Packed with both fresh garlic and garlic powder and lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese, this Garlic Parmesan Risotto is so easy to make and is the perfect entree or side dish.
Homemade risotto is one of my favorite happy foods. I guess others might refer to it as a "comfort food," but I like to call it a happy food.
It's sneakily easy (sneakily because it seems a lot more complicated than it is!) and always creamy and delicious when made right. It's also super versatile and you can truly make it with any flavor profile you want.
Though I have tons of risotto recipes in my arsenal, I decided to keep things extra simple with this one. It's a standard creamy risotto packed with lots of garlic and parmesan cheese.
Because when it comes down to it, garlic and parmesan are really all you need in life. If you agree, you might also want to check out my Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes recipe!
🍚 What is Risotto?
Risotto is a Northern Italian rice dish typically made with arborio rice and cooked with broth or stock until creamy.
It can be served as a main dish, side dish, or appetizer (I've even made a breakfast risotto before!) and though most traditional risotto recipes include butter, white wine, and parmesan cheese, anything can be added from vegetables to proteins to cheeses to seasonings. Mushroom risotto is one of the most popular varieties in the U.S.
In America, home cooks typically use arborio rice (found with the other rice in your grocery store) for risotto, but other varieties of short grain rice like Carnaroli, Maratelli, Vialone Nano, Balso, Carnaroli, and more can be used (source).
You can make risotto-like dishes with other long grain rice like Jasmine rice and even grains like farro, barley, and quinoa, but they won't typically be as creamy as short grain rice risotto. I've also heard that orzo risotto is delicious!
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
You'll love this garlic parmesan risotto because it's incredibly easy to make and always delicious.
You can serve it as a meal or a side dish. It's the perfect entree for Meatless Monday, but it's also very easy to add protein to it if you want to.
It will warm you up on a cold winter evening, but is perfectly delicious any time of year. It's absolutely packed with garlic (fresh and powder) and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
If you use vegetable stock instead of chicken, this is a delicious vegetarian dish (though not vegan because of the butter and cheese).
Did I mention it's easy? I promise! Risotto is a piece of cake to make!
This is a pretty simple dish with simple ingredients. But there are also lots of ways you can jazz it up (I share a bunch later in this post). For the basic recipe, here is everything you need (be sure to view the recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions):
- Low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- Unsalted butter
- Chopped onion
- Minced garlic
- Arborio rice
- Dry white wine (like pinot grigio)
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Chopped parsley
- Garlic powder
- Salt and pepper
👩🍳 How to make garlic parmesan risotto
One of the myths of risotto making is that it requires a lot of time standing over the stove and stirring. Another myth is that it will stick to the pot if you're not partaking in constant stirring.
But these are definitely myths... Risotto couldn't be easier to make.
To start, heat broth or stock to a simmer in a small saucepan. Once it's simmering, lower the heat and keep it warm on the back burner.
While broth is heating, heat the butter over medium heat in a separate large saucepan or dutch oven.
Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until it's starting to soften.
Then add the garlic and cook it for another minute, until fragrant.
Add arborio rice to the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring a bit, until it’s translucent around the edges.
Pour wine into saucepan and cook, stirring until it's absorbed, about 2 minutes. If you don't have any wine or prefer not to include it, you can skip right to the next step. The wine does add a nice burst of bright acidity to the dish, but it's not totally necessary (and you can always stir some lemon juice in at the end).
Now for the broth! Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the rice. Stir and let the rice absorb the stock. Once the broth is absorbed, continue to add more, a cup at a time, stirring and letting it absorb before adding more.
You don't have to stir non-stop, but do stir occasionally to make sure rice doesn't start sticking to the bottom of your saucepan.
Continue with the rest of the broth (one cup at a time), or until the rice is al dente and nice and tender, but still firm. I generally use all of it.
When rice is fully cooked, remove from heat and add parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
Mix everything together.
Was the garlic powder totally necessary here? Probably not after using 3 Tbsp minced fresh garlic. But I wanted to pack even more garlic flavor into this garlic parmesan risotto!
Serve the classic risotto topped with more grated parmesan and chopped parsley.
I love eating risotto as an entire meal, but it also makes a really great side dish. It goes with chicken, pork, steak... Pretty much any meat entree!
I always marvel at the fact that when made correctly, risotto has the most incredible creamy texture without any milk or cream added to it. The creaminess is thanks to a starch called amylopectin in arborio rice, which makes it possible for the rice to absorb three times its own volume (source).
This garlic parmesan risotto is evidence of that as it's so incredibly creamy. But it's also packed with so much awesome garlic and parmesan flavor.
It has me falling in love with risotto even more.
🎉 Add-in ideas
If you want to serve this garlic parmesan risotto as a meal, but feel like you need some extra protein or veggies, there are so many things you can add that would go perfectly! Here are a few ideas:
- Chicken breast
- Turkey meatballs
- Mushrooms (bonus points if you make these caramelized mushrooms)
- Herbs, like fresh thyme, rosemary, or sage
You really can make this dish your own! The garlic and parmesan flavors are the backdrop to an entree with so many possibilities. It can be a super casual meal for any night of the week or a fancy weeknight date night dinner.
⏲️ How to store leftovers
I always think risotto is best when enjoyed freshly made, but if you have leftovers, they do keep pretty well!
Store any leftover risotto in an airtight container in the fridge and they should stay good for 3-5 days.
If you worry you won't be able to eat them in time, you can always turn them into arancini!
🔪 Tips and tricks
Though some people will have you thinking risotto is a culinary feat, I hope I've showed you just how easy it is to make.
That said, I do have a few tips to share that will help you get the creamiest, most delicious risotto possible!
- Don't rinse rice: I know lots of people rinse their rice before cooking it, but you should never do that with arborio rice. If you do, you'll be rinsing the starch off the rice and your resulting risotto won't be creamy. The high starch content is a positive here!
- Keep stock warm: All of my risotto recipes call for the stock to be heated in a saucepan before using in the risotto. If you add cold stock as you're cooking, the rice will be shocked by it and won't cook evenly. Make sure you keep your stock over low heat throughout the cooking process.
- Stir, but not too much: For some reason, lots of people will tell you that risotto has to be stirred constantly. But stirring it too much will actually allow too much air into it, which could give it a glue-y texture. So, while you definitely want to stir it so it doesn't stick to the pan and so you agitate it, don't stir it too much!
- Add stock slowly: You might be tempted to just add all the stock at once and let it absorb. But it's very important that you add no more than a cup at a time and wait for it to absorb before adding more.
I hope these tips help you make the perfect risotto!
🥣 More risotto recipes
As I mentioned, I make risotto ALL the time. My recipes range from super simple, like this garlic parmesan risotto to a bit more extravagant. Here are some of my favorite dishes:
- Chicken Parmesan Risotto
- Tomato and Sausage Risotto
- Breakfast Risotto with Bacon and Poached Egg
- BLT Risotto
- Blue Cheese Risotto with Kale
- Red Wine Olive Risotto
- Lemon and Fennel Risotto with Mussels
- Jalapeño Cheddar Risotto
- Apple and Walnut Risotto with Gorgonzola
- Wilted Spinach Parmesan Risotto with Seared Scallops (from SkinnyTaste)
I hope this creamy parmesan risotto is a dinner your whole family loves and that risotto becomes a staple in meal planning (you know, now that you're so good at making it).
Let me know how you customize it to make it your own!
Garlic Parmesan Risotto
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine (like pinot grigio)*
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus more for topping
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Pour chicken broth into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Lower heat and keep broth warm.
- In a separate larger saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
- Add arborio rice to the saucepan and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring a bit, until it’s translucent around the edges.
- Pour wine into saucepan and cook, stirring until it's absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- Add 1 cup of the warmed broth to the rice. Stir and let the rice absorb the stock. Once the broth is absorbed, continue to add more, a cup at a time, stirring and letting it absorb before adding more. You don't have to stir non-stop, but stir occasionally to make sure rice doesn't start sticking to the bottom of your saucepan. Continue with the rest of the broth, or until the rice is nice and tender, but still firm (I usually use all 5 cups).
- When rice is fully cooked, remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic powder, and salt and pepper.
- Serve risotto in bowls and top with additional parmesan and parsley.
- If you don't have any wine or prefer not to include it, you can skip right to the next step. The wine does add a nice burst of bright acidity to the dish, but it's not totally necessary (and you can always stir some lemon juice in at the end).
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