The 7 Best Substitutes For Bomba Rice

What can I use instead of Bomba rice? The best substitute is Calasparra rice. Other suitable rice alternatives are Arborio, Carnaroli, Senia, Bahia, Calrose, and short-grained rice.

Bomba rice is a short-grained, pearly white rice that originates in the eastern regions of Spain. It is specifically cultivated in paella and cooks without sticking while maintaining its distinctive uniform texture. It absorbs three times its volume in cooking liquid. Bomba rice, also called Valentia rice, is frequently referred to as the king of paella rice.

The Best Bomba Rice Substitutes

Calasparra Rice

Calasparra rice originates from the Calasparra region in Spain.

It is the same short-grained, pearly white variety of rice as Bomba but is grown in a different part of the country. It is, therefore, the closest substitute for Bomba rice.

Like Bomba rice, Calasparra can absorb much more liquid than other rice and maintain its non-sticky structure.

The challenge is that it can be difficult to find outside of Spain, and when it is available, it is often expensive.

Calasparra rice can be prepared and used in the exact quantities in all recipes that call for Bomba rice.

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice is an Italian short-grained white rice. When cooked, the grains have a firm texture but a smooth creaminess, making them popular for use in risotto.

Arborio rice is frequently used as a substitute for Bomba rice. It is readily available and far less expensive.

When substituting Arborio rice for Bomba rice, the amount of liquid required must be reduced to avoid the Arborio rice becoming too creamy.

Only use two cups of liquid per 1 cup of rice.


Carnaroli rice is a medium-grain white rice that is popularly used in risotto. This Italian rice has plump grains, which are slightly larger than Arborio rice.

Although the grains are bigger than Bomba rice which has small, almost round grains, Carnaroli rice can be used successfully as a substitute when making paella.

When cooked correctly, it keeps its shape and delivers a pleasing al dente texture while having a pleasant creamy consistency inside.

Like Bomba rice, Carnaroli rice can absorb three times its volume in broth or water and still retain its loose texture.

It can be substituted in recipes at the same amount as Bomba rice.

Senia Rice

Senia rice is one of Spain’s most commonly grown rice varieties. This white rice has medium-sized grains and, like Bomba rice, absorbs a large quantity of liquid which retains flavor.

Although Bomba rice is the premium rice when creating authentic paella, Senia rice is often used as a substitute as it is less expensive.

Some chefs prefer Senia rice instead of Bomba rice because it retains even more liquid, so it holds on to flavors well.

The downside to Senia rice is that it can get overcooked and lose its distinctive chewy texture.

The liquid should be added carefully according to the cooking instructions and texture required by the recipe.

Bahia Rice

Bahia rice is a Spanish short-grain rice frequently used to make paella. Along with Senia rice, it is the most commonly produced rice in Spain.

Like Bomba rice, Bahia rice readily absorbs liquids without sticking together while cooking. This makes it an ideal replacement with a much lower price tag.

While it can be tricky to find outside of Spain, Bahia rice is available at specialty food stores.

Bahia rice can be substituted and used in the same ratio as Bomba rice in recipes that require short-grained rice.  

Calrose Rice

Calrose is a medium-grain type of rice that originates in California. This versatile rice is inexpensive and easy to find at most grocery stores.

Although it differs significantly in structure from Bomba rice, its mild flavor will readily absorb the flavor of dishes.

While paella connoisseurs will immediately be able to tell the difference, the result can still be pleasing, and Calrose can work well as a stand-in.

Calrose rice is more starchy than Bomba rice and tends to become sticky and soft if it is overcooked.

Wash the rice thoroughly before using it as a replacement, and only use 1 cup of water for each ¾ cup of rice.

Short Grained Rice

Short-grained rice is readily available, making it an easy go-to option if you make paella and need an easy-to-find substitute.

This rice, also known as Japonica rice, has a similar shape to Bomba rice, but it is notably starchier when cooked, so it needs to be substituted cautiously.

This starchy variety of rice is not the same as Bomba, but it is an affordable and practical short-grain rice alternative.

Bomba rice is known for not sticking together, while short-grained rice is notorious for turning into porridge if it isn’t prepared correctly.

Rinse short-grained rice thoroughly before cooking to remove any extra starchy dust, then use 1 cup rice to 1 cup water.

Let the cooked rice rest with the lid on after cooking so the grains absorb all remaining moisture, and it does not become sticky.