Unveiling the authentic flavors of Italy, our Risotto Allo Zafferano recipe blends arborio rice, zafferano spice, and creamy cheese. As a beloved risotto alla milanese, it combines tradition with easy preparation, creating a dish you’ll simply love making and tasting.
Risotto Allo Zafferano, also known as risotto alla milanese, is a traditional Milanese dish that showcases the authentic Italian risotto recipe in its full glory.
Rich in colors and flavors, this dish’s main components are rice, preferably arborio rice, vegetable stock, butter, and the key ingredient – zafferano, also known as saffron.
This ancient spice, zafferano, will lend the dish a striking golden hue that will surely impress your guests. Sauté your ingredients and follow all the steps to put on the table an authentic Italian creamy saffron risotto, or risotto zafferano, in just 30 minutes.
Saffron Risotto (Original name: Risotto allo Zafferano), a staple of Italian cuisine, is a classic recipe from Lombardia, in the North of Italy. This zafferano recipe has its first appearance in a cookbook dating back to the early 18th century.
You’re going to love this risotto recipe, it’s a quick and easy-to-prepare dish that will get loved by everyone. Made with homemade vegetable broth, it’s a good option for vegetarians. If you’re looking for the vegetarian version, also replace the Parmigiano Reggiano, with another hard cheese.
Just look at it how creamy this Italian Risotto actually is:
It’s a simple dish that will require only a few ingredients. However, because this recipe is so simple, you should aim to pick the best ingredients you can. This means when you add the risotto rice and saffron, ensure they are of top quality.
Also, if you like all kinds of risotto recipes, you should try our Creamy Pumpkin Rissoto.
Making a perfect risotto is quite easy, but it requires a little of your attention because you will need to periodically add vegetable broth and keep stirring until the liquid is absorbed by the rice. You’ll find that the combined flavor and color of the ingredients result in a truly delectable dish.
In under 30 minutes, you will create one of the most creamy risotto dishes that you ever made. You will be saying, “I can’t wait to make this recipe!” Remember, this isn’t just food, it’s a first course in a traditional meal.
So, make sure the rice is al dente and season with salt to taste before serving. I’ll suggest reading the entire recipe for the best tips on how to make this creamy risotto.
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
Quick Note: If you’ve tried this recipe, let us know what you think! We’re excited to hear how you’ve combined the creamy texture of the cheese and butter with the rich taste of the risotto rice and saffron.
Why You Will Love This Recipe?
- This is a quick recipe of risotto. You will have the dish on the table in less than 30 minutes.
- Contains only a few ingredients.
- You can get a great final result even if you have little experience in the kitchen.
- This is a perfect recipe to enjoy the noble taste of saffron.
- Even if this is a simple recipe, you can impress all of your guests.
Tips for Success? How to Make It Better?
- Use the right type of rice. Use round-grain rice, that contains a high concentration of starch. The most common types of rice used for the authentic Risotto Allo Zafferano are Arborio and Carnaroli.
- Use quality butter. Also, don’t be scared of a large amount of butter in this recipe. It is the basis of taste in this recipe.
- We recommend using saffron threads instead of saffron powder.
- Don’t rush to pour too much vegetable broth at once. You will get better results if you will repeat the procedure several times, which will guarantee you a creamier result.
- If you are going to serve a glass of wine near this classic risotto, then use the same wine for cooking.
- Cook the risotto on medium heat all the time.
Ingredients Needed for This Recipe?
- ½ teaspoon of Saffron Threads.
- ⅓ cup of Butter.
- ¼ cup of Chopped Onions. Chop the onions as small as you can.
- 2-3 cups of vegetable broth.
- ¾ cup of Rice that contains a high concentration of starch. Preferable to use Arborio or Carnaroli. Check how much risotto rice to serve per person.
- 1 fl oz. of Dry White Wine.
- ½ cup of Parmesan cheese.
How to Scale the Recipe Up and Down?
The quantity of rice and spices you can increase proportionally. The amount of vegetable broth, you will need to adjust manually depending on how much the rice will absorb.
👩🍳 Step-by-step Directions
First of all, we need to prepare the infusion with saffron. For that, pour hot water into a glass, cover it with a small plate, and let the saffron infuse until we will prepare the rest of the recipe.
Take a pan, and put it on a hob on medium heat. Now, drop in the pan ⅓ of the total amount of butter, and let it melt. After that, add chopped onions that should be chopped as small as possible. Cook them for about 1-2 minutes until the onions will become transparent.
After that, add a ladle of broth to the pan. This will allow you to cook the onions better without getting a fried taste of onions.
After the broth has evaporated, add the rice to the pan. Mix the rice well so that everything is covered with butter.
Quick Tip: When you will cook a creamy risotto, never wash the rice. Because you will wash a good part of the starch and you will not get a creamy risotto in the end.
Be careful not to fry the rice too much because the rice will not absorb the broth. It should take about 30 seconds to mix all the rice with the butter.
Next, pour the wine over the rice and stir the rice continuously until all the wine will evaporate.
Now are the most important steps for a perfect risotto:
After the wine has been evaporated, start adding the vegetable broth into the pan. A single ladle of broth at each step. After you added your first ladle of vegetable broth, stir the rice continuously until it will absorb all the broth.
Repeat this procedure until the rice is almost ready. In my case, I repeated this procedure 5-6 times.
Everything should take about 15 minutes.
Quick Note: It is important to mix continuously the rice without interrupting the process.
Five minutes before the rice is ready, pour the saffron infusion (also the saffron pistils) over the rice.
Quick Note: Check on the package how long you should cook the rice. Usually, the rice should be ready in about 20 minutes. So after about 15 minutes, you should add the saffron. Be careful not to add saffron too early because if it will boil for too long, the saffron will lose its flavor.
Mix well and let the rice boil for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
When the rice will be cooked near to the “al dente”, drop the rest of the butter into the pan. Stir until the butter melts and turn off the heat.
After you will turn off the heat, pour all the parmesan over the rice and incorporate the parmesan cheese well into the risotto.
Our Authentic Italian Risotto is ready to be served.
If you followed all of my steps and advices, you should get a similar creamy risotto:
How to Serve?
Classically, it is served on a deep plate. After pouring the risotto on the plate, hit several times the plate at the bottom with the palm of your hand. We do this distribute evenly the risotto.
How Long It Last in the Fridge?
Risotto should be eaten immediately after it has been prepared because, after a short period of time, it will lose its creaminess. Sure, you can eat it and the next day, but this will become a bowl of regular yellow saffron rice.
Answering Your Questions:
What Does Saffron Rice Taste Like?
Saffron itself is a spice that tastes slightly similar to herbal tea. Keeping in mind that saffron is a flower pistil. The other ingredient we use, onion: gives our dish a sweet taste because it is easily mashed at the beginning of cooking.
White wine gives a slight acidity, but more important, it is giving a nice wine aroma to the rice. So, for best results, use a good wine.
Vegetable broth also has a sweet taste. The butter, being initially fried, acquires a nutty aroma, and the butter that is added at the end confers a creamy texture to the rice.
In the end, by adding Parmesan cheese, which as it is known, is one of the few ingredients that contain the umami taste (5th taste) and by being salty, it gives a rich taste to the rice and combines perfectly the rest of the flavors.
Is Yellow Rice the Same as Saffron Rice?
Not every cooked rice is a risotto. Rice to become a risotto must be cooked in a special way. To obtain a real risotto, it is necessary to add step-by-step the vegetable broth and continuously mix the rice. This frees the starch from the rice and we obtain a very creamy final product.
What to Do With Leftover Saffron Rice?
As this is an Italian dish, you can experiment and try to make other delicious Italian recipes. With the leftover saffron risotto, you can make “Italian arancini”, “timballo di riso”, or “riso al forno”.
What Is the Best Rice to Use for Saffron Rice?
To get the best risotto, you need round-grain rice, with a high concentration of starch. The most common types of rice used for authentic Italian risotto are Arborio and Carnaroli rice.
Do You Eat Risotto With a Spoon or Fork?
Traditionally, risotto is eaten with a fork. The creamy and slightly sticky texture of risotto makes it easier to eat with a fork rather than a spoon. The fork allows you to scoop up the rice and enjoy the combination of flavors and ingredients. However, there are no hard and fast rules, and you can certainly use a spoon if you prefer or find it more convenient. Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference.
Risotto Zafferano – Secrets of a Creamy Saffron Risotto
- Infuse the saffron threads.½ teaspoon Saffron Threads
- Put ⅓ butter and melt it on the pan.⅓ cup Butter
- Add the chopped onions. Cook for 1-2 minutes.¼ cup Onion
- Add one ladle of vegetable broth.2-3 cups Broth
- When the broth evaporates, add the rice.¾ cup Rice
- Stir and fry the rice for 30 seconds.
- Add the wine and let it evaporate well.1 fl oz Dry White Wine
- Add one ladle of broth and stir continuously until the rice will absorb all the broth.2-3 cups Broth
- Repeat the previous step until the rice is almost ready (about 5-6 times / 15 minutes).
- Add the saffron infusion together with the pistils.
- Add the rest of the butter. Stir until the butter melts completely and turn off the heat.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and mix all the ingredients well.½ cup Parmesan
- The rice is ready to be served.
I highly recommend reading the entire recipe to find more tips and notes about this recipe. Read Full Recipe ⇑
- Arborio Rice: Arborio rice is the best choice for making risotto due to its high starch content, which results in a creamy texture. Avoid using other types of rice as they may not yield the desired creaminess.
- Saffron: Saffron is a key ingredient that gives the risotto its distinct flavor and vibrant yellow color. It is important to use high-quality saffron threads for the best results. You can crush the threads slightly before adding them to release their flavor.
- Broth: Use vegetable or chicken broth as the base for cooking the risotto. Homemade broth is preferable, but you can also use store-bought varieties. Warm the broth in a separate saucepan before adding it to the risotto, as warm broth helps maintain the cooking temperature.
- Wine: While the wine is optional, it adds depth of flavor to the risotto. Use a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. If you prefer to omit the wine, you can replace it with an additional 1/2 cup of broth.
- Slow and Steady Cooking: Risotto requires patience and regular stirring. Add the warm broth to the rice gradually, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until it is absorbed. This slow cooking process helps release the starches from the rice, resulting in a creamy consistency.