15 Delicious Substitutes for Orzo

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Looking for substitutes for orzo pasta? Maybe you don’t have any on hand and need a quick replacement that has a similar taste or texture? No matter what you are using it for, here you’ll find 15 great replacements for orzo!

Orzo pasta spilled out on a marble countertop.

Orzo might be one of my favorite pastas. This simple, rice-shaped pasta is so versatile and can be used in salads like this Caprese Pesto Orzo Salad, soups, and in hot side dishes and main dishes like this Creamy Chicken Orzo with Asparagus.

But if you find yourself not having any on hand, below are some of the best substitutes for orzo.


Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta. It is made from semolina flour which is made from durum wheat. Therefore, orzo is NOT gluten-free.

Semolina flour generally has a higher protein content than other types of flour, therefore orzo tends to hold up very well with longer cooking times (soups, casseroles, etc.) than traditional pasta and doesn’t get mushy.


Orzo pasta is SUPER versatile! Here are the most common ways orzo is used in cooking:


1. Ditalini Pasta

Like Orzo, ditalini is also considered a “pastina” or “little pasta.” This is one of my favorite substitutes for orzo and it works well in soups and cold salads. It’s just a little larger than orzo, but still works as a great alternative.

Close up of ditalini pasta which is a great substitute for orzo.

2. Stelline

Stelline is star pasta! You might remember these from childhood—they used to be super popular in soups! They are similar in size, taste and texture to orzo and work well in soups and hot main dishes such as this Creamy Chicken Orzo. Bonus points for being super kid-friendly!

Steline pasta which is star shaped pasta on a blue background.

3. Small Elbow Macaroni

Small elbow macaroni is somewhat larger than orzo but can work great in soups or cold salads as a replacement for orzo.

Elbow macaroni on a wooden spoon.

4. Broken Spaghetti

You may not have thought about this one but simply breaking up spaghetti works so well in place of orzo in hot dishes and casseroles like this Greek Chicken Orzo Casserole!

A bunch of broken spaghetti on a white surface.

5. Couscous

Most couscous is made from semolina flour, just like orzo, so it has a similar flavor profile. Typical couscous is smaller than orzo, however if you want more of an orzo-like texture, opt for a larger version like pearl couscous.

A great substitute for orzo is also orzo. Cooked orzo in a clay pot.

6. Quinoa

This is a great healthy substitute for orzo. It’s great in salads or hot dishes and quinoa is packed with nutrients, as well as protein.

Dried quinoa in a black bowl with a wooden spoons.

7. Arborio Rice

Arborio rice has the most similar shape and texture to orzo, making it a perfect substitute in so many different dishes! It has a super creamy consistency because of all the starch, so it’s best used in hot dishes and sides…and of course risotto! It’s delish in this Garlic Parmesan Orzo!

Arborio rice is a good substitute for orzo in risotto. Close up of uncooked orzo with a wooden spoon.

8. Fregola

Like Orzo, fregola is another pasta/grain that is made from semolina flour. It has a very similar taste and texture to orzo. Replace orzo with fregola in soups and hot dishes.

Uncooked fregola with tomatoes and wheat grains.

9.Brown Rice

Similar in texture, brown rice can be used to replace orzo in hot dishes, sides and casseroles.

Cooked brown rice in a white bowl.

10. Acini de Pepe

Acini de Pepe is also a small pasta like orzo, making it perfect substitute! It’s smaller than orzo (almost like couscous) and is used in Italian wedding soup and also works perfectly in salads like this Acini de Pepe Pasta Salad!

Uncooked Acini de Pepe on a white background.

11. Pearl Barley

Pearl barley has a mild flavor and it is similar in shape and size to orzo. Given it’s mild taste, it works great as an orzo replacement in soups–it just takes longer to cook than orzo.

Cooked pearl barley in the white bowl with green veggie in the background.

12. Farro

Farro has a bit more of a nutty, deeper flavor than orzo, but works fine as a healthy substitute for orzo in soups, orzo salads and cold side dishes.

Uncooked farro in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon.

13. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is light and fluffy in texture (similar to couscous) and works well to replace orzo in cooked dishes such casseroles, and hot main dishes.

cauliflower rice in a white bowl sprinkled with parsley.

14. Lentils

Lentils are packed with vitamins and nutrients and are a nice, healthy non-grain alternative to orzo. Lentils work well in most dishes to replace orzo, especially in cold salads and hot soups!

Lentils on a white background.

15. White Rice

Jasmine rice or long grain wild rice is an easy substitute for orzo! While it CAN be used to replace orzo in soups, it’s much better as a replacement in casseroles and hot dishes.

White rice in wooden bowl. In some dishes, white rice can be a good substitute for orzo.



Here are the best replacements for orzo in soups:

  • Ditalini, Stelline, Small elbow macaroni, Fregola, Acini de Pepe, Farro, Lentils

Cold Salads/Side Dishes

Not every replacement for orzo above works well in cold dishes. Here are the best alternatives:

  • Ditalini, Stelline, Small elbow macaroni, Cous Cous, Quinoa, Fregola, Acini de Pepe

Hot Main Dishes/Pasta Dishes/Casseroles

In hot dishes, you want a replacement that will hold up well with a longer cooking time. Here are the best options:

  • Ditalini, Small elbow macaroni, Broken Spaghetti, Quinoa, Arborio rice, Fregola, Brown rice, White rice, Acini de pepe, Pearl barley, Farro


For risotto, you need the starch factor. Here are the best replacements for orzo in risotto:

  • Arborio rice, Farro, Pearl Barley


What is a good low carb substitute for orzo?

Cauliflower rice, quinoa, couscous and barley all have lower carbs than the other orzo alternatives.

Can you substitute orzo for arborio rice?

Yes! Orzo has a fairly high starch content so it works great as a substitute for arborio rice in risotto. It holds up well and the texture is amazing!

What is a healthy substitute for orzo?

Cauliflower rice, quinoa, couscous and pearl barley are all lower in carbs than orzo. Fregola, farro and lentils are also packed with vitamins and minerals making them a super healthy replacement for orzo.

What is a good gluten free substitute for orzo?

Quinoa, arborio rice, brown rice, white rice, cauliflower rice and small gluten free pastas (like this Gluten Free Acini de Pepe) are all great gluten free alternatives to orzo.

There is also gluten free orzo, although I have yet to find it in my regular grocery store!

In a Dinner Rut?

Grab your 7-Day Meal Plan + 3 Bonus Recipes!

Sceenshots for free meal plan.


Recipe 1: Perfect Orzo Salad

Perfect orzo salad in a white bowl with fresh herbs and olives.

Recipe 2: Chicken with Orzo and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Chicken thighs with orzo in a pan with sun dried tomatoes and asparagus.

Recipe 3: Caprese Pesto Orzo Salad

Caprese pesto orzo salad in a white bowl with a wooden spoon drizzled with balsamic glaze.

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