An Easy Parmesan Risotto Recipe for Two People
> originally published on May 16, 2015 | updated on March 5, 2021 <
Parmesan risotto doesn’t have to be hard! This recipe is a perfect introduction to making classic parmesan risotto. It’s not difficult, but it does take some time. This recipe is also scaled down to make about two servings of risotto, which is perfect for an elegant date night at home.
Creamy parmesan risotto is the perfect way to introduce yourself to this wonderful dish, and you can always add more flavors to it as your confidence in preparing it increases!
How do I make Risotto for Two People?
Easy! We will use about 1/2 cup of dry arborio rice, but still pack in all of the flavor of creamy, delicious parmesan risotto. One trick I love to use to make this risotto extra creamy is to stir in a tablespoon of unsalted butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon right before it is served. I also have some tips and tricks for making sure your risotto is cooked to perfection!
- Start by heating a small sauce pan over low heat. Add the stock, and keep the stock warm while you start everything else! (Please note: good stock makes a world of difference in risotto! You can use either chicken stock or a vegetable stock, and I highly recommend buying it from your local butcher. Homemade / butcher-made stock is packed with great flavor and is deliciously fresh. Otherwise, look for the Better than Bouillon Chicken or Vegetable based concentrates, and use them as directed to make about 2 cups of stock.)
- Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the finely chopped onions with a pinch of salt. I recommend salting your food from the start, because it provides more flavor to the finished dish!
- After the onions are soft and nearly translucent, about 5-7 minutes, stir in the minced garlic. The garlic only needs to cook for about a minute, otherwise it could burn, which would make it have a weird flavor. After a minute of cooking the garlic, you’ll be able to smell how delicious it is, which is a good indicator that it’s done.
- Stir in the dry arborio rice. Cook the rice for about 2-3 minutes until most of it just as a tiny white dot remaining in the middle of it. This part of the recipe basically “toasts” the rice, which adds great flavor to the risotto.
- Stir in the white wine, and cook until it is totally absorbed – about 3-4 minutes.
- Add a ladle of the warm stock to the rice, and stir until it is mostly absorbed. Keep adding the stock, just a ladle at at time, waiting until each ladle is nearly absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 30 minutes total, so be prepared for that. This is where I recommend having a glass of wine and some relaxing music ready to go, because it’s the perfect time for both of those!
- Towards the last couple ladles of stock, you’ll notice the risotto starts to change texture. It develops into a creamy, saucier risotto. Carefully bite into one of the grains of rice, and see how al dente it is. I love my risotto to be extra creamy, so I keep cooking until it is super soft and tender. However, if you like a little bite to your risotto, you can stop cooking it a little earlier!
- After the risotto is cooked to your liking, turn the heat to low, and stir in the parmesan cheese. Taste the risotto, and add more salt if needed. Stir in some freshly cracked black pepper if you like, too!
- Stir in a tablespoon of butter and a squeeze of fresh lemon right before serving the risotto. The butter adds to the luxurious texture, and the lemon helps balance the richness. I promise it won’t taste lemon-y, if that part worries you!
- Serve hot, and with your favorite protein or vegetables!
Before you know it, you’ll seriously be a pro at making risotto. If this is your first time trying it, please do not be intimidated. I started making risotto about six years ago, and it was so intimidating to me for some reason. But after making it a few times, you’ll start to get a feel for the process, and realize that it’s actually super easy.
Risotto is time consuming, and this recipe and cooking method is a traditional way to make classic parmesan risotto. I always suggest pouring yourself a glass of wine, and turning on some relaxing music as you make it. It’s therapeutic in a way, and can be super rewarding!
Tips for Making the Best Parmesan Risotto:
- Use the best chicken or vegetable stock you can find. This make a big difference in the flavor of risotto, so it’s incredibly important. I recommend using homemade stock, or fresh stock from your local butcher. If neither of those two are an option, look for the “Better Than Bouillon” Chicken or Vegetable based liquid concentrates, and stir a couple of teaspoons into hot water to make your own delicious stock.
- Keep the stock warm while you’re making risotto. Cold stock can somewhat shock the rice and alter the creamy texture in the end, so using warm stock is a great way to ensure our risotto is cooked exactly how we like it!
- Don’t be afraid of adding a pinch or two of salt as you cook the risotto. We don’t want it to be salty by any means, but we want the flavors of the stock and parmesan to really shine. I always use Diamond Kosher salt, because it’s not as “salty” as table salt or sea salt. Just taste as you go, add a tiny pinch or two along the way when you feel like it!
- Use really good Parmesan cheese. It’s easy to grab a container of shredded Parmesan cheese from the store, but not for this recipe. Find a small wedge of Parmigiano Reggiano at the store (it may be a little pricier, but I promise you it’s worth it!) Grate the wedge into the risotto, and add a touch extra if you’re feeling it. Truly delicious Parmesan cheese is just as (if not MORE) important in this recipe as the stock, so please use the best you can find!
- Squeeze some lemon in before serving. This is not to add any lemon flavor to the risotto, but rather to add a touch of acidity to balance the richness of the risotto. It makes a big difference, and is a super easy step to totally take your risotto to the next level!
Ingredients for Parmesan Risotto for Two:
- Really good Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- Unsalted Butter
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Finely chopped Yellow Onion
- Minced Garlic
- Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper
- Dry White Wine
- Arborio Rice
- Really good Parmesan
- Fresh Lemon
What Wine should I use in Risotto?
A dry, crisp, un-oaked white wine. Look for a Pinot Grigio from Italy, a Chablis (which is Chardonnay) from France, or a Soave from Italy. Don’t go crazy on price – a bottle around $10-15 will absolutely work, and be worthy of drinking with your risotto, too! White wine will also keep in the refrigerator for a few days, so don’t feel like you need to drink it immediately once it’s open.
What can I use instead of Wine in Risotto?
You can use more chicken stock or water. The alcohol in the wine will cook out, and the remaining flavor just adds a touch of complexity to the risotto. However, if you prefer to not use wine, more stock or water will work just fine. Just skip the wine step altogether, and start adding stock.
Recipes to Cook with Parmesan Risotto:
Other Risotto Recipes to Try:
- Spicy Shrimp Risotto
- Caramelized Onion, Bacon, & Parmesan Risotto
- Chicken, Bacon, & Cheddar Risotto
- Asparagus and Prosciutto Risotto
- Pancetta Leek Risotto
Wine Pairings for Parmesan Risotto:
Easy Choice: Pinot Grigio (Italy) :: The white wine that is food, wallet, and people friendly! Pinot Grigio from Italy tends to be reliably crisp, light, and is easy to pair with creamy risotto. Look for a bottle that’s around $10, and use it for the recipe while you sip on a glass.
If You’re Feeling Adventurous: Soave (Italy) :: Ok, so this may be a wine you haven’t heard of yet. “Soave” is actually a village in northern Italy, and is the specific area that this wine comes from. The wine itself is made with the Garganega grape, and is native to Italy. It is a light-bodied white wine, and tastes incredible with seafood. I like it with this risotto because it has enough acidity to cut through the creaminess, but has a touch of fruit to balance the flavors! You can easily find a bottle for under $15 that will be super delicious.
A Fun Splurge Option: Chablis (France) :: Chablis is a region in France that produces Chardonnay. This style of Chardonnay almost never sits in any oak barrels, which makes it very different than a Chardonnay you would expect to find in California. Without the oak aging, this style of Chardonnay is clean, crisp, and very food friendly! Some Chablis can get quite expensive, but you can find a great bottle for around $20, too!
If you make this parmesan risotto, I would love to see if it you tag me on Instagram! And if you have any specific questions, feel free to leave a comment below or email me directly! If you love this risotto, I would absolutely love for you to rate and comment, too! Thank you so much for stopping by!
Creamy Parmesan Risotto for Two
- 2 1/2 cups good chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter divided
- 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- pinch salt I use Diamond Kosher
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup dry arborio rice
- 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmsean
- 1 wedge lemon
- pinch freshly cracked black pepper
- Heat the stock in a small saucepan over low heat. Keep warm throughout the entire cooking process.
- Heat a skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and one tablespoon of butter, and cook until butter has melted.
- Stir in the finely chopped onion with a pinch of salt. Cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is really soft and nearly translucent.
- Stir in minced garlic, and cook for one minute. Stir in the rice, and cook for 2-3 minutes until only a tiny white dot remains in the center of each grain.
- Pour in white wine, and stir it into the rice. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
- Pour in one ladle of the warm stock, stirring constantly to incorporate it into the rice. Once it is nearly absorbed, add another ladle of stock. Continue adding the stock one ladle at a time, and stirring the rice constantly as it cooks, until the texture of the rice starts to change into a creamy, thicker risotto. This takes about 30 minutes total.
- Try a bite of the risotto, and see if it is cooked to your preference. It can have a slight bite to it for al dente risotto, or you can continue cooking it a few minutes longer to make it extra soft and creamy. Once it is cooked the way you like, stir in the parmesan cheese, and season with more salt to taste.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper, and a healthy squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to combine everything into the risotto.
- Serve hot and enjoy!