Delicious grains that can substitute rice

Before going vegan I’d say I had a somewhat limited view as to what food was. In terms of grains, all I knew was rice, or wheat, in the form of cereals, pastas and bread. 

When you do make the transition, you’ve naturally got to be more creative with your meals, and with that comes a lot of experimentation. 

This post is going to go through some grains you can use in place of rice, for those looking for more variety in their diet. 

Cous cous

Couscous is a grain commonly used among Middle-eastern and North African cuisine. It’s a wheat-based grain that’s a great staple to have if you have minimal time to make supper. 

Great alongside stews, falafel and to bulk up salads, it’s a very easy grain to cook, that you simply have to add hot water to and cover for 5-8 minutes. 


Quinoa is technically a pseudo-grain, otherwise known as a pseudo-cereal, but technically a seed. It’s an alkaline grain that is a great substitute for rice, so it’s great alongside curries and even in burgers. 

My personal favourite way to enjoy quinoa is alongside a brown lentil stew

brown lentils and quinoa


Millet is a great alternative to cous cous, for those looking for a gluten free alternative. It’s considered an ancient grain, again considered a pseudo-cereal. 

Another nutritional alternative with a slight mealier texture than cous cous, however, it’s also suitable for coeliacs. 


Buckwheat is another alkaline grain that is nutritional, and great in burgers, but also as an alternative to wheat-based pasta. 

My personal favourite pasta type is buckwheat pasta, which surprisingly has a better texture than conventional pasta made with durum wheat. 

Bulgur wheat

Bulgur wheat is similar to couscous, but thicker. The key base ingredient for tabouleh, it’s another middle eastern grain that’s also commonly used in Greek cuisine. 

This is great alongside meatier vegan dishes. 

Spelt grain

Spelt grain is the last, but not least alkaline grain on the list. Spelt makes a fantastic pasta grain, is great on its own as a rice substitute, and even as a healthier flour when ground.

Spelt grain is highly nutritious but is unfortunately not gluten free, so it’s not suitable for coeliacs; Luckily for the gluten-intolerant we’ve got a lot more for the list. 

Our list of grains you can use to substitute rice:

  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Spelt grain

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