but has the texture of pasta. So what is Orzo? The word Orzo means barley in Italian, although, in reality, there is no barley in it.

Somehow, Orzo looks like whole grain, but it is not the grain, indeed. Orzo can also be described as a Pastina, which is another word for small pieces of pasta.

Orzo is versatile in nature as it can be added to different dishes to make the taste savory, but Orzo itself can also be used as a side dish in many ways.

Is Orzo Better than Rice?

We can not say that Orzo is better than rice because they both are just different from each other yet, the chewiness of Orzo is similar to rice.

But the texture of Orzo can also be different at many times, but you won’t necessarily want something as a side dish for Orzo because it is a little looser than rice and can be added in soupy dishes.

This small pasta can play well with other ingredients such as rice. If a definite texture is missing from your dish, Orzo can step in and save your day.

Is Orzo Healthy?

Orzo is a kind of pasta that is the same as rice in size, shape, and texture. Whole-wheat Orzo contains more protein and fiber than usual Orzo, which definitely makes it a healthier choice.

Still, it is high in calories when compared to rice.

Final Words

If you are in love with Orzo Pasta and want to get its taste at any cost, you can go with its substitutes. The Orzo substitutes do not only deliver you the taste of Orzo Pasta but are beneficial in many other ways, too.

All the substitutes are different in shape, size, and somehow cooking time; thus, you can pick any of the ones depending upon your need. Despite these few differences, you can get exactly the same mind-blowing taste as Orzo Pasta adds in dishes.

So, let us know which Orzo substitute did you like the most and must add to your dishes?