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Arborio Rice Risotto with Parmesan Cheese

5 from 8 community reviews

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A classic Italian risotto recipe (in the style of risotto Milanese) that combines medium-grain Arborio rice with warm broth, onion, saffron and cheese to make a creamy, comforting meal. If you’ve always to learn how to make risotto at home, my step-by-step method works easily, every time! This simple dish cooks to perfection on top of the stove in about 20 minutes.

A bowl of Italian risotto in a bowl, sprinkled with parsley and grated cheese.
Golden saffron risotto cooks in less than 30 minutes for a luxuriously simple dinner.

Creamy risotto is one of my favorite homestyle Italian recipes that never fails to be comforting and elegant. It’s essentially a marriage of rice, broth, and fat, three simple ingredients that become magically elevated beyond the sum of their parts.

My other risotto recipes include creative variations on the classics — baked butternut squash risotto is a particular favorite.

Short grain Arborio rice in a small bowl.
The short, plump grains of Arborio rice make the best risotto.

How it works: With each addition of liquid — along with the friction of stirring — the starchy coating on the rice grains breaks down bit by bit, forming a creamy texture.

Ingredients for preparing risotto arranged on a surface, including containers of broth, wine, short grain rice, butter, saffron threads and an onion next to a piece of parchment paper with grated cheese on top.

Ingredients in risotto

  • Arborio rice: This type of medium-grain rice originates from the Po Valley region in Italy. The rounded grains are rich in a type of starch (amylopectin) that releases and emulsifies with the broth during cooking, which is why the best risottos have an irresistibly creamy texture. Varieties that are closely related to Arborio, like carnaroli rice and vialone nano will also make truly restaurant-level risotto.
  • Broth: I recommend using a quick, homemade light vegetable broth or basic chicken broth for this recipe. Because the dish is a short and simple combination of ingredients, you will definitely taste the difference. Avoid darker-colored chicken stock or bone broths — their stronger flavor will overwhelm the delicacy of the dish.
  • Wine: White wine adds a subtle bright acidity, which is a welcome contrast to the rich flavors. Use any dry, light white wine (or even a rosé!) that you enjoy sipping, like pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or an un-oaked chardonnay. You can omit the wine if you like — just use more broth in its place.
  • Saffron: A tiny amount of saffron threads add an appetizing, buttery yellow color. Traditional in risotto Milanese, saffron is the dried stigma of a type of crocus flower. It has a subtle flavor and fragrance that reminds me of honey and flowers. Without a doubt, it adds a touch of luxury, but it’s kind of pricey. If you don’t feel like splurging, just leave it out.
  • Onion: The aromatic foundation of risotto. You’ll need about half of a medium onion, to make 1/2 cup chopped.
  • Fat: A combination of extra virgin olive oil and butter enriches the dish.
  • Cheese: I always recommend using freshly grated parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano for its distinctive nutty, savory flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh Italian parsley adds contrasting color and flavor.

Cooking steps

  • Expert tip: Using a large, uncovered pan is key for allowing the liquid to evaporate fairly quickly during the cooking process. The best pots to use are wide and heavy enough to retain heat evenly. A stainless steel large skillet, an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, or a deep saute pan is what I recommend for making risotto.
  • Pour yourself a glass of wine: While it’s by no means difficult, risotto has a reputation for being fussy to make because of the incremental additions of liquid and stirring required. Sip and relax while the risotto cooks!

What to serve with risotto: For a special dinner, serve it as a stand-alone dinner, as a base for tender red wine short ribs or braised Italian-style pork or with savory mushroom ragu, and garlic-butter asparagus for a meatless meal.

  • Storage: Risotto keeps refrigerated 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  • Leftover risotto thickens significantly. To reheat, add a few tablespoons more broth or water and heat in a small pan until warmed through.
Golden yellow arborio rice risotto in a serving bowl, with a spoon dipping in for a portion.

Arborio Rice Risotto with Parmesan Cheese

Karen Tedesco
A classic Italian risotto recipe (risotto Milanese) that combines medium-grain Arborio rice with warm broth, onion, and cheese to make a creamy, comforting meal. If you've always wanted to make risotto at home, my step-by-step method works easily, every time! This risotto cooks to perfection on top of the stove in about 20 minutes.
Print Pin
5 from 8 community reviews
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (945 ml) vegetable broth, or homestyle chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup (180 g) Arborio rice
  • ½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads, optional, crumbled into a powder
  • Kosher salt
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving over each portion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Put the broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to low and keep it warm.
  • Heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a deep skillet (10-12-inches in diameter) over medium heat. When the butter is melted, stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is softened, 2-3 minutes. Try to avoid browning them.
  • Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat the grains in the fat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high. Pour in the wine. Allow it to bubble and reduce until it's almost completely evaporated. Add the saffron and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • Ladle in ¾ cup of the warm broth. Cook at a lively simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is almost absorbed — a spoon will leave a trail across the bottom of the pan. Continue adding broth, ½ cup at a time, allowing each addition to simmer and absorb before adding the next, which should take 3-5 minutes each time. Stir the rice frequently during this process so it doesn't stick to the pan.
  • After you've added about 3 cups of the broth, start to look for signs that the risotto is almost done: The bubbles in the simmering broth will become larger, and the rice will look plump. Taste to be sure it's tender, but with a tiny al dente bite in the center of the kernel. Keep in mind that you'll might not use up all the broth. Season with more salt to taste, if needed.
  • Once you've determined the rice is cooked, remove the pan from the heat (there should still be a little liquid visible in the pan). Add the remaining tablespoon butter and Parmesan cheese, stirring it in until the risotto looks creamy. Add in a splash or two more broth if it looks at all dry — the warm rice will continue to absorb it as it settles.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve right away, with additional Parmesan cheese at the table.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • The best pots to use are wide and heavy enough to retain heat evenly and allow the liquid to evaporate quickly.
  • Storage: Risotto keeps refrigerated 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  • Leftover risotto thickens significantly. To reheat, add a few tablespoons more broth or water and heat in a small pan until warmed through.

Nutrition

Calories: 340kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 675mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 779IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 168mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I just finished making this risotto. It’s positively Devine. Thank you for the recipe. You made it look easy. 💕

  2. Back Forty Farms says:

    5 stars
    WOW – so delicious! When I can salsa, I drain the juice off my tomatoes and freeze it. That is what I used for the ‘vegetable broth’ in this risotto recipe and the flavor is AMAZING. Thank you – keeping this one to make again and again.

  3. 5 stars
    This looks like something that is right up my alley. I can’t wait to try it!
    –Liza