Making Risotto Article -
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Making Risotto

Learn how to make perfect risotto. Constant stirring not required!

Versatile and delicious, risotto is also surprisingly easy to make at home.

The Rice

Classic risotto is made from either Carnaroli or Arborio rice. Short and plump, they are high in starch and can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.

Stock Up

Because risotto is cooked uncovered on the stovetop, a lot of liquid evaporates. Plan on about three times as much liquid as rice. And that liquid should be stock of some sort. Chicken stock is the staple, but use whatever stock you prefer--beef, vegetable, seafood. Canned stock is perfectly acceptable. Just watch the salt--it can become overpowering as the liquid evaporates. Choose low-sodium broth when possible.

Adding Aromatics

The stock is your first base of flavor. Heat it up in a saucepan, as a warm stock will cook into the risotto more quickly and evenly. While that's heating up, sauté onions or shallots in a heavy bottomed pan. After those aromatics have softened, add the rice and "toast" it in the pan. You'll know it's ready when the rice turns translucent at the edges. If the recipe calls for any wine, add it now to continue building the flavor. The slight acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc blends wonderfully in a risotto.

Stir Crazy? Maybe Not

It's true, you can't abandon risotto on the stove and forget about it. Still, constant stirring is not necessarily required. Add the stock a little at a time--1/2 cup or so--and only add more stock when it is absorbed into the risotto. Keep the burner just high enough to barely simmer the stock and risotto. Keep close and stir it frequently. But you should have time to prep your next ingredients.

The risotto is done when it's just al dente--firm but not crunchy to the tooth. It should "shimmer" a little in the bowl--be fluid rather than a solid scoopful. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and anything else that strikes your fancy--prosciutto, cooked shrimp, steamed vegetable, sautéed mushrooms, or chicken. Stir in a pat of butter for extra richness.

Try Other Grains

Actually, any small, starchy grain can be cooked risotto-style, with delicious results. Try pearl barley, spelt, farro, even orzo pasta, and see what you think!

Jun. 18, 2009 2:10 pm
Can you reheat a risotto dish? What would be the best way to reheat?
Jun. 21, 2009 11:43 pm
do i need to wash arborio rice before use.
Jun. 29, 2009 12:53 pm
We live in a small town, how readily available is Arborio rice?
Jun. 29, 2009 2:55 pm
You do not need to wash arborio rice before use; I have reheated risotto in the microwave with a little liquid; look in rice/pasta section in your small town.
Jul. 20, 2009 7:44 pm
No matter how many times I do it or how many recipes I follow, I ALWAYS need more liquid then the recipe calls for and it always takes me well over an hour to cook two cups of rice. It's good but so frustrating. Makes me wonder what I'm doing wrong!
Jul. 31, 2009 5:21 am
I don't like the flavor of any stock I ever bought, and I like the subtle flavor of rice, so I use water. I saute onions in olive oil for extra flavor. I have also experimented with making it the lazy way: Just put all the water in the pot and let it simmer for 25 minutes, with stirring every 5 minutes or so. It was fine! Or maybe I don't know what it should be. Another great thing about risotto is that it is a very inexpensive dish. Compared to other rice, Arborio costs more, but it is still pennies per serving.
Sep. 20, 2009 9:39 am
I made my very first risotto with mushrooms and it was beyond delicious. I believe the key is in fresh ingredients and an excellent, homemade stock. I cooked my stock for 2 days and made enough for the risotto I am making tonight with a thyme butter roasted chicken. Looking forward to trying the pumpkin risotto - has anyone tried that yet?
Nov. 1, 2009 2:12 pm
I live at over 8,000 ft above sea level...rice is difficult in itself here. What adjustments do I need to make to cook a risotto at altitude?
Jan. 8, 2010 9:27 am
I just found recipes using farro. What is farro? I've never heard of it.
Feb. 13, 2010 8:48 pm
how will risotto hold up on a steam table.
Feb. 17, 2010 5:46 am
many years ago, when my " nona" made risotto she added homemade chicken broth and tomato sauce (alternating each) to the rice for what seemed like an eternity. It was always a much anticipated dish!
Mar. 20, 2010 2:29 pm
Does anyone know how to make that awesome rice that comes with Shish kabobs at a greek restaurant? I LOVE that stuff. Sounds like what Denise's 'Nona' makes! MMMMMM!
Jun. 15, 2010 6:43 pm
Blair, I have the same problem when I make risotto. The first time I was so frustrated. We were living overseas & the ingredients were quite expensive. The rice was not cooked & I had no more liquid. After I had fumed for a few minutes, I took the risotto, put it into a bowl, covered it tightly & stuck in the microwave for 5 minutes. It worked, rice was cooked & the consistency was perfect.
Jul. 16, 2010 6:40 am
It always took 3 times the length of time to cook the rice than the recipe called for. Yesterday, quite by accident I found out why, and why so many others have the same problem. Most recipes say to heat the broth, I have never seen a recipe which says that the broth should be left on a low flame during the entire cooking process. It has to be hot when you add it to the rice, that way it absorbs quickly & the rice should be cooked in about 20 minutes.
BC Gal 
Nov. 19, 2010 2:09 pm
A little trick with risotto is to saute the rice in a little olive oil before adding the liquid. Not only does it taste better, but the consistency is also better.
Feb. 14, 2011 11:18 am
Can you make risotto with brown rice..I imagine you can, but I might be wrong. Been a really long time since I made it and all I have in the house is Texmati brown rice.
ivan zeta 
Mar. 6, 2011 2:11 am
I'm italian, I live in northern Italy, my english could be not so good but I CAN make a wonderful risotto. Almost all americans think you need only Arborio or Carnaroli rice to make a good risotto. Wrong, you can use even Ribe, Originario, Padano, Roma or Vialone Nano (and this is the best, in my opinion). Directions above are not so bad, but the rice MUST be the last ingredient. The main ingredient of you risotto (cooked shrimp, steamed vegetable, sautéed mushrooms, peas, pumpkin...) must be added about one minute after the onion, BEFORE the rice so it will "absorb" aromas ad taste while cooking. NOW add the rice, toast it and follow directions above until ready. REMEMBER, add the stock a little a time, and keep it moist otherwise it will take a long time to cook. Your risotto should be ready in about 12 to 15 minutes. NEVER add too much liquid, a good risotto must be creamy. When cooked TAKE AWAY FROM FIRE, add a bit of butter (if you like it, a teaspoon per person) parmesan cheese
Apr. 5, 2011 1:56 pm
Thank you ivanzeta for your comments. They are really helpful!
Apr. 28, 2011 4:08 pm
To Ivanzeta, Your comments are the best I've seen yet! I lived just outside Pordenone for nearly 3 years and risotto was my favorite dish. Thank you for being clear about how to cook it for best results!!! Now I can make the dish I loved so much while living in Italy!!!
May 7, 2011 2:11 am
good job IVANZETA..clear and right..AND your english is great!!
ivan zeta 
May 26, 2011 5:59 am
@ DBayne, Ninon41914 and rightbutton: thanks. If you like the REAL italian food check my "Spaghetti alla Carbonara" recipe. @ Ninon41914: Aviano isn't far from where I live ;-)
Jun. 13, 2011 12:11 pm
I have taken my left over Risotto and made like a Rissoto Cake. Pan frying them like a crab cake.
Jun. 16, 2011 8:37 pm
Risotto (Arborio) rice is sometimes in the special foods area and/or health food section.
Jul. 2, 2011 6:40 am
do u have to use cheese to make this rice....cheese is mention in all recipes i come across
Oct. 2, 2011 1:06 pm
No cheese is not mandatory but it adds nice consistency and flavor complexity. I highly recommend a shredded parm. And feel free to splash evoo all over the finished dish.
Dec. 19, 2011 3:55 am
I'm making risotto as my starch for Christmas. Can I make this recipe a day in advance? If so how should I heat it up?
Jo Duck 
Jun. 12, 2012 9:14 pm
I just discovered arborio rice, in the rice/pasta section of Walmart, of all places. It should be available in almost any town or city.
Julie Hansen 
Jun. 24, 2012 1:44 pm
What is meant by "toast" in Ivanzeta's instructions?
Aug. 7, 2012 10:35 pm
"toast" means to allow the rice to cook a bit in the pan before adding the liquid. Not long though.
Sep. 3, 2012 9:25 am
Is wine necessary in risotto? I tried it and the dish came out perfectly, however, I felt like I could taste more of the white wine than the parmesean. I am thinking of eliminating it from the recipe when I do the sweet corn risotto. Also, I am going to add the corn (from can) right after the onions like the "Italian" woman mention (sorry I forgot your name) and then add the corn liquid to the broth. Hopefully, I will seek the flavor that I am looking for. Great advice all around on this site. Thank you to everyone!
Nov. 8, 2012 8:45 am
How do you cook risotto without it being pastey. It taste like chalk when I cook it.
Nov. 15, 2012 10:25 am
Catco, It sounds like you may not be using enough liquid. When you add the warm (I do simmering) broth to your rice each time it should start simmering very quickly and not take too long to absorb. Make sure to toast the rice to a golden brown in olive oil before adding any broth. Once the rice is cooked to your preference take it off the heat and add a little bit of butter or extra virgin olive oil (evoo) to improve the texture. Even without much seasoning this should produce a flavorful risotto. Also I usually mix a little vegetable broth into my chicken broth to give it a more rounded flavor.
Jan. 13, 2013 4:33 am
Tee, the way that I understand it, you dont need to use strictly wine for this dish. I just tried the standard directions with water and it turned out very nicely. My belief is that you could even alternate such liquids as your choice of wine and water; when I made it for myself I believe I did 3 or 4 ladles of liquid. the base liquid you use to begin is really what make it.
Feb. 10, 2013 6:01 am
I'm having boiled Maine lobsters tonight and trying to come up with a side dish. Possibly risotto. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Feb. 10, 2013 6:03 am
I'm having boiled Maine lobsters tonight and trying to come up with a side dish. Possibly risotto. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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