What Is Risotto?
Risotto is magnificent, and risotto is time-consuming. An Instant Pot saves time. You know where we’re going with this.
If you’ve never had risotto, now’s your moment. Prepared traditionally, this exquisite touchstone of Northern Italian cuisine is high-starch, short-grain rice that’s babied and fussed over and stirred and stirred and slowly fed multiple ladles of flavorful, simmering stock. When it looks right, you stop.
The grains of rice swell bit by bit, and instead of being fluffy and distinct, like a pilaf, they swim in a creamy pool of savory liquid that’s finished with butter and finely grated hard cheese. A perfectly made risotto is creamy, yet each kernel of rice still retains a tiny al dente bite.
What’s the Big Deal With Pressure Cooker Risotto?
You should make risotto the traditional way at least once if you like grooving in a mindful zone when you cook.
But a pressure cooker takes the work—and guesswork—out of making risotto. The results are nearly identical to the classic, futzy stir-stir-stir method, but there’s about 95% less stirring. You also add the stock all at once, without having to bring it to a simmer.
Initially, I was a skeptic, but the proof is in the porridge. Now I don’t make risotto any other way.
I also make risotto a lot more often, because the Instant Pot makes it so dang easy. Get it going, program the cooker, and then you have about 16 minutes of unstructured time to throw a salad together and drink some of that wine you just opened. It makes weeknight cooking a special occasion, fun and spontaneous.
Why Do You Need Risotto Rice?
You can’t make risotto with any old rice. For the consistency to be right, it needs to be short-grain, high-starch rice, either Arborio or Carnaroli. I prefer Italian Carnaroli rice because I think it gives you a better texture, but at my grocery store, I can only get Texas-grown Arborio rice. Do I let that keep me from making risotto? No, and you shouldn’t either.
The Magic Risotto Trick That Will Change Your Life
As if the liberation of the freewheeling Instant Pot isn’t enough, here’s a mind-blowing risotto secret. Normally when you make risotto, you need to serve it right away because once it’s ready, it’s ready. Like a pear, it’s perfect for about five minutes.
But that makes it tricky to time your whole dinner, right? Relax. You can make 3/4 of this recipe up to two hours ahead. Follow the recipe below to the end of Step 3, then stop.
About 18 minutes before you plan to serve dinner, add the stock and fire that Instant Pot up. You’re the boss of that risotto, not vice versa. And you thought risotto was all fancy and hard.
What Are the Best Mushrooms to Use in This Recipe?
I use cremini mushrooms here. Those are the ones that look like regular white button mushrooms, but they are brown instead. (Fun fact: Cremini mushrooms are simply tweenage portobello mushrooms harvested before a major growth spurt.)
You can use white button mushrooms, or shiitake mushrooms, or a gourmet blend. Whatever you do, use lots of mushrooms for a ton of flavor. I like to quarter the mushrooms for a meatier texture. Slice them if you like, or use pre-sliced mushrooms.
Some mushroom risotto recipes call for using just dried mushrooms (often porcinis), and some call for using both fresh and dried. I stick to fresh mushrooms because I like their texture and, quite frankly, they are more affordable than dried ones. Plus we’re bumping up that umami action with dabs of soy sauce and miso paste to really give this risotto a flavor boost!
Risotto Is Easy to Adapt!
Risotto is gluten-free, and it’s easy to make dairy-free (leave out the butter and cheese, and use olive oil instead) or vegetarian (sub vegetable stock for the chicken stock).
You’ll find shrimp risotto, tomato risotto, spinach risotto, butternut squash risotto—even plain risotto, god forbid. People all over the world now make it with unorthodox ingredients (like me in the summertime, when I add fresh corn kernels and basil and top it with bacon crumbles). All of these versions can be easily adapted to the Instant Pot or pressure cooking using the basic method from this recipe.
Need More Recipes for Your Instant Pot?
Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto
If you don’t cook with wine, simply replace it with an equal amount of chicken stock. The soy sauce and miso paste add more mushroomy depth, but don’t worry—it’s not enough to overpower the rest of the dish. White wine is a classic component of risotto, but for a new spin, try a dry, medium-bodied red wine in this. The mushrooms can stand up to it!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound mushrooms, washed, trimmed, and quartered or sliced
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or to taste
- 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons miso paste (white or red)
- 3 3/4 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, divided
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
- 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
Sauté the mushrooms:
Select “Sauté” on the Instant Pot and adjust the heat to high. Add the oil to the cooker. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the mushrooms are slightly browned, about 15 minutes. (If it seems like a long time, it’s because it is. Liquid takes longer to evaporate in the deep pot of the pressure cooker.)
Sauté the onions and garlic:
Once the mushrooms are fully cooked, add the onions and garlic to the Instant Pot and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the rice:
Add the rice and cook, stirring, until the grains are coated in the oil and the outer parts of the rice kernels are translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly all the wine is evaporated, about 3 minutes. (This keeps the wine from having a raw taste, which can happen in a pressure cooker.)
Season and cook under pressure:
Stir in the soy sauce, miso, and 3 3/4 cup stock. Secure the lid, and make sure the pressure release valve is set to seal. Program the Instant Pot to cook on Manual/Pressure at high pressure for 5 minutes. (It will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure.)
When the Instant Pot beeps, release the pressure using the quick release: depending on the model of cooker you have, you will do this by pushing a button on the pressure cooker or nudge the valve open with the handle of a long spoon to keep your fingers away from the steam. Unlock the lid and open it. There will be a layer of thick liquid at the top of the pot and the rice will mostly be at the bottom. Stir to combine.
Check for doneness:
Carefully taste a bit of the risotto. You are checking for doneness—you want the rice to have a little bite, but not be raw and crunchy.
If it’s loose and soupy or if it’s crunchy, turn on the “Sauté” setting and cook with the lid off. If loose stir constantly, until more of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. If it’s crunchy add the remaining 1/4 cup stock and stir until it’s absorbed a bit, about 1 minute.
You want the consistency to be “all'onda” (“like waves” in Italian). It’s the risottoland happy place between soupy/watery and gloppy/stiff. You want it to be rich and creamy.
Finish the risotto:
Stir in the butter and parmesan. Taste one more time for seasoning. If it seems a little too earthy and flat, add the 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest. Adjust with salt, if needed. Serve right away.