Looking for an easy orzo substitute? Here are 14 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 14 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 is a toothsome, rice-shaped pasta made with durum wheat flour.
This popular pastina (tiny 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 de Pepe
“Seeds of pepper” is the translated meaning of Acini de 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 de Pepe as a one-to-one substitute anywhere you would orzo.
2. Ditalini Pasta
This small, tubular pasta is popular in Italian 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.
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.
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 little pasta beads are one of the best substitutes for orzo in seafood soups, baked pasta dishes, and salads.
Use as a one-to-one substitute.
This tiny pasta from 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
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.
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.
Risi or Risoni is the closest match to orzo 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
This 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.
Gluten-Free Orzo Substitute Ideas
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.
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.
11. Cauliflower Rice
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!
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.
13. Short-Grain Brown Rice
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.
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.
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!