How To Make Risotto From Scratch

Last updated: June 5th, 2024

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Learn how to make a simple parmesan risotto from scratch – without wine – that turns out perfectly creamy every time.

A cast iron pan filled with creamy risotto made from scratch

Risotto is a notoriously difficult dish to make – even we’ve had plenty of trouble with it in the past! But making this classically creamy Italian dish doesn’t have to be scary. After reading a few tips from an actual Italian chef, we instantly found success with making homemade risotto! It was like magic. So now, we’ve distilled down these learnings – and our secret to success – into this guide on how to make risotto from scratch.

First thing’s first – it’s a myth that you have to constantly be stirring the rice! While you want to disturb the rice every once in a while to help it cook evenly, you don’t actually have to stir it until your arm falls off. But don’t get too comfortable and walk away from the stove – you’ll still want to be present throughout the entire cooking process.

Which brings us to our number one trick to making good risotto: cook intuitively. Use your senses, adjust and stir and taste as you cook, and don’t get too caught up in following a recipe to the T. Your eyes, ears, nose, and tongue will help guide you towards a perfectly creamy home-cooked risotto faster than any exact recipe!

In this guide, we’ll explain how to make basic parmesan risotto that can be dressed up with whatever flavors you like, or served plain alongside a main ingredient like Italian marinated chicken. You’ll learn the base ingredients needed to make the best risotto, plus what the process is of making good risotto 100% of the time. Then you’ll be able to use our recipe as a starting point to get comfortable with making risotto from scratch!

An easy parmesan risotto made in a cast iron pan

Easy Parmesan Risotto Recipe Ingredients

The best rice for risotto is arborio rice, a starchy short-grain rice that becomes both creamy and chewy when you cook it. To make our easy parmesan risotto recipe, all you’ll need is arborio rice and a few basic pantry ingredients. This base recipe is great for dressing up with other flavors!

Here’s the full list of ingredients you’ll need to make a delicious risotto from scratch:

  • Olive oil
  • Minced garlic
  • Arborio rice
  • Chicken broth
  • Lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

We recommend having 2 kinds of olive oil on hand for making risotto – a standard “cooking” olive oil, and a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. You’ll use the cooking olive oil to toast the garlic and rice, while the extra virgin olive oil will be used to add flavor after cooking.

A creamy parmesan risotto being scooped with a fork

How To Make Risotto From Scratch

There are really only 3 steps to making risotto. First, you’ll sauté your aromatics. Then, you’ll briefly toast the rice before adding a cooking liquid, like chicken broth (this step gives the risotto extra flavor)! Lastly, once the rice is cooked, you’ll finish the dish by stirring in extra flavors like parmesan cheese and lemon juice.

The trick to making the best risotto is being patient while incrementally adding the cooking liquid, and stirring the dish only when needed. You don’t want to add all the liquid at once – instead, you want just enough to cover the rice, so that it heats up quickly and is mostly absorbed by the rice before you add more.

Here are the steps you should follow when making risotto from scratch, along with images that demonstrate how to cook this dish intuitively:

  1. First, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat until shimmering, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, just a minute or so. Next, add the arborio rice and stir it around to quickly toast it in the oil, about 30 seconds.
  2. Now, stir in a half cup of the chicken broth. Increase the heat to bring it to a simmer, and stir occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the pan. It will bubble a little – that’s okay! Keep an eye on your rice and continually adjust the heat as needed to keep it at a simmer.
  3. As the broth gets absorbed by the rice and the pan starts to dry out (after about 3 to 5 minutes or so), stir in another half cup of chicken broth. Continue simmering, stirring the rice occasionally, and adding chicken broth in half cup increments every time the pan starts to look dry again.
  4. Continue this process until all of the chicken broth has been used and the rice has expanded. Towards the end of cooking, taste two or three grains of rice to see if the texture is correct – it should be slightly chewy, yet creamy.
  5. Once the rice is done, remove the pan from heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients to add flavor, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Like we mentioned, the trick to making good risotto is to cook intuitively. Be present the entire time you’re cooking, and use your senses to determine when you need to adjust the heat, add more liquid, or stir the rice. Similarly, towards the end of cooking you’ll want to start tasting a few grains of rice here and there. This will help you understand if it’s properly cooked, or if it needs more chicken broth.

Why You’ll Want To Make Our Easy Parmesan Risotto

This recipe is a great starting point for learning how to successfully make risotto from scratch. Use our recipe as a guide, but be willing to adjust as necessary – time, temperature, liquid, etc. Trust your instincts! Once you can make a delicious and creamy risotto at home, you’ll be ready to experiment with different flavors and new recipes.

Good luck!

A pan of creamy homemade risotto made without wine

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5 from 1 vote

Easy Parmesan Risotto Recipe

Learn how to make a simple parmesan risotto from scratch – without wine – that turns out perfectly creamy every time.
Servings 3 servings
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¾ cup arborio rice
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  • First, heat olive oil in a frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Once the oil is hot, add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Next, add the arborio rice, stirring it for about 30 seconds or so to briefly toast the rice. Then stir in a half cup of the chicken broth and increase the heat to bring the rice to a simmer. Stir occasionally to keep the rice from sticking to the pan, and watch for the rice to start absorbing the liquid. Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, after 3 to 4 minutes or so, stir in another half cup of the broth.
  • Continue cooking the rice, stirring occasionally and adding broth in half cup increments as the pan starts to dry out, until all the broth has been used. Keep the rice at a simmer (lower the heat if needed) and taste a few grains of rice towards the last addition or two of broth, to check for doneness. It should taste both creamy and chewy.
  • Once the rice is done, remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and grated parmesan cheese until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve immediately.
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Author: Nicole & Alex
Calories: 286kcal
Course: Side Dish, Sides
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: arborio rice, chicken broth, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 217mg | Potassium: 262mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 72IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 87mg | Iron: 3mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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