Risotto is a classic Italian dish synonymous with fine dining establishments. It is a bright, velvety Italian rice dish that is frequently flavored with the stock used to create it. Saffron, parmesan, butter, and dozens of additional ingredients also contribute to its uniqueness.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about how to cook risotto. You’ll also learn about its history, how to prepare risotto yourself at home, and the ideal Italian wine accompaniment. Read this article from beginning to end to learn how to make this traditional dish that never disappoints.

What Is Risotto?

Risotto is a delicious Italian meal that tastes similar to rice-based macaroni and cheese. Unlike some other rice dishes that call for cooking in a pan of boiling water, risotto is made by progressively introducing 1/2 cup of water at a time.

This system creates the carbohydrates in the rice to escape, resulting in a thick, creamy sauce with tender yet slightly al dente granules.

Risotto is best eaten as soon as you take it off the burner as the carbohydrates begin to solidify, destroying the mushy sweetness you fought so hard to make. But don’t panic if you created more than you expected; the extras go into one of our favorite dishes.

Roll the excess risotto in breadcrumbs after mixing it with an egg. Fry them to make delectable arancini risotto spheres – so yummy!

What’s In It?

Risotto is made up of rice, stock, and flavorings. The way you blend them will determine whether the meal is a success or a failure. Heating your stock beforehand is the key to achieving the correct consistency.

Coldwater not only prolongs the cooking time of the dish, but it can also damage the starch removal process.

Many recipes call for butter and cheese as well. We’re all for these enhancements since they’re tasty, but they’re not necessarily required. All of that richness is made by patiently drawing out the starch granules in the rice, so no additional lactose is required.

You might easily create this plant-based recipe by substituting veggie broth for the chicken stock and ignoring the butter and cheese.

History Of Risotto

The story of risotto starts with the origin of rice and its journey from Asia to Europe. The very first rice crops were found in Southeast Asia, blooming untamed all along the edges of the Pearl River.

Rumor has it that in the 1300s B.C., Shennong, the fabled emperor of ancient China, meticulously cultivated and developed the crop. China was a major trading partner all along the Silk Road, a system of trading routes from the Far East to the Middle East and Europe.

Rice was referenced in the Bible in Ezekiel (Ezek 27:17) as one of the goods delivered to Persia, current Iran, hundreds of years later. Rice thrived in this Middle Eastern region.

Someone who has ever had the opportunity to eat Persian rice would testify to the artistic expression, the almost reverence for the grain that has evolved over countless generations.

Way back in the 13th century A.D., the Saracen (a nomadic group from Sinai outside the Roman province of Arabia) brought rice to Italy, namely Sicily. The Mediterranean’s dampness proved especially conducive to the cultivation of short-grained rice, the type used today in the preparation of risotto.

Rice farming moved from Sicily to Naples and from there to the Po Valley, which makes up 27 thousand square miles of agriculturally productive territory in north Italy’s Piedmont region.

Perfectly tucked between the southernmost Alps and the northeastern Apennines, below the heart of Switzerland lies a region rich in greenery, including grain, olive trees, hazelnut woods, and rice paddies, as well as plenty of vineyards housing wine-making grapes.

In Italy, there are about 4,000 rice farmers, the majority of which can be found tucked away in the Piedmont region. Rice is sown in April, near the finish of the wet seasons, when the weather is pleasant.

To support the growing season, meltwaters from the Alpine snowy mountains are transported to irrigation canals twice per month.

The crops are matured by the end of summer, and the kernels are left to develop before harvesting in September. It’s in Milan where Italy’s short-grain wheat met its end. Milan’s gastronomic culture is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine (and 200 years of Spanish rule is likely the reason why).

Gentle boiling and the use of locally available wine, cheeses, and saffron culminated in the 1829 creation of “Risotto Alla Milanese” by a renowned chef at the time – Felice Luraschi.

The beloved specialty was prepared on its own or with Ossobucco as well as other Milan delicacies. Culinary research indicates that risotto was an excellent technique to prepare short-grained rice. This was primarily due to the starchy portion of the dry grain combining well with the soup, resulting in a rich, white sauce.

Rice, broth (often chicken), shallots, port, butter, saffron, and grated parmesan are still the key ingredients used to make risotto. The meal is also well-liked both at home and in eateries. Risotto is a straightforward, elegant meal with a long history that makes it an excellent option for your mealtimes at home.

What Rice Is Used To Make Risotto?

What Rice Is Used To Make Risotto?

Technically you can choose to cook risotto with any variety of rice that you want. However, it is important to note that l Long-grain rice (such as white rice, basmati rice, or Spanish rice) cooks frothy, with the single grains remaining distinct.

Arborio rice, on the other hand, tends to stick together until it is fully cooked. By choosing to incorporate this specialty rice, you’ll obtain chewier granules that cluster together.

If you can find carnaroli rice, that’s even nicer. It’s even starchier than the alternative varieties, so it’s perfect for a restaurant-quality risotto.

Is It Easy To Make Risotto At Home?

Yes! Despite claims to the contrary, risotto is not difficult to prepare. When you check the ingredients in a risotto dish, you’ll notice that they’re all doable. Regardless, you would have to be willing to get your hands dirty when preparing the risotto.

The setup necessitates that you stand there and mix. Next, introduce the water, whisk it in, and keep an eye on it. On the plus side, it takes no more than 25 minutes to prepare, so you won’t be standing for long.

How To Cook Risotto

What You’ll Need

  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • a quarter cup of olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Arborio rice, 3 cups
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 cup wine (dry) or water
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter
  • a quarter teaspoon salt
  • a quarter teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, crushed


Step 1

This is not a one-pot dish. So, to start making the risotto properly, you’ll need to have a large stockpot to maintain the broth heat and a Dutch oven to create the risotto itself. Begin by warming the stock in a pan over medium temperature.

Lower the heat after it’s boiling. As you concentrate on the rice, cover with a lid to ensure the broth stays heated.

Step 2

Fry your onions before browning them along with the rice to add layers of flavor to your dish. This is among the reasons why risotto tastes so much better than ordinary rice!

Warm the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the onions are tender and juicy, about 10 minutes. Simmer, turning periodically, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the grains are lightly browned and the garlic is aromatic.

Step 3

We recommend a dry and crisp white wine for this step since it lends a lovely touch of sharpness to the final dish. If you don’t normally eat with wine, feel free to substitute with water or a non-alcoholic wine variety instead.

Simmer, stirring constantly, till the wine is fully immersed in the Dutch oven. There must be no residual alcohol smell if you delicately hold your nose over the surface of the pot.

Step 4

If you want the creamiest, softest risotto imaginable, add the broth in 1/2 cup increments.

Turn down the heat to medium-low and stir in 1/2 cup heated stock. Stir regularly until the rice has absorbed all of the water before pouring the next 1/2 cup. Continue mixing until you reach the final ingredient. This procedure should take roughly 20 minutes in total.

Decrease the water with the final pour until the rice has just absorbed the stock. The risotto should really be velvety and soft, but not thick—the rice should start flowing together when you pass a spoon through it.

Step 5

The finest part is yet to come: the cheeses! Real Parmigiano Reggiano parmesan gives a salty, flavorful, and creamy texture to your well-cooked risotto. Mix in the cheeses, butter, salt, season, and herbs until completely blended. Serve right away.

Rick Zullo

Former doctor, current science teacher, and life-long food lover, Rick's passion for Mediterranean cuisine was ignited while living as an expat in Rome, Italy. 


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Get this Free Recipe Book!

From a family-owned organic farm in Italy