How to Make Perfectly Creamy Risotto Like a Pro

Top tips for velvety, delicious results every time.

lemon parsley risotto
Photo: Sidney Bensimon

From the first sizzle of oil to the final sprinkle of Parmesan, this iconic Italian dish is satisfyingly hands-on. Sip an aperitivo as you stir the rice into a fragrant, velvety meal. The finished risotto should self-level when served: Ladle it into a bowl, softly tap the bottom of the dish, and watch it move like molten lava to even out. For our classic version, top with parsley, pepper, cheese, and a drizzle of oil.

Grocery List

  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Lemon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Yellow onion
  • Short-grain Italian rice, such as arborio
  • Dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Unsalted butter
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley
arborio rice
John Kernick


Go for short-grain Italian rice: Its high starch content imparts creamy texture, and the thickness of the grain helps it stay intact during the lengthy cooking time. The arborio variety, such as Bob's Red Mill, is easy to find in grocery stores, but if you can find carnaroli, vialone nano, baldo, or Calriso, pick some up.

risotto in progress
Sidney Bensimon

Risotto Master Class


In a saucepan, combine 4 cups broth, 2 cups water, 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, heat a large straight sided skillet over medium. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add 1 cup finely chopped onion, season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups rice and cook, stirring, until translucent and grains begin to make a popping sound, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup wine; cook until mostly evaporated, about 30 seconds.


Ladle 1 cup broth mixture into skillet. Stir with a wooden spoon at a moderate speed until most of broth is absorbed and bottom of skillet stays visible for a second or two as you mix, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue ladling broth into skillet, about 1/2 cup at a time (or enough to just cover rice). Stir slowly but constantly, allowing rice to absorb most of broth before adding more. Risotto is ready when rice is al dente and broth has thickened to a rich sauce, 20 to 25 minutes. (You may not need to use all of broth.)


Remove from heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons butter, 4 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/2 cup finely grated cheese; season with salt and pepper. Top with chopped parsley and more cheese; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with more pepper to serve. If the risotto becomes stiff before serving, stir in more broth, a little at a time, until it's loose and creamy.

More Risotto Renditions

saffron risotto shrimp peas
Sidney Bensimon


Add a pinch of saffron with wine in step 1. Add 1 pound large peeled, deveined shrimp and 3/4 cup fresh peas to skillet with last addition of broth in step 2; cook until shrimp are opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. (If using thawed frozen peas, stir them into risotto off of heat before adding butter, lemon, and cheese.) Omit parsley.

Sidney Bensimon


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a straight-sided skillet over medium-high. Add 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms; season with salt. Cook until browned in places, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon minced garlic; cook 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate; reserve skillet for risotto. Swap out onion for 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white- and light-green parts only, well washed). Swap out rice for pearl barley. Increase broth to 5 cups. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until creamy, 1 hour. Fold in mushroom mixture with butter, lemon juice, and cheese in step 3. Swap out parsley for chopped fresh dill.

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