Risotto Recipe for Beginners

Risotto
The Spruce
Ratings (607)
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
231 Calories
7g Fat
33g Carbs
6g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6-8 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 231
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 14mg 5%
Sodium 328mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Protein 6g
Calcium 52mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Risotto takes a while to cook properly, and it requires your attention as well as your time. For upwards of 20 minutes, you have one job and one job only, and that is to stir the rice while adding hot stock -a ladleful at a time- and cook the rice slowly so that the stock is absorbed. 

This technique called the risotto method, releases the rice's starches, producing a creamy, velvety dish, and it takes two hands. One for stirring and one for ladling. So it's best not to try to multitask while you're doing it. You could probably carry on a conversation, but don't try to do any other kitchen or prep work — especially if you're new to making risotto.

What's interesting about the risotto method is that it's so time -and labor- intensive that restaurants can't use it. It would take too long to make, and patrons don't like waiting half an hour for their food. What this means is that if you've only ever had risotto at a restaurant, you've never had a true risotto.

What restaurants use instead is an alternate method which involves par cooking the rice and then finishing it at the last minute. It gets complicated because arborio rice -the short-grained, high-starch rice that's used for making risotto- will turn glutinous (i.e. sticky) if held too long. Which means not only do restaurants not make a true risotto, the version they do make can be markedly inferior.

So...smile! Since you're making it at home, you'll be able to enjoy risotto made the right way. A properly cooked risotto should form a soft, creamy mound on a dinner plate. It shouldn't run across the plate, nor should it be stiff or gluey.

This basic risotto recipe is made with butter, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley, and it's an all-time Italian classic. It's a perfect recipe to start with if you've never made risotto before.

For an illustrated demo of the risotto method, here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to make risotto.

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Watch Now: Risotto Recipe for Beginners

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup vermouth (or another dry white wine)
  • 1 medium shallot (about 1/2 cup or 1/2 small onion, chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons whole butter (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley (chopped)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Risotto ingredients
     The Spruce
  2. Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot.

    Risotto stock heating
     The Spruce
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly translucent.

    Sauteing shallots in butter
     The Spruce
  4. Add the rice to the pot and stir it briskly with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated with the oil and melted butter. Sauté for another minute or so, until there is a slightly nutty aroma. But don't let the rice turn brown. 

    Cooking rice for risotto
    The Spruce 
  5. Add the wine and cook while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed.

    Cooking risotto in wine and stock
     The Spruce
  6. Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process. 

    Adding stock to risotto
     The Spruce
  7. Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20 to 30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. 

    Risotto absorbing stock
     The Spruce
  8. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the Parmesan cheese, and the parsley, and season to taste with Kosher salt.

    Risotto with parsley
    The Spruce 
  9. Serve in bowls.

    Risotto for beginners
     The Spruce
  10. Enjoy!

Tips

  • Make sure that when you add a ladle of broth or wine to the risotto that you wait until the risotto has almost completely absorbed the liquid before you add the next ladle.
  • It's important to stir constantly, especially while the hot stock gets absorbed, to prevent scorching, and add the next ladle as soon as the rice is almost dry.
  • If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn't done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.

Recipe Variations

If you are looking to expand upon this lovely basic risotto recipe, here are a few suggestions for additions that will take your dish to the next level:

  • Cooked shrimp
  • Sautéed mushrooms
  • Grilled chicken
  • A cup or two of white wine in place of the broth