Parmesan Risotto – A creamy, tender, saucy and flavorful Italian rice dish. It’s made with short-grain Arborio rice, cooked with savory chicken broth, rich butter, bold garlic, and plenty of creamy Parmesan cheese. It’s an easy side dish that’s sure to impress!
The Best Easy Risotto Recipe
So, what is risotto, anyway? Risotto is sometimes described as being the rice version of mac and cheese. A northern Italian dish, it is made by cooking starchy, short-grain rice with stock or broth until it becomes tender and creamy. It is also often given a boost of flavor with butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese as you’ll find in this recipe.
If you’re wondering if risotto is difficult to make, the answer is not at all. A cross between rice and pasta, it comes together on the stovetop for a fairly hands-off recipe. You’ll find that one batch makes enough to feed up to 6 people, making it perfect for family-friendly weeknight meals. You can also easily half or double the recipe to fit your needs. Plus, it stores and reheats well, meaning you can enjoy leftovers throughout the week.
Simple yet elegant, the tender rice bursts with savory flavor and a satisfying, creamy texture. Warm and satisfying, this Parmesan risotto recipe is the ultimate comfort food that will make you feel like you’re dining at a 5-star restaurant.
One bite and it will become a new favorite in your recipe lineup.
Parmesan Risotto Recipe Ingredients
- Low-sodium chicken broth
- Unsalted butter: Salted butter is fine too you just won’t need to add as much salt to the sauce.
- Yellow onion
- Arborio rice: I don’t recommend substituting this with any other rice as the texture of your risotto recipe won’t be the same.
- Garlic: Whole, fresh cloves will work best.
- White wine: You’ll want a crisp, dry, unoaked white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
- Hot water: Use as little or as much as needed to thin out the consistency.
- Parmesan cheese: For the best flavor, I recommend imported Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh parsley (optional for garnish)
How to Make Risotto with Parmesan
- Boil the broth: Bring the broth to a boil over medium-high heat. Then, reduce it to low, cover the pot, and let the liquid simmer.
- Sauté: Melt the butter in a 5 or 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cooking until fragrant. Then, add the rice and garlic, and continue to cook for another minute. Be careful not to let it burn!
- Cook: Pour in the wine, and let it simmer until it has been mostly absorbed by the rice, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup of broth, and continue to cook until it is mostly absorbed. Repeat this process, adding 1 cup of broth at a time, cooking until the rice is al dente.
- Adjust: Gently stir in ½ cup of water at a time to thin out the risotto to your desired consistency.
- Season: Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan, thinning it with water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
- Vegetable risotto: If you want to add extra nutrients, sauté your favorite vegetables along with the onion. Any veggies you have on hand can be used. For instance, mushrooms, spinach, butternut squash, broccoli, and peas all add incredible flavor. For mushroom risotto I like to use 8 to 16 oz sauteed sliced mushrooms.
- High-protein: Turn this side dish into a complete meal by topping it off with your favorite protein like garlic lemon butter shrimp, bacon, pancetta, grilled chicken, or blackened salmon.
- Extra cheesy: To make your Parmesan risotto extra cheesy, you could stir in extra Mozzarella, sharp Cheddar, Fontina, or Gruyére cheese.
- Don’t rush the process. This risotto recipe has a cook time of about 30 minutes. Turning up the heat in an effort to speed it up will only result in crunchy, undercooked rice.
- After the wine is added and completely absorbed, avoid stirring constantly. Instead, fold the broth into the risotto one cup at a time, stirring every so often to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Mixing the rice too much can alter the texture and make it gooey.
How to Store and Reheat
- This risotto can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
- Reheat individual portions in the microwave in 10-second intervals, being careful not to let your risotto overcook. Alternatively, you can warm a larger portion over medium heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly.
- Add an extra splash of broth as needed to freshen your leftovers back up.
Can I freeze this recipe?
I don’t recommend freezing risotto as the texture of the rice can become hard, and the dish is likely to be grainy once thawed. For the best results, I recommend storing leftovers in the fridge.
What do you eat risotto with?
You’ll find that this Parmesan risotto recipe is extremely versatile and can be served with a wide variety of protein and veggies. For example, some of my favorite pairings include grilled steak, one sheet pan Parmesan crusted salmon with roasted broccoli, and Parmesan crusted chicken.
Is risotto the same as orzo?
Not quite. Risotto is an Italian dish that consists of rice and broth. Meanwhile, orzo is a grain-shaped pasta. Some risotto recipes use orzo as a substitute for rice, but they are not the same things.
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- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced into 4 pieces
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 cups (13.7 oz) Arborio rice
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- Hot water, as needed
- 1 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese
- Salt as needed and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Mushrooms (optional, see notes)
- Bring broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and let heat.
- Melt butter in a 5 or 6 quart pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 3 minutes.
- Add rice and garlic and saute 1 minute.
- Pour in wine and let cook, stirring constantly, until it has mostly been absorbed into the rice.
- Pour in 1 cup of broth (about 2 ladle fulls) then cook rice, while stirring frequently, until most of the broth has been absorbed (keep chicken broth warm and covered while rice cooks).
- Continue cooking rice and stirring frequently, and repeating this process adding more broth 1 cup at a time until it has almost been absorbed into rice until you add more. It should take about 20 minutes to cook rice to an al dente stage.
- As you near the end add hot water if needed to thin 1/2 cup at a time.
- Remove from heat, stir in parmesan (thin with hot water as needed). Season with salt after parmesan has been melted. Season with pepper and garnish with parsley.
- Serve right away.
- Recipe makes about 6.5 cups.
- For Mushroom Risotto, saute 8 to 16 oz of sliced cremini or button mushrooms in a few tablespoons of olive oil and add to the risotto once it's complete.