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The Best Classic Risotto Recipe

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5 from 9 votes

Most people don’t realize that making risotto at home is SO easy. 5 ingredients and about 30 minutes is all you need to make the best recipe! This classic risotto is oh-so creamy yet still holds its texture from al dente rice.

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a northern Italian dish made from cooking starchy arborio rice with broth until creamy yet still al dente (like pasta!). Risotto cooking techniques vary but many types of risotto include butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and onion. Some include white wine too, as well as other mix-ins and additions!

Risotto can be served as an appetizer, main dish or side dish. In Italy, risotto is typically served as a first course (primi), before a second course (secondi) of meat or fish. Risotto is sometimes served alongside dishes like Ossobuco.

Looking for more classic Italian primi piatti? Try my Creamy Lemon Pasta (Pasta Al Limone).

Classic Risotto Recipe Ingredients

  • Chicken broth/stock – cooking arborio rice in broth is the classic way to make risotto! I find that chicken broth has the most delicious flavor, but you can also use vegetable broth.
  • Arborio rice – arborio rice = risotto rice! It’s extra starchy, yielding that distinctive creamy texture.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese – parmigiano is the classic cheese in risotto. Adding a handful towards the end of the cooking process helps create a creamy finish with delicious flavor. You can also use regular parmesan cheese, romano, or even pecorino.
  • Yellow onion – a small yellow onion that’s finely chopped adds texture and delicate flavor.
  • Butter – a knob of butter helps arborio rice toast, which is a key step in making flavorful risotto.
Ingredients for classic risotto

How to Make Classic Risotto

Learn how to make classic risotto in just a few easy steps.

  1. Toast.

    In a large pot over medium-low heat, add butter, let melt, and then add rice. Toast rice in butter for 3 minutes. Add onion, and cook for 3 more minutes.

  2. Cup 2.

    Increase heat to medium-high and add 2 cups of broth. Stirring often, cook rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth.

  3. Cup 3.

    Then add 1 more cup of broth (cup 3), and cook rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth. Stir often.

  4. Cup 4.

    Add another cup of broth (cup 4), and cook rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth. Stir often.

  5. Cup 5.

    Add a last cup of broth (cup 5), cooking rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth, stirring often.

  6. Taste and test.

    Now it’s time to taste! If rice is not close to al dente, add a ½ cup more of broth and keep cooking and tasting until close to al-dente. You may need to add up to a cup of broth (cup 6) to reach this state. If rice is close to al dente (YAY!), add Parmigiano-Reggiano, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep cooking and stirring until 90% of the liquid is absorbed (about 2-3 more minutes). At that time, remove from heat and serve!
    When most of the liquid has absorbed and the rice is al dente, risotto is ready!

Tips for Making Risotto

What is the secret to delicious risotto? Here are some tips!

  • A small knob of butter helps arborio rice toast, which is a key step in making flavorful risotto. Lightly toasting the rice also helps the rice hold its shape, releasing its starch more slowly for creamy yet al dente risotto.
  • Tasting your risotto after adding the 5th cup of stock helps prevent mushy risotto. The cheese, salt and pepper should be added when rice is a bit too toothsome, but close to al dente. The last step is to cook off the last bit of extra broth before serving.
  • Your risotto will thicken as it cools so don’t cook off all broth.
  • DO NOT rinse your rice before cooking.

Risotto Variations, Additions & Garnishes

Classic risotto is delicious on its own as a first course, main course, or side dish. Here are some additions and garnishes to help dress up your risotto if you’re looking for something extra!

  • Flavors: try adding a cup of dry white or red wine instead of cup 5 of broth. Or use beef broth instead of chicken broth for meaty flavor. Add tons of black pepper for cacio e pepe risotto, or add in brown butter at the end of the cooking process (like the brown butter in this Whipped Ricotta recipe). Don’t forget about adding in a splash of truffle oil for truffle risotto!
  • Herbs: try fresh chives or parsley mixed into your risotto right before serving.
  • Meat: I love cooked and crumbled Italian sausage, crispy pancetta or prosciutto.
  • Seafood: try topping your risotto with Pan Seared Scallops, or toss in cooked mussels, clams or lobster.
  • Vegetables: try adding cooked mushrooms, caramelized onions, leeks, cauliflower, asparagus, butternut squash, or peas.
  • Garnishes: simple garnishes are my favorites, like chives, parsley, parmigiano cheese and/or black pepper. Also try crisping up some prosciutto slices in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until crispy and crackling!

Storage & Reheating

  • Storage: Leftovers should be stored in the fridge and enjoyed within 5 days. If you added meat or fish, enjoy within 2-3 days.
  • Reheating: Reheating risotto will soften the rice, so it’s always best to eat risotto fresh! To reheat risotto, place in a microwave-safe dish and microwave in increments of 30 seconds until hot. Or reheat risotto on the stove on low heat, covered and stirring occasionally, until hot. Add a splash of broth to loosen if needed.
  • Freezing: I don’t recommend freezing risotto.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is risotto rice or pasta?

Risotto is an Italian dish made from arborio rice!

What do I serve with risotto?

Risotto is traditionally served as a first course (primi) or as a side dish with certain types of meat or fish. But you can, of course, enjoy risotto like you’d enjoy pasta – alone, or mixed with vegetables, meat or fish or as a starchy side dish! Try risotto with Seared Scallops, with Broiled Asparagus, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Brown Butter Cauliflower, Leeks or even with Pork Milanese!

Does risotto have gluten?

Arborio rice is naturally gluten-free. However check your broth/stock label (and your arborio rice product label) to ensure there are no additives that include gluten.

How do you make risotto creamy?

Creamy risotto results from cooking starchy arborio rice in chicken broth added in increments until creamy yet al dente. A handful of parmesan cheese also accentuates the creaminess of the rice.

How long does risotto take to cook?

I don’t include specific cook times in the recipe for a reason! Risotto cook time depends exactly how hot your stove is and even the brand of arborio rice. Generally speaking, risotto takes less than 30 minutes to make.

Other Classic Italian Recipes You’ll Love!

The Best Classic Risotto

Most people don’t realize that making risotto at home is SO easy. 5 ingredients and about 30 minutes is all you need to make the best recipe! This classic risotto is oh-so creamy yet still holds its texture from al dente rice.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: fall, spring, winter
Servings: 4 medium servings
Calories: 385kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Ingredients

  • 5-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice
  • cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese plus more to garnish
  • 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pot over medium-low heat, add butter, let melt, and then add rice. Toast rice in butter for 3 minutes. Add onion, and cook for 3 more minutes.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add 2 cups of broth. Stirring often, cook rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth.
  • Then add 1 more cup of broth (cup 3), and cook rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth. Stir often.
  • Add another cup of broth (cup 4), and cook rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth. Stir often.
  • Add a last cup of broth (cup 5), cooking rice in broth until rice absorbs about 75% of the broth, stirring often.
  • Now it’s time to taste! If rice is not close to al dente, add a ½ cup more of broth and keep cooking and tasting until close to al-dente. You may need to add up to a cup of broth (cup 6) to reach this state. If rice is close to al dente (YAY!), add Parmigiano-Reggiano, and salt and pepper to taste. Keep cooking and stirring until 90% of the liquid is absorbed (about 2-3 more minutes). At that time, remove from heat and serve!

Video

Notes

  • You can use vegetable broth if preferred, but I find that chicken broth is more flavorful!
  • You can use chicken broth or stock.
  • Mix-ins and topping ideas are in the post above! Simple garnishes include more black pepper, more cheese, and/or some snipped chives!
  • You can replace the last cup of broth (cup 5) with a cup of dry white wine if preferred.
  • Tasting your risotto after adding the 5th cup of stock helps prevent mushy risotto. The cheese, salt and pepper should be added when rice is a bit too toothsome, but close to al dente. The last step is to cook off the last bit of extra broth before serving.
  • Your risotto will thicken as it cools so don’t cook off all broth.
  • DO NOT rinse your rice before cooking.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 385kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 255mg | Potassium: 370mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 153IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 4mg
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