This creamy saffron risotto recipe (or Risotto Alla Milanese) is a simple yet decadent dinner idea that’s ready in under 30 minutes with just a few basic ingredients. Classy enough to serve at fancy get togethers, but easy enough to make on busy weeknights.
So naturally when I got my hands on a few precious strands of saffron, I had to make this classic saffron risotto recipe!
Why you’ll love This Risotto Flavor
- It’s all made in 1 pan
- It’s fancy enough to serve at holiday feasts…
- …but it’s easy enough to serve on weeknights
- It’s so creamy (without any added cream)
What is Risotto alla Milanese?
While all risotto is Italian, Risotto Milanese comes from the Lombardy region of northern Italy.
And what makes this type of risotto different from others? The simple addition of saffron!
Ingredients for Saffron Risotto
You’ll need a few basic ingredients to make this flavor.
- Vegetable Broth: The warmed broth is the liquid that cooks the rice. I like to add my saffron to the broth to help extract the flavors (here’s how to make your own vegetable broth form scraps!)
- Saffron: The star of the show! This delicate spice has an earthy, floral flavor that works well in a mild dish like risotto.
- Butter: Butter is the heart of creamy risotto, providing richness and depth to the dish. Use half of it for sautéing your flavor base, and the other half for finishing the risotto.
- Shallots, Garlic and Salt: Our flavor base! Feel free to use yellow onion if you can’t find shallots.
- Arborio Rice: The type of rice is crucial for a creamy and velvety risotto. Arborio rice, with its high starch content, absorbs the liquid while creating a creamy texture thanks to its starches. Carnaroli works even better here, but can be difficult to find.
- Dry White Wine: Wine adds a layer of acidity to the risotto while also helping to deglaze the pan. It’s optional, but highly encouraged!
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated parmesan brings a salty richness to the risotto. Opt for grating it yourself rather than buying pre-grated cheese – the flavor and meltability are better!
Where to buy saffron
Saffron can be found in most grocery stores in the spice aisle. You can also find it (usually more affordably) online.
How to make Saffron Risotto
Making this risotto is simple and virtually foolproof. You’ll just:
- Heat the broth together with the saffron
- Start your flavor base, an aromatic trip of shallots, garlic, and butter
- Toast the rice to improve texture and flavor
- Add wine to deglaze the pan
- Cook rice by adding a ladle of saffron broth at a time
- Serve with parmesan and a pat of butter!
Risotto is best served fresh off the stove! If you have leftovers:
- Refrigerate them in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days (avoid freezing risotto or placing the container in a part of the fridge which might freeze)
- Reheat gently on the stove, adding a splash of broth to help moisten up the rice
Which Wine Is Best For Risotto?
When it comes to making this saffron risotto, look for a low or moderately priced dry white wine, like pino grigiot or sauvignon blanc. It doesn’t need to be expensive, as we’re mainly using it for acidity and to help deglaze the pan.
P.S. Love risotto? Here are 10 risotto recipes to try next!
- 6 cups vegetable broth warmed, 1 to 1 ½ L
- ½ tsp saffron
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter divided, 28 g
- 2 medium shallots finely diced, should give you about ½ cup
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice 270 g
- 1 cup dry white wine optional*, 236 mL
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese 75 g
- Broth: In a medium pot set over medium heat, combine 6 cups vegetable broth and ½ tsp saffron.
- Flavor Base: Heat 1 Tbsp unsalted butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add 2 medium shallots (finely diced) and 2 cloves garlic (minced), cooking until shallots are translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Toast Rice: Add 1 tsp salt and 1 ½ cups arborio rice and cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, or until the rice is slightly opaque on the outside but uncooked on the inside.
- Add Wine (Optional): Add 1 cup dry white wine to the pot and simmer until wine has completely been absorbed, stirring to incorporate the tasty bits that may have got stuck to the pan.
- Cook Rice: Slowly add the warm saffron broth, adding ½ cup at a time. Wait until broth has completely absorbed before adding another ½ cup, continuing this process until rice is cooked through. Begin tasting the rice after 15 minutes. Once it has reached your desired texture, stop adding broth (you may not need the full amount).
- Serve: Stir in 1 cup grated parmesan cheese and remaining 1 Tbsp of butter.