Calrose Rice Substitute: Thinking Outside the Rice Box

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Calrose rice in blue bowl with text "calrose rice substitute"

When was the last time you had a California roll? I had one last night. 

I was actually craving for some sushi but, for some reason, couldn’t get a hold of any. So, I opted for its popular variant, California roll. 

I wondered what kind of rice the restaurant used in my order and found out that it was Calrose. It’s this medium-grain rice variety that’s a hybrid of Caloro and Calady. 

Thank you California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation for that! 

Calrose rice has this sticky texture, but it’s also on the softer side and offers a mild flavor. Perfect for making a California roll, which is an amazing sushi substitute. 

Case in point, there’s nothing left of it now. 

AndBut speaking of alternatives substitutes, that’s actually what we’re going to discuss today —: Calrose rice substitutes for when Calrose isn’t available. 

No Calrose, No Problem: Calrose Rice Substitutes

Calrose rice in wooden spoon.

Alright, who’s ready to get creative? 

I promise not to disappoint with these Calrose rice substitutes. 

And if you find that I did after reading this article, I’ll give you a sack of Calrose rice as an apology. 

Sounds good?

Arborio Rice

Our first Calrose rice substitute is the star of many creamy risottos, including ours 😉

Arborio rice has a secret weapon that outdid all other alternatives.

It’s the high amylose content, which is just a really fancy term for starch, that helps it achieve that stickiness similar to Calrose. 


  • 1 cup of Arborio rice
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 chopped medium onion 
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup of dry white wine
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 14.5 oz (or 1 can) of diced tomatoes
  • ½ cup of grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup of chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium fire. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. 
  2. Throw in the arborio rice and cook for about 2 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly.
  3. Pour in the wine and cook until fully absorbed.
  4. Gradually add the vegetable broth at ½ cup at a time for 20-25 minutes. 
  5. Stir in the tomatoes once the rice is almost cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Add the Parmesan and basil after removing the rice from the fire. 

Brown Rice

Brown rice in wooden bowl.

The “natural” rice. 

The “healthy” rice. 

And we’re making a veggie bowl with it!

Brown rice is a champion of fiber. Did you know that it has three times more than white rice?  

And get this, it introduces a delightful chewiness to your dish in contrast to Calrose. There’s this resistance because of its chewy bran layer. 


  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 cut up head of broccoli
  • 1 chopped medium sweet potato
  • 1 chopped large carrot
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ½ tsp of dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Add the broccoli florets, sweet potato, carrots, olive oil, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet making sure to spread them evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  3. While the veggies roast, cook the brown rice (Rice cooker? Stovetop? Your choice).
  4. Add to a bowl once cooked, then top the rice with the roasted veggies. 


Quinoa rice in a bowl in wooden background.

Though technically a seed, quinoa still cooks up similarly to rice. 

It packs a powerful protein punch and is gluten-free making it another incredible Calrose rice substitute. 

Spicy black bean and quinoa stuffed peppers, anyone?


  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 large bell peppers
  • 15 oz of black beans
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • ½ tsp of chili powder
  • ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup of chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup of salsa
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup of shredded cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers, then remove the seeds inside. 
  3. Cook the quinoa in a pot of water or vegetable broth. 
  4. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium fire. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. 
  5. Add the cumin and chili powder, then toast for about a minute. 
  6. Throw in the black beans and corn. Cook for a few minutes just until heated through. 
  7. Add the cooked quinoa to the skillet. Stir in the cilantro and parsley.
  8. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  9. Fill the bell peppers with the quinoa and bean mixture. Sprinkle cheese on the top. 
  10. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. 

Cooking Without Calrose

This article got your back when the time comes and you find yourself without readily available Calrose rice. 

With these three delicious Calrose rice substitutes at your disposal, there’s no need to limit yourself to just Calrose rice.  

Embrace every opportunity to experiment, dear foodies. 

Who knows, your favorite dish is yet to come to life!

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