6 healthy rice substitutes

Rice is a staple in a lot of kitchens and diets, and while it’s inexpensive, versatile, and a great compliment to many dishes, rice doesn’t agree with everyone. It can contribute to constipation and other digestive issues, and isn’t a great option for people who are trying to consume fewer calories and carbs. 

The good news is that there are plenty of alternatives to rice that are healthier and just as versatile. Here are 6 nutritious rice substitutes. 


Quinoa feels like a grain but it’s actually a seed! Its neutral taste makes it a great alternative to rice. Plus it’s gluten-free and rich in protein. Quinoa is also cooked very similarly to rice. Just mix one part uncooked quinoa with two parts water, cover and bring to a boil. Once it’s reached boiling point, reduce the heat and let it simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the water.  

Cauliflower rice

Cauliflower rice is another great low-carb rice alternative that boasts a mild taste. You can rice your own cauliflower by grating cauliflower pieces on a grater, or by putting cauliflower pieces in a food processor. Pre-riced cauliflower is also widely available at grocery stores. 

Whole-wheat couscous

Couscous is a type of pasta that’s used a lot in Mediterranean dishes. It’s actually tiny balls of flour. Keep in mind that whole-wheat couscous offers more nutritional value that regular forms because it’s more rich in protein and fiber. 


Farro is a whole grain and it’s packed with protein. While it can be used similarly to rice, farro is chewier and has a more nutty flavor which makes it best suited for risotto-like dishes, casseroles, or stews. 


Barley is a cereal grain that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s also high in fiber, which can help with weight loss because it lessens hunger. Add it to soups, stews, and salads!

Chopped cabbage 

Cabbage is another low-carb and low-calorie rice substitute. Finely chop cabbage yourself using a knife, or use a food processor. Once you have your cabbage pieces, cook them with some oil until tender. It’s never a bad thing to add more veggies to your diet!

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