Meyer Lemon Risotto

We are using water and a little wine for the liquid in this recipe, to accentuate the lemon flavor. You could also easily use stock.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion (about 1/2 a med onion)
  • 2 cups arborio rice or other risotto rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 or 2 Meyer lemons, enough for 1 Tbsp of zest, and 3 Tbsp of juice (if using regular lemons instead of Meyer, you'll need less juice, start with 1 Tbsp and add more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped, fresh oregano leaves (can also use mint)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (optional)


1 Heat salted water: Put 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of water into a pot. Add 1 level tablespoon of kosher salt (or 2 level teaspoons if you are using table salt). Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to warm, cover and keep warm while you make the risotto.

2 Sauté onions: In a large, wide sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

saute onions for meyer lemon risotto

3 Brown the rice: Add the rice. Stir to coat. Cook, stirring, 5-7 minutes, until the rice just barely begins to brown on some of the grains.

brown the rice for meyer lemon risotto

4 Add the wine. Stir continuously, a few minutes, until the liquid has been completely absorbed by the rice.

add white wine to the meyer lemon risotto

5 Start adding the hot salted water, a ladle at a time: Lower the heat to medium low. Start adding the hot salted water to the rice, one ladleful (about 1/2 cup) at a time. After each addition, stir continuously for a few minutes until the rice has completely absorbed the liquid.

add salted water to the meyer lemon risotto a ladle at a time

Stir enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edge of the pan. Stirring continuously helps extract starch from the rice, to make a creamy sauce for the rice.

You'll end up adding a total of about 4 to 5 cups of water, depending on the rice you are using (older rice may need more water).

Continue to add water and stir, until the rice is cooked through and just a tiny bit chewy. The whole process should take about 30 minutes or so. Risotto is a labor of love.

6 Stir in 2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice, the lemon zest, chopped oregano, and black pepper, reserving a little bit of lemon zest and oregano to sprinkle on top upon service. Do a taste test. If the rice needs more seasoning, add more salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if you want.

To serve, sprinkle a little lemon zest and fresh oregano on top, along with a few toasted pine nuts and finely grated Parmesan if using. Use as an accompaniment to fish, shellfish, or lamb.

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  • Mindy

    My husband said, “oooh, this is gourmet!” That put a smile on my face. This was soooo delicious! I made your salmon with lemon cream sauce to go with it. Nom nom nom. You are my go-to recipe source Elise!! Thank you for many delicious meals.


  • Jean S

    I made this risotto tonight with the shrimp and added asparagus. The shrimp were partially cooked first in water seasoned with “Shrimp Boil” spices, then drained, peeled, and added to the risotto at the end in order to keep their flavor and not be overcooked. The asparagus worked well in it since lemon is something that most people will squeeze over it. What a great recipe. My husband told me to add it to the list of “Make It Again!”


  • Emily

    I made this last night to go alongside a beef roast and it was just wonderful. The flavors work wonders together, especially the wine in the beginning. The only thing I changed was that I added in some herbs de provence rather than oregano, not a big change. Will definitely make this again, thanks for sharing.


  • Shannon

    I thought I had a Meyer lemon, but when I went to make this risotto I discovered that someone else had used it. Fortunately, I had a lemon and an orange and used half one and half the other to make this.

    This was my first risotto recipe and I am definitely on the risotto train! I used Rosemary instead of oregano because I had the fresh growing, and served this with broiled chicken thighs and garlic.

    Thank you so much.


  • kim

    My third risotto from a recipe here. Pretty good. I’d put a little less pine nuts, but that’s it! 4 stars.


  • Sleeping Mom

    I just cooked this the other night and it tasted great!I’m a sucker for risotto.


  • cyndi

    I so enjoyed this recipe! I just happened to stumble across it on the very day that I bought a Meyer lemon–plus, I appreciate a version without using broth, so that I can modify the saltiness. I also swapped out the oregano for fresh thyme, which is what I had on hand. Thank you so much!


  • Tes

    I have never had a Meyer lemon, and until now, didn’t know I should be jealous!! I’m intrigued by the orangish flavor…do you think a little splash of orange juice with regular lemons would work?

    Gosh you take the best pictures of food!! :)

    Thank you for the kudos! Regarding a splash of orange juice. I would just stick with lemon, and use less juice. You’ll probably only need a tablespoon, if that. ~Elise

  • Kim

    Just made this and served it with tuna and a lemon caper pan sauce – wonderful! Thanks for the recipe!


  • Jan Altus

    The neighbour (in our rental home in Florida) just had his lemon tree cut down and it was dumped, fully laden with fruit, on the road side. We collected over 14 pounds of fruit and, as ignorant Brits, were staggered by how sweet the fruits are, even to eat raw! Turns out they are Meyer lemons. We fully intend to consume, preserve and bake with every one of those lemons before we leave in three weeks time. Thanks so much for your inspiration.

    Hi Jan, what a bonanza! With that many Meyer lemons I recommend making Meyer lemon marmalade. ~Elise

  • Wendy

    After you scurried around taking measurements of Jay’s recipe, I fixed his risotto without measuring anything :) I added the sundried tomatoes left from from my pickled green tomatoes (rinsed, as they were pretty puckery) for color. Absolutely perfect with grilled asparagus and grilled, maple-planked cod, both seasoned & cooked by my co-chef. Chardonnay played quite nicely with everything.Meyer lemons have suddenly appeared in Ohio supermarkets. Happy tastebuds!

  • Marguerite

    This may sound like heresy, coming from someone whose mother was born in Italy, but I make risotto in my pressure cooker. Six minutes and it is done. My man, who is a foodie from San Francisco, tells me it ranks right up there alongside the best risottos he has tasted anywhere. I must try this lemon version. I too, love cooking with lemon (and lime, too).

    Love the recipes, Elise, keep them coming! I don’t particularly like cooking but your blog and the recipes have inspired me in the past year to expand my repertoire. I now have a good ‘bank’ of delicious and reliable recipes with which to surprise my guests. (And believe me, they are surprised!). And I find that I do enjoy cooking after all. My turn to be surprised!

  • Becki's Whole Life

    That’s so sad that you lost your lemon tree last year, but glad you were able to plant a new one. I wish we could plant citrus here in NC, but I don’t think we can. This risotto sounds wonderful! Would be perfect with some fish or scallops – yum!

  • Nikki

    This is just the recipe I was looking for – I think I will pair it with stuffed artichokes. I saw some on Food Network recently and had such wonderful memories of them! I adore Meyer lemons.

  • Chad

    Great I have some EVO flavored with myers lemon. Ill use zest 1/2 tsp juice.

  • Judith

    If you use sugar instead of salt, milk instead of water and omit the seasonings, you have my rice pudding! (I couldn’t resist that!)

    I’ve made this risotto with flash fried sage leaves. Thanks for a new version.

  • Garrett McCord

    Love Jay. Love his risotto. I fell in love with it at a potluck last year. So glad I finally have access to the recipe. =)