Risotto Recipe for Beginners

Creamy risotto in a bowl

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
  • Yields: 4 cups
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: 4 to 6
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 is a traditional Italian rice dish made from a short-grained, starchy variety of rice called Arborio rice. 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. While not difficult, some essential tips will help you make restaurant-worthy risotto at home.

This basic risotto recipe is made with butter, Parmesan cheese, and fresh parsley. It's a perfect recipe to start with if you've never made risotto before. Risotto takes a while to cook properly, and it requires your attention as well as your time. For upward of 20 minutes, you have one job and one job only: Stir the rice while adding hot stock, a ladleful at a time, and cook the rice slowly so that the stock is absorbed. 

The technique is called the risotto method. It releases the rice's starches, producing a creamy, velvety dish, and it takes two hands: one for stirring and one for ladling. 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.

Risotto is best served warm, often in heated bowls or plates. It can be a side dish to a meat or fish entrée and is often served in restaurants as the first course. Risotto also works as a main when accompanied by a salad or cooked vegetables and Italian bread.

1:30

Click Play to See This Easy Risotto Recipe Come Together

Ingredients

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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for risotto
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the stock to a simmer. Lower the heat so the stock stays hot while you cook the risotto.

    Heating the stock
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  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.

    Heating the oil and chopped shallot
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  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. 

    Adding the rice and stirring it with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Add the vermouth or wine and cook while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed.

    Adding the vermouth and stirring it with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  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 the chicken stock and stirring it with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  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 (al dente). 

    Adding more stock and stirring with a wooden spoon
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the Parmesan cheese and parsley. Season to taste with kosher salt.

    Stirring in butter, Parmesan cheese, and parsley
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  9. Serve in bowls and enjoy.

    Risotto served in a bowl
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Tips

  • When you add a ladle of broth or wine to the risotto, make sure that you wait until the risotto has almost completely absorbed the liquid and the rice is nearly dry before you add the next ladle.
  • It's important to stir constantly, especially while the hot stock gets absorbed, to prevent scorching.
  • If you run out of stock and the risotto is still crunchy, finish cooking it with hot water. Add the water a ladle at a time, stirring while it's absorbed.

Recipe Variations

  • Use 1 to 2 cups of white wine in place of the broth.
  • A quick way to expand on the risotto recipe is to add cooked shrimp, grilled chicken, or sautéed mushrooms during the last step.
  • Once you perfect a basic risotto, explore the great variety of risotto recipes that are available to continue your culinary adventures.

Can I Substitute Another Type of Rice?

The type of rice is a key component of risotto. The best Arborio substitutes are carnaroli and Vialone Nano. Both are high-starch varieties and commonly used in Italian kitchens for this dish. Farro and sushi rice will work in a pinch. Avoid long-grain rice varieties like jasmine as these will not result in a creamy risotto.

Is This How Restaurants Cook 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. Instead, restaurants use an alternate method that involves par cooking the rice and then finishing it at the last minute. It gets complicated because Arborio rice will turn glutinous and sticky if held too long, so many restaurants do not make a true risotto.

How to Store and Reheat Risotto?

  • Leftover risotto should be refrigerated in an airtight container and eaten within 2 days. It does not freeze well.
  • To reheat risotto on the stovetop, bring stock or water to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the risotto, stirring for a few minutes until it's heated through. Start with 1/4 cup of liquid for 1 cup of risotto and add a little more liquid if needed.
  • In the microwave, add 1 tablespoon of butter and splash of white wine or water. Microwave for about 3 minutes, stir and check the risotto's temperature, and cook longer or add liquid if needed.