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Whenever I make a risotto, I always find that I need about 50% more liquid and 50% more cooking time than my recipe suggests. I recently made a Jamie Oliver risotto that called for 1 cup arborio, 2 cups chicken stock, and 20 minutes. I used more like 3 1/2 cups of stock and it took a good 30 minutes. My stock is heated in a separate sauce pan, and I add it a little at a time (although probably more than a ladle, maybe two?). I stir frequently but not constantly (probably once a minute). I consistently seem to have this issue regardless of the recipe source.

Am I do something wrong? Or is this a case of a recipe playing it on the safe side?

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  • The different brands of arborio seem to have an effect as well.
    – Rake36
    Aug 10, 2010 at 23:34
  • 20 minutes sounds on the short side for risotto anyway, maybe the recipe was overly optimistic
    – rumtscho
    Feb 6, 2014 at 21:38
  • It’s worth noting that there is a wide range in quality of recipes. Professional cookbooks may use a ‘test kitchen’ to try their recipes with a variety of pan sizes, types of stoves (gas, electric, etc), different brands of ingredients or regionally available varieties of produce… your average food blogger likely determine what worked for them on their specific stove, at their normal temperature, humidity, and altitude. But the good news is that the salt and most flavorings are going to get transferred, so if you run out completely, you can switch to water
    – Joe
    Jun 16 at 1:07
  • Have you tried adding more liquid at a time while cooking? If you add too little liquid at a time, it would very quickly evaporate without progressing the cooking of the rice. Maybe try 2-3 ladles of liquid at a time?
    – hodale
    Jul 25 at 14:38

10 Answers 10

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It doesn't sound like you're doing anything wrong. I've found risotto to be one of those recipes that can vary up to 50% (usually less) from what the author calls for and still turn out great. I've even used recipes that call for "2-4" cups of broth. You may be overcooking it though, the rice should be al dente. It's not uncommon for people to overcook this until you have a mushy risotto.

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  • 3
    Mushy risotto. Yuck. I like mine to be al dente enough that I can reheat in the microwave and it's still edible.
    – yossarian
    Aug 10, 2010 at 17:26
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I live at 7500' and have noticed it requires approx 50% more broth and time than the recipe on the back of the bag of arborio rice calls for. This is due mainly to the fact that the boiling point is affected greatly by air pressure, so the higher above sea level you are, the lower the boiling point. For me it is around 198 degrees. Thats 14 degrees less than what the recipe is written for so you can see how it will take considerably longer to cook therefor requiring considerably more broth.

You can figure out the boiling point for your elevation using this chart: enter image description here

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I used to have this problem as well, until I started following the 'rules' a bit closer, and added my liquid in smaller batches with more stirring. Are you making it with small batches and continual stirring?

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  • I updated the question, but yes. I do small batches and stir a lot. However, I probably do more than a ladle at a time and I do not stir constantly, just very frequently (every minute).
    – yossarian
    Aug 10, 2010 at 13:37
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It could also have to do with the age of your rice -- older rice will take more liquid and more time to cook.

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I find that I typically need about 3:1 ratio of liquid to arborio rice. There are other varieties of rice (carnaroli for example) that may need slightly different ratios, but the best thing to do is have a little more liquid than you will need and then just keep going until the rice is perfect and serve immediately.

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Since most of the liquid loss is evaporation, maybe it's simply that you're cooking it a little hotter than the recipe writers do.

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The recipe I use calls for 4 cups of stock to 1 cup of rice, and I have liquid leftover if I do it right. So it might be the case that the ratio you are using is a bit tight.

My risotto is always tasty and has proper texture, so more broth doesn't seem to hurt things.

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The whole point of a good risotto is to put as much flavor into the rice as possible. Don't worry about doing better than the recipe writers.

I find that if you stir more you need less liquid, but also you damage more grains, which is bad for the texture. Just take the time you need and you're better off.

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Rices tend to take longer to cook at higher altitudes and need a bit more liquid... It can be something as simple as the recipe was written from someone cooking at sea-level, and you are at a higher elevation. Just use the extra liquid and cook to the proper texture.

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In my experience, risotto made using hot stock will require more liquid than risotto made with cold stock. Think about how quickly the stock is boiled off; it will boil off more quickly if it's already hot.

Every restaurant I've ever worked in uses a recipe based on cold stock. However, I have used hot stock before and it turned out fine. I just needed more stock in order for the Arborio to absorb the moisture it needed.

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  • Maybe not more time but definitely more stock. Jun 15 at 0:18

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