Basmati Rice Substitute

A guide to finding the right basmati rice substitute to round out your meal based on the Indian dish you are making and the grain type.
Indian basmati rice on a blue plate with a steel serving spoon.

A guide to finding the right basmati rice substitute to round out your meal.

Basmati rice is a versatile ingredient that shines in popular rice dishes such as biryani, pulao, and khichdi, as well as serving as a comforting accompaniment/side dish to Indian main dishes such as sabzi and dal. It can be flavored and served as Jeera (Cumin) Rice or as fried rice like Chili Paneer Fried Rice.

I’d like to give some perspective on alternatives to basmati from an Indian cook. Particularly, I’d like to note the types of recipes in which rice substitutes can be used in a pinch.

Note, at the end of the day rice is rice and you should use what you like! A few Indian dishes like biryani work better with particular types of rice.

The purpose of the article is to give some ideas and provide alternatives for when you are in a pinch and information on a few types you may not have come across.

Basmati rice is very easy to make. White basmati rice is easy to make in a variety of ways.  Brown basmati rice comes out perfect in an Instant Pot.

India Gate dry basmati grains.

Did you know there are tons of Indian rice varieties (6000!)? But basmati is the most popular rice variety exported from the Indian subcontinent 

 Personally, I do love Basmati rice and we ate it often growing up, BUT that is not the case across all Indian households. It’s become the primary Indian rice type in North America. 

I think part of the reason this idea is in place is due to the prevalence of North Indian (Punjabi) food in restaurants.  Just like a lot of that heavy, cream-laden (and yummy!) food isn’t typical daily home-cooked Indian food neither is naan or Basmati rice necessarily a common standard. 

It’s pricier so it is not always used as daily rice.  It is often used for biryanis and pulao, khichdi in the North/West.

So you are in luck in your search for a basmati rice substitute in terms of options.

White basmati rice and brown in two plates.
White basmati rice and brown basmati rice.

About Basmati Rice

 Basmati rice, which is pronounced bas-MAH-tee, is an aromatic long-grain rice variety that originates from India, the Himalayas, and Pakistan.

Basmati provides a dry and distinct grain that soaks up flavors well.

This rice has a nutty and slightly floral taste, with tapered edges and a firm texture. To achieve fluffy and separated grains when cooked, higher quality basmati rice is aged for a few years.

Due to its dry texture, basmati rice is commonly served with lentil-based dal, legumes, and Indian curries, as the grains readily absorb the rich and flavorful sauces.

What makes a good substitute? 

Two factors go into picking the best option:

  1. The dish you are making will guide you to the best substitute.  
  2. The length of the grain is a driving good factor too.

Long Grain Rice

  • Tends to cook up light, fluffy, and separate
  • Examples include basmati, jasmine, and Carolina Gold
  • Best for dishes where the goal is individual, discrete grains
  • Works well with all Indian dishes
  • Especially good for biryani, pulao

Short Grain Rice

  • Tends to clump together when cooked and is sticky
  • Examples include Japanese short-grain, glutinous rice, and bomba
  • Best for dishes where stickiness and viscosity is the point
  • Recommend avoiding, but could work in dal or mixed with a sabzi

Medium Grain Rice

  • Shorter and moister than long grain, but not as starchy as short grain
  • Examples include Calrose and risotto rice
  • Tends to clump up as it cools and is best for creamy moistness without starchiness
  • Works well as a substitute for basmati rice in Kheer (Indian rice pudding)

Non-Rice Varieties

Quinoa works great as a side for Aloo Palak and other sabzis and in a few other dishes.

Rinsing brown basmati rice in a colander in the sink.

So, What is the Best Substitute For Basmati Rice?

What is the best substitute for basmati rice?

The best long-grain substitutes for basmati rice are standard long-grain rice, jeerasar rice, white jasmine rice, Jeeraksala rice, brown basmati rice, Carolina Gold, and Texmati for biryani, pulao, and most Indian dishes.
A good medium-grain white basmati rice alternative is Sona Masoori.

The best long-grain substitutes for basmati rice are standard long-grain rice, jeerasar rice, white jasmine rice, Jeeraksala rice, brown basmati rice, Carolina Gold, and Texmati for biryani, pulao, and most Indian dishes.

A good medium-grain white basmati rice alternative is Sona Masoori. It is a very popular rice widely available in the US and used in Indian households.  if you are making a side dish for Dal Fry, or other dals, sabzis, works well.  It can also be used in khichadi. 

Summary Table of Alternatives

Note, alternatives may alter the final taste and texture.  For authentic Indian cooking, grab a bag of Indian basmati white rice or Indian brown basmati rice (aged is best basmati!) next time you are at the store.

There are so many different types of Indian rice you can explore.

1Brown BasmatiWhole grainAged long grain riceFragrant aroma similar to white Indian basmati riceWidely availableIndiaWorks well in all instances.  Just note the texture is a bit chewier.
2Sona MasooriMedium grain, less fragrant.
Popular in Indian households.
It absorbs flavor well.
Easily found in the US.  Often found in Costco 
Cheaper than basmati
Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka, IndiaMost dishes except for biryani and pulao which often use fragrant rice. Good for khichdi or a side dish.
3Jeerasar Jirasar Rice and Jeerasar SambaAromatic, long-grainedWidely available in India.  Also available in Indian grocery stores abroad.Gujarat, IndiaWorks well in most instances as a substitute
4JeeraksalaPrimarily utilized in the preparation of biryani. Shorter grains than Basmati rice.It fragrant and is packed with flavor.Widely availableKeralaWorks well in most instances as a substitute
5Jasmine long-grain riceLong-grain, aromatic rice
Best for Asian dishes
Widely availableThailandCan stand in for basmati in a pinch
6Texmati RiceTexmati is pleasantly aromatic and made from an agricultural hybridization of long-grain white rice and Basmati riceAvailable in USAmericaCan stand in for basmati in a pinch
7Carolina GoldGrandfather of long-grain rice in the Americas
Available in USOriginated in West Africa and was brought to the United States in the late 17th centuryCan stand in for basmati in a pinch
8Short-grain riceShort grain
Refers to any standard short grain found in stores
Widely availableVariesWorks well as a side dish in a pinch only
9Medium-grain riceMedium grain
Refers to any standard short grain found in stores
Widely availableVariesWorks well as a side dish / accompanimentent
10Long grain riceLong grain
Refers to any standard long grain found in stores, for example – American Long Grain
Widely availableVariesCan stand in for a variety of dishes.
11QuinoaNon-rice option that works as a side dishCommonly availableAndean region of South AmericaI have made Quinoa Kheer as a healthy alternative to rice. 
Works well as a side dish to sabzi

More Details on the best substitutes

Brown basmati rice

  • Whole grain rice
  • Aged long-grain brown rice
  • Fragrant aroma similar to white Indian basmati rice
  • Nutty taste
  • Slight chewy texture

I love cooking it in an Instant Pot!

Fluffy brown basmati rice in a white plate.

Sona Masoori

  • Medium-grain, aromatic rice
  • Neutral taste  
  • Grains are soft and fluffy
  • Absorbs flavor very well 
  • Adds to the dish without weighing it down
  • Cheaper than basmati
  • Great substitute for everyday meals

Sona Masoori is popular in South India commonly used for making idlis, dosas, and other South Indian

Suitable for most dishes except for biryani and pulao which require fragrant rice. 

Sona masoori in a gray plate.
Sona masoori

Jeerasar Jeerasar Jirasar Rice and Jeerasar Samba

This a variety from Gujarat, India

  1. Appearance: Jeerasar rice grains are slender, long, and fine. They have a distinct aroma and a light brown color.
  2. Flavor: Jeerasar rice has a mild and slightly nutty flavor, which makes it a popular choice for various dishes. 
  3. Jeera Samba aka Seeraga Samba is used for many South Indian biryanis like Ambur Biryani or Dindigul Biryani.


A nice fragrant short grain. Easy to find in Indian stores and even online.

  1. Appearance and texture: Jeerakasala rice has short, plump grains that are slightly round in shape. It is often referred to as “baby basmati” due to its similarity in appearance to Basmati rice. It is soft, fluffy, and slightly sticky when cooked.
  2. Aroma and flavor: Jeerakasala rice has a distinct aroma and flavor often described as nutty, with hints of spice and herbs. It is not as fragrant as Basmati rice, but has a unique flavor profile that is popular in South Indian cuisine.
  3. Culinary uses: Jeerakasala rice is commonly used in the preparation of Biryanis, pilafs, and other rice-based dishes in South India. It is also used to make desserts like rice pudding.

Texmati Rice

Aromatic rice variety is a cross between basmati and American long-grain rice, commonly used in Southwestern cuisine.

A variety of basmati known as Texmati is grown in the United States.

Jasmine Rice

Fragrant rice with a slightly sweet flavor and soft, sticky texture, commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine. Available as brown jasmine rice type as well.

White jasmine rice grains in a white plate.
Jasmine rice grains.

Carolina Gold

Heirloom variety of long grain rice grown in the United States, known for its buttery flavor and fluffy texture.

Flavor and texture: Carolina Gold rice has a buttery flavor and a fluffy, tender texture. It is often described as having a nutty taste and a faint aroma of popcorn.

My mom used to use this in khichdi!

Other Varieties To Explore

Kali Jeera and Chinigura are used in Bengal and Bangladesh to make Bengali biryani.

Sela basmati has undergone a process of boiling or steaming to remove its husk.

  • Boiling or steaming the paddy allows for easy removal of the husk without damaging the seedcoat or nucellar tissue.
  • Nutrients are preserved in this method.
  • It results in a  fluffy texture of the cooked rice.
  • However, there is a  residual odor left from boiling or steaming the paddy can be unpalatable  
  • The color is also not as white as basmati rice

Rice alternatives: cauliflower rice, bulgur wheat

A plate of cooked brown basmati rice.


Can I use jasmine rice as a substitute for basmati rice?

I think a standard short grain or long grain rice is a better choice than jasmine rice.  But, rice is rice and you should use what is convenient and best for you. 

As long as you like it, that’s what matters.

Can I use arborio rice as a substitute for basmati?

I think arborio rice works in instances in which mushy rice is ok, like serving it in a bowl of dal.

White basmati grains in a plate.

11+ Basmati Rice Substitute Ideas: What’s Best?

Shilpa Joshi
A guide to finding the right basmati rice substitute to round out your meal based on the Indian dish you are making and the grain type.
5 from 1 vote
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 1 serving
Calories 168 kcal


  • 1 Bowl


  • 1 serving White jasmine rice OR
  • 1 serving Sona masoori rice OR
  • 1 serving Long-grain rice OR
  • 1 serving Jeerasar OR
  • 1 serving Jeeraksala rice OR
  • 1 serving Texmati OR
  • 1 serving Carolina Gold OR
  • 1 serving brown basmati rice OR


  • Substitute your choice of ingredient to use 1:1 in the place of basmati rice when you are in a pinch.


There is no absolute perfect substitute for any paneer, but I think we can get close to one for paneer that you can use in a pinch.
Homemade paneer can even be made in an Instant Pot!


Calories: 168kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 3gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 53mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.1gCalcium: 13mgIron: 0.4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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