These are the best types of rice for risotto

These are the best types of rice for risotto

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Risotto is so comforting and elegant at the same time. I love that you can make it with virtually any type of broth or broth you have on hand, stir in any veggies you like, and top with anything from roasted shrimp to large shavings parmesan cheese But the rice? Buying the right strain is key – here’s what you need to know!

Why rice is so important in risotto

In its simplest form, risotto is rice cooked in broth. Rice is the star here because it produces starch—the constant stirring during the cooking process rubs the starch off the rice’s surface, where it dissolves in the cooking liquid and thickens. Choosing a rice that doesn’t contain enough starch means that the typical creamy texture of a good risotto will never be achieved.

What makes a good risotto rice? Look for rice that is short to medium grain, thick, and high in amylopectin (starch). These rice varieties also hold up well to constant stirring—the final texture is soft but has a slight chew in the center of each grain.

The 3 most popular types of risotto rice

Sometimes packages are just labeled “risotto rice,” which is an easy way to find the right variety. Otherwise, here are the three most popular types of rice for risotto.

Dubbed the “king” or “caviar” of risotto rice, cooks love to use it for its great flavor and because each grain holds its shape. It also produces the creamiest risotto and is more forgiving of cooking mistakes.

This type of rice is not as starchy as Carnaroli, but is the most common. This medium-grain rice can easily become overcooked or mushy, but with careful care it can still make a great risotto.

This shorter grain rice is grown in the Veneto region of Italy and cannot be grown with chemicals. It’s high in starch, cooks faster than carnaroli, and makes a very creamy risotto.

There are other, harder-to-find types of risotto rice — like baldo, cal riso, and maratelli — that are also great options. You may see superfino, semifino, and fino on risotto rice packages, but they only refer to the width of the grains, not quality.

Because rice starch is so valuable when preparing risotto, never rinse the rice before cooking.

While the above are the most common types of rice for risotto, you can really use any type of medium or short grain rice to make the dish in a pinch — even sushi rice would work if you happen to have that in the pantry and you can’t make it the store. While it won’t produce exactly the same results (and Italian nonnas probably wouldn’t approve), it will still be tasty.

The only rice to really avoid is long-grain rice like basmati or jasmine, as they don’t contain enough starch to achieve the characteristic creaminess of risotto.

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