How to make risotto

How to make risotto
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Risotto is a creamy and comforting Italian dish that is often thought of as tricky to prepare. With a bit of patience, some good quality ingredients, and this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to master the art of making perfect risotto at home.

Understanding Risotto

Before we delve into the details of cooking risotto, it’s important to understand what it is. 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.

Choosing Your Ingredients

1. Rice: The key to a perfect risotto is choosing the right kind of rice. Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano are the most common varieties used for risotto. These are short-grain rices known for their high starch content, which gives risotto its characteristic creamy texture.

2. Broth: A good quality stock is another crucial element. Homemade is ideal, but a high-quality store-bought broth will work well too.

3. Wine: A dry white wine is typically used in risotto, adding depth of flavor.

4. Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano is the standard cheese for risotto. It melts well and adds a salty, savory element.

The Risotto Method

Here is a step-by-step guide to preparing a basic risotto:

1. Heat the Broth: In a saucepan, keep the broth warm over low heat.

2. Sauté the Onions: In a separate, heavy-bottomed pan (a Dutch oven works well), melt some butter over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion (a small one should do), and cook until it’s translucent and soft but not browned.

3. Toast the Rice: Add the rice to the pan with the onion, stirring to coat the grains in the butter. Cook until the edges of the grains are translucent but the center is still opaque. This toasting step enhances the rice’s ability to absorb the broth.

4. Add Wine: Pour in the wine, stirring constantly until the liquid is fully absorbed.

5. The Broth Addition: Begin adding the warm broth to the rice, one ladle at a time. The key here is to only add the next ladle of broth once the previous one has been fully absorbed by the rice. This slow addition of broth is crucial to releasing the rice’s starch and creating a creamy, velvety risotto.

6. Stir and Simmer: Keep stirring and adding broth slowly for about 18-20 minutes or until the rice is cooked al dente. It should be creamy but still have some bite to it.

7. Final Additions: Once the risotto is cooked, remove it from the heat. Stir in some more butter and the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. The heat of the risotto will melt these last ingredients, resulting in an even creamier texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Once you’ve mastered the basic risotto recipe, you can start experimenting with different flavors. Here are a few ideas:

  • Mushroom Risotto: Sauté your favorite variety of mushrooms and stir them into the finished risotto.
  • Seafood Risotto: Cook shrimp, scallops, or mussels in a separate pan, then add to your risotto towards the end of cooking.
  • Saffron Risotto (Risotto alla Milanese): Add a pinch of saffron threads to the broth for a luxurious, golden risotto.
  • Vegetable Risotto: Roast or sauté vegetables like asparagus, peas, or butternut squash and add them to your risotto.

In conclusion, risotto is a versatile dish that requires some attention and love while cooking. Despite the reputation for being difficult, once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that it’s simply a matter of patience to create this creamy, satisfying dish. Enjoy the process and Buon appetito!

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