How to Make Creamy Risotto at Home

Versatile and delicious, risotto is also surprisingly easy to make. Here's how to make risotto at home, from choosing the right kind of rice to use to the cooking techniques that makes creamy risotto. Constant stirring not required!

The Rice Stuff

Classic risotto is made from either Carnaroli or Arborio rice. The grains are short and plump, high in starch, and can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.

uncooked grains of Arborio rice for risotto

Stock Up

Because risotto is cooked uncovered on the stovetop, a lot of liquid evaporates. Plan on about three times as much liquid as rice. And that liquid should be stock of some sort. Chicken stock is the staple, but use whatever stock you prefer — beef, vegetable, seafood. Canned stock is perfectly acceptable. Just watch the salt — it can become overpowering as the liquid evaporates. Choose low-sodium broth when possible. Here's how to make your own stock.

Adding Aromatics

The stock is your first base of flavor. Heat it up in a saucepan, as a warm stock will cook into the risotto more quickly and evenly. While that's heating up, sauté onions or shallots in a heavy bottomed pan. After those aromatics have softened, add the rice and "toast" it in the pan. You'll know it's ready when the rice turns translucent at the edges. If the recipe calls for any wine, add it now to continue building the flavor. The slight acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc blends wonderfully in a risotto.

toasting risotto rice in a pot

Stir Crazy? Maybe Not

It's true, you can't abandon risotto on the stove and forget about it. Still, constant stirring is not necessarily required. Add the stock a little at a time — a half cup or so — and only add more stock when it is absorbed into the risotto. Keep the burner just high enough to barely simmer the stock and risotto. Keep close by and stir it frequently. But you should have time to prep your next ingredients.

Adding Stock into Risotto

The risotto is done when it's just al dente — firm but not crunchy to the tooth. It should shimmer a little in the bowl — be fluid rather than a solid scoopful. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and anything else that strikes your fancy — prosciutto, cooked shrimp, steamed vegetable, sautéed mushrooms, or chicken. Stir in a pat of butter for extra richness. Serve risotto immediately, because it will continue to cook as it sits.

closeup of mushroom risotto garnished with parsley and a lemon wedge

Try These Top-Rated Risotto Recipes

How to Make Risotto in the Instant Pot

Here's another elbow-saving method that requires very little standing and stirring. You'll use your multi-functional pressure cooker (such as Instant Pot) to sauté onions and garlic, add rice, a little white wine, and broth. Then pressure cook the rice.

This Instant Pot® Fresh Corn Risotto produces a creamy risotto with sweet kernels of corn. "It's made in a fraction of the time as traditional risotto, in your pressure cooker!" says Kim's Cooking Now.

dish of instant pot corn risotto
Kim's Cooking Now

Risotto by Another Grain

Actually, any small, starchy grain can be cooked risotto-style, with delicious results. Try pearl barley, spelt, farro, even orzo pasta, and see what you think.

dish of wild mushroom barley risotto
wild mushroom barley risotto | Photo by Meredith. Meredith
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