I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of glutinous rice substitutes to find the best one for every cooking or baking occasion. Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry swap, or want a substitute that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
Black sticky rice is the best substitute for glutinous rice, but it’s also tricky to find. Other short-grain varieties like sushi or arborio rice will work in a pinch. And if you want a low-carb alternative, try cooking cauliflower rice with gelatin to give it a sticky texture.
I made small batches of mango sticky rice to test out several different glutinous rice substitutes.
Glutinous rice is a round-grain rice also known as sticky or sweet rice. It has a lightly sweet flavor and high amounts of amylopectin compared to regular rice, which gives it its signature sticky texture.
These properties make glutinous rice a favorite for desserts, but you can also use it for savory dishes like fried rice. The stickiness of glutinous rice is so unique that I had difficulty finding an exact match. But I did find a few decent substitutes depending on the situation.
Here are the substitutes I tested and the verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Black sticky rice||Slightly nutty flavor||10/10|
|Calrose rice||Easy to find||9/10|
|Sushi rice||Don’t wash after soaking||9/10|
|Arborio rice||Creamy consistency||8/10|
|Cauliflower rice + gelatin||Low-carb alternative||7/10|
|Regular white rice||Cooked in coconut milk||6/10|
Black sticky rice
If you don’t mind changing your dish’s appearance, black sticky rice is a fantastic substitute for glutinous rice. It has the same sticky texture and chewy consistency as glutinous rice, although the individual grains offer a slightly firmer bite.
The unique texture makes it a hit in traditional Asian desserts, from rice puddings to sweet rice cakes. And I especially loved the subtle nuttiness it brought to the table – it paired nicely with my coconut sauce.
The only catch? You’ll probably need to take a trip to your local Asian grocery store to find it, in which case you’ll also be able to buy the glutinous rice! And because of the nutty flavor it’s not the best option for savory dishes.
How to substitute: Replace glutinous rice in a 1:1 ratio with black sticky rice.
For a locally sourced option, try Calrose rice. It’s a medium-grain rice named after its home state, California.
Yes, you read that right – it’s not a short-grain variety like glutinous rice. But the grains swell and soften as they cook, taking on a slightly sticky texture that resembles glutinous rice. It’s often used as a substitute for sushi rice because of how well it sticks together.
But the best part about Calrose rice is that it’s a breeze to find. You can pick up a bag at most major grocery stores. Keep an eye out for the Botan brand, a household name for this type of rice. Also, unlike black sticky rice, you can use Calrose for savory applications.
How to substitute: Replace glutinous rice in a 1:1 ratio with Calrose rice.
If you’re a sushi lover, you won’t be surprised to see this rice variety on this list. After all, sushi rice is known for its sticky nature because it has high amounts of amylopectin.
It’s still slightly less sticky than glutinous rice, so for my sticky mango rice, I followed Ms. Shie and Mr. He’s lead and skipped washing the rice after soaking. This technique leaves some starch on the outer layer of the rice grains, which makes them stickier.
And you can make sushi for the main course! Win-win.
How to substitute: Replace glutinous rice in a 1:1 ratio with sushi rice.
From Japanese cuisine to Italian. Arborio rice isn’t a stranger to anyone who likes risotto!
It has less amylopectin than glutinous rice, so it’s not that sticky. But it has enough starch content to achieve a delicious, creamy consistency when cooked, making it a worthy alternative.
Another difference is risotto rice doesn’t have any chewiness to it. Instead, it has a soft texture on the outside and a firmness on the inside. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, and I thought the texture worked well in my mango sticky rice.
How to substitute: Replace glutinous rice in a 1:1 ratio with Arborio rice.
Cauliflower rice + gelatin
If you’re looking for a low-carb alternative to glutinous rice, look no further than the humble cauliflower, jazzed up with a little culinary secret: gelatin.
On its own, cauliflower rice won’t stick together like glutinous rice. But you can fix this by adding gelatin during the cooking process. The gelatin helps bind the cauliflower grains together and gives them a sticky consistency.
The Castaway Kitchen cooks 4 to 5 cups of “caulirice” with coconut milk and uses 2 teaspoons of gelatin. The caulirice was okay in my mango dessert, but I did feel a bit weird eating cauliflower for dessert! I think this substitute would work better with savory recipes like this Chinese sticky rice.
And to all my vegan friends, don’t worry. You can switch out the gelatin with agar agar for the same effect.
How to substitute: Replace glutinous rice in a 1:1 ratio with cauliflower rice.
Regular white rice
Regular white rice isn’t the best substitute for glutinous rice, but I’ve found a recipe (video below) that makes it work for desserts like sticky mango rice.
The trick is cooking the rice directly in coconut milk. It still wasn’t perfect because the rice grains ended up a lot softer than glutinous rice’s chewy bite. But it’s an easy and convenient workaround if you’re craving sticky mango rice.
Sadly, I can’t guarantee regular rice will work for other recipes that call for glutinous rice but don’t use coconut milk.
How to substitute: Replace glutinous rice in a 1:1 ratio with regular white rice.
Substitutes To Avoid
I came across lots of suggestions for alternatives to glutinous rice while researching, but not all of them worked out well.
Riced veggies like broccoli and rutabaga rice were frequently mentioned. But they had too much flavor to work in my dessert. Broccoli could be okay in a savory dish, but only if you’re a big fan of broccoli!
Bomba rice was another option that came up a lot too (otherwise known as paella rice). It’s a short-grain rice cultivated in Spain but it doesn’t have a sticky or creamy texture.
Best Glutinous Rice Substitutes + 2 To Avoid
- 100 grams black sticky rice
- 100 grams calrose rice
- 100 grams sushi rice
- 100 grams arborio rice
- 100 grams cauliflower rice + gelatin
- 100 grams regular white rice
- Cook your meal according to the recipe.
- Add your chosen yakisoba noodle substitute at the appropriate cooking time.
- Mix until thoroughly combined and continue with the recipe.