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Variety to Recipes: 5 Best Orzo Pasta Substitutes

Oops! Ran out of orzo right when you’re in the middle of cooking? No sweat.

We’ve all hit that snag. Good news, though—your kitchen probably holds some pretty awesome stand-ins for orzo. It’s all about texture and taste, and luckily, options abound.

Think rice getting a makeover, quinoa stepping into the spotlight, or even couscous getting in on the action.

We’re here to guide you through swapping out orzo like pros—no culinary degree required.

Each substitute brings its own flair to dishes, promising your meals stay just as scrumptious. Ready to save dinner? Let’s dig in.

what is orzo pasta

The 5 Best Substitutes for Orzo Pasta

If you’re looking for a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional pasta, look no further than orzo pasta.

This type of pasta is made from whole wheat flour and is rich in fiber and nutrients.

However, it can be difficult to find in stores.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsSubstitute Ratio
Ditalini PastaShort, tube-shaped pastaUse as a 1:1 substitution for orzo pasta
StellineTiny star-shaped pastaUse as a 1:1 substitution for orzo pasta
Small Elbow MacaroniShort, curved pasta with a similar size and shapeUse as a 1:1 substitution for orzo pasta
FregolaSardinian pasta made from semolina flourUse as a 1:1 substitution for orzo pasta or adjust cooking time
CouscousSmall granules made from crushed durum wheatUse as a 1:1 substitution for orzo pasta or adjust cooking time

When looking to add variety to your recipes and searching for substitutes for orzo pasta, consider the following options:

1 – Ditalini Pasta

ditalini pasta

Ditalini pasta is a type of Italian pasta made from durum wheat semolina.

It is a small, tubular pasta cut into small pieces and has a ridged surface.

The small size of the pasta makes it perfect for scooping up the sauce, and the ridged surface helps to hold onto flavor.

Ditalini pasta is traditionally used in soups and salads, but it can also be used in casseroles and other dishes.

Ditalini pasta is an excellent choice for any meal, and it is sure to please everyone at the table.

It can be used in a 1:1 ratio as a replacement for orzo, adding a different texture to your dishes.

2 – Stelline


If you’re looking for a unique and delicious pasta dish, look no further than stelline.

This traditional Italian pasta is made with star-shaped pasta, broccoli, and garlic.

The tiny pasta stars are the perfect size for absorbing the flavorful sauce, and the freshness of the broccoli complements the dish nicely.

Plus, the garlic adds a nice depth of flavor to the dish.

Whether serving it as a main course or as a side dish, stelline is sure to please everyone at your table.

Use it in a 1:1 ratio to replace orzo and create unique presentations for your recipes.

3 – Small Elbow Macaroni

small elbow macaroni

Anyone who has ever cooked pasta knows that not all noodles are created equal.

While long noodles like spaghetti are ideal for twirling around a fork, short noodles like elbow macaroni are better suited for hearty sauces and casseroles.

The small elbow macaroni size makes it the perfect noodle for absorbing flavor.

Because each piece is relatively small, it has more surface area than a longer noodle, which can absorb more sauce.

As a result, dishes made with elbow macaroni are often more flavorful and satisfying than those made with other types of pasta.

As a substitute, it can be used in a 1:1 ratio, maintaining the same overall appearance in your dishes.

4 – Fregola

Fregola is a type of pasta that originates from Sardinia, Italy.

It is made from semolina flour and water, shaping it into small balls before toasting in the oven.

This gives the pasta a chewy texture and a nutty flavor.

Fregola can be used in various dishes, including soups, stews, salads, and pasta bakes.

It is also a popular ingredient for making risotto.

Try fregola with pancetta, tomatoes, and peas for a traditional Sardinian dish.

Or, for something a little different, try pairing it with seafood or mushrooms.

Although its shape and texture differ from orzo, it can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio or with slight adjustments in cooking time to accommodate the variation.

5 – Couscous


Couscous may look like a grain, but it’s made from small balls of durum wheat semolina.

The wheat is milled and then dampened so that it can be rolled into tiny balls.

Couscous originated in North Africa, where it is still a staple food.

It’s usually served steamed and topped with vegetables, meat, or fish.

One of the great things about couscous is that it’s quick and easy to make.

Simply add water or broth and let it sit for a few minutes before fluffing with a fork.

Couscous is also very versatile. In addition to being served as a main dish, it can also be used in soups, salads, or stuffing.

While it has a distinct texture compared to orzo, it can be used as a substitute in a 1:1 ratio or with adjustments in cooking time. It offers a different culinary experience to your recipes.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Orzo Pasta

Searching for the ideal substitutes for orzo pasta? Your quest ends here! Delve into our list of the 5 best alternatives that seamlessly replace orzo, offering diverse textures and flavors to enhance your culinary creations.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • Ditalini Pasta
  • Stelline
  • Small Elbow Macaroni
  • Fregola
  • Couscous


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for orzo pasta
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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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