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Bomba Rice Substitutes

If you live in eastern Spain, particularly Valencia, you may already be familiar with “arròs bomba.” This rice is often tagged as “Valencia rice” and is famously used in paella. Some Spaniards will tell you that a delicious paella cannot be complete without arròs bomba.

But if you live in other parts of the world, you may not think you need bomba rice until you are faced with a recipe that requires Spanish rice. If you try to get it in your nearby store, chances are you may not find it because the rice is rarely available outside Spain. But come on, don’t feel too bad. Do you know that similar rice grains can give you incredible results? The best part is; they are pretty easy to find!.

In this article, I will be telling you a little about bomba rice, how it is made, recipes where you can use it, and how to substitute it when you don’t have it at hand.


Bomba Rice Nutrition Facts

Bomba Rice Substitutes

What is bomba rice?

Bomba rice is a short-grained variety of rice native to Spain. This Spanish rice is cultivated in the eastern part of Spain, and it looks similar to Arborio and sushi rice.

But unlike other short-grain rice, it has a high amylose content which means it is not sticky. It has a warm white hue with uniformity in its consistency.

Although the bomba rice is primarily cultivated in Spain, many believe it is a descendant of another Indian rice variety that made its way to the Iberian peninsula through the Middle East.

Uses of bomba rice in recipes 

Bomba rice is the star of the famous paella dish and is widely used in other Valencian and Mediterranean cuisines, and its high amylose content makes it the ideal non-sticky rice.

Cooking bomba rice can be tricky if you are new to it because it absorbs about two to three times its volume in liquid, so a lot of water is needed to get a successful result.

Unlike other short-grain rice that would burst after absorbing excess water, bomba rice tends to retain its structure pretty well.

Below are some recipes that use bomba rice.

  • Tapa Mediterraneo
  • Chicken and Nduja paella
  • Bomba rice salad
  • Bomba rice with clams and girolles
  • Bomba di Riso (rice bomb)
  • Bomba rice cakes with piquillo pepper, capers, anchovies, and confit cherry tomatoes 
  • Vegetarian paella
  • Vegan paella
  • Dutch oven paella
  • Chorizo and shrimp paella
  • Lemon & pea tendril risotto with saffron and microgreen recipe
  • Slow cooker saffron rice with chicken sausage 
  • Paella Valenciana
  • Citrus paella
  • Smoky Spanish paella

Substitutes for Bomba rice

If you have ever tried to make paella outside Spain, you may have difficulty getting bomba rice. And despite the seafood being the star of a paella dish, the rice you use also plays a big role; not every rice would work well in a paella dish as it can easily go south with one misstep, so getting good rice is key.

Paella may prove to be a difficult meal for some people, double trouble when you can’t get the traditional paella rice (bomba). But in this article, I will be telling you how you can easily make paella without bomba rice.

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice


Arborio rice is by far the closest contender to bomba rice. Although it is associated with creamy risotto dishes, it is still popularly used to substitute bomba rice in paella recipes.

Arborio rice is also short-grain rice, and it can retain absorb a lot of water too; when cooked, it will yield a paella dish with a similar consistency to a paella dish made with bomba rice. Unlike bomba rice, Arborio rice can be easily gotten in any supermarket in America and is also widely available in Europe, especially in Italy.

When replacing bomba rice with Arborio rice in any recipe, use an equal measurement wherever you make the swap. Since Arborio rice is starchy, you may need to adjust the volume of liquid you add to your dish.

Calasparra Rice

Calasparra rice


This fantastic short-grain rice would make an excellent substitute for bomba rice. It is identical to bomba rice, and it is very absorbent. This would give you a fantastic result when you make paella.

However, the downside to Calasparra rice is that just like bomba rice, it may be challenging to get outside of Spain. It is native to the Marcia region of Spain, but you can also try getting it in international supermarkets, or better still, place an order online.

Because Calasparra rice is very similar to bomba rice, no extra preparation is required, and you simply substitute the same amount for bomba rice.

Calrose Rice

Calrose rice


If you can’t get your hands on any short-grain rice, you can also try this medium grain rice called Calrose rice. Any short or medium-grain rice would work, and just try to stay away from long-grain rice.

This rice is native to California, and as such, it can be easily gotten at any grocery store in any country. When cooked, it becomes soft, moist, and slightly sticky. It also absorbs a good amount of liquid to give you a clean, fluffy paella dish.

Although it absorbs a decent amount of liquid, it is not the same as bomba rice, so you also need to regulate the volume of liquid when using Calrose rice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I use basmati rice for paella?

Basmati rice is long grain rice popular in countries like Pakistan and India. Despite its many health benefits, it is not an ideal bomba rice replacement in paella. However, you may experiment with it, but its strong flavor wouldn’t go so well with other paella ingredients, and the authenticity of your dish will be ruined.

Can I use jasmine rice in place of bomba rice?

Jasmine rice is long-grain rice; it is advisable to steer clear when making paella. However, there are instances when people have gotten decent results from jasmine rice.

Why is bomba rice so expensive?

The care required in the cultivation and the amount of time required to mature all play a big role in the final price of bomba rice. The cost of bomba rice is $15 per kilo.


Bomba rice is a delicious short-grain rice variety exclusive to Spain. If you live outside Spain, making a dish that requires bomba rice may be difficult because it is difficult to get this price anywhere else, but luckily, there are some viable substitutes for bomba rice.