The Best Way To Cook Risotto If You Hate The Constant Stirring

Risotto is a beloved, classic Italian dish that combines some of the best things in life: rice, wine, butter, and cheese. The recipe is fairly simple, but it requires patience — and plenty of stirring. Risotto is traditionally made on the stovetop in a large pan with high sides, with the ingredients slowly added over time. When it's all said and done, the process often takes about a half hour, with the majority of this time dedicated to constantly stirring the rice in the pan. To get around this, some entrepreneurs have developed new technologies like an auto-stirring risotto maker, but there's another tool that can help. Chances are good that you already have one on hand, too: a slow cooker.

While auto-stirring machinery can mimic the motion of stirring risotto, it's probably not worth the cost and the kitchen space. To make an easy risotto at home, use a slow cooker instead.

How to make slow cooker risotto

The first thing to note about making slow cooker risotto is that it takes less effort, but more time. While a basic stovetop risotto takes around 30 minutes to cook, the low and slow method of the aptly named slow cooker means that you'll want to allow a couple of hours for your rice to fully cook.

To make slow cooker risotto, place all of your ingredients — such as olive oil, chopped onion, rice, wine, salt, and black pepper — into the slow cooker. Place the lid on top and cook for 2 hours. Taste the rice to make sure that it is fully cooked before adding grated cheese and butter. Let these melt in the slow cooker for a few minutes, then serve immediately. 

If you're ready to experiment with more elaborate risotto recipes and are wondering which ingredients to use, take inspiration from what's in season. For example, in autumn, you can try butternut squash and sage risotto.

Tips and techniques for slow cooker risotto

One of the defining characteristics of risotto is the al dente consistency of the rice. A perfect plate of risotto is made up of grains that have been uniformly cooked to achieve a toothsome, yet creamy texture. This means the variety of rice that you use is important, since starch content determines how creamy your risotto will be. Carnaroli rice is one of the best for making risotto, but Arborio rice can also be used.

The trade-off for the convenience of using a slow cooker is that it is not able to create the same al dente texture that you'd get from cooking risotto on the stovetop. To avoid making mushy risotto in your slow cooker or having it burn to the bottom of the vessel, keep an eye on it as it approaches the end of its cooking time. For a little diversity of texture, add a crunchy ingredient on top just before serving, such as toasted nuts.