Parmesan Risotto

LEARN HOW TO MAKE RISOTTO LIKE A PRO with this creamy Garlic Parmesan risotto recipe!

This Parmesan risotto recipe is easy to make on the stove top OR in the oven!   This risotto recipe is unbelievably flavorful, warm and comforting, and as easy as stirring rice!  This simple garlic Parmesan risotto is infused with shallots, garlic, Parmesan, replete with butter and never fails to impress (perfect for Easter!).  The oven version is 100% foolproof and doesn’t require constant stirring or babysitting.  Once you make this Parmesan risotto recipe once, you will be BLOWN away at how easy it is and a whole new world of risotto flavors and textures will open up!   

top view of Parmesan risotto recipe in a grey dish garnished with basil and parsley

Parmesan Risotto Recipe

With Easter just around the corner, I have a bunch of company worthy recipes coming your way, starting with this impressive AND delicious velvety Parmesan risotto!

If you’ve been living a risotto-less life – stop the insanity!  Risotto is unbelievably creamy, velvety, buttery, savory, salty and pure addicting – just try and stop at one spoonful!

When I made this Parmesan risotto recipe last week, Patrick was oohing and ahhing, gushing with comments in between bites: “amazing,” “this is the best risotto I’ve ever had,” “I’ve been all around the world and never had risotto this good,” “seriously hands down the best risotto…”  And you too can make the “best risotto” with this Garlic Parmesan risotto recipe.

Risotto has a reputation of being temperamental and time consuming, but it is actually super easy to make at home.  The only prerequisite is that you can stir rice and have 30 minutes – that’s it to divine creamy comfort – at its most addictive. 

Oven Risotto!

Did you know you can make Parmesan risotto in the oven?  If you have been living a risotto-less life, oven risotto is the perfect way to conquer your fearIn this risotto recipe post, I’ve detailed how to make stovetop risotto and baked risotto, but baked risotto is by far my favorite.

Baked Parmesan risotto eliminates all the stirring, adding broth a cupful at a time and stirring to the right consistency.  Oven risotto is extremely forgiving – even more forgiving than traditional rice AND tastes just as good as stovetop risotto, in my opinion. 

In fact, I am so obsessed with oven risotto, I’ve already made Baked Butternut Squash Risotto and Greek Chicken Risotto and pretty much want to make everything into risotto! 

But for the holidays, I’m keeping it simple with this buttery, Parmesan Risotto recipe.  It is classic deliciousness at its finest that pairs beautifully with Bake Ham and every possible side.  But just be warned, everyone is going to want THIS side.

WHAT IS RISOTTO?

Risotto is one of my favorite foods in the world, so, what exactly is risotto?  Risotto (from the Italian word for rice, “riso”) is a northern Italian rice dish slow cooked in a broth until delectable creamy consistency – it is essentially creamy rice but NOT mushy rice. 

Risotto is often associated with gourmet restaurants, but it is actually the epitome of Italian home cooking and very simple to prepare.  In fact, most Italians will tell you risotto should require no more than 18 minutes to make.

The traditional technique for making risotto calls for stirring small amounts of warmed broth into a large pot of rice a little at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid then stirring in some more.

This method has given home cooks the impression that risotto is too time consuming to make at home BUT my oven version solves all that and the risotto emerges every bit as heavenly without all the babysitting. 

side view of easy Parmesan risotto recipe on a grey plate with a gold fork

What’s the difference between risotto and rice?

Risotto is a type of rice dish; not all rice is risotto but all risotto is rice. Rice can be any variety of rice and prepared in any preparation. Risotto, on the other hand, should only be made with high starch short grain rice – either arborio or carnaroli – and cooked in broth to create a creamy rice dish.

What is the best type of rice for risotto?

The secret to making restaurant quality risotto at home is using arborio rice.  Arborio rice is a short-grained, starchy rice and is the key to creamy risotto.  When cooked, the rounded grains become creamy and chewy due to the high starch content without becoming gluey or mushy.

Can I Use a different rice?

Arborio rice is the most common and most reliable rice for any risotto recipe. It is also easy to find at most supermarkets. You may also use carnaroli rice which is dependable and hard to overcook but can only be found at specialty markets.

Please use only these two varieties of rice.  If you use any other rice variety, your Parmesan risotto recipe will not taste the same or have the correct consistency and texture due to the different starch content.

For example, both basmati and jasmine rice will not work due to their low starch content.  Basmati creates rice with individual grains when cooked and jasmine tends to stick together. Only arborio rice creates perfect risotto every time.

Where Can I Buy Arborio Rice?

Almost every grocery store carries arborio rice.  It is often in a plastic container alongside the other rice varieties.  If you are having trouble locating it, you can also purchase it on amazon.

Do you wash Arborio rice before cooking risotto?

While it is good practice to rinse most rice before cooking it to eliminate extra starch, do NOT rinse arborio rice – we WANT the extra starch to create creamy risotto. Some of the starch is released while cooking and once again while vigorously stirring.  This starch adds body and creaminess to the risotto and gives it the characteristic velvety consistency.

Parmesan Risotto Ingredients

In addition to arborio rice, classic Parmesan risotto also contains butter, garlic, onions, broth, white wine, and Parmesan cheese.  The broth itself can be from meat, fish, or vegetables.  You can add any vegetables such as mushrooms, spinach, peas, zucchini, etc.  You can also add any protein to risotto, from chicken to Italian sausage to seafood such as shrimp and lobster.

For this Parmesan risotto recipe, you will need:

  • shallots: one shallot includes all of the bulbs.
  • garlic: fresh garlic is the only way to go. Use more or less to taste.
  • arborio rice: is a MUST to make risotto otherwise it’s just mushy rice.
  • chicken broth: use low sodium or else your Parmesan risotto will be too s salty.
  • seasonings: dried basil, parsley, salt and pepper beautifully compliment the Parmesan
  • Parmesan cheese: only freshly grated please! It tastes far superior and melts much better than pre shredded or the powdered green stuff.
  • petite peas: are optional but SO good, highly recommend!
  • heavy cream: is also optional for an extra rich and indulgent Parmesan risotto.
top view of garlic parmesan risotto with a wooden spoon

How to Make Parmesan Risotto Recipe

You can prepare your Parmesan risotto recipe on the stove or in the oven for equally impressive results.  To cook on the stove, you will need 6 cups of chicken broth instead of 5 cups used in the oven version because more broth evaporates when cooking on the stove. For the stove top version:

  1. First, add 6 cups of chicken broth to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil then reduce to low to keep warm throughout the cooking process.
  2. In a large, deep skillet, melt the butter then and sauté shallots followed by garlic.
  3. Add the rice and toast for about about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add 1 cup of warmed broth to the skillet and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue to add the broth, 1 cup at a time, until each cup is absorbed, stirring frequently.
  5. After you have added your last cup of chicken broth and there is only about ¼ cup broth left to be absorbed, stir in salt, pepper, parsley, and Parmesan cheese; stir vigorously, then stir in peas.
  6. Continue to cook until the broth is absorbed, the rice is cooked, cheese is melted and peas are warmed through. The total process will take about 25-30 minutes.

Parmesan Risotto Recpe Tips for success

If you choose to cook risotto on the stove, here are a few tips for successful risotto every time:

  • Parmesan is a must in authentic risotto recipe!  You can use anywhere from ½ cup to one cup Parmesan. If you are looking to make Parmesan risotto, I suggest one cup Parmesan.  It is salty, savory and absolutely fantastic.
  • Use the right Parmesan. No matter how much Parmesan you use, please only use freshly grated Parmesan cheese – NEVER the Parmesan in the green can.  Freshly grated Parmesan melts and tastes far superior and will elevate your entire risotto.
  • Right skillet:  Use a wide skillet in order for the rice to cook evenly. 
  • Low sodium chicken broth: the broth will be reduced and absorbed into the rice so make sure to use LOW sodium chicken broth. You can add salt but you can’t take it away!
  • Prep ahead: have your shallots and garlic minced, your Parmesan grated and all of your remaining ingredients lined up because once you start making the risotto, you will need both hands – one for stirring and one for ladling.
  • Toast rice:  The brief step of sautéing the arborio rice is critical to perfect risotto.  Toasting the rice not only infuses it with flavor, but more importantly, creates a protective barrier around each grain which helps the grains absorb moisture slowly. This allows the grains to maintain their structural integrity and become soft without becoming soggy or exploding from absorbing moisture too quickly.
showing how to make risotto by toasting rice
  • Warm broth: only use warm broth so the rice will cook evenly. Adding cold broth reduces the temperature of the rice and interrupts the cooking process. Warming the broth before adding it to the rice also releases more starch from each grain of rice whereas cold broth will cook the rice while shocking it into holding onto its starches.
  • Add broth slowly: Add broth a little at a time. You want to add broth, then stir until most of the broth is absorbed before adding more.
  • Don’t over-stir: You want to stir the risotto enough so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom but don’t stir constantly.  Stirring too much will incorporate air into the risotto which can make it gluey. This is different than the oven version in which you stir vigorously at the end to release the starch because you haven’t been stirring it while baking.
  • Salt to taste: if your risotto tastes like its missing something – it is probably salt. Salt enhances all of the other flavors. Add additional salt to taste a little at a time if needed.
  • Heavy cream: heavy cream isn’t traditionally added to risotto but it is AMAZING! It makes the risotto even creamier. The only time I would not add heavy cream is if your rice is already on the saucier side, otherwise it makes a fantastic addition.

How to Bake Parmesan Risotto

Baking Parmesan risotto in the oven is my preferred method.  Here’s how easy it is:

  • Heat butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. If you don’ have a tight-fitting lid, then you can use foil, but make sure it is TIGHT otherwise the broth will evaporate before the rice is cooked, leaving you with crunchy rice.
  • Sauté shallots followed by rice.  Add rice and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes while stirring.
  • Add warm chicken broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.  Bake for 16 minutes or until rice is on the softer side of al dente.
  • When rice is tender, remove from oven and stir in remaining, chicken broth, butter and Parmesan Cheese. Stir vigorously until smooth.
  • Stir in peas.  Stir in heavy cream or additional chicken broth if desired for even creamier risotto.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

What is the correct consistency of Risotto?

The rice in risotto should be on the softer side of al dente – slightly firm but not crunchy.  The risotto should be saucy but not soupy – more like porridge. If your risotto is too crunchy but the broth is gone, simply add more broth and cook until the risotto is al dente.

If you Parmesan risotto is too thick, simply stir in additional chicken broth at low heat until it reaches the desired consistency and texture. You can also stir in additional heavy creamy for extra decadence.

Can you overcook risotto?

Yes, you can overcook risotto, so be sure to check it from the oven after 16 minutes and test to see if the grains are al dente.  For the stovetop, check the rice when you are almost done adding the broth – you may not need to use all of the broth. If the rice is not al dente, then continue to cook or bake just until the softer side of al dente. 

showing how to make risotto by stirring cooked risotto rice

How to Store Risotto

It’s hard to imagine there would be any leftovers of decadently delicious Parmesan risotto recipe, but I’m always very excited when there is!  To store risotto, transfer it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for three to five days.

How to Reheat Risotto

Risotto will thicken in the refrigerator due to the starch in the rice, but you can easily thin it out to and restore it to its glory.  To reheat risotto:

  1. Add risotto and some chicken broth or water to a skillet, about ¼ cup liquid for 1 cup risotto. 
  2. Heat over medium heat until warmed through, stirring often. 
  3. If the risotto is still thick, stir in additional liquid one tablespoon at a time.
  4. You can also add additional butter and salt to taste as the salt will mellow when refrigerated.

Can You Freeze Parmesan Risotto?

Yes, you can freeze Parmesan risotto, but SHOULD you?  Risotto is best eaten fresh or refrigerated, never frozen.  Freezing risotto will change its texture – the risotto won’t be as firm or creamy.

If you aren’t a stickler for perfect risotto, then make sure you let the risotto cool completely before freezing to help preserve some of the texture.

What to Serve with Parmesan Risotto?

This Parmesan risotto recipe pairs beautifully as a side to a main dish proteins such as chicken, salmon, shrimp, pork and steak.  It would be fabulous with:

top view of a serving of favorite risotto recipe with a gold fork

Is Risotto Gluten Free?

Yes!  All rice is naturally gluten-free and this Parmesan risotto recipe does not contain any other gluten ingredients.

Is risotto a main dish?

Risotto can be a side OR a main dish depending on what you add to it.  This recipe for basic Parmesan risotto is considered a side dish but add chicken, shrimp, lobster, etc. and you can have a main dish.

I’ve listed a lot of recipe variations below so you can make mix up this risotto for a side or main course any night of the week!

parmesan risotto RECIPE VARIATIONS

Once you make this easy risotto recipe once (specifically this EASY baked version), you will be finding excuses to add anything and everything! Here are just a few ideas of ways you can make it your own:

  • Fennel and lemon risotto – one of my favorite combos!
  • Garlic, sage mushroom risotto
  • Tomatoes and basil risotto
  • Bacon and cheddar risotto
  • Spinach and pea risotto
  • Peas and mint risotto
  • Swiss chard and shrimp risotto
  • Gorgonzola and radicchio risotto
  • Asparagus, spinach and lemon risotto
  • Olives and feta risotto (like my Greek risotto)
  • Sun-dried tomato, spinach and feta risotto
  • Vegetable risotto with zucchini, bell peppers, peas and spinach
  • Scallops with arugula risotto
  • Chicken, lemon, parsley risotto
  • Shrimp, lemon, herb risotto
  • Lobster risotto
  • ground beef, turkey or sausage risotto

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up close of a serving of favorite risotto recipe on a grey plate garnished with parsley

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up close of a serving of garlic Parmesan risotto

Garlic Parmesan Risotto (BAKED or stove top)

Creamy risotto is easy to make on the stove top OR in the oven! This risotto recipe is unbelievably flavorful, warm and comforting, and as easy as stirring rice! This simple risotto recipe is infused with shallots, garlic, Parmesan, replete with butter and never fails to impress. The oven version is 100% foolproof and doesn’t require constant stirring or babysitting. Once you make this risotto once, you will be BLOWN away at how easy it is and a whole new world of risotto flavors and textures will open up!
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 30 mins
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons butter divided
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth, warmed (6 cups for stove top)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup thawed frozen petite peas
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)

Instructions

BAKED RISOTTO

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Add shallots and sauté 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until well coated with butter and edges begin to look translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add 4 ½ cups warm chicken broth and seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until rice is the softer side of al dente.
  • When rice is tender, remove from oven and stir in remaining ½ cup chicken broth, 3 tablespoons butter (cubed) and Parmesan Cheese. Stir vigorously until smooth. Stir in peas. Stir in heavy cream or additional chicken broth if desired for an even creamier/saucier risotto. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I add both).

STOVETOP RISOTTO

  • Add 6 cups of chicken broth to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to low to keep warm while you make the risotto.
  • In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter with one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat (you will keep the heat at medium until finished cooking). Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until well coated with butter and edges begin to look translucent and mushrooms are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds.
  • Add 1 cup of warmed broth to the skillet and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue to add the broth, 1 cup at a time, until each cup is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  • After you have added your last cup of chicken broth and there is only about ¼ cup broth left to be absorbed, in the skillet, stir in 3 tablespoons butter (cubed), seasonings, peas and Parmesan cheese.
  • Continue to cook until the broth is absorbed, the rice is cooked, cheese is melted and peas are warmed through. Stir in heavy cream or additional chicken broth if desired for an even creamier/saucier risotto. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste (I add both).

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16 Comments

  1. Liz says

    Hi Jen,

    Your oven technique for risotto is a genius idea! It’s so easy and the risotto comes out creamy every single time. It makes me wonder why anyone does it on the stovetop. 🙂 My husband and I LOVE all your recipes – I view each one of them as a little jewel you give us. The spice combinations you come up with give multi-dimensional, well-rounded, and irresistible flavors. I’ve made over 250 of your recipes; and my husband’s most requested dinner is your Greek Chicken Risotto. So, so, so good!! And now we’re adding the Garlic Parmesan Risotto to the “must make often” list. Thanks for all you do to help us all become better cooks and for the wonderful flavors you come up with. I appreciate you!

    • Jen says

      Thank you SO much Liz, your comment absolutely made my week – I appreciate YOU! I am honored – and impressed! – you have made 250 of my recipes! I’m so pleased you love the oven risotto technique as much as me. I also love hearing that the Greek Chicken Risotto is your husband’s most requested dinner – you have great taste! Thanks for taking the time to comment and to make my recipes! Sending you a big hug!

  2. John K Rutherford says

    I made the Garlic Parmesan Risotto using the oven baking technique last week for dinner. So Easy! And beyond delicious. It was beautiful to look at, too, with the bright green peas and herbs. I can hardly wait to make it again. Thanks so much for introducing me to this oven baking technique. While the risotto was baking I had time to prep and cook the shrimp (brown butter and garlic) to complete the meal.

    • Jen says

      Hi John, I’m thrilled you loved the oven risotto! And your brown butter garlic shrimp sounds like the perfect companion – yum! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  3. Layne says

    My husband says he could eat this multiple times a week. He was like, “what’s even in risotto?!” Another great recipe and I love this easy technique.

    • Jen says

      Me too! I think I could eat risotto for the rest of my life and be completely satisfied! I’m so glad you loved this risotto and the easy oven technique!

  4. Lemon says

    Thank you for helping me learn about Italian food, namely risotto, your website is very good and easy for the readers to understand.

    • Jen says

      I appreciate your kind comment! I’m so happy you’re enjoying my website, thank you!

  5. Nicole says

    Just curious .. should there be mushrooms on ingredient list? Instructions for both oven and stove top versions include mushrooms but they are nowhere else in the post. Just asking for clarification. Thank you

    • Jen says

      Hi Nicole, mushrooms are optional – feel free to add them if you like, enjoy!

  6. Naomi says

    I’m making this risotto for a cooking group. Is there a chicken dish you would recommend to pair with it? Preferably with a “fall feel” to it?

    • Naomi says

      Sorry! Just saw your recommendation list. Thanks!

  7. Jamie says

    Can you update the ingredient list to show the quantity of mushrooms to use? They’re mentioned in the directions but not listed in the ingredients.

    • Jen says

      Hi Jamie, I would use 8 oz. if using. Enjoy!

  8. Nancy Lawin says

    I was just wondering if you can double the oven recipe and how that would be done. Do the ratios change?

    • Jen says

      Hi Nancy, I haven’t personally tried it but I recommend doubling all of the ingredients except start with a little less salt (easy to salt to taste at the end) and be flexible with the amount of broth you add at the vey end once it comes out of the oven. Please let me know how it goes!

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