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A good risotto

A good risotto

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By Ren Behan

Risotto is an Italian dish, made with rice grown in the north of Italy. A simple risotto should only take around twenty minutes to cook, making it a quick-to-the-table, fresh and healthy meal. It’s an Italian staple and the very best thing about it? Once you learn how to make a basic risotto, you’ll open the door to an endless store of new recipes to try!

There are different varieties of risotto rice, but the best ones to look out for are Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli, which is said to make the creamiest risotto. It can also absorb a lot of liquid (usually stock) whilst staying ‘al dente’ – meaning that it should still have a bite and not be too soft once cooked.

There are a few tips to remember when cooking a risotto. Use a large, wide pan so that the rice, when covered with a little stock, cooks evenly. You don’t need to rinse the rice before, and the cooking heat should be kept low and gentle throughout. Heat your stock up in a second pan, separately, and keep it simmering so that when you add the stock to the rice, it is already hot and bubbling.

  1. As with lots of Italian dishes, you usually start by cooking some chopped onion, carrot, celery and a little garlic (optional) in some olive oil – this base is called a ‘sofritto’. Next, you add the risotto rice to the pan, stirring it around so that the rice grains are coated with olive oil. You can also add a little white wine at this stage. Then, add a ladleful of hot stock to the pan and keep stirring. Once the stock has been absorbed into the rice, add a little more stock, one ladleful at a time, until the rice is cooked.
  2. After around fifteen minutes, your risotto should look creamy and the rice should be soft, but still a little firm when you bite it; not mushy! At the end of cooking, you can stir in some grated Parmesan cheese (there are vegetarian alternatives) and a drizzle of olive oil or some butter.

Once you’ve mastered a basic risotto, such as ‘Risotto alla Parmigiana,’ you can start to get creative. Although you can add seafood, such as prawns, or chicken, a simple risotto also makes a good vegetarian meal. Almost any vegetables can be added to a risotto; asparagus, zucchini or courgette, cauliflower (try Romanesco), mushrooms (white button mushrooms or wild mushrooms), peas, broad beans, or try cubed and roasted butternut squash or aubergine.

One of my favourite risotto recipes is a simple white risotto, made with a stock of dried porcini mushrooms, with fresh mushrooms added towards the end, similar to this Grilled Mushroom Risotto. I recently spent the week in Italy and tried a very tasty porcini mushroom risotto in a restaurant in Florence. I noticed that the risotto rice had a good bite to it, the consistency was quite ‘soupy’ and that it was served on a flat plate, rather than in a bowl.

Other vegetarian favourites of the week included a simple courgette risotto, finished with olive oil and fresh lemon zest. Or, how about a risotto with creamy burrata? I’m also now keen to try Jamie’s Artichoke risotto since artichokes were so plentiful in the Italian markets and yet we hardly use them at all in England, which is a shame.

To get some more tips and to see how easy it is to make a really tasty risotto, watch Gennaro and Jamie in this video showing you How to cook a mushroom risotto.

Ren Behan is a mum of two and a food writer.

Risotto Making Basics and Techniques

Making a good risotto is rather like riding a bicycle: It takes a little bit of practice to begin with, and a certain amount of concentration thereafter. Risotti are also very sensitive to timing, and this is why what is served in a restaurant (no matter how good it is) will rarely display that rich texture and just-right doneness that a good homemade risotto will.

When buying rice to make a risotto, choose short-grained round or semi-round rice among the best rices for making risotti are Arborio, Vialone Nano, and Carnaroli. Other short-grained rices such as Originario will also work. Long-grained rice such as Patna won't do because the grains will stay separate. Nor should you use minute rice (parboiled/precooked rice)—it won't absorb the condiments, and again the grains will remain separate.
Almost all risotti are made following the same basic procedure, with minor variations:

  • Begin by mincing a small volume of onion and whatever other herbs the recipe calls for.
  • Saute the mixture in abundant olive oil or unsalted butter, and when it has browned, remove it with a slotted spoon to a plate, leaving the drippings in the pot.
  • Stir in the rice and saute it until it becomes translucent (this will take 7 to 10 minutes), stirring constantly to keep it from sticking.
  • Return the sautéed seasonings to the pot and stir in 1/3 cup of dry white or red wine that you have previously warmed (if it is cold, you will shock the rice, which will flake on the outside and stay hard at the core).
  • Once the wine has evaporated completely, add a ladle of simmering broth stir in the next ladleful before all the liquid is absorbed because if the grains get too dry, they will flake.
  • Continue cooking, stirring and adding broth as the rice absorbs it, until the rice barely reaches the al dente stage (if you want your risotto firm, time your additions of broth so that the rice will finish absorbing the broth when it reaches this stage if you want it softer, time the additions so there will still be some liquid left).
  • At this point, stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and the grated cheese (if the recipe calls for it), cover the risotto, and turn off the flame. Let it sit, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes, and serve.

If you want a richer risotto, stir in a scant quarter cup of heavy cream in addition to the butter. Risotto that has had cream stirred into it called mantecato, and is remarkably smooth.

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish cooked in a broth to a creamy consistency. The broth can be derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. Many types of risotto contain butter, wine, onion, and Parmesan cheese.

Basically, risotto is rice cooked in broth. You can make risotto using any kind of stock and toss in any kind of protein or veggies you like, but the key to making restaurant quality risotto at home is the type of rice.

Try this recipe with my favorite homemade chicken stock made in the Instant Pot.

Summer risotto recipes

Stir up a comforting yet light risotto full of seasonal flavours. Our summery rice dishes make the most of courgettes, broad beans, peas, tomatoes, crab, prawns and plenty more.

Courgette & broad bean risotto with basil pesto

Make this vibrant risotto with courgettes and broad beans to make the most of summer veg. Swirl through homemade pesto for a fabulous starter or main

Creamy tomato risotto

A budget rice dish flavoured with rosemary, basil and sweet cherry tomatoes. An ideal midweek supper

Courgette & lemon risotto

An easy vegetarian one-pot risotto - simply stir in your seasonal veg, simmer and enjoy

Summer risotto

A deliciously creamy summer risotto packed full of veg and seasonal flavours. Not too rich, this is the ideal summer main course

Barley & broad bean risotto

Swap rice for pearl barley to make this broad bean risotto with ricotta and herbs. It's easy to prepare and makes an easy midweek meal that's full of flavour

Baked tomato, mozzarella & basil risotto

Imagine all the best bits of arancini – a golden, crunchy exterior cheesy, oozing rice – in risotto form and you have this moreish baked tomato, mozzarella and basil risotto. It's deliciously&hellip

Best risotto recipes

Looking for a risotto recipe? Try one of our best risotto recipes for a midweek meal or easy entertaining. They’re quick, easy and hassle-free. From vegetarian risottos such as wild rice and mushroom, to chicken risotto for midweek and posh seafood risottos to serve at a dinner party. We have some inventive ideas using barley, spelt and farro as an alternative to your risotto rice.


Perfect risotto

With a little bit of know-how (and some soothing, meditative stirring), a creamy, umami-rich risotto with perfectly cooked rice is guaranteed. Here’s how to master this classic dish and make our best seafood risotto.

Pea and ham risotto

This risotto combines tender ham hock flakes with sweet frozen peas, brilliant for a summery Italian dish to enjoy outdoors.

Green veg risotto

A green-speckled risotto, made vibrant with peas, baby spinach and asparagus. Chives, mint, lemon zest and pecorino add extra bursts of flavour, too.

Cheddar and spring onion risotto with balsamic tomatoes

Try our creamy risotto oozing with mature cheddar cheese topped with pan-fried cherry tomatoes bursting with flavour.

Chicken risotto

Cook a dinner you can count on tonight with our simple, warming dish. This easy risotto recipe comes flavoured with chicken thighs, smoked bacon lardons and plenty of parmesan.

Saffron risotto

This soothing risotto is delicious on its own, or served with a roast chicken and the roasting juices from the tin. An impressive entertaining idea, if you've got friends round for dinner.

Vegan risotto

Fennel, courgette, peas and parsley make for a wonderfully green risotto. This one is flavoured with a little nutritional yeast in place of parmesan, to keep it plant-based.

Vegan mushroom risotto

Typically laden with butter and cheese, risotto is well known for its comforting and indulgent qualities. Here we've invented a much lighter (and totally vegan) option that still packs in plenty of umami flavours.

Crab risotto with spinach and peas

Make our vibrant crab risotto, with lots of green goodness from peas and spinach. This is a low-calorie dinner for the whole family.

Beetroot risotto

Brighten up your risotto with beetroot for an easy vegetarian meal topped with goat's cheese and walnuts.

Courgette risotto

A fresh and creamy risotto which makes the most of baby courgettes. It's also flavoured with mint, lemon and plenty of salty parmesan. Check out more of our best risotto recipes.

Spelt and mushroom risotto

Try this creamy risotto uses pearled spelt as a healthier alternative to classic risotto rice and dried porcini mushrooms for a more intense flavour.

Vegetable risotto verde

Check out this show-stopping risotto verde recipe. It's low calorie and a great way to feed a crowd. Full of seasonal summer veg this dish has under 450 calories per serving. More vegetarian meal ideas here.

Orzo risotto with cavolo nero, peas and chilli

Check out this creamy veg risotto with cavolo nero, crunchy peas and punchy chilli. Make this quick and easy recipe for a warming midweek meal. Plus, it's low in calories too.

Baked bolognese risotto

If you like bolognese and risotto, then you'll love our baked bolognese recipe with risotto. This hearty dish is super easy to make and will soon become a firm family favourite. Try our baked bolognese sauce for an easy dinner idea.

Mushroom and lemon risotto

Try our creamy mushroom risotto recipe with zesty lemon. This quick veggie risotto dish is easy to make and ready in 35 minutes.

Jerusalem artichoke risotto

Check out our risotto recipe with Jerusalem artichokes and chopped hazelnuts. This simple one-pot is an easy, midweek winter warmer recipe for the whole family.

Chicken risotto with beans & kale

Broad beans are in season from June to September, and this recipe for creamy but fresh barley risotto with chicken, beans and kale is a great way to make the most of them while you can.

Scallop and prawn risotto

Our recipe for scallop and prawn risotto is easy to make but looks and tastes impressive. Make it as part of a dinner party to really impress your guests. Here are some individual pudding recipes to serve as dessert.

Pea, courgette and artichoke barley risotto

Barley is a great alternative to normal risotto rice, and when paired with pea, courgette and artichoke, makes for a delicious summery dish that feels indulgent but is under 300 calories. If you're looking for a low calorie vegetarian meal, here are our ideas.

Mushroom risotto with wild rice roast garlic

This recipe for wild rice and mushroom risotto with roast garlic is vegetarian, low salt and sugar and under 500 calories but packed with flavour.

Brown-buttered crab risotto

Our indulgent recipe for brown-buttered crab risotto is really easy to make and ready in just 35 minutes, making it a great option midweek.

Smoked ham hock and barley risotto primavera

The best recipe for slow-cooked risotto. First cook the ham hock then shred the meat and create this indulgent (but quite easy) barley risotto. The spring veg work a treat with the ham. Worth every bit of effort.

Sausage, radicchio and barolo risotto

A stylish but fuss-free one-pot that delivers on flavour – perfect for your next dinner party. If you don't want to go to the expense of using barolo, use another sturdy Italian red.

Hot-smoked salmon, dill and lemon risotto

You don't have to spend hours cooking to make something delicious. This hot-smoked salmon, dill and lemon risotto is full of light, fresh flavours and is ready in just 30 minutes. We've got some great ideas for recipes that use up leftover red wine here.

Porcini and spinach risotto

Dried porcini mushrooms are a really useful ingredient to keep in your store cupboard. Added to this creamy risotto with fresh mushrooms and spinach they give a deeply savoury concentrated flavour. A smart quick vegetarian supper for two.

Freekeh risotto with spring greens

Freekeh is made from cracked, roasted green wheat. It works well for risotto as the grains keep their bite when cooked, and it's under 300 kcals.

Wild mushroom and taleggio risotto cake

This wild mushroom and taleggio risotto cake is easy but looks impressive and serves a crowd. This recipe makes a great vegetarian dinner party dish, here are more vegetarian entertaining ideas.

Quail, confit garlic and celeriac risotto

Try this easy but impressive recipe for quail, confit garlic and celeriac risotto from Oldroyd's in Islington.

Leek and parmesan risotto

Our seriously simple risotto recipe is ideal for meat-free Monday. Spring onion and leek risotto is cooked traditionally in white wine and topped with parmesan.

Bacon and roasted tomato risotto

This comforting risotto is ready in just 30 minutes and can be made using ingredients you may already have in your fridge and store cupboard - perfect to whip up after work.

Radicchio and pancetta risotto

Radicchio and pancetta are a classic Italian pairing. Sharp and salty, they have been brought together to complement this creamy risotto, which can be whipped up for a quick midweek dinner.

Good Food

A great risotto is all about timing and temperature. The time-honoured technique of cooking the rice by adding a little hot liquid at a time, brings out the starch and allows each grain to slowly expand as it absorbs the stock, swelling into tenderness, with just a tiny bite of starch inside.
Cook over too high a heat, and you will evaporate your broth before the rice has a chance to absorb it. Too low, and it will take forever to cook the rice.
Your stock needs to be hot, because adding cold stock would lower the temperature of the rice and cause uneven cooking.
Stir often, but not relentlessly – it's OK to back off now and then. Just stay in the zone, so you can add the broth just before the rice asks for it.
Beating in butter and parmesan at the end – a process Italians call the mantecatura, or "mounting", is a clever way to stop the rice cooking even further by introducing something cold, while at the same time enriching it and giving it a glossy finish – Jill Dupleix

8 Creamy Risotto Recipes That Are Actually Healthy

Though it&rsquos typically packed with cheese and butter, there are ways to make healthy risotto without sacrificing its signature creaminess. Here, eight shockingly good-for-you risotto recipes.

Though it’s typically packed with cheese and butter, there are ways to make healthy risotto without sacrificing its signature creaminess. Here, eight shockingly good-for-you risotto recipes.

1. Quinoa Risotto with Lemon and Roasted Tomatoes
F&W Best New Chef 2011 Ricardo Zarate puts a clever Peruvian spin on risotto, using quinoa in place of rice and adding lots of bright flavor with fresh lemon and lemon zest.

2. Grilled Eggplant Risotto
For this supersimple risotto, chef Jonathan Justus grills eggplant until smoky and charred, then blends the creamy flesh into the cooked rice.

3. Corn and Pea Risotto
Eaten together, corn and peas are a fine source of protein.

4. Greek-Style Vegetable Risotto
This is a play on a Greek dish called spanakorizo, which chef Michael Psilakis updates with zucchini, arugula and peas.

5. Shrimp and Goat Cheese Risotto
Goat cheese makes this risotto deliciously creamy and tangy without adding a ton of fat.

6. Milanese Risotto
Quick and easy, this vibrant risotto is flavored and colored with a pinch of saffron threads.

7. Cheesy Farro-and-Tomato Risotto
Rajat Parr came up with this vibrant risotto when trying to feed a bunch of hungry friends in his San Francisco apartment from a pantry that happened to contain tomatoes and farro.

8. Chimayó-Chile Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms
This vegetarian risotto is infused with moderately hot Chimayó chile powder. Shiitakes not only add an earthy flavor, they also provide zinc and several B vitamins.

Risotto recipes

Risotto is an icon of northern Italian cuisine, stemming from the Mediterranean climate’s suitability for growing short-grain rice after it was introduced to the country in the Middle Ages. The rice used for a risotto should be semi-rounded, short-grain Italian rice attributes perfectly suited to slow cooking, enabling the grains to slowly absorb the flavour of the liquid and release starch to create the classic silky smooth texture. Risotto rice is divided into four categories based on the length of the grain: commune, semifino, fino and superfino. Superfino is the longest of the four, and the most commonly used for risotto. Arborio rice, a superfino variety, is the most commonly used outside of Italy, while Carnaroli, Vialone Nano and Baldo are all routinely popular varieties used to create this quintessential Italian dish.

This collection of delicious risotto recipes includes secrets and tips from some of Italy’s best chefs. Francesco Sposito uses Vialone Nano rice to create his citrus-infused seafood risotto of Vialone Nano risotto creamed with lemon jam, raw prawns, clams and Bronte pistachio oil, while Emanuele Scarello adds drama to the dinner table with his striking Risotto with sabayon sauce, licorice powder and green asparagus, which is caramelized with a blowtorch just before serving . At the other end of the spectrum, Rosanna Marziale’s Risotto San Marzano recipe uses soft, white mozzarella to create a deliciously creamy risotto, while the Costardi Brothers’ Risotto with garlic and chilli recipe makes a fantastically simple vegetarian dish.

What you’ll need

Creamy, Dreamy Risotto Recipes

From traditional recipes to those made with oats (don't knock it 'til you try it), risotto is the perfect dish when you're craving something warm, rich and comforting.

Related To:

Photo By: Tara Donne ©FOOD NETWORK : 2012, Television Food Network, G.P.

Photo By: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Giada de Laurentiis ©2012, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Christopher Testani

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Antonis Achilleos

Photo By: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

According to Ina, the key to perfect risotto is carefully timing the addition of chicken stock. To make sure she doesn&rsquot add the stock too fast or too slow, she pours in a ladle at a time, which ensures that all the rice cooks evenly.

The Best Risotto

With relatively few ingredients (none of them being cream), the success of a classic creamy risotto depends largely on technique. We've tested all the methods and narrowed it down to a few easy-to-follow steps that will help you achieve perfectly cooked Italian-style rice every time. This basic recipe is delicious on its own and makes a wonderful base to add your favorite vegetables or protein.

Vegan Saffron Risotto

Inspired by the flavors of bouillabaisse (the Provencal seafood stew), this creamy, saffron-hued risotto is a special occasion dish for vegans, vegetarians and even meat eaters. Ingredients high in umami (the savory fifth taste), like tomato paste, soy sauce and canned tomatoes, add depth nutritional yeast adds a bit of a cheesy taste. Make the stock ahead of time, and rewarm it when you're ready to make the dish.

Red Wine Risotto with Peas

Giada proves that risotto is easier to make than you think. Red wine adds a rich, robust flavor and add in frozen peas right at the end for a quick hit of freshness.

Easy Parmesan "Risotto"

The preparation for Ina's parmesan risotto is nearly effortless. Her trick is to cook the Arborio rice with chicken stock in a Dutch oven. This method of long, slow cooking, eliminates the need for constant stirring, which you'll find with most stovetop risotto recipes.

Mushroom and Pancetta Risotto

Pancetta is a great add-in for creamy, comforting risotto. It has a flavor that is similar to bacon but it isn&rsquot smoky &mdash which means it won&rsquot overwhelm the more delicate flavors in this dish.

Risotto with Parmesan and Lemon

In honor of the special Family issue, Food Network Magazine asked the kids of some Food Network stars to act as guest editors and share their favorite family dinners. Here&rsquos what Geoffrey Zakarian&rsquos daughter, Anna, had to say about this risotto dish: &ldquoRisotto is sort of our family tradition. It&rsquos so creamy, it melts in my mouth.&rdquo

Almond Arancini

Leftover risotto is combined with toasted almonds and mozzarella cheese and fried in olive oil to make crunchy rice balls with a gooey cheese center served with marinara for dipping.

Slow Cooker Mushroom Barley Risotto

This entree is vegetarian, but the mushrooms make it hearty enough for non-vegetarians too. The flavors are perfect for the colder weather of fall.

Instant Pot Shrimp Risotto

If you think your Instant Pot is only good for soups and stews, think again. Achieve the taste of slow-cooked risotto that taste like you've been attending to for half an hour, without ever stirring. Your Instant Pot does all the hard work and you can take the credit for a restaurant-worthy meal that takes almost no effort.

Spring Green Risotto

Ina says, "For this recipe, I start with sauteed leeks and fennel, then add Arborio rice, white wine and simmering chicken stock, gradually adding more stock as the rice cooks. A quick addition of lemon zest, lemon juice, mascarpone, Parmesan cheese and fresh chives, and you've got a delicious dinner the whole family will love. Once you've made this recipe a few times and you have the technique down, risotto will be easy to whip up after a busy day. Just turn on some good music, pour a glass of wine and unwind as you stir."

Fontina Risotto with Chicken

Flavor this creamy risotto with a healthy helping of Parmigiano-Reggiano and fontina cheese, then top with chopped deli-smoked chicken for a decadent one-dish meal. Bonus: Use the leftovers the next day for crispy risotto cakes (see next slide).

Risotto Cakes with Mixed Greens

Make the most of your leftover risotto by turning it into crispy, creamy cakes, for a quick meal that requires almost no prep.

Risotto Scampi Fra Diavolo

In this spicy dish, Jeff simmers the Arborio rice with crushed red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes, chicken stock and garlic. One cooked, he mixes the risotto with butter, fresh parsley and sautéed shrimp.

Risotto with Yogurt and Peas

Make the most of your fridge staples with this yummy risotto. Greek yogurt adds tons of creaminess while frozen peas lend a pop of color.

Broccoli-Cheddar Oven Risotto

Broccoli and cheddar are a surefire combination, especially in a creamy, delicious risotto. Baking the dish, as opposed to cooking on the stove, saves you from constant stirring &mdash you can use that time to open a bottle of wine, instead.

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

Oven-roasted cauliflower is a hearty addition to decadent risotto with fontina cheese and sliced almonds.

Risotto with Mascarpone and Prosciutto

Melt in creamy mascarpone cheese and delicate prosciutto for your most luxurious risotto yet.

Grilled Corn Risotto

Geoffrey&rsquos risotto uses corn two ways: The cobs flavor the stock that he uses to cook the rice, and grilled kernels are folded in at the end for a fresh, summery take on this classic dish.

Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp is featured in this recipe, but any kind of seafood will work. The saffron adds a very classic and tantalizing element to the dish. The parsley at the end is optional, but it adds freshness and a burst of color.

Mock Risotto

A combination of barley and brown rice make this a hearty, no-fuss mock risotto. Packed with vegetables and given a little bit of creaminess from reduced fat cream cheese, this is a perfect vegetarian main dish or side dish.

Microwave Mushroom Risotto

Here is a risotto that doesn't demand you spend 30 minutes stirring a hot pot. We start with an earthy broth made with dried mushrooms, then add fresh mushrooms and Arborio rice. One stir and, minutes later, you'll have the easiest, creamiest risotto imaginable.

Shrimp with Whole Grain Corn-Oat Risotto

If shrimp and grits are your kind of comfort food, then this whole-grain version is right up your alley. We use steel-cut oats instead of Arborio rice and follow the classic risotto technique of adding hot stock in batches. Constant stirring helps coax the starch out of the oats for creaminess.

Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto

An easy way to achieve an elegant meal in no time is cooking your risotto in the Instant Pot! This recipe calls for leeks, mushrooms, white wine and minimal stirring.

Risotto Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini

Rachael says, &ldquothe risotto is delicious stuffed in either peppers or squash so keep that in mind if one looks better than the other at the market. Also, the zucchini can be mixed with small firm yellow squash rather than red peppers.&rdquo

Dirty Risotto

Italy meets the American South in Giada&rsquos version of risotto. For an Italian twist on dirty rice, she uses pancetta, spicy Italian sausage and freshly grated Parmesan.

Risotto with Asparagus

Waste not, want not with this easy recipe. The asparagus bottoms, which are typically tossed out, are used to make a flavorful broth for cooking the rice. Fresh lemon and lemon zest add a delicate touch of citrus to the risotto.