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This easy risotto recipe is creamy, comforting, and virtually impossible to mess up! It's arborio rice simmered with hot broth, onions, garlic, and thyme, then finished with parmesan cheese. It's a simple formula for a delicious Italian side dish, and it's ready in just 40 minutes!
Risotto is a creamy and comforting side dish you can now make at home with our easy risotto recipe! If you've ever been intimidated by making risotto, you're not alone. It has a reputation for being complicated and time-consuming, but the truth is the method is really simple.
It's basically just arborio rice and hot broth, and you don't need to stir it constantly. Just give it a few stirs, then you can spend a few minutes preparing the rest of dinner before stirring it again. It's a bit more hands-on than regular rice, but it's virtually impossible to mess up. And once you master the formula, the variations are endless.
The consistency you're after is a luscious creamy risotto with grains of rice that are tender but not mushy. When you serve it, it should hold together in a mound and not be soupy.
Risotto is a filling and flavorful Italian side dish that's perfect for family dinners. It naturally pairs with meat mains like sausage, seafood, and chicken. Make it a complete meal with a side of vegetables like roasted asparagus or our roasted winter green salad.
What's in this easy risotto recipe?
Risotto doesn't require many ingredients, and most of them you're likely to have on hand. With simple ingredients, it's also a relatively inexpensive dish to make. Here's what you need:
- Chicken or vegetable stock – we always have some of our homemade chicken stock on hand, so that's what we use. While store-bought stock will work, remember that this is where the majority of the flavor comes from. If your stock doesn't have a lot of flavor, then neither will your risotto. Bone broth will give you the best flavor, but you can use vegetable broth if needed.
- Olive oil and butter – a mix of olive oil and butter gives the risotto a rich creaminess.
- Onion and garlic – for that classic savory flavor base.
- Arborio rice – arborio rice is a high-starch, short-grain rice used traditionally for risotto. It gives risotto its creamy luscious texture.
- White wine – wine imparts flavor and gives some acidity to this dish which balances out the creaminess. But save your expensive stuff, because any dry white wine will work.
- Parmesan – for that big, bold cheesy taste.
- Thyme – thyme is herbaceous but has such a delicate fresh flavor. Fresh parsley works, too!
- Sea salt – salt really enhances all the flavors so don't be shy with it!
How to make easy risotto
This simple risotto recipe is our go-to formula for creamy rich risotto every time! Here's how we make it in a few easy steps:
- Start by heating the stock in a pot on the stove, bringing it to a gentle simmer.
- Melt the olive oil and butter in a large pan or dutch oven. Cook the onion until it starts to brown, then add the garlic.
- Add the rice, stir, then add the wine. Continue stirring until the wine absorbs.
- Add a ladle of broth, and continue stirring until it absorbs. Repeat this process until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is soft but al dente.
- When the rice is done, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, and ground pepper. Buon appetito!
Tips for making the best risotto
This is one of those easy risotto recipes that's impossible to mess up. But here are a few tips that help make it extra awesome:
- Make sure the broth you add is hot.
- With so few ingredients, the flavor of the broth will have a big impact on the taste of the risotto. This is a time when good quality or homemade stock makes a big difference!
- You don't need to stir it constantly, but be sure to stir it after adding a ladle of broth and before adding a new one. The stirring helps release the starch from the rice, giving it its characteristically creamy texture.
- After about 15 minutes of cooking, taste the risotto before adding more broth so you know when it's done. You want it to be soft, but not mushy.
- You can add all sorts of flavors to your risotto to make it unique. This pumpkin mushroom risotto is wonderful in the fall!
What to eat with risotto
What can I use in place of white wine?
If you prefer not to use white wine, you can use more chicken or vegetable stock in its place. To brighten up the flavors, add some fresh lemon zest or lemon juice at the end.
What's the best stock to use?
Risotto is one of those times where you'll really notice the difference if you're using a homemade stock. You can also often find good quality stocks and broth in the freezer section of well-stocked grocery stores.
How do I store leftover risotto?
Store any leftover risotto in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
How do I reheat risotto?
Reheating risotto is easy. It will thicken in the fridge, so add it to a pot with a splash of broth or water and stir until it's heated through. Adjust the amount of liquid depending on your desired consistency.
Can I use a different kind of rice?
Arborio rice is a high-starch rice, so any grain that you substitute with will need to have the same basic qualities. Carnaroli rice and Vialone nano are both high-starch rice used in different parts of Italy. We've also seen some modern recipes using farro as a whole-grain substitute, and while it sounds delicious, we haven't tested it.
- 6 cups chicken stock (see notes)
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion (finely minced)
- 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Place the stock in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Bring it to a simmer and then lower the heat so that it stays warm. Add the salt to the pot, 1 teaspoon at a time. You want it to taste just a little saltier than you'd like.6 cups chicken stock
- Place the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it is soft and just starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 medium onion, 2 cloves garlic
- Add the arborio rice to the pot and stir it for 1 minute. Add the wine to the pot and stir until it has been mostly absorbed.2 cups arborio rice, 1 ½ cups dry white wine
- Add a ladle full of the hot broth to the pot and stir well. Continue stirring occasionally until it has been mostly absorbed, about 1-2 minutes. Continue adding the broth, 1 ladle at a time waiting until most of the broth has been absorbed by the rice before you add more. Stir the rice a few times between each addition of broth. The risotto is cooked when the rice is soft but not mushy .. think al dente pasta. This step takes about 20 minutes.
- When the risotto is soft remove the pot from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and then season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.