The coziest risotto recipe topped with an egg and plenty of parm! Super creamy, super comforting, and so, so delicious.
I LOVE risotto. It’s kind of retro and not really popular at modern restaurants, but creamy, cheesy rice? Um, yes please! To me, it’s the perfect kind of fancy, kind of out of the ordinary dish I love making, either on weeknights or special occasions.
Risotto was one of the very first things I ever learned how to cook when I first moved out! I have to admit, the very first time was a disaster. I must’ve spent hours at the stove, stirring until I thought my arm was going to fall off. It was way back in the day when blogs or cooking wasn’t as popular as it is now and I didn’t have much to go on and I didn’t know that you’re supposed to heat the stock before you add it to the rice. Even after hours of stirring, the rice was still crunchy.
Mike ate it and said it was good, but I knew he was just being nice…Anyway, many, many pots of risotto and many recipes later and lesson learned. I’m here to give you all the tips and tricks to making the perfect risotto with the best and coziest recipe out there!
Risotto is an Italian rice dish where the rice is cooked in a specific way to become gooey and creamily delicious, yet still firm, in a way most other rice dishes aren’t. Properly cooked risotto becomes rich and creamy due to the grains of rice rubbing against each other and releasing their starch into the cooking liquid. The grains of rice are al dente and separate, while still kind of fluid.
Italians say that it is all’onda, which means that it’s kind of flowing and wavy – they’re talking about how when it’s served on a flat plate the risotto spreads out but isn’t super liquid. Risotto comes in many different regional flavors and in more modern ones too. My favorite is mushroom but I also like a carbonara-type risotto with crispy guanciale, egg, and pecorino.
All you need for this classic risotto recipe is arborio rice, broth, butter, aromatics (like onions, shallots, or garlic), white wine, and cheese.
Yes! The key to risotto is the rice. My go to rice for risotto is arborio, an Italian short grain rice that has a higher starch content which helps thicken the cooking liquid and make it creamy. When cooked right, the grains of rice are firm, creamy, and not at all soft. It’s the most common of all the rice varieties used to make risotto and you can easily find it at the grocery store.
That being said, if you’re deep into risotto and want to branch out into other risotto rices, try carnaroli – it has a slightly firmer texture and its harder to accidentally overcook, so it has a great texture. Vialone Nano is also a fantastic risotto rice: it cooks quickly, absorbs flavors beautifully, and finishes incredibly silky. You’d definitely have to check out a specialty store to find these guys (or online, as linked).
Generally, I like using unseasoned broth so I can control the salt content of the risotto. All you need to know here is: use a broth/stock you like and make sure you keep it at a low simmer before you start cooking the rice. We tend to just go with a basic chicken broth, but we also have a tendency to get creative! We love risotto with dashi, duck broth, leftover ramen soup, pho soup, essentially if we have leftover flavored liquids in the fridge, you better believe we’ve tried risotto with it!
Risotto needs a bit of fat to coat the grains of rice to help it cook evenly. You can go with all butter or all oil, typically we use a mix of butter and olive oil so you can get a little brown butter nuttiness without overwhelming the dish.
The traditional aromatic used in risotto is finely chopped onions, but you can also go for any and all aromatics: shallots, garlic, leeks, ginger, lemongrass, scallions, celery, carrots, chilis, there are so many possibilities. We prefer shallots because they are smaller – therefore cuter – and sweeter.
A dry, crisp Italian white is classically used. I say go for a bottle that you like drinking – there isn’t so much wine in risotto but it does add a lovely layer of flavor so you’ll want to use a decent bottle. It might seem like a tiny amount but it adds so much flavor. If you’re non alcoholic, you can skip out on this step.
Make it rain cheese! Cheese gives risotto and extra boost of umami and creaminess. Parmesan is everyone’s go to but you can definitely be creative here too. Just make sure it’s very finely grated so it melts nicely into the rice.
Most purists say that cream has no place in a REAL risotto. I say, I love cream and there’s nothing wrong with adding a bit in at the end to give your risotto an extra bit of deliciousness. Technically, the creaminess in risotto comes from the starch that comes off of the rice while cooking, so if you’re cream averse, you can leave it out.
But, life is too short for classic plain risotto. Mix it up with these variations or invent your own:
My favorite of all is mushroom risotto, but especially a garlicky brown butter mushroom risotto. The nuttiness of the brown butter with the earthiness of mushrooms can’t be beat. You can use whichever mushrooms you have on hand, but I like to use a mix if I can. If you’re using white or cremini mushrooms, slice them, but if you’re using a mix (portobellos, trumpet, shiitake, enoki, porchini), tear them so they end up with differently sized craggily bits that sear nicely. This one is so good that it’s our default, and the main risotto recipe below.
Melt butter in a pan, then add 1-2 cups bite sized spring vegetables of choice (sugar snap peas, asparagus, peas) and cook until bright green. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper and stir in chopped herbs of choice. Stir half into the risotto and top with the remaining half.
Heat butter with a bit of olive oil in a pan and lightly cook 2-3 cloves chopped garlic. Add 1-2 cups tomatoes of choice and cook, carefully pressing down until the tomatoes are soft and jammy. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Stir half into the risotto and top with the remaining half.
Brown guanciale or pancetta cubes until crisp. Make a soft sous vide egg or a jammy boiled egg. Top the risotto with the crispy pork, egg, and a generous amount of pecorino or parm and black pepper.
When you need that little bit of luxe comfort, lobster risotto is here for you. Shown here with reverse seared steak.
Hot cooking liquid is the number one thing you need to succeed at making risotto. Having your broth at a simmer and ready will make your risotto making process so much smoother and faster because the broth won’t take as much time to come to a boil when you’re adding it to the rice. The hot broth will also coax out more creaminess out of each grain and prevents overcooking.
Why stop at just regular chicken broth? you can infuse your stock with any and all flavors. Add some herbs or spices in while you’re heating it up for an extra layer of flavor. Ditto on when you lightly fry your rice in butter. You can always bloom some spices or lightly fry up some aromatics like garlic, shallots, onions, ginger.
You don’t need to stir constantly, just slowly stream in the stock and stir occasionally. If you’re stirring constantly, you’re dispersing the heat, making it harder for the rice to cook.
This one is a no brainer. Stir in a bit of butter for that extra creamy mouthfeel and a huge amount of cheese for umami and cheesiness. And, if you’re like me, you can add in a swoosh of cream too, just so you can be a bit extra.
And, if you want to be REALLY extra, top off your risotto with a soft sous vide egg for an extra bit of oomph and creaminess.
The longer risotto stands, the thicker it gets as the starch sets. You’ll lose the creamy silkiness you worked so hard to achieve, so make sure you have your bowls or plates at the ready.
Mushroom Risotto has got to be the coziest risotto recipe.
In the same skillet over medium heat, heat another tablespoon of butter until it foams and turns golden (but not burnt). Add the shallots and remaining garlic and cook, stirring, until soft. Deglaze with the wine, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Reduce the wine until mostly evaporated.
Stir in the rice and toast until the edges start to look translucent but the center of the grains are still opaque, 1-2 minutes.
Add the stock, one cup at a time, stirring occasionally. Wait until the liquid has almost completely absorbed into the rice, then add more stock. Start tasting the rice at the 15 minute mark – the risotto is done when the rice is creamy and cooked through with a tiny bit of a bite (al dente). You might not need all of the stock.
Stir in the cheese, remaining butter, and half of the mushrooms. If you find the risotto a bit thick to your liking, loosen with cream, a tablespoon at a time. Just before you are ready to eat, plate the risotto and top with the remaining mushrooms. Enjoy immediately!
If you’re using white or cremini mushrooms, slice them; if you’re using a mix (portobellos, trumpet, shiitake, enoki, porchini), tear them so they end up with differently sized craggily bits that sear nicely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 330
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 16g100%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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