The 10 Best Substitutes for Orzo Pasta To Upscale Your Recipes

Add orzo pasta to your soups or salads, and you will have a tasty meal. But what if you don’t have any orzo left? Such a pity for this case, but don’t worry! 

You can use other ingredients to replace it. In this article, we will recommend the best ten substitutes for orzo pasta and how to prepare them. 

Let’s explore these amazing substitutes!

What Is Orzo Pasta?

Orzo pasta is a rice-shaped, toothsome paste made from durum wheat flour. 

Italian and Greek recipes often use this common pastina (tiny pasta). It’s also popular in American food. 

Orzo pasta is a flexible ingredient that can make the best of your soups, pilafs, salads, sauces, and even just butter and herbs. 


Although orzo is not flavorless, it lacks a distinct flavor when eaten as part of the cuisine, much like other kinds of pasta. You need to add sauce and seasoning to serve your dish. 


The chewiness of the paste in rice pilaf is perhaps why you’ve focused on it. Orzo is pretty chewy, in contrast to penne and spaghetti. 

You may also notice a firm sense, but it’s not as tough as al dente pasta, which may sometimes be. Instead, it is firm, tender, and chewy at the same time. 

The texture makes it so delicious in rice, soups, and salads.

Substitutes for Orzo Pasta  

You can choose other alternatives, but the ones we discuss here are the most common. They won’t change the flavor of your dishes while giving a new touch. 

1. Arborio

One of the best orzo replacements for your meals is arborio. This short-grain rice resembles orzo a lot in appearance.

Arborio’s creamy texture makes it a great choice for preparing soups, salads, and many other recipes that call for orzo. 

So how to cook arborio? Start by cooking it over medium heat after adding it to salted water. After that, simmer it for 20 minutes to allow the water to absorb.

Arborio can be brown or white. Any of your options would be a fantastic match. Moreover, people on a diet like this ingredient as it has fewer carbohydrates.

2. Acini Di Pepe

Acini de Pepe means “pepper seeds.” The name refers to its tiny and rounded shape. Because of its form, it is a fantastic alternative to orzo pasta.

It will be al dente in a matter of minutes if you add it to your stew or soup near the end of the cooking process. 

You can cook acini de Pepe in water until they are tender, drain them, and then mix them with your favorite sauce. 

Alternatively, let the strained pasta cool after boiling, and then prepare a pasta salad with chili, mayonnaise, parmesan, and Italian herbs.

3. Couscous

Couscous works well as an alternative to orzo because they share some features, such as the semolina component and size. 

When presented as a side dish, this ingredient can complement most sorts of meals with its mildly sweet and creamy flavor. You can serve it with vegetables and meat. 

To prepare your food, boil a pot of water and add butter, olive oil, salt, and any spice you like to the pot.

After removing the pot from the heat, add some couscous and let it sit for ten minutes to dry. 

4. Quinoa

The famous South American grain quinoa has also become popular in American cooking. It is also gluten-free and contains the highest protein level of any grain.

Quinoa has a pleasant flavor and may substitute orzo in any dish, such as pilaf, salads, soups, and other recipes. 

To cook quinoa, you need a 1:2 ratio of water to the grains. It means that one cup of quinoa needs two cups of water for the best result. 

5. Fregola

Fregola is an excellent option to replace orzo pasta if you want to make seafood soups or baked pasta. You can serve it as a side dish with meat or salad.

This ingredient is a kind of semolina-based Sardinian couscous. The beads in fregola are bigger than those used in the North African type of couscous, which is more easily accessible in supermarkets. 

Fregola is a little pasta made from semolina flour, much like orzo. However, its bead-like shape makes it different from pasta. 

Moreover, you may also quickly notice a nutty taste when eating fregola. 

You can cook fregola using the same method of cooking orzo. It will take eight to ten minutes to simmer on medium heat. 

6. Brown Rice

Short-grain brown rice will be your best choice if you follow a gluten-free diet. It has a huge proportion of protein and fiber and is nutrient-rich.

This spaghetti is wide and long. You can use it in your salad or side dish. Here is how to cook the rice: 

  • Boil short-grain brown rice for thirty minutes. 
  • Drain away any extra water.
  • To allow the remaining water to absorb, put the pot back on low heat and cook for ten minutes. 

7. Pearl Barley

Barley is abundant in calcium, fiber, and many beneficial trace minerals. It has a light nutty flavor and a chewy texture.

This versatile ingredient is suitable for numerous dishes, such as cholent and orzotto. The traditional method is to add it to vegetable soup and beef. 

There are two ways to prepare barley:

  • Boil the grains separately
  • Add the grains to water-based dishes earlier. 

Although barley often takes more than half an hour to cook when put into a boiling liquid, orzo only needs a few minutes. Hence, boil it for longer to avoid unpleasant, tough food. 

8. Ditalini Pasta

Ditalini pasta can replace orzo well, especially if you are cooking chilled macaroni salads or soups. 

Cooking ditalini pasta is easy. Just boil it in salt water for 10 to 15 minutes. After that, drain the extra water.

9. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is a gluten-free substitute for orzo. You can easily buy it from grocery stores or do it yourself with cauliflower and cheese. 

This video will show you how to make cauliflower rice:

Please note that the different texture makes cauliflower rice not suitable for salads. Yet, it does a great job of enhancing your soup’s flavor. 

10. Millet 

Millet is a form of small seeds used as grains. It has a corn-like taste and a soft texture when cooked. You can find it grown in India, Northern China, and Africa.   

Use the formula of one-to-one when using millet to replace orzo paste. It can make your salads, soups, and side dishes taste good. 


When you don’t have any orzo pasta left, do not panic. Your dishes can taste good if you choose the right substitute, and the 10 options on our list will be a big help.

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. For any further information, please feel free to ask. Thank you for reading!