Brown Rice vs Sushi Rice: What’s the Difference?

Written By Acacia Crossley


There are so many types of rice worldwide that it can often be difficult and overwhelming to know which type of rice is best to pair with which dish. 

Truth be told, most dishes work perfectly well with any variety of rice. However, some more delicate dishes, such as sushi, require specific characteristics from the rice to work at all. In such a case, can brown rice compare to sushi rice? 

When comparing brown rice and sushi rice, their most significant difference is their flavour. Brown rice is far more on the savoury end of the flavour scale, while sushi rice is specially prepared so that it tastes sweeter. 

What is Brown Rice?

Admittedly, brown rice is not a favourite for everyone. In the Western world, it is mainly branded as healthy rice, which is off-putting to some people. However, brown rice can be versatile in various cuisines if understood. 

Brown rice gets its name from the colour of its grains. Unlike white rice varieties, which are stripped right to the grain when harvested, brown rice is sold with a layer of bran still attached to the grain.

This bran is extremely nutritious and comes with its own earthy, nutty flavour. 

Brown Rice

The layer of bran does mean that brown rice needs longer to cook thoroughly. Even when cooked, the rice develops a chewy consistency that, while still starchy and sticky, can change the whole texture profile of your dish. 

Is Brown Rice Expensive?

Like most healthier alternatives, brown rice is typically more expensive than white rice but not ridiculously so. The higher price is due to a lesser demand for the product, though it is by no means the most expensive rice on the shelf. 

What is Sushi Rice?

Sushi rice is one of those ingredients that most people think is a specific variety of food, but it is not.

Technically speaking, any white rice can be made into sushi rice as sushi rice is more reliant on the method of preparation than it is on the rice itself to stand out from other rice varieties. 

Sushi Rice

Just like sushi itself, sushi rice is a thoroughly Japanese food that is much easier to make than you would think. All you need to do is add some sugar, rice vinegar, and salt to your rice as you cook it. These few ingredients will give the sushi rice that unique taste that sets it apart from other rice types. 

To make a successful sushi roll, the sushi rice has to stick together. That is why short-grain white rice is the go-to choice for making sushi rice, as it is very high in starch and has a small enough grain not to disagree with the texture of the sushi filling. 

Is Sushi Rice Unhealthy?

Rice of any variety is a much healthier side dish than, say, fried chips. However, because sushi rice relies on sugar to give it its sweet taste, it is not the healthiest rice varieties.  

Similarities Between Brown Rice and Sushi Rice

Some sushi restaurants in America have started serving sushi made with brown rice.

Many sushi experts have critiqued such a menu choice, but the sushi seems to be selling, so there must be enough similarities between brown rice and sushi rice for the sushi to work. For example: 

  • High In Starch – Though brown rice will need longer to cook than sushi rice, once it is fully cooked, it can be wonderfully sticky. This is due to the high levels of starch in the rice. The amount of starch in sushi rice is what makes sushi rolls possible.
  • Extra Flavour – Many people avoid experimenting with rice in their dishes as the rice they are used to is bland at best. Brown rice and sushi rice are amongst the few types of rice out there that have their own noticeable flavour.
  • Typically Affordable – Even brown rice, which does tend to have a higher price tag than sushi rice, is very affordable. One bag of brown rice or sushi rice from the supermarket can be good for several meals. 

Differences Between Brown Rice and Sushi Rice

With something as typically versatile as rice, it is essential to take note of the few varieties that stand out from the crowd and how they differ from each other.

Brown rice and sushi rice are some of the more unique varieties, so their differences should be taken into consideration, even more, when you are preparing your dish: 

  • Healthy Associations – Brown rice is praised in the health world as the healthiest rice on the shelf. While some may argue otherwise, there is no disputing that brown rice has a far higher nutritional value than white rice, as each grain still has its bran layer.
  • Cooking Times – Many people prefer white rice varieties such as sushi rice because of how quickly it cooks. The bran layer that remains on brown rice is full of fibre which, while healthy, means it takes much longer for the grain itself to soften.
  • Taste – Any sushi lover knows that sushi rice just tastes so much different than any other rice. It is much sweeter and flavourful because of the sugar and rice vinegar added to the rice while cooking. The extra fibre and nutrients in brown rice give the rice a savoury and earthy taste. Some describe it as being quite a nutty flavour.

Brown Rice vs Sushi Rice: Which Wins?

If you had to pick only eat one type of rice, which would you go for? How are you voting in our brown rice vs sushi rice poll?

Do You Prefer Brown Rice or Sushi Rice

Brown Rice and Sushi Rice FAQs

If you have more questions about brown rice and sushi rice then have a look at these FAQs:

Can You Make Sushi Rice With Brown Rice?

Yes, it is possible to make sushi rice with brown rice but the flavour can be a bit odd compared to regular white sushi rice. This is because a lot of flavours are fighting against each other.

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