Orzo, which is a type of rice-shaped pasta, is typically not gluten-free. However, there is a gluten-free version, and there are other substitutes you can use to replace the orzo.
Gluten in Orzo
The ingredients in traditional orzo include wheat flour (traditionally semolina or durum), water, and sometimes vitamin additives. Although it is shaped like rice, orzo is actually pasta, and traditional pasta is not gluten-free and therefore unsafe for people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten intolerance.
If you are eating a gluten-free diet, there is currently one brand of gluten-free orzo. DeLallo gluten-free corn and rice orzo is made with corn and rice flours and free of gluten ingredients. It is available at Walmart for about $4.50 for a 12-ounce package. You can use this as a direct substitution for orzo in recipes.
Gluten-Free Orzo Substitutes
There are other ingredients you can substitute for orzo in recipes as well.
Try substituting an equal amount of any gluten-free pasta for the orzo. Make sure it is certified gluten-free, which means it is gluten-free to 20 parts per million (PPM). If the pasta is certified gluten-free, it is processed in a facility that does not process other gluten-containing ingredients and is free from cross-contamination. Barilla offers gluten-free kinds of pasta in a few shapes. Try using spaghetti and cutting it into smaller pieces before you cook it to simulate the orzo. This will be a direct substitution for orzo, so cooking times and amounts should be about the same.
Like orzo, couscous is traditionally made from durum (wheat) flour, but there are gluten-free versions available you can use to replace orzo in an equal amount. Try Streit's Gluten-Free Israeli Couscous, which is made from potato starch and tapioca. Couscous cooks more quickly than orzo, so adjust cooking times according to the package instructions.
All unflavored rice is gluten-free. To get a shape and texture similar to orzo, your best bet is Arborio rice, which is a medium-grained, starchy rice commonly used in risotto. The cooking time for rice will be longer that orzo, so adjust by cooking according to package directions. Substitute the same amount for the orzo called for in the recipe.
Plenty of Options
You have plenty of options to replace gluten-containing orzo in recipes. With a little creativity, you can still make a tasty dish free from gluten.