Champagne Risotto

Risotto is my current comfort food of choice. It’s creamy, deeply flavorful, and just all around wonderful to eat. I also love it because the basic technique for risotto is a vehicle for many variations. Surprisingly, risotto is intimidating for some, most likely because it isn’t a dish you can exactly walk away from. Even so, with a little insight and practice, risotto can become part of any cook’s basic repertoire.


In honor of the New Year, I’m posting my Champagne Risotto recipe. You can easily substitute a white wine (lightly oaked please) in place of the Champagne, but I prefer Champagne because it gives the risotto a depth of flavor that isn’t overly heavy. If nothing else, it’s a good reason to open your favorite bottle of bubbly. You of course can use any sparkling wine, so don’t feel like you have to break out a bottle of Grand Cru for this recipe, but hey, if you happen to be serving such a thing with appetizers or dessert, why not put a bit in your risotto?

Carnaroli on Foodista Learn more about carnaroli, my preferred risotto rice

Recipe: Champagne Risotto


  • Difficulty: Easy if you’ve made risotto before, moderate if you haven’t. If this is your first risotto, be sure to read the Recipe for Success notes at the end of the post.
  • Serves: 4 as a first course, 6-8 as a side dish
  • Prep Time: 15 – 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes


  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice (Carnaroli recommended)
  • 1 c. Champagne or Sparkling Wine
  • ¾ c. grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste

Garnish (Optional)

  • Shaved parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Drizzle of white truffle oil


  1. Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter and the olive oil in a separate medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter is melted.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened, but not brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the rice and cook until it is well-coated with the oil/butter mixture and begins to turn translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the wine and simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Add about 1 cup of the warm broth from to the rice and stir regularly until the liquid is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes. You’ll know the liquid is absorbed when you run your spoon through the rice and liquid doesn’t immediately fill the bottom of the pan. Repeat, adding broth 1 cup at a time, until the rice is al dente (cooked through but still firm), about 18-22 minutes. While you don’t have to stir the rice the entire time, you shouldn’t leave the rice unattended for more than a minute or two and do stir the rice frequently.
  7. Combine the parmesan, heavy cream, and pepper in a bowl.
  8. When the risotto is done, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, cream, and pepper mixture long with the remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter. Add salt and additional parmesan to taste.

Recipe for Success

  • To avoid a salty risotto, be sure to use unsalted butter and low-sodium chicken broth (or if possible, home-made chicken stock). You can always add salt later, but taking it out simply isn’t an option. Be sure to add additional salt at the very end and only after the parmesan has gone into the mix.
  • Good quality parmesan is very important to this recipe. Absolutely avoid the stuff in the green can, and if possible, the pre-shredded stuff in the bag. If it’s available in your area, buy a block of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, and grate it very finely on the day you plan to make the risotto. Remember that the parmesan is the stand-out ingredient in this recipe, so you wan to start with a good quality cheese.
  • Risotto rice is also very important to this dish. Arborio and Carnaroli rice can absorb much more water than standard long or short grain rice varieties without becoming mushy. Look for these varieties by name or for rice labeled specifically for risotto. I prefer Carnaroli and my research says it is the easier of the two types to work with, so hey, why make things overly complicated?
  • Because your risotto will need most of your attention once it gets going, be sure to prepare all of your ingredients before you begin cooking. Just a few minutes of prep will go a long way toward making a great risotto.
  • The goal is to create a creamy dish where the rice and parmesan flavors are the star. Big pieces of garlic and shallot will get in the way. One option is to chop your garlic and shallot using a min food processor so you get a very fine chop. Otherwise, spend a little extra time chopping your shallots and garlic.
  • Be sure the butter and olive oil aren’t too hot when you add the garlic and shallots to the pan. You don’t want to brown the aromatics, but instead soften them.
  • If you choose not to use Champagne or other bubbly, Sauvignon Blanc is a good wine to use in this recipe but any light, crisp wine will do. Avoid sweet wines or wines you wouldn’t drink.
  • A 1 cup ladle is the easiest way to transfer the stock from one saucepan to the other.
  • The time of day, the humidity in your area, and the specific type of rice you buy will all contribute to how long it takes your risotto to finish cooking and how much stock you need. You may not use all of your stock, or you may need to heat a little water in a tea kettle or in the microwave if you run out of stock and still need a little more liquid. The key is to start tasting the risotto at the 18 minute mark and keep adding liquid a little at a time until it is done.
  • You can reduce or increase the amount of parmesan in this recipe to taste. If you aren’t sure how much parmesan you want, start with a ½ cup, taste the results, and increase as you go.
  • Garnish this recipe in any way you want. For the simplest garnish, shave 1 or two pieces of parmesan over top of each serving. For a little color, sprinkle on the fresh Italian parsley. For a truly decadent addition, drizzle on the truffle oil. You can use all three, but remember that you want the risotto to be the star of the show.
  • Serve the risotto immediately. Save leftovers (if there are any), to make risotto balls the next day.