By Carl Hanson

Versatile and delicious, risotto is also surprisingly easy to make at home. Here's how to do it. Constant stirring not required!

Mushroom risotto with white wine | Photo by Meredith

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.

Arborio Rice | Photo by Meredith

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'show 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 | Photo by Meredith

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 -- 1/2 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 and stir it frequently. But you should have time to prep your next ingredients.

Adding Stock into Risotto | Photo by Meredith

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. 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.

Risotto all Milanese | Photo by Buckwheat Queen

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 saute 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.

Photo by 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.

Wild mushroom barley risotto | Photo by Meredith