The greatest risotto recipes for home chefs need very little effort! Instead of stirring, create risotto in your Instant Pot, slow cooker, or even the oven.
I didn’t grow up eating risotto; I don’t recall ever seeing it on a restaurant menu during my 1970s youth. But on the other hand, my Italian-American spouse was a big fan of his great-grandmother’s homemade risotto. So I learned to cook the dish using a traditional family recipe. It requires continual stirring to liberate the starches in the rice and achieve the traditional creamy texture.
Standing in front of the stove with a wooden spoon in constant motion is not my idea of fun, especially in the summer. Fortunately, I don’t have to. And you don’t have to, due to the equally wonderful alternative approaches you’re about to learn, as well as 12 simple risotto recipes.
What is risotto?
Simply put, it’s a broth-cooked Italian rice dish. As with many Italian recipes, the ingredients you use, particularly the type of rice, are critical. You won’t achieve the starchy, creamy effect that makes risotto unless you use the appropriate kind of short-grain rice, which is often arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano.
How to make risotto the old-school way
Let’s pretend you’re still thinking about classic risotto:
- Heat the chicken broth or veggie broth over low heat.
- In a separate big saucepan over medium heat, melt two or three tablespoons of butter or extra-virgin olive oil and add finely sliced shallots, garlic, or other aromatics. Allow them to soften before adding one or two cups of arborio rice and stirring for another minute or two. The constant stirring is when the fun begins.
- Whisk in some dry white wine until it’s mostly absorbed. After that, add one ladle of broth at a time, stirring as the rice puffs up and releases its starch. When the pan is nearly dry, add another ladleful of stock and continue cooking until the rice grains are al dente and the dish has a deliciously creamy texture.
- Mix in some soft butter and grated Parmesan cheese before serving.
How long does it take to cook risotto?
The stirring portion of stovetop risotto takes about 20 minutes. With some prep time, the overall time is between 30 and 40 minutes. So, in principle, it’s suitable for a weeknight. But when cooking dinner, I usually do a half-dozen other things. I don’t have 20 minutes to stand over the stove stirring! That’s why I haven’t made risotto in that manner since becoming a mother.
Instead, I employ one of these ingenious low-stir techniques:
- Instant Pot risotto cooks faster than stovetop risotto – most recipes have dinner ready in about 20 minutes. When you open the top, you’ll notice a lot of liquid and believe there’s something wrong, but stir for a minute or two and get that creamy, starchy result.
- Slow cooker risotto is hardly a time saving, but it couldn’t be simpler. Some recipes simply call for putting the ingredients in the slow cooker, turning it on, and walking away. You’ll stir again immediately before serving.
- Oven risotto takes about an hour to make from start to finish, and I find the results to be a little drier than the other methods, so I prefer to add a little more broth just before serving.
How to reheat risotto
Risotto is best immediately out of the pot, but we usually always have leftovers, which I store in an airtight container in the fridge. You have two alternatives for reheating risotto: To use the stovetop, place the cold risotto in a saucepan and add a splash of water or broth to soften it up. Cook, covered, over low heat until heated, stirring frequently. Alternatively, use the microwave. Place the risotto in a microwave-safe bowl and reheat with a liquid splash.
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