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Chicken risotto is a creamy, comforting rice dish that’s easy to make at home. With just a few ingredients and time to stir, you’ll be on your way to a classic dinner experience.
Whenever I can’t figure out what to make for dinner, I turn to rice dishes, and risotto.
No, really! Risotto is a go-to around here because it’s actually easier than it seems, and you only need some staple ingredients to make it.
We always have broth on hand, and I admittedly have too many different kinds of rice in the pantry.
But even when the others don’t get used, arborio rice is something I use constantly to make dishes like this chicken risotto.
It doesn’t hurt that my kids love this “cheesy rice” whenever it’s on the table. They don’t even know that most people consider it a fancy meal!
After you start making risotto at home, trust me, you’ll be able to make it any night of the week.
Ingredients for chicken risotto
There are a few key ingredients to making risotto.
Chicken – This creamy risotto is a great way to use leftover rotisserie chicken or even turkey. If you don’t have any cooked chicken on hand already, roast or grill chicken your favorite way.
I recommend using a mix of white and dark meat for the best flavor.
Chicken broth – You’ll need plenty of broth to make risotto. A standard 32-ounce box (4 cups) of chicken broth will work, though I usually like to have extra on hand just in case, as you might need a little more to fully cook the rice.
You can also use vegetable broth. Both regular or low-salt work fine.
White wine – Wine is used to deglaze the pan after sauteeing the shallots and rice. It adds a wonderful flavor to the rice, while the alcohol cooks off.
Use a white wine you enjoy drinking, as you will only need ¼ cup for the risotto. Sauvignon blanc is a good choice; avoid sweeter wines like Riesling.
Parmesan cheese – Risotto absolutely needs parmesan! Buy a wedge of parmesan and grate it fresh for this recipe. While it is more expensive, the bagged cheese doesn’t have quite the same flavor, and doesn’t melt as nicely into the rice.
Arborio rice – The basis of risotto is arborio rice. You should be able to find it at any major grocery store.
You’ll also need:
- Butter or olive oil
- Shallot or onion
- Salt and pepper
What is arborio rice?
Arborio rice is a short-grain rice. The grains are slightly rounded and generally whiter in color when compared with medium- or long-grain rices.
After cooking, arborio rice stays firm and chewy, and the released starches help create a creamy sauce for the risotto.
When buying arborio rice, make sure you are getting plain rice, not a box of instant risotto. These boxes have seasoning mixed in, and the rice is par-cooked, so it won’t work in a traditional risotto.
How to make chicken risotto
First, pour your broth into a saucepan and let it simmer. The broth needs to be warm when adding it to the rice so it does not stop the cooking process.
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat, then add shallots and cook until softened. If you don’t have shallots, a small onion can be used instead.
Add the rice and stir well to coat the grains in the melted butter. Stir for 2-4 minutes, until the grains are translucent around the edges and white in the center.
Now, pour the wine in. It will sizzle. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck bits — this process is called deglazing.
Add 2 cups of the broth and the salt and cook, stirring the rice, until most of the broth has been absorbed. You should only see small pools of liquid, and you’ll be able to see the bottom of the pan for a moment when you scrape it with a spoon.
At this point start adding more broth but only a small amount at a time, about ½ cup. Continue to stir the rice and add more broth as it is absorbed.
After you’ve cooked the rice for about 15 minutes, stir in the chicken so it warms through while the rice continues to cook. Keep adding more broth, stirring to prevent sticking and keep the rice cooking evenly.
When your broth is nearly gone, taste the rice and see if it is done or needs more cooking. It should be creamy and just lightly chewy.
Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in half of the parmesan cheese and pepper. Serve immediately with more cheese and chopped fresh parsley.
Risotto is best served immediately after it is made.
However, if you have leftovers, store them in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat risotto, place in a saucepan and add a small amount of broth. Warm gently, stirring the broth into the rice. This will make the risotto creamy again, rather than sticky.
You can also use leftover risotto to make arancini or rice fritters.
One reason I love risotto is because there are so many ways you can add to it.
Try chopped cooked bacon along with the chicken for salty, savory flavor.
Mix in steamed peas or finely chopped broccoli. My kids love risotto, so this is a great way to get the veggies in!
Add greens with fresh baby spinach, or try it with thinly sliced dinosaur kale.
Add lemon juice and top with lemon zest for bright flavor.
Other risotto recipes to try
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup diced shallot
- 1 cup arborio rice
- ¼ cup white wine, optional
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided use
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Pour the broth into a small saucepan and set over medium heat.
- In a large saucepan set over medium-low heat, add olive oil. Once shimmering, add shallots and sauté until soft and translucent.
- Increase heat to medium and add rice. Cook for 2-4 minutes, just until lightly toasted and only the center of the grains are white. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, if using, cooking until almost evaporated.
- Add 2 cups of the warm broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the broth is absorbed. Continue to add ½ cup of broth at a time, stirring to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- After about 15 minutes of cooking, taste the rice for doneness. Add the chicken. Continue to add broth and cook until rice is tender but not mushy.
- Remove from heat and stir in half the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Serve with additional cheese for topping.