We'll answer some of your most frequently asked questions about this famous Italian dish, tell you the best rice to use, and give you recipes to try.
dish of homemade mushroom risotto
Credit: catherine.drew

What is Risotto? What is Risotto Made of?

Despite its appearance, risotto is not a type of rice but an Italian dish made with a special high-starch, short-grain rice such Italian Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano rice. This special kind of rice can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.

In addition to rice as the main ingredient, classic risotto also contains a small amount of onion or shallot sautéed in butter, dry white wine, hot stock, vegetables or mushrooms, and different aromatics.

What Other Grains Can be Used for Risotto?

Risotto can also be made from any other small, starchy grain such as pearl barley, brown rice, spelt, or buckwheat. These whole grains might yield a less creamy and chewier risotto than with the traditional risotto rice but the results are just as delicious as classic risotto. You can also cook a mock risotto with orzo pasta.

What is the Difference between Paella and Risotto?

Both paella, a Spanish seafood dish, and Italian risotto, are made with short-grain rice. Paella uses a special rice called Valencia rice or Bomba rice that stays rather firm during cooking, the cooked rice remains dry and the grains separate. And paella does not have the same creamy consistency as risotto where the rice grains stick together.

What is Authentic Italian Risotto?

In northern Italian cuisine where risotto originates, there is a wide variety of risotto dishes for each region and season. The most famous is probably Risotto Milanese with saffron. Risotto Primavera is made with spring vegetables such as green asparagus. Another popular type is porcini risotto, wild mushroom risotto, or, the most priced of all, truffle risotto.

How to Make Risotto

Explore our recipes below -- and for more on cooking risotto, check out How to Make Risotto. If you make risotto often, you might want to invest in a special risotto spoon that has a hole in the middle. It helps you to stir the risotto without breaking as many rice grains as when using a solid wooden spoon.

Some Favorite Risotto Recipes

"Typical Italian risotto as the tradition of my city wants it," says Manuela. "Directly from Milano I send you this wonderful recipe!"

Risotto alla Milanese
Photo by Anonymous

"If you like the natural sweet flavor of butternut squash, you'll love this risotto," says Andrea Longo Policella. "It is so creamy and full of flavor! Great as a side dish or main course."

Butternut Squash Risotto
Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

"Takes a second to prep but so worth it in the end," says Joshua F.

Garlic Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
Photo by Buckwheat Queen

"The secret to making a good seafood risotto is to use a high-quality fish stock and of course the freshest seafood you can find," says tea. "Cook the shellfish and rice separately, as the rice needs more time. If you cook them together, the shellfish will overcook and get chewy."

Italian Shrimp and Scallop Risotto
Photo by Allrecipes

"The beginning and the end of this risotto recipe are pretty standard, but we've moved the middle 15 minutes into the oven in an attempt to eliminate those dreaded 'variables,' says Chef John. "Besides being easier and more repeatable, this method produced a risotto that was identical in looks, taste, and texture to anything I can do on the stove."

"Lower in fat than most risotto recipes but no one will know," says stefychefy. "I like to serve this as a main dish under some steamed halibut or other white fish."

Lemon Asparagus Risotto
Photo by Kim's Cooking Now!

"I can't stress enough how much better this is if it is stirred constantly," says DJFoodie. "If one arm gets tired, switch arms. Taste the rice for doneness before serving. Nothing worse than a plate of crunchy risotto. Try it, and you will find it is well worth it!"

Green Risotto with Fava Beans
Photo by Anonymous

Check out our collection of Risotto Recipes.