Recipes / Reverse Risotto

Reverse Risotto

By Mark Bittman

Published September 26, 2022

Creamy risotto doesn’t happen by itself. Or does it? I call it “reverse” because you wait until the very end to season and stir the rice. Though nothing about this technique is traditional, the results are quite similar to the classic: rice with a little bite, flavored with wine, Parmesan, saffron, and butter.

Reverse Risotto
The following may contain affiliate links for which we earn a small commission. Thank you for supporting us in this way!

Make The Recipe!

Reverse Risotto

Prevent your screen from going dark




  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio, Carnaroli, or other short-grain white rice
  • Salt
  • 1 cup white wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion or large shallot
  • Pinch of saffron threads or 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese (1 cup grated), plus more for garnish
  • Several sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons butter


  1. Put 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice in a large pot with a pinch of salt, 1 cup white wine if you’re using it, and 3 cups water (or 4 cups if you’re not using wine). Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the liquid bubbles gently but steadily, cover, and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  2. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat.
  3. Trim, peel, and chop the onion or shallot and get about 1 cup water handy by the stove.
  4. Turn up the heat under the skillet to medium-high and add the onion or shallot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until golden and slightly jammy, another 3 to 5 minutes. Add the saffron or smoked paprika and stir until fragrant, less than a minute, then turn off the heat.
  5. Check the rice the first time after it’s been cooking 10 minutes. It should be slightly firm and maybe no longer submerged. Add enough water to cover the rice by about 1/2 inch and stir, scraping up any that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot. Re-cover and continue cooking until the rice is creamy but still has a little bite, 2 to 5 minutes more.
  6. Grate 1 cup parmesan cheese. Strip the leaves from several parsley sprigs and chop 2 tablespoons parsley leaves. Get 2 tablespoons butter handy.
  7. When the rice is ready, add the seasonings from the skillet to the pot, along with the cheese and butter, and stir until melted. The risotto should be creamy but not mushy, and soupy enough to drop from the spoon like porridge. If not, add a little more water and continue to cook and stir another minute or so. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve, garnished with parsley and more cheese.

— Recipe from How to Cook Everything Fast: Completely Revised and Updated