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15 Best Sushi Rice Substitute That Shocked The Japanese

Sushi is delicious and easy to make, as long as you have the basic ingredients on hand – seaweed or nori sheets and sushi rice.

Depending on your preference, you can add anything you want, such as seafood, veggies, and soft fruits, which will add flavor and distinct taste to your dish. While you can easily buy nori sheets in the grocery or online stores, what if you run out of sushi rice?

Here are several alternative options to make excellent sushi.

  1. Brown Rice
  2. Cauliflower Sushi Rice
  3. Japanese Short Grain Rice
  4. Couscous
  5. Quinoa
  6. Soba Noodles
  7. Any Type of Rice
  8. Black Rice
  9. GBR or GABA

Luckily the list of alternatives is quite long. Before that, let’s understand a bit more on what is so special about this type of rice.

15 Best Substitute for Sushi Rice

Sushi Rice Substitute

In the US, you can find products tagged as sushi rice at stores intended for sushi chefs. However, there is not one sushi rice. It can be any medium-grain or short-grain rice, and most chefs prefer their rice to be stickier.

This will help make the rice stick faster to the nori sheets as you roll. If not, all the other ingredients you include inside would fall.

You can even be creative with your sushi and make it without rice. This is suited for people counting carbs and calories in their diets. You can opt to use other ingredients to make the sheets stick to the different fillings, including cream cheese and other sauces.

Brown Rice


Brown rice has many similarities with white rice, making it the most similar to the original option in making sushi. As long as you cook it right, it will become sticky despite having longer grains than white rice. It is also nutritious and loaded with minerals and nutrients.

This is why it has become the go-to rice for many health buffs, and they use it as a substitute in many rice dishes.

There are also many brown rice cookers available in the market these days. However, you can use a standard rice cooker, and it will work just fine.

The trick here is to soak the rice for several hours before cooking to make it stickier. If making sushi, add some sweetener and rice vinegar to the brown rice before cooking.

Take note that this will cook longer than white rice. Once cooked, brown rice would be chewy, and it may overpower the taste of the other ingredients included in your sushi.

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It will also remain hard longer than white rice. Brown rice is still a great sushi rice substitute even though your sushi won’t taste the same as when you use white rice.

Cauliflower Sushi Rice

Brown rice may contain more vitamins and minerals than white rice. However, both rice types are still loaded with carbs.

For those who crave for sushi, but are conscious and counting carbohydrates, you may want to try using cauliflower sushi rice.

You can find pre-packed cauliflower rice at supermarkets, but you can always make your own as long as you have cauliflower. This will ensure that what you’re eating is fresh at all times.

What You Need:

  • A teaspoon of sugar
  • A tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
  • Half of a cauliflower head.
  1. Cut the veggie and remove the thick part in the middle.
  2. Break into smaller pieces and trim any thick parts that remain.
  3. Transfer to a food processor and process until crumbly.
  4. Place the processed cauliflower in a heatproof bowl and cover with a plastic wrap with poked holes on top.
  5. Microwave for three minutes in a high-temperature setting.
  6. Remove the cover and add the combined rice vinegar and sugar solution.
  7. Stir, and set aside until you’re ready to make your sushi.
  8. If the rice lacks stickiness when rolled, you can add more rice vinegar or pour a bit of honey into it.

Japanese Short Grain Rice


This rice has the Japanese name Uruchimai, meaning ordinary rice. It has short grains with unique texture and stickiness.

While short in length, its kernels are plump. It’s stickier than other rice types despite having more moisture. This rice is a staple in the Japanese diet. It’s also popularly used in making rice balls and sushi outside of Japan.

In a typical Japanese meal, it is usually served as Gohan or plain rice. It tastes good when cooked with meat, seafood, and seasonal vegetables.

The cooked rice dish is seasoned with soy sauce and dashi, and served in a bowl. Japanese also make rice vinegar, shochu, sake, and other alcoholic drinks from ordinary Japanese rice.

This rice is commonly confused with mochigome or Japanese glutinous rice, but they are not the same. The latter is mainly used in making rice crackers and mochi. However, you can use the two rice varieties as a substitute for sushi rice in making rolls.

The shorter grain you have, the stickier it will be once cooked. It has enough stickiness to ensure all the other ingredients remain intact inside the nori wrap.

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It’s best to cook in rice vinegar and water mixture, but it’s optional for short-grain rice. It is only a must in cooking rice with medium grains since they will only be sticky with the added rice starch.


This grain has gluten, so you can use the other substitutes on the list if you are trying to avoid it. If not, then couscous will provide the right stickiness for the perfect sushi. It’s made of small grain balls and has almost the same texture as white rice.



This nutritious grain sticks well in the nori sheets. You can cook it in a rice cooker and use it to whip up healthier sushi.

Soba Noodles

If you want your sushi to be unique, you may want to try using this Japanese pasta made from wheat. This will work best in sushi with strong ingredients.

It will give off a distinct flavor far from your traditional sushi. The good thing is that the noodles will stick to the nori and will do a good job at keeping the other rolled ingredients intact.

Black Rice


This dark-colored rice is also referred to as forbidden rice. Its color, which looks black or deep purple, comes from its antioxidant content called anthocyanin.

It helps prevent heart disease and cancer, block cholesterol, and control blood sugar levels.

Black rice also has nutrients good for the eyes, such as zeaxanthin and lutein. It’s naturally sweet, so you no longer need to add sugar when using it as sushi rice. It is also gluttonous, dense, and sticks well to nori.


GBR is short for germinated brown rice. It has been trending for its flavor, nutrition, and texture in the past years. You can make your own if you want, but make sure you can dedicate ample time to the process and lots of patience. If not, you can always search for the nearest Japanese grocery store or Oriental market in your area, and buy pre-germinated brown rice.

Pudding Rice


As the name suggests, this round and small rice is typically used in making pudding. When used in making sushi, it would taste just like the ones made from white rice and look like it.

You can pour some rice vinegar while cooking the rice to obtain the same flavor as sushi rice. Pudding rice has the right stickiness to hold the ingredients together and keep your sushi in good shape.

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Milk rice

This is something you can’t buy pre-packed, but you have to do it by yourself. You can make this by cooking short-grain rice in milk. They use coconut milk in Sri Lanka in making milk rice, and the outcome is similar to rice Krispy treats.

In Cuba, people use cow’s milk, and usually have it as grits or oatmeal. Milk rice makes a good substitute for sushi rice since it clumps well and holds all ingredients tightly.

Arborio Rice


Arborio rice originated in Italy and has become a staple in Texas, California, and other parts of the world.

It has fat, oval, and short grains that make good risotto, but can also be used in making sushi rolls. It also makes delectable rice pudding if you’re planning to make sushi and dessert at once.

Risotto rice

You will often find this at grocery stores, but it’s not Arborio. Some chefs say it contains carnaroli. It makes creamy risotto when cooked in broth. It also makes a good sushi rice substitute since it sticks well and holds its shape.

Other pre-packed risotto rice sold at stores may contain cal riso, Maratelli, Baldo, and vialone nano. The latter has shorter grains on the list. It is loaded with starch, so it makes creamy risotto and cooks quickly. All these rice types included in the packs make excellent substitutes for sushi rice.

Clarice or California Rice


The owners of the brand are Japanese who came up with the idea to serve the Japanese community in the US with something that will remind them of home.

Its texture is close to sushi rice, and you can use it to make rice dishes. You will usually find Clarice at Asian stores.

Glutinous Mid Grain Rice

This is a variety of Japonica rice. It has medium grains and is popular in Vietnam, Thailand, and other East Asian countries. It binds well, so it’s perfect for sushi. However, you can also use this rice in making sweet rice dishes, including rice puddings.

Any types of rice

Any rice will actually do in making sushi. It will all boil down to how you manipulate the flavor, stickiness, and texture.

Keep this in mind the next time you crave for sushi but don’t have the energy to run to a store. You can use whatever kind of rice you have in the pantry, and enjoy your sushi sweat-free.