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18 Easy Orzo Substitutes

Looking for an easy orzo substitute? Here are 18 ways to substitute for orzo in soups, salads, pasta dishes, and more, plus yummy recipes!

If you love orzo pasta but need a good substitute, you’re in luck!

There are plenty of great options to try, whether you need an orzo substitute in a pinch or the grocery store is out of stock.

These are the best substitutes for orzo in pasta dishes, soups, green salads, pasta salads, and more. And you may just find a new favorite!

What is Orzo?

Orzo pasta in rustic bowl next to wooden scoop and scattered orzo on table.

Orzo has an oval shape and is a toothsome pasta made with durum wheat flour.

This popular pastina (or little pasta) frequently appears in Italian cuisine and Greek recipes. But, It’s also common in American dishes.

It’s a versatile ingredient, used in everything from pilafs and salads to soups and sauces, or even plain with herbs and butter.

But, the most popular application for orzo is soup.

And, here’s a simple conversion to make substitutions easier: 2 ounces of orzo = 1/3 cup uncooked or 1 cup cooked.

The Best Orzo Substitute Ideas

1. Acini di Pepe

Close up of large pile of yellow colored, uncooked Acini di Pepe pasta.

Seeds of pepper” is the translated meaning of Acini di Pepe. The small, round pasta beads are great for salads or served with your favorite pasta sauce. And you can throw it into soups and stews, too.

Use Acini di Pepe as a one-to-one substitute anywhere you would orzo.

2. Ditalini Pasta

Close up of large pile of yellow colored, uncooked ditalini pasta noodles.

This small, tubular Italian pasta is popular in light soups and cold, macaroni-style salads. Ditalini, also known as “little thimbles”, works great for saucy dishes because the tube shape catches and holds onto all the flavor.

This type of pasta cooks to al dente quicker than orzo, but you can use a one-to-one ratio.

3. Orecchiette

Freshly made, pre-cooked orecchiette pasta next to wooden rolling pin on cutting board.

You can use orecchiette, one-to-one, as a replacement for orzo. This pasta is popular in southern Italy, namely, Apulia. The literal meaning is “little ears” which makes sense due to its unique shape.

Orecchiette has a soft center with chewier rims, and is great for warm salads or served with pasta sauce.

4. Fregola

Close up of multi-colored Fregola pasta in bowl with wooden scoop.

Fregola is a Sardinian variety of couscous made with semolina flour, but it’s more difficult to find in local stores. However, you might get lucky at a specialty food store, or you can purchase it on Amazon.

These small beads are one of the best substitutes for orzo in seafood soups, baked pasta dishes, and salads.

Use as a one-to-one substitute.

5. Couscous

Couscous in wooden bowl next to wooden spoon with couscous spilling onto wooden table.

This tiny pasta from northern Africa has become increasingly popular in American cuisine, and you can find it in any local grocery store. And while it’s made from semolina, it often gets mistaken for a grain due to its small size.

Couscous is typically used as a side dish, seasoned with oils and herbs. But, you can add it to your favorite salads, too. On the other hand, it’s not a great ingredient for soups and stews.

Substitute orzo with couscous, one to one.

6. Pearl Barley

Close up of pearl barley on large wooden spoon next to pile on table.

Barley is an ancient grain that’s widely consumed and works great as a low-gluten substitute for orzo. It has a nutty flavor, a chewy texture, and it’s high in calcium and fiber.

This ingredient is popular in hearty soups and stews like vegetable beef stew. But, you can also add it to warm or cold salads.

Use one cup of pearl barley to substitute for 1 cup of orzo.

7. Farro

Close up of farro on large wooden heart-shaped spoon sitting on wooden table.

This ancient grain can be compared to brown rice or barely, but it’s slighter larger and chewier. And you can use it to substitute for orzo the same way you would these similar ingredients.

While farro is not gluten-free, it’s a healthy alternative that’s filled with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Use as a one-to-one substitute.

8. Risoni

Close up of Risoni pasta on large spoon next to pile on wood table.

Risi or Risoni is one of the best orzo substitutes in appearance and texture, but it’s pretty hard to find. If you happen to have some on hand or come upon it in a specialty food store or online, you can use it as a one-to-one substitute.

This pasta is the best alternative for soups, salads, pilafs, and anywhere else you’d use orzo.

9. Tubettini Pasta

Tubettini pasta in two rustic wooden bowls on table lined with cloth.

This form of pasta is very similar to ditalini and you can use it to substitute for orzo in the same way. It’s another great substitute for saucy dishes because it holds all the juices and flavors in its little tubes.

Tubettini is also known as Tubetti pasta, and if you can’t find it in stores, you can use macaroni instead.

Use as a one-to-one substitute.

10. Broken Spaghetti (Fideo)

Pile of uncooked fideo (broken spaghetti) on white table.

Normally we like our spaghetti served whole, but it’s often packaged and sold broken under the name fideo.

You can find this cut spaghetti at some grocery stores or online. It’s larger than orzo, so 1 cup of fideo won’t weigh the same as 1 cup of orzo. It’s best to use this substitute in soups where the orzo may not be the main ingredient.

11. Star Pasta (Pastina)

Full frame photo of small pastina star pasta.

This kind of pasta is popular with Italian children; it’s often the first one they eat! In America, it’s common to serve star pasta in chicken soup (either homemade or store-bought).

You can substitute pastina for orzo 1:1.

Gluten-Free Substitutes

Here are several gluten-free stand-ins for orzo that you can use for pastas, salads, soups, and more. Each of these options is naturally gluten-free and safe for those with a gluten intolerance.

Many of these options offer more health benefits when compared to orzo, too.

12. Millet

Large bowl of millet with wooden spoon on top and millet scattered all around.

Millet refers to a variety of small seeds that you can use as a grain. You’ll find it grown in Africa, India, and Northern China. Once cooked, it has a soft texture and tastes similar to corn.

You can use millet in salads and side dishes as well as soups. (Just be sure to prepare your millet separately and add it to your soup at the end of cooking.)

Use millet to substitute for orzo, one to one.

13. Cauliflower Rice

Large bowl of cauliflower rice with green garnish next to wooden spoon.

Individuals looking to eliminate grains or gluten from their diet can also use cauliflower rice as a gluten-free alternative for orzo. You can find cauliflower rice fresh or frozen in grocery stores or make your own with a cheese grater and head of cauliflower.

Cauliflower rice works well to replace orzo as a side dish, but it’s not great for soups. You’ll definitely enjoy a different texture when compared to orzo, but it will taste just as good!

14. Quinoa

Large black bowl filled with quinoa with a wooden spoon sticking out.

Quinoa is a popular, South American grain that’s made its way into American cuisine, too. It has the highest protein content of any other grain, and it’s also gluten-free!

And while it’s not a pasta, you can substitute 1 cup of orzo with 1 cup of quinoa in pilafs, salads, soups, and sauces.

It’s great for those on a gluten-free diet or who are looking to eat healthier.

15. Short-Grain Brown Rice

Mound of short-grain brown rice spills out of rustic container onto wooden surface.

This wholesome grain is popular among the more health-conscious and makes a great stand-in for orzo when gluten is an issue.

Short-grain brown rice makes a particularly good orzo replacement because of its similar shape.

You can use it to add texture and body to a salad or as a side dish, one to one.

16. Arborio

Arborio rice spills from burlap sack onto wooden surface next to sprig of green herbs.

This short-grain rice has a similar shape to orzo, but a creamier texture when cooked. It’s an Italian rice that’s typically used to make risotto, but you can also cook it the same way you would traditional white rice.

Arborio rice makes the perfect substitute for orzo in cold salads or soups.

Use as a one-to-one substitute, except in soup. You’ll want to start with half the orzo amount called for since the arborio will thicken the liquid.

17. Lentils

6 different varieties of lentils in various colors in large round bowls.

Lentils are a type of legume in the same family as chickpeas, beans, and peas. They are packed with protein and offer a great alternative for anyone needing a gluten-free option.

You can use lentils as a 1:1 replacement for orzo in soups and pasta salads.

18. White Rice

Full frame photo of uncooked white rice.

If you’re really desperate you can use regular white rice to replace orzo!

Rice will make a good substitute in soups or warm orzo recipes like casseroles or skillets.


What pasta is closest to orzo?

Risoni is another name for orzo so that will be the closest pasta substitute if you can find it in the grocery store. Other pasta options include:

-Star pasta (pastina)
-Broken spaghetti (fideo)

What is a gluten free (GF) substitute for orzo?

Gluten free substitutes for orzo include:

-Short-grain brown rice
-Arborio rice
-Cauliflower rice
-White rice
-Small shapes of gluten-free pasta

Delicious Pasta Recipes to Try

If you’re in the mood for pasta after reading this post, try one of these delicious recipes. They use different types of pasta, and you can even experiment with an orzo substitute, listed above!

Healthy Turkey Lasagna Soup

Bowls of lasagna soup on countertop with slices of bread and kitchen towel nearby.

Creamy Gnocchi With Tomatoes and Spinach

Large black skillet full of gnocchi, tomatoes, and spinach next to bowl of parmesan cheese.

Island-Approved Hawaiian Mac Salad

Hawaiian style macaroni salad in white bowls.

Pesto Pizza Pasta Salad

Pizza pasta salad in white bowl next to plates of the salad.

30 Minute Cheesy Kielbasa Pasta

Kielbasa and pasta in large skillet.

Tri Color Pasta Salad With Italian Dressing

Tri color pasta salad recipe in white bowls next to large metal mixing bowl.