I've prepared risotto from scratch a handful of times in the last few months. While I've been happy with the flavor, the texture left a little something to be desired.

In specific, it tasted like it was undercooked even though I ended up cooking the rice well past the time called for in the recipe. Any thoughts on what could be causing this?

  • 3
    What type of rice are you using? (Arborio, Carnaroli, ...) How much are you stirring? Are you keeping it at a simmer? Aug 31, 2010 at 2:54

7 Answers 7


Time has nothing to do with cooking risotto -- you cook it 'til it stops absorbing liquid. I don't even cook by amount of liquid added, as it's more a cook-it-until-it's-done type recipe. When the rice stops aborbing liquid well, it's generally done, but an occassional check for texture never hurts.

Type of rice will affect things, as will elevation from sea level, temperature of the cooking vessel, and surface area of the cooking vessel.

See :


Altitude could be a problem. Rice will take longer to cook at higher altitudes.

My suggestion is to continue cooking and adding broth until the rice is at the texture you desire. Taste often.

If you want to make the cook time shorter, you can par-boil the rice. Here is a link that explains how that is done.



The biggest mistake I see when people make risotto is they add way too much liquid. If you add too much liquid most of it evaporates than gets absorbed by the grain.

While risotto is a "cook it until it's done" recipe as @Joe stated, there are some "rules":

  1. 1/2 cup of stock per session and never stop stirring
  2. At about the 20 minute mark, with Arborio, it should be close to done, I usually start tasting at about the 15-18 minute mark
  3. The right heat, as with most cooking, is paramount to a good outcome, you want a slow and steady simmer on when liquid is the pan
  4. It is time to add more liquid when there is none in the sautee pan

Without more details as type of rice, process, or whether you are strictly adhering to a recipe, it is a bit difficult to give you the best advice.


I would make TWO specific suggestions: FIRST, you MUST toast the rice. I begin with olive oil, where I brown my yellow onions and garlic. As soon as this is complete, I add my SHORT-GRAINED rice (Arborio, Carnarolli) and "toss" the rice well until it is lightly covered. Allow the rice to slightly toast before beginning to add your liquid. SECOND, you MUST warm all your liquid BEFORE you add it a ladle at a time. This prevents the kernels of rice from breaking open. If you use room-temperature or cold liquid, the risotto temporarily stops cooking when you add the liquid, until the mixture can heat back up. LASTLY, an authentic Italian risotto is almost soupy in texture. It is very creamy but not "lumpy" at all. Good luck! Bon Apetit!


Short answer is that you forget about the time in any recipe, more or less. When you get around a minute or so from the intended time you start tasting the risotto for doneness. It should have a bite without being hard. If you run out of cooking liquid and the risotto isn't done, just add more liquid. If you are using stock and you don't want any more flavor from the stock, use water. When you are happy with the mouthfeel, your risotto is done.


If you're not starting by cooking the rice in butter (and otherwise dry), that could be your problem. If you already are . . . try cooking it a bit longer before adding the liquid. This helps get the rice cooking earlier and helps it absorb enough liquid.

Also note that risotto is supposed to keep a bit of an "al dente" feel to it. If you cook it to mush, it's overdone.


Risotto Basics

  1. Risotto is made by heating rice so it absorbs liquid, the absorption rate is key. Stopping cooking shortly before the rice is 'full' of liquid results in al dente risotto - stopping afterwards can result in a more liquid risotto.

  2. Cheap arborio rice is often overdried and will not absorb moisture properly - resulting in a grainy texture regardless of how it's cooked. If you have grainy textures no matter what you do, try switching brands of rice.

  3. The ideal method for introducing liquid to your risotto is to make it 'thirsty', aka on the verge of running out of stock at all points, which results in parts of the risotto frying for periods instead of stewing in the liquid, helping to inculcate flavour. You ladle in liquid as it's nearly gone, from another pot, which is keeping the stock hot (so it doesn't cool down your pan if you put it in cold).

  4. Always fry the rice (in olive oil) before introducing the stock. A light 'browning' will vastly improve the flavour and texture of the rice.

  5. Learn to identify (by taste or sight) the level of absorption of the rice, so you know when to add extra ingredients such as chicken, beef, mushrooms, peas, zucchini, or broccoli, etc. You can pre-cook them separately, but to a certain degree the rice's flavour will depend on what it is cooked with - and it removes flavour from the other ingredients, also.

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