How to Make Risotto

Risotto is not just for the experts! Making risotto can be easy, fun and delicious. With a few tips and tricks from experienced home cooks, you can master the art of making risotto in no time. From picking out the right ingredients to mastering the technique of stirring, risotto is within reach for any novice cook.

what is risotto

All you need are a handful of common ingredients that can usually be found right in your pantry. The end result is a transformation from a few simple staples into a delightful and flavorful dish that is sure to impress.

The only trick to risotto is the amount of time you need to give the dish. Cooks must stir the rice continuously to ensure even cooking and a creamy texture. Once you get the hang of it, risotto can be on your table in no time. This guide will give you all the techniques you need to learn to make a delicious risotto rice dish.

To get started, you’ll want to sauté all your aromatics with the brown rice to combine all those delicious flavors that will end up making the dish what it is. A little white wine is thrown in to give it some oak notes and acidity. You’ll always need to be stirring the dish so that the bottom doesn’t get burned while cooking. It’ll also make that the rice absorbs all those wonderful juices you’re concocting.

The pleasurable experience of cooking risotto rice is sure to tickle all your senses and gives you an opportunity to bask in the moment without needing to finish another errand. Grab yourself a glass of wine and settle down to make a household favorite.

What Is Risotto?

Hailing from northern Italy, this classic dish is made with short-grain rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli. Italian risotto is cooked in a flavorful broth and stirred constantly until it’s creamy and luscious. It can be served plain or topped with fresh herbs, cheese, mushrooms, seafood, and more for an even richer flavor experience.

You can choose the type of stock you use like vegetable stock, beef, fish, or chicken broth, and then slowly add it to the short-grain rice of your choosing. After a while, the rice begins to absorb the stock and all its flavors. You’ll need to stir the dish the entire time so make sure all rice grains are getting in contact with the broth. Eventually, the rice swells up and you get a creamy and delicious dish to serve at the table.

Some other ingredients that help put the dish together are white wine, garlic, and onions. Don’t forget about adding your favorite parmesan cheese either. Freshly grated works the best and you can pick out your favorite at the store. Once you get the hang of the original recipe you can start adding in some alternative ingredients like peas, mushrooms, bacon, or even butternut squash.

Choosing Your Rice

Arborio Rice

In Italy, most families use arborio rice. This type of rice is a short-grain version and has a ton of starch inside. It works best because it gets a really creamy texture at the end of cooking. The amount of amylose the arborio rice has is also important because it gives the risotto a creamy and luscious texture. Amylose has a sticky consistency instead of being dry like long-grain rice. Just be careful not to wash off your short-grain rice before cooking because that will remove all the starches and the dish won’t turn as good as you would have hoped.

The choice of which rice you choose ultimately depends on what you like. Some rice types are more flavorful than others, so experiment and find what works best in your kitchen. The subtle differences will only be noticed if you make the dish on a pretty consistent basis. Otherwise, as long as you stick to short-grain rice the dish will come how tasting pretty good.

Making the perfect risotto doesn’t have to be a daunting task anymore. With the right ingredients, technique, and patience you can create a delicious dinner that is sure to impress your family and friends. So let’s get cooking!

Heat Up Your Stock

Your first step to cooking a delicious creamy risotto dish that tastes as it came from an Italian restaurant is to heat up your stock. The reason you want to use stock instead of just pouring in some water is that a stock has a ton of flavor. Vegetable, beef, fish, or chicken stock will do the trick and you can choose what you prefer.

You’ll be using a separate pan to heat up your stock than what you will be using to cook your rice. When the stock or broth you use is hot before adding it to your rice it helps the rice absorb all your liquids. Otherwise, it might take a while for the rice to fully absorb everything. Overall, you’ll probably save around 30 minutes of your time by doing it this way. The extra heat is also helpful to tenderize the rice further so you get soft grains instead of hard and chewy grains.

Cook Your Aromatics

You’ll get most of the base flavors of your risotto from the aromatic ingredients that you add in the dish. Your garlic and onion are crucial to getting the savory taste in your mouth the risotto is famous for. When you’re cooking the onions they will end up caramelizing in the pan when the moisture in the onion slices is heated off. This will give your onions a slight sweetness that will give the dish a unique flavor.

You’ll notice your onion and garlic flavors are pretty strong once you throw them into the pot. It will fill the entire home and let anyone else know that it’s time for a delicious meal. Once you cook the ingredients down, though, the sulfurous compounds responsible for the smell start to soften and become mellow. This will end up combining beautifully with your other ingredients for a delicious and aromatic dish.

Cook Your Rice

You want to cook your rice in some olive oil before adding your stock so that the grains of rice can start to release some of their starches. This will help the risotto come together and give it that creamy texture everyone loves. The oil acts as a protector and keeps all the starches inside for a little longer so you don’t lose them while sauteing. Otherwise, when you add the stock to the rice you’ll notice they all start clumping together and it wouldn’t turn out to be good for your recipe. You’ll also get an added benefit of a slightly nutty taste from the grains slightly cooking, which should give your risotto some added flavor.

Choosing Your Wine

how to make risotto

Not all white wines are going to be the same so you’ll want to stick with something dry like a sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or chardonnay. Keep in mind that the subtle differences in flavor for each one will ultimately be added to your dish. For this reason, an oaky and buttery chardonnay usually does the trick but get creative with your risotto and try different options till you find what works best for your family.

All of the acidity from the tartaric and malic acid mix in with the other ingredients to create a unique flavor, unlike many other dishes. It combines perfectly with sweet onions and savory garlic. The wine will also help get all the stuck food parts on the bottom of your pan, or what they call deglazing in the chef world. Be careful not to add too much wine to your dish or you will get a distinct booze flavor that overpowers your other ingredients.

Add In Your Stock

You are going to make your risotto differently than how you cook other types of rice. Unlike a stir-fry, you start with the dry rice and add in your liquids later instead of adding it all together at the same time. Make sure your stock is hot before putting it into your pan or else the watery liquid could cool everything down and stop your cooking process.

You won’t use a cover either to ensure the liquids evaporate and you don’t end up with a soupy mess. Once your stock is in the pan, be sure to stir it frequently so it doesn’t stick and burns on the bottom. All you need is a steady simmer on low heat and you’ll have a delicious risotto in no time. Just make sure to gradually add in your stock instead of dumping it all in at once.

Getting More Flavor

Once the dish is done cooking it’s time to really get the flavors going. Add in your parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper till you’re satisfied with the taste. The cheese brings out the savory flavors and gives your risotto a deeper taste in contrast with the slight sweetness from the wine.

Finally, you can add any other herbs or spices like oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, cumin, or cayenne pepper for an extra kick. But be careful not to overdo it as it can easily overpower the dish.

Changing the Consistency

You really want to serve your cooking risotto as quickly as possible when you are done cooking. As the risotto cools down, the dish gets thicker and stickier. So, if you want to keep a silky consistency, you can add in some more stock or even butter when it’s done cooking. This way the creamy mushroom risotto stays creamy and doesn’t turn into a solid block before reaching your dinner table.

risotto rice

how to make risotto

How To Make Risotto

This risotto recipe is perfect to make right at home and only takes a handful of common ingredients and a short amount of time. Once you get the hang of it, you can start creating your own recipes.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 277 kcal

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Large frying pan
  • Thermometer

Ingredients
  

  • 8 cups of stock of your choice or broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onions yellow is sweeter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups short-grain rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Warm Stock – Add your stock to a large pot and cook on medium-low heat until it is warmed. Should take about 10 minutes.
  • Cook Aromatics – Take a separate large pan and add your olive oil. Then, add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent.
  • Toast Rice – Add in your rice and cook all the ingredients together while stirring every now and then.
  • Reduce Wine – Add your wine to the large pan and simmer everything until the liquid has evaporated.
  • Cook Rice – Add your stock to the rice slowly and gradually making sure to stir the dish the entire time. Once most of the liquid is absorbed you can add more of your stock while stirring. The process should take around 25 to 30 minutes.
  • You'll end up with loose, separate grains that have a creamy consistency almost like an oatmeal or pudding.
  • Add Seasonings – Turn off your heat and add in your final ingredients like the parmesan cheese, salt, and black pepper.
  • To Serve – Serve the dish right after it is done cooking with a garnish of parsley and parmesan.

Notes

Storing: Store your leftover risotto in an airtight container in the fridge. They can last for up to 5 days but you can also freeze the leftovers and they will be good for about 3 months.
Reheating: When the rice cools down it will thicken and you'll need to add more warm stock as needed before you are ready to serve. You can also warm the dish over medium heat in a pot and stir until it is warm enough to serve.
Make it Vegetarian: To change your dish into a vegetarian one, you'll need to look for a vegetarian parmesan that doesn't have any animal rennet. There should be microbial or vegetarian rennet in your local grocery store.

Nutrition

Calories: 277kcalFat: 4g
Keyword how to make risotto, what is risotto
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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