There’s a whole aisle at the grocery store dedicated to all types of rice.
And from long-grain to short-grain, fluffy, sticky, or firm, rice comes in all colors and sizes.
So I think it’s time we talk about the top 17 and learn all about this versatile grain.
The 3 Main Categories of Rice:
White, brown, red, black, aromatic…did you even know there were this many types of rice?
Neither did I. So get ready for Rice 101, if you will.
You’ll have a much greater understanding of how to choose the perfect grain for your next rice recipe.
First, let’s go over the 3 categories of types of rice:
Short-grain rice, as the name suggests, is short and extra starchy. It sticks to itself and is often referred to as glutinous.
It doesn’t contain gluten but this term comes from it being more like glue.
The best way to eat short-grain rice is with your hands or chopsticks.
It can easily be made into “cakes” by pressing it into a mold.
You might be familiar with sushi rice or sweet rice dessert. Those dishes use short-grain rice.
The criteria for long-grain rice is for the length to be at least three to five times its width.
Basmati and Jasmine rice are the two most popular and well-known types of long-grain rice.
When cooked, long-grain rice is fluffy and tender.
Medium-grain rice, as you might have guessed, is somewhere between long and short.
There isn’t really any clear definition. You might even find that medium-grain and short-grain get combined into the same category.
Either way, medium-grain is shorter than long-grain, and longer than short-grain.
Easy, right? Medium-grain rice is fluffy and creamy. Risotto and rice pudding are both usually made with medium-grain rice.
17 Different Types of Rice
There are so many different types of rice.
Although you don’t need to memorize or keep track of them, it’s nice to have a reference when cooking.
I hope this list helps you familiarize yourself with all kinds of rice.
Learn what they should be used for, and what to expect from them.
When you have a few types of rice stocked up, you’ll be able to make any recipe your carb-loving heart desires. Happy rice cooking!
Basmati rice is one of the more popular long-grain rice varieties.
It was traditionally grown in the Himalayas and is very common in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
Basmati rice is known for being a pretty fragrant rice. It also has a beautiful nuttiness.
It’s a long and slim rice that sometimes gets even longer when it’s cooked.
Soak your basmati rice for about 30 minutes prior to cooking. This will reduce cook time and preserve the flavor.
I think Basmati rice is perfect for saucy dishes like curry. It can soak up juices and gravies without becoming mushy.
Jasmine rice is another popular long-grain rice. It’s very similar to Basmati but originates from Thailand.
Jasmine rice has a nutty flavor and is very aromatic.
It’s often paired with Thai food but can be used interchangeably with Basmati rice.
Slightly shorter than Basmati, Jasmine rice is just as delicious and versatile.
Use this rice for fried rice dishes or with saucy entrees.
Brown rice is becoming more popular in recent years.
It can be used in place of plain white rice in any dish and actually has more nutrients.
Brown rice is higher in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber.
If you’re looking to add any of these minerals to your diet, brown rice is a great swap.
It’s important to note that brown rice is not its own variety of rice.
It’s white rice with the bran and germ still intact.
Brown rice has a lovely nutty flavor and is nearly undetectable when used in most dishes.
You might be surprised to learn that wild rice is not actually rice, it’s grass!
It’s grown in shallow lakes or slow-flowing streams throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Wild rice has a chewy outer sheath and the inner grain is tender.
It’s also a dark purple-black color that is very easy to spot among other rice varieties.
Wild rice is great for soups and rice medleys.
Black rice may look similar but is far different from wild rice. Some varieties of black rice are even glutinous and sticky.
Black rice has been referred to as “forbidden rice” and gets its coloring from a natural pigment called anthocyanin.
It’s actually the same antioxidant found in blueberries and blackberries.
If you’re looking for rice that’s higher in protein, black rice is the way to go.
This rice has more protein and iron than any other variety.
The flavor of black rice is earthy and nutty. You should remember, black rice takes about an hour to cook.
Sushi rice is a name that refers to the method of preparation rather than the rice itself.
Sushi rice is a Japanese short-grain sticky rice that is seasoned with vinegar-based seasonings.
The grain itself comes in brown and white and is often slightly translucent.
It has a higher starch content, which makes it sticky.
Sushi rice is ideal for, well, making sushi! You can also use sushi rice for any type of savory rice cake.
It tastes especially delicious with fish and flavorful sauces.
Red rice is another variety of rice with a higher anthocyanin content.
This variety of rice has a red husk and can be eaten hulled or partially hulled.
Red rice, when eaten with the germ intact, also has the highest nutritional value of any other rice.
You can find both long-grain and medium-grain red rice. This rice also becomes slightly sticky when it’s cooked.
Because of its earthy flavors, red rice is perfect for meaty stews and curry dishes.
8. Glutinous (Sticky)
Glutinous rice is also known as sticky rice because of its extra sticky quality when cooked.
Japanese sticky rice is the most common variety, and it’s used to make mochi.
Before it’s cooked, glutinous rice is short, round, and opaque.
This type of rice also has a very low amylose level which is what makes it so sticky, chewy, and sweet.
Because of the sweetness of this rice, it’s not usually used for savory dishes.
For more info, including what to do with sticky rice, check out this post: what is sticky rice?
9. Arborio Rice
Arborio rice is a short to medium-grain rice that is most commonly known for being used to make risotto.
This type of rice is a short, stubby, oval-shaped grain with a pearlescent white color.
The rice alone doesn’t have a lot of natural flavor, but it takes on other flavors very well.
Other than risotto, this rice is ideal for making creamy rice pudding.
Bomba rice is known for being able to absorb a good amount of liquid without getting sticky.
This grain is short and pearly white. Unlike glutinous rice, bomba rice is rich in amylose which is what keeps it from getting sticky.
Bomba rice is also very flavorful and has a rich, chewy texture. Use it for arroz con pollo or paella.
11. Valencia Rice
Valencia rice gets its name from the region it’s grown in: Valencia, Spain.
Because it’s local, it’s also the most popular rice to use when making traditional paella.
This is a short-grain rice that’s actually pretty similar to bomba rice.
If paella isn’t your favorite, you can also use Valencia rice to make croquettes, arroz con pollo, stuffing, or even some desserts!
12. Long Grain White Rice
Long-grain white rice is the most common and versatile type of rice.
It can adapt to any type of cooking and is lovely with all flavors and ingredients.
White rice is fluffy and slightly sticky. It’s easy and relatively quick to cook.
This rice is known all over the world and can be used for almost any such as stir-fry or soup.
Calrose rice originates in California and makes up 80% of the rice crops in California.
This rice is versatile and comes in both brown and white varieties.
When cooked, it’s soft, slightly sticky, and has great flavor.
Use Calrose rice for soups or stews and even sushi.
14. Red Cargo
Red cargo rice, mainly grown in Thailand, is similar to brown rice.
It’s a very nutritious variety of rice, and the color is a brownish red.
Although it takes a little bit of extra time to cook, red cargo rice can be used for so many types of dishes.
It works deliciously well with curry or other dishes with a lot of herbs and spices.
Parboiled rice is a type of rice that has been partially pre-cooked. This is done before it is processed for consumption.
It’s possible that this process improves the health benefits, storage, and texture of the rice.
There are three steps to parboiling rice: soaking, steaming, and drying.
Parboiled rice ends up being slightly yellow in color, and the texture is dry and firm.
16. Sona Masuri
Sona Masuri is an Indian rice that’s cultivated in Andhra Pradesh. It’s very similar to basmati rice.
Sona Masuri is known for its weight management qualities and being low in calories.
Because of this, it’s often the preferred rice variety.
This is a slightly aromatic rice that can be very versatile.
Carnaroli rice is comparable to Arborio rice. This variety is grown in the Pavia, Novara, and Vercelli provinces of northern Italy.
It’s short to medium-grain rice that has a high starch content and a creamy texture when cooked.
This rice is often used to make risotto due to its firmness and lovely flavor.
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