- @eatbanza Instagram/@bluehousekitchendc
- Banza, the startup behind the now-famous chickpea pasta, recently released a chickpea-based rice alternative.
- Banza Rice is available in a six-pack on Amazon for $24, and comes in two varieties: Chickpea and “Tricolor Legume” (both gluten-free).
- Compared to white rice, Banza rice has fewer calories, sodium, and carbs. It also has considerably more protein and fiber.
- Below, you’ll find a full rundown. But, here’s a tiny review upfront: Banza rice is close to rice but closest to orzo, and it’s a delicious, protein-packed alternative I’d recommend trying.
In the future, when humans have harnessed the full powers of science and rendered franchise pizza calorie-less, we may finally experience completely healthy pasta and white rice. But, until then, we have the cheat code of Banza.
If you’re familiar with the startup, it’s probably because you’ve heard of Banza’s chickpea pasta. It tastes much like the original but has 25 grams of protein, 13 grams of fiber, and 40% fewer net carbs than traditional noodles. Unsurprisingly, the pasta has become very successful – launching Banza into the number one spot for the fastest-selling pasta in Whole Foods.
Now, the company has expanded with Banza Rice, a healthy alternative also made out of 90% chickpeas.
Banza Rice is currently on Amazon in a $24 six-pack. It’s the Darwinian result of rigorous research and testing, including a month-long in-store test in Whole Foods that cut through four different product concepts and two different packaging styles to contribute to the final offer.
According to Banza’s CEO & Co-Founder, Brian Rudolph, the Banza mission is simple: “[any new product] needs to be genuinely nutritious and disruptive to the grocery aisle, but not disruptive to the dinner table. It should be easy, versatile, and familiar.” Ultimately, it’s about bringing legumes, the primary protein source found in the “Blue Zones” (a term for where people live the longest), to as many people as possible.
You can pick up Banza’s rice alternative in two varieties: regular Chickpea and “Tricolor Legume,” which mixes chickpeas, red lentils, and green peas. This review will focus on the classic Chickpea.
What Banza Rice is:
Banza Rice is rice made from chickpeas, potato starch, xantham gum, and sea salt – but 90% of it is chickpeas. It has fewer calories, sodium, and carbs than white rice, as well as more fiber and more protein. It has three-times the protein, two-times the fiber, and nearly 30% fewer net carbs than brown rice, according to the company. It also has more protein and fiber than quinoa.
- @eatbanza Instagram/ @kaileycarpenterwellness
What it’s like to cook:
In short: it’s pretty easy, but you may have to babysit it with a few stirs.
Banza rice should be prepared over the stovetop rather than in a rice cooker. Pour six cups of salted water into a pot, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and pour in your Banza rice. Cook and stir it for five to six minutes, and then drain using a fine mesh strainer. After that, rinse it with water and return rice to your pot to fluff with a fork. If you’re adding ingredients, finish in a sauté pan with your veggies, etc.
What it’s like to eat:
Once prepared, Banza’s rice tastes impressively like white rice, though it’s perhaps the closest in consistency and shape to orzo. It’s not as chewy as rice, but its consistency comes very close – you probably won’t detect any difference in dishes like grain bowls. In paella and risotto-style dishes, you’ll probably find it blends beautifully. You’ll probably still notice that you’re using an alternative – though that’s not bad if you’re willing to bend slightly on texture. It’s also filling, unlike other healthy alternatives like cauliflower, which can sometimes have the aura of plant-based shaved ice.
Strictly in terms of taste, Banza rice has a faintly nutty, savory taste that gives it a lot more body than traditional rices – but in my opinion, it wasn’t overwhelmingly present.
Cons to consider:
This chickpea alternative is more expensive than white rice, and depending on your budget, it may not be a comfortable ongoing purchase. If you’re just trying to eat a bit healthier, you could compromise with picking up a six-pack for $23.94 and phasing this in a couple of times per week.
The bottom line:
Overall, Banza Rice is delicious, low-maintenance, still relatively accessible at about $4 per bag, and packed with more fiber and protein as well as fewer calories and sodium. If you’re on the fence, I recommend trying it.
If you’re still hunting for alternatives, you also may want to check out Insider Picks’ reporter Connie Chen’s comparison review between Banza and RightRice here.