Carolino Rice (Arroz Carolino) is one of Portugal’s most famous rice varieties. Opaque and starchy, it is excellent for cooking soupy rice dishes — nothing but absolute creaminess in every serving!
Carolino rice is a type of short-grain rice similar to the Italian variety, arborio.
Known locally as ‘arroz carolino,’ it’s one of the two varieties primarily produced in Portugal — the other being agulha rice.
What makes it so special?
It brings creaminess to every dish, and the best part is that it quickly absorbs the flavor and aromas of other ingredients it is cooked with.
Carolino rice is considered healthier than other types because it has been processed less; hence, it has more micronutrients and fiber.
It also explains why it’s excellent for Portugal’s soupy rice dishes — the starch makes them all deliciously creamy.
Arroz Carolino Uses
Locals love to use it for side dishes, mains, and desserts.
It is typically combined with vegetables, beans, or butter (like arroz de manteiga) as a side dish.
It’s added to soupy seafood, fish, or meat for mains, like a rabbit.
As for dessert, sweet rice pudding is a classic way of using it — or ground into flour for rice cakes.
How to Cook with Carolino Rice
You can boil it directly or saute it with butter or oil first.
But note that, unlike a traditional risotto, you don’t need to toast it to start releasing its starch — the creamy texture will happen once it’s cooked.
But whatever you do, DO NOT RINSE it.
Keep its opaque and starchy appearance when you start cooking it.
What Does It Taste Like?
If you cook it simply, like just with butter, you will taste its inherent nuttiness.
But since it soaks up the flavor of other ingredients you cook it with, you can expect it to taste the combination of all your ingredients in the dish.
Carolino Rice Substitutes
- Arborio – an Italian variety widely used to make simple risotto, is an excellent alternative because of its creaminess.
See how I did the substitution for this Portuguese sweet rice pudding recipe.
- Basmati – I’m sure many traditionalists would disagree with me, but I prefer using basmati as a substitute for carolino for savory dishes. It’s not as creamy, but basmati absorbs the liquid (sauce) slower than arborio.
But that was before I learned I could have arroz carolino shipped from Germany. Nowadays, it’s part of my kitchen staples.
If you want to see a comparison of using basmati and carolino rice in a dish, check out my post on Portuguese tomato rice.
Arroz Carolino Recipes
Even if you cannot find arroz carolino in your area, you can make these easy Portuguese rice dishes at home — try them with the suggested substitutes!
Let’s start with dessert.
Local name: Arroz Doce
While you may think it’s perfect for a snack, the locals traditionally enjoy arroz doce for dessert.
Subtly flavored with cinnamon, lemon, and vanilla, it’s a delicious way to end every meal — even during Christmas.
Local name: Arroz de Tomate
It’s one of the most popular posts on my blog.
What else can I say? Everyone loves it! 🙂
If you like tomatoes, you have to try this traditional tomato rice from Portugal.
I bet you will end up eating this dish on its own. 😉
Local name: Arroz com Grao
Remember carolino rice’s nuttiness flavor? That gets enhanced here because it’s combined with chickpeas.
You’ll get that ‘bite’ from the chickpeas and the creaminess from the rice — all delicately flavored in this simple Portuguese rice dish.
Local name: Arroz de Feijão
Rice and beans, that’s already a complete meal, right? 😉
Seriously though, the earthy flavor of the beans simply comes through in this dish.
Serve it with grilled pork belly, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Absolutely yummy!
So how about it? Start stocking up on arroz carolino!
FOR MORE INTERNATIONAL KITCHEN STAPLES, CHECK OUT THESE POSTS!