Can You Use Sushi Rice for Paella?

If you find yourself craving the delicious flavors of paella but don’t have the traditional Spanish rice on hand, don’t worry – you can make this iconic dish with sushi rice.

While short-grained Spanish rice varieties like Bomba and Calasparra are customarily used, substituting your stash of sushi rice is an easy fix. Just be aware that you may need to tweak the liquid and cook time since sushi rice tends to be stickier and requires less water.

The texture and taste will be a bit different with this swap, but you can still pull off a tasty paella. Rinsing the sushi rice well and reducing the broth used can help compensate. So while sushi rice may not provide an authentic paella experience, with a few adjustments you can come close.

If you’re eager to keep enjoying paella flavors with an unconventional rice swap, read on for more tips on how to adapt this classic recipe.

An Overview of Paella Rice vs. Sushi Rice

Paella is classically made with short-grain Spanish rice varieties like Bomba, Calasparra, or Valencia. These rices give paella its characteristic texture:

  • Absorb broth well
  • Remain firm and separate
  • Resist overcooking

In contrast, sushi rice is a short-grain Japanese rice that tends to be sticky since it contains more starch.

So while substituting sushi rice won’t replicate the exact paella experience, it can work in a pinch! Here’s what to do.

Tips for Cooking Paella with Sushi Rice

While sushi rice differs from paella rice, you can adapt your recipe method to make it work. Here are some tips:

Rinse the Rice First

This removes excess starch for a less gummy texture. Rinse sushi rice in a mesh strainer until the water runs clear.

Use a Paella Pan

The wide, shallow pan allows for socarrat – the coveted crispy rice layer that forms on the bottom.

Reduce the Liquid

Since sushi rice needs less water than Spanish rice, cut back on the stock or water used.

Don’t Stir the Rice

Let it cook undisturbed once added to the pan to prevent over-stickiness.

Adjust Cook Time

Sushi rice usually cooks faster than paella rice. Start checking a few minutes early.

Get Socarrat!

Let the cooked paella rest for 5+ minutes to form the crispy socarrat rice crust.

How to Make Paella with Sushi Rice

Follow this straightforward recipe to make paella with sushi rice:


  • 2 cups sushi rice
  • 3 cups chicken or seafood stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup diced tomato
  • 1 pound protein (chicken, shrimp, etc)
  • 1 cup peas
  • Saffron threads
  • Paprika, salt, pepper


  1. Rinse sushi rice thoroughly until water is clear.
  2. In a paella pan, sauté onion and garlic until soft.
  3. Add rice and stir to coat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add stock, tomatoes, and seasonings. Bring to a boil.
  5. Arrange proteins and peas evenly over rice. Do not stir.
  6. Cook over medium heat for 12-15 minutes. Check rice for doneness.
  7. Remove from heat and let sit for 5+ minutes to form socarrat.
  8. Fluff rice with a fork and enjoy!

Make It Your Own

Part of paella’s appeal is how customizable it is. Try these fun add-ins:

  • Seafood like clams, mussels, squid
  • Sausage, chicken, shrimp
  • Red pepper, artichokes, beans
  • Lemon, parsley, saffron

Use any proteins and veggies you desire. The sushi rice will soak up all the flavors!

Troubleshooting Paella Made with Sushi Rice

Even using an unconventional rice, you can troubleshoot your paella to perfection:

Too Soft/Mushy:

  • Rinse rice thoroughly before cooking
  • Use less liquid
  • Don’t stir the rice once cooking

Too Sticky:

  • Be sure to rinse rice first
  • Use a paella pan to allow evaporation
  • Fluff with a fork after cooking

Not Enough Crispy Socarrat:

  • Use a paella pan
  • Cook over higher heat
  • Let paella rest before serving

Uneven Cooking:

  • Spread rice and ingredients evenly
  • Cook gently over medium heat
  • Resist stirring during cooking

Enjoy Paella with a Twist

While sushi rice may seem an unlikely substitute, with a few tweaks you can absolutely craft an delicious paella using rice you have on hand. The textures and flavors will be a bit different from the Spanish classic, but it will still be tasty!

So next time a paella craving strikes, don’t hesitate to pull out that bag of sushi rice. With some simple adjustments to your technique, you can whip up an inventive paella everyone will love. ¡Buen provecho!

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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