My Basic Risotto with Parmesan is a family favorite! You'll love the creamy, velvety texture of this Italian rice dish made without cream! This recipe includes white wine, but feel free to omit if needed.
You know how fabulous shoes can make an outfit? Delicious risotto does the same for your meal.
It brings that "wow" factor that makes you go, "Mmmm."
Every home cook should know how to produce this creamy, gluten-free rice dish. Plain risotto is made in a skillet on the stove, by stirring in a half cup of hot liquid at a time until the rice is cooked.
It's hands on, but not difficult! And if you prefer boiled rice, don't miss How to Cook Long-Grain Rice Like Pasta.
Ingredients & substitutions
Arborio rice, with its high starch content, is key to creamy risotto. Arborio, named for the town in Italy where it's grown, shouldn't be rinsed before cooking it.
If you don't have Arborio, Carnaroli is another starchy Italian rice that would work, if you can find it.
Chicken stock, mixed with some water, produces full-bodied flavor, compared to broth. Use vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.
And freshly grated Parmesan is so much better than the one in the can! Note, since Parmesan contains an animal enzyme, some vegetarians prefer to use vegetarian or vegan Parmesan instead.
As for the white wine, it's best to use something you'd love to drink, as opposed to a cooking wine, which tends to be sweet and salty. I always use my hubby's homemade Sauvignon-Blanc.
But...use what you have. And, if you need to avoid white wine risotto, just replace the wine with more chicken stock or water.
Your risotto will still be delicious.
How to make basic risotto
- Cook a chopped onion in olive oil in a deep, 12-inch skillet (affiliate link).
- Add the dry Arborio rice and stir it around to get toasty. Stir in a cup of white wine, pushing the rice toward the center of the pan and scooping the wine over it, stirring until the liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in a half cup (a standard ladle) of heated chicken stock combined with water. Stir the mixture frequently until the liquid is is absorbed. Then, it's time to add more stock and repeat the stirring.
4. The rice is fully cooked when it's tender but not mushy. It should take 30-35 minutes.
5. Finally, you'll turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan, pepper and salt, if needed.
There's something therapeutic about the whole process. I like to pour myself a small glass of wine and savor the experience of watching the crisp Arborio transform into plump risotto as I stir away.
And what a sense of accomplishment when it's done!
What to serve with risotto
This basic risotto recipe goes well with so many main dishes! I often pair it with:
- Braised Chicken in Red Wine Sauce
- Apple-Mushroom Pork Tenderloin
- Parmesan Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- Baked Pesto Chicken
- Thin-Sliced Chicken Breast Recipes.
I bet you have ideas too!
Can you freeze the leftovers?
Absolutely! The leftovers last four days in the fridge and freeze well.
Reheat them in the microwave. The risotto should keep its firm texture.
Can you make this for two?
I'm genetically programmed to make large quantities of food. It's an Italian thing.
This recipe makes enough to serve eight, or you could halve it to serve four.
You'd need just half a cup of Arborio rice to make risotto for two people. But, honestly...for the work involved, I recommend making enough for at least four servings.
Besides...it's so delicious, you're going to want seconds!
I hope you add this Parmesan risotto to your cooking repertoire. You'll feel just like a chef!
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C. Originally published on February 11, 2015 and updated now with new photos and text.)
Basic Risotto with Parmesan
- 1 small onion (yellow, white or red; peeled & finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups chicken stock (use vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup white wine (or use more chicken stock or water)
- 2 cups Arborio rice (1 pound)
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (can use vegetarian or vegan Parmesan if needed)
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- salt to taste (if needed)
- Peel and finely chop the onion. Add the oil to a deep 12-inch skillet over medium high heat on the stove. Add the onion and cook until it's tender, about five minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, add chicken stock and water to a medium pot and set it over medium heat on the stove, with a ladle nearby.
- When the onions are tender, add the Arborio rice to your skillet and stir it around for a minute or two. Add the cup of wine and continue stirring, pushing the rice toward the middle and scooping the wine over it, until the liquid is absorbed.
- Add a ladle (½ cup) of the chicken stock mixture to the skillet and stir until it is absorbed by the rice (push the rice toward the center and scoop the liquid over it as you go.) Continue adding one ladle of liquid at a time, stirring frequently after each addition and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding the next ladle. You may need to lower the heat under the pot with the chicken stock, to keep it at a simmer.
- The risotto is cooked when the rice is just tender but not mushy. It will take 30-35 minutes once you've added the rice to the pan, and your chicken stock mixture will be almost gone. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan and pepper. Taste the risotto to see if it needs any salt. (It might not, depending on the stock you used.)
- Serve risotto as a side dish or beneath your meat, fish and veggies on the plate. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days. The leftovers also freeze well.
- Using Arborio rice, which has a high starch content, is key to a creamy risotto. If you don't have Arborio, Carnaroli is another starchy Italian rice that would work, if you can find it.
- For the white wine, it’s best to use something you’d love to drink, as opposed to a cooking wine, which tends to be sweet and salty. I always use my hubby’s homemade Sauvignon-Blanc.
- You can halve this recipe to make four servings.
- You also might enjoy this Baked Vegetable Risotto!