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This is a saucy, umami-full shrimp risotto recipe seasoned with Italian herbs, garlic, and a tomato butter sauce. The pan-seared shrimp cook separately for maximum flavor, then they’re served on top of creamy Parmesan risotto infused with a 10-minute shrimp stock. With my step-by-step directions based on a classic risotto, this is truly a date-night or restaurant-level dish you can make at home with ease.
We love ALL kinds of risotto recipes, made with various grains and flavor bases, but the thing that makes this shrimp risotto a standout among rice dishes is one simple trick: When you use a quickly-made shrimp stock using the shells from your shrimp, the risotto becomes infused with the utmost shrimp flavor — it’s what I call extra-shrimpy!
Pro tip: Enhance plain chicken broth or vegetable stock with shrimp shells. This “compound broth” (or double stock), is a very simple chef trick that infuses shellfish flavor into every grain of rice in the risotto.
Shellfish and Italian flavors, combined with pasta or rice, are pretty much what I call comfort food. Give me a plate of garlic butter pasta with shrimp or squid ink pasta with shrimp — and don’t forget to pour a glass of wine.
Shrimp risotto ingredients
- Shrimp: You’ll need one pound of unpeeled, extra-large (or jumbo) size raw shrimp, which average 16-20 per pound. Frozen, defrosted shrimp are totally fine to use. The peels, tails and heads (if they’re attached) will be used to make a quick, tasty broth.
- Arborio rice: This medium-grain rice from Italy has a starchy core that breaks down during the cooking process, creating that delectable creamy texture risotto is known for. I recommend using an authentic Arborio, or use carnaroli rice for a truly elevated dish.
- Broth: The broth starts with a base of either a neutral-tasting chicken or vegetable stock (or make a batch of my light, aromatic quick vegetable broth for outstanding flavor). To amplify the shrimp flavor, the broth is boosted with shrimp shells that simmer in the broth for just 10 minutes. You can also just use water to make a simple shrimp broth.
- Dry white wine: Use whatever wine you’d like to sip! I recommend pinot grigio or even a dry rosé.
- Aromatics: Choose shallots or yellow onion and fresh garlic for the best tasting risotto.
- Parmesan cheese: Use freshly grated parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano for the ultimate umami flavor pairing.
- Tomato paste: To make the saucy shrimp that tops the risotto, a small amount of tomato paste blends with butter and some of the broth, contributing color and flavor.
- Herbs: Garnish the risotto with freshly chopped parsley, basil, or other fresh herbs like oregano or thyme.
- Lemon: Finish the dish with a spark of acidity, and squeeze fresh lemon juice over each portion.
Summary of recipe steps
Prep tips and storage
- The shrimp broth can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. To freeze up to one month, cool the broth completely in the refrigerator before freezing. Warm the broth to a simmer when you’re ready to cook the risotto.
- Because the rice will continue to absorb liquid as it sits, risotto is best served right after it’s cooked. Leftover risotto can be reheated with a small amount of broth to loosen it, or made into fried rice balls (arancini).
Sautéed Shrimp Risotto with Tomato Butter Sauce
Quick shrimp broth
- Shells from one pound shrimp
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a chef's knife
- 4 cups (945 ml) low-sodium chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or ½ teaspoon fine table salt
- 1 fresh thyme sprig, or small bay leaf (optional)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound (450 g) shell-on extra-large or jumbo raw shrimp, (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined, shells reserved for the broth
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15 g) tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons grated or finely chopped garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or adjust to your taste
- ¼ cup (60 ml) shrimp broth
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped shallot, or yellow onion
- ¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
- 1 cup (180 g) Arborio rice
- 3½-3¾ cups warm shrimp broth, or any light chicken or vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, or fresh basil
- ½ fresh lemon
Make the shrimp broth
- Put the shrimp shells, celery, garlic, salt and herb sprig in a medium (2-3 quarts) saucepan. Pour in the broth or water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook 10 minutes — adjust the heat as needed so the broth doesn't come to a full boil. Strain the broth into a heatproof bowl or small saucepan, discarding the solids. Set aside and keep warm.
Cook the shrimp
- Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in one layer and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper to taste. Cook 2-3 minutes, then flip the shrimp over.
- Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, and red pepper so they're distributed evenly with the shrimp. Cook 1-2 more minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove the pan from the heat and add the shrimp broth and butter, swirling the pan until the butter melts. Partially cover the pan to keep warm and set aside.
Make the risotto
- Heat the olive oil in a deep saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the shallot or onion and cook until it's softened and translucent (don't let it brown), 2-3 minutes.
- Add the rice and cook one minute, stirring well to evenly coat the grains in the oil.
- Pour in the wine and let it bubble until most of it is evaporated. Add 1 cup of the shrimp broth and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook until the liquid is nearly gone, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking.
- Continue adding broth, ½ cup at a time, maintaining a lively simmer and stirring occasionally. After about 15 minutes, when you've made 4 additions (a total of 3 cups) of the broth, the rice grains should be almost done. The kernels will look swelled and the center of the rice should have an al dente bite.
- Continue cooking about 5 more minutes if needed — you probably won't use up all the broth. It's fine if there's some liquid in the pan when the rice is ready, as it will continue to absorb as it sits. If the risotto looks dry, stir in a little more broth, ¼ cup at at time to reach a loose, creamy consistency.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated cheese and parsley or basil. Spoon the risotto into serving bowls. Top with some of the shrimp, including the sauce from the saute pan. Squeeze some lemon juice over each portion of risotto and serve.
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- The shrimp broth may be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated, then warm to a simmer when you’re ready to cook the risotto. To freeze it for up to one month, transfer to a leak-proof container and cool completely in the refrigerator before freezing.
- If you don’t have shrimp shells or don’t have time to make the shrimp broth, you can substitute with warm chicken or vegetable broth.
- You can start cooking the shrimp when the risotto is almost ready if you feel confident multi-tasking at the stove.
- If you’re cooking on an induction cooktop, level 6 or 6.5 is approximately medium to medium-high heat on a gas or electric stove.
- If your saute pan has deep sides (3 or more inches), you can use it to cook the risotto instead of using a third pan. After you cook the shrimp, transfer them to a bowl and keep warm. Wipe the pan clean before cooking the risotto.