This or That: 7 Best Basmati Rice Substitutes In Your Pantry

Imagine a world without basmati rice? How deficient all our favorite cuisines would be, right? I always make sure that basmati rice is never out of my pantry. However, some people are not careful or get unlucky and run out of basmati rice. I bring you a handful of options to pick a basmati rice substitute suitable for you in situations like these.

Basmati Rice Substitute

Basmati rice has a unique and light flavor. They are white, fluffy, and have a beautiful smell that makes one’s mouth water.

Overview of Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is aromatic, long, and slender-grained rice. They are typically cultivated in the subcontinental regions and foothills of the Himalayas, precisely in India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Basmati rice makes up a considerable portion of the local cuisines. Chefs worldwide love their quality of increasing twice in length upon cooking. No wonder, Basmati rice enjoys all the Mediterranean diet spotlight.

Origin of Basmati Rice

The word basmati is originally Sanskrit. It means fragrant or perfumes one, owing to the distinct aroma of basmati rice. Today, Basmati rice has many hybrids, like the Texmati rice cultivated in Texas.

However, it all traces back to the foothills of the Himalayas and the Karnal district of India, which is also known as the “Rice Bowl of India.” Basmati rice from Karnal district are so exquisite that they are considered the protected produce of the area, much like Scotch whisky is Scotland’s and camembert cheeses of France’s Normandy.


Basmati rice is aged for long periods to develop an enticing taste and fragrance. Local sellers usually age the rice for up to 8 months. However, premium basmati rice brands age them for up to 18 months or sometimes even longer.

Benefits of Basmati Rice

  1. Rice is easily disgusted. Therefore, rice cereal is the preferred baby formula over other ones.
  2. This grain is a great choice for gluten-intolerant persons and those following a restricted diet plan.
  3. It has soluble fiber, which helps move the waste in the digestive tract. Thus, improving gut health. Moreover, it also decreases the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  4. Most white rice has a high glycemic index. However, basmati rice has a low to the medium glycemic index, between 50-58. Therefore, people with diabetes can enjoy it in small amounts.
  5. Basmati rice is quite rich in fiber. We know that a high intake of dietary fiber helps in combating type 2 diabetes.
  6. Whole grains help in reducing high cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Therefore, brown basmati rice is great for maintaining optimum heart health.
  7. Basmati rice is rich in vitamin B1 (Thiamine), which is essential for our brain health.


What can I use instead of Basmati rice?

Try these seven basmati rice substitutes if you can’t find these delicious rice at home!

1. American Long-Grain White Rice

Using a different kind of long-grain white rice is the best possible Basmati rice substitute.

American long-grain white rice is plain white rice. Although it is not really as aromatic as Basmati rice, it works well in vibrant dishes like curry and chili con carne. In addition, it is also a great option for recipes that require cold-cooked rice, like rice salads.

Basmati Rice Substitute - American Long-Grain White Rice

A great thing about American long-grain white rice is that it is cooked the same way as Basmati rice. So you can use it in the same way as you would use basmati rice. Besides, this basmati rice alternative is also more budget-friendly than other kinds of rice out there. Moreover, it is easily available in most grocery stores.


2. Long Grain Jasmine Rice

If you’ve never enjoyed this basmati rice replacement before, you are bound to love the subtle and delightful aroma and flavor of Jasmine rice. This particular kind of white rice is also long-grained and very similar in flavor to Basmati rice.

Basmati Rice Substitute - Long Grain Jasmine Rice

However, unlike basmati rice, it becomes considerably moist and sticky upon cooking. Jasmine rice has a stronger and different aroma than Basmati rice. Although, it is quite unlikely to affect the overall taste of your recipe.

Therefore, I find Jasmine rice a perfect substitute for basmati rice, especially when cooking Asian dishes such as vegetable stir fry.

Jasmine rice needs slightly less water when cooking than other types of long-grain rice, but other than this, it is cooked in exactly the same way as Basmati rice.

Basmati Rice vs. Jasmine Rice

Traits Basmati Rice Jasmine Rice
Shape and size of grains Needle-like and slender Slightly short and round
Prepping method Grains need to be washed and soaked for 30 minutes  to 2 hours. You just have to wash the grains.
Cooking method Need to be boiled in plain or salted water. Can be steamed or cooked by absorption method.
Results  Rice is dry, fluffy, and twice the size of the original grain. Rice is moist and sticky.
Calories 191 per serving 283 per serving
Carbohydrates 40 g per serving 45 g per serving
Glycemic Index 58 109


3. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is a rage these days and not without reason. It is popular among people following a low-carb or keto diet. Cauliflower rice is a great choice for people looking to cut out extra calories from their daily intake.

Basmati Rice Substitute - Cauliflower Rice

It is very easy to prepare cauliflower rice. Moreover, they do not consume a lot of time either. However, you can’t cook them like basmati rice. The best way to cook cauliflower rice without compromising its flavor and texture is by sauteing it in a skillet. 

Unlike other kinds of rice, cauliflower rice does not make you feel heavy or bloated. Instead, it adds a lightness to your meal.


4. Popcorn Rice

Popcorn rice is a hybrid of Basmati rice. So it is no surprise that this substitute appears on the list. Popcorn rice is grown in Louisiana. It has a rich and nutty taste, a lot like basmati rice. Moreover, they have a mild aroma, which is not overpowering. So your dish is bound to end up tasting unique and smelling wonderful.

Basmati Rice Substitute - Popcorn Rice

Another great thing about this rice is that, like American long-grain and Basmati rice, it is long-grained and has a similar texture. Therefore, if cooked properly, the rice grains will not stick. Popcorn rice is also known by the names wild pecan rice and Louisiana pecan. You can find them in many grocery stores.


5. Long Grain Brown Rice

Long-grain brown rice is the healthier version of long-grain white rice. Therefore, you can use it as a brown basmati rice substitute. Brown rice is the same as white rice. However, it is less processed. Unlike white rice, where the hull, bran, and germ are removed, only the hull is removed from brown rice.

Basmati Rice Substitute - Long Grain Brown Rice

All kinds of rice have a brown and white version, be it basmati rice, jasmine rice, or popcorn rice. Brown rice has a strong nutty taste which can be quite overpowering in light fragrant dishes. However, it is a good choice for saucy dishes. They take longer to cook and absorb more water.


6. Couscous

Couscous is a popular kind of pasta and my sixth favorite choice for basmati rice substitute. It is typically used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking. Couscous is made from water and flour. Its grains, or pearls, are smaller than those of rice. However, it absorbs the flavors just fine.

Basmati Rice Substitute - Couscous

Couscous has a subtle flavor, which is why I love using it in a range of dishes. But if you find it too bland for your taste, pair it up with some extra saucy and spicy foods. Besides this, I love how perfectly couscous absorbs the flavors of numerous ingredients. You can add generous amounts of herbs and spices to amp up its flavor.

Couscous is easy to make. However, it requires a different procedure than rice. You have to add it to water and let it simmer for a little while. Next, you have to remove the pasta from the stove and let it sit until all the water is absorbed. Remember to fluff up the pasta with a fork before serving.


7. Bulgur Wheat

Bulgar wheat is whole wheat which consists of tiny cracked pieces of wheat grains. It is usually used in Mediterranean cuisines, especially salads like tabbouleh. I love this substitute because it works in both hot and cold recipes.

Basmati Rice Substitute - Bulgur Wheat

You must boil it in water until the grains are tender to cook it. At this point, drain the excess water, fluff up and serve. However, like other whole grains, it also takes slightly longer than rice to cook.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ratio of basmati rice to water?
The basic rule of basmati rice water ratio is one and half part water for every 1 part rice. However, if you soak the rice in water beforehand, even less water is needed. Some people prefer using 1 ¾ part water and even 2 parts of water for every part of rice. However, avoid using a lot of water since it makes the rice mushy and sticky.
What rice do the Japanese use?
The Japanese eat a cultivar of Japonica rice, also known as Uruchimai (粳米). It is short, plump, and sticky enough to be eaten with a chopstick. Japanese rice has a firm texture and slightly sweet taste.
What is the healthiest rice to eat for weight loss?
Brown rice is the healthiest rice option for those looking to lose weight. It is rich in dietary fibers and boosts metabolism. Moreover, as per USDA, 100 grams of brown rice only contains 111 calories.

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