Shrimp Risotto


This simple shrimp risotto was inspired by a trip to Venice. It's made with tiny pink shrimp, shallots, parsley, and lemon zest. Super creamy! You'll think you're in Italy!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Venetian-Style Seafood Risotto

Have you ever had a food epiphany?

Years ago I had a seafood risotto at a restaurant on the Grand Canal of Venice (back in the cushy days of business trips with expense accounts) that was so silky, so luscious, so creamy yet still light, I didn’t know what hit me. I ate every grain with a stunned and happy look on my face and still remember that risotto more than what was inside St. Mark’s.

Although I had no idea at the time, according to my friend Hank, seafood risottos are a specialty of Venice. There they are typically served all’onda, or “wave” risotto, which means a looser and almost soupy risotto best eaten with a spoon.

Shrimp Risotto

Hank and I spent the day cooking together and he showed me in great detail how he makes this Venetian-style shrimp risotto.

My father happened by in time for lunch and ate his bowl of shrimp risotto completely, proclaiming, “Hank, I don’t like shrimp, and I don’t like rice, but I love this.” So there you have it.

What Shrimp to Buy

Use the smallest shrimp you can find. Try to find tiny pink shrimp in the supermarket’s freezer section. These “boreal” shrimp or Maine shrimp are uncommonly sweet and come pre-shelled and pre-cooked.

Any shrimp you find larger than the last digit on your little finger should be cut in half.

What Rice to Use

Risotto recipes require risotto rice, an Italian rice that has enough starch to help make the risotto’s creamy sauce.

Arborio rice works for this purpose, but if you can get it, use a Carnaroli rice. Even better is a rice called Vialone Nano, which is more delicate and creamy than the other risotto rices and is well suited for this shrimp risotto.

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Shrimp Risotto Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish or appetizer


  • 8 ounces clam juice or fresh seafood stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup risotto rice (Arborio or if you can get it, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 2 cups small pink shrimp, the smallest you can find
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Salt


1 Heat the clam juice and water: Add the clam juice to 4 cups of water in a pot, heat until steamy. Do not let it boil.

2 Sauté shallots; In separate pot (thick-bottomed), heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, and sauté the minced shallots for 2-3 minutes, until just translucent.

3 Add the rice to the pot. Stir-fry the rice for 2-3 minutes, until all the grains are well coated in butter and are beginning to toast.

4 Add white wine and stir: Increase the heat to high and add the white wine. With a wooden spoon, stir the rice vigorously. Once the wine boils, turn the heat down until the wine is just simmering gently.

Stir almost constantly. You are doing this to agitate the rice, which releases its starch and creates the creamy sauce you want in a risotto.

5 Add two ladles of clam juice water mixture: When the wine is almost cooked away – under no circumstances should you let the rice sizzle on the bottom of the pot – pour in two ladles of the hot clam broth-water mixture. Stir well to combine, and add a healthy pinch of salt.

6 Stirring almost constantly, let this liquid reduce until it is almost gone, then add another ladle of broth. Continue this until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste the spoon and see if the risotto needs salt. If so, add a small pinch.

This much risotto rice should need about 4-5 cups of liquid total (including the wine) to come together, so start tasting the rice at the 3rd cup. If it is almost there – firm in the center but translucent on the outside, and fully surrounded with a creamy sauce – add one more cup of broth, stir well, and taste one more time for salt. (If not, you have old rice and you’ll need to go one more cup and let it cook away.)

7 Now add in the shrimp, the parsley, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir constantly until this last cup of broth is about half gone: Remember you want this risotto to be loose and creamy.

Right before you serve, add in the lemon zest and serve at once. Best served with bowls and spoons rather than plates and forks.

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Risotto with shrimp and asparagus from Lydia of The Perfect Pantry

Coconut shrimp risotto from Framed Cooks

Shrimp risotto with sweet peas and leeks from Little Spatula

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

18 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Drew

    Followed directions and ended up with a fabulous meal. Thank you very much. Extremely good….ate more than I should…. :)

  2. Melissa

    Love this recipe..I did do a bit of tweaking though. I flip the water and the ‘clam juice’ amounts and instead of clam juice I actually use my homemade lobster stock (4 cups) to 1 cup water..still one cup wine. Everything else the same..absolutely over the top delish…and quick!


  3. echaos

    Fantastic! i added just a little shaved parm before the lemon zest and it was absolutely delicious! Will definitely make again!!


  4. Diane O'Donnell

    I was wondering about getting nutritional info on these recipes. Is that possible?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Plant Man

    First of all, this is, bar none, my favorite place to seek out new recipes to add to my repertoire! My friends and neighbors are very thankful to you!

    We love making risotto and I was looking for something special to make this last Valentine’s Day, which is also my husband’s birthday. I was going to make this with shrimp but when I got to Costco, they had these huge lobster parts. I bought an arm with a giant claw. It weighed four pounds! I used the lobster shell, with all its luscious fat, and some of the shrimp shells I freeze from other meals to make a quick fish stock by simmering for thirty minutes. I add a splash of dry white wine to help extract the flavors and nutrients.

    I followed the rest of the recipe as directed. Besides adding some Red Boat fish sauce and slivered frozen artichoke hearts near the end when adding the chunks of precooked claw meat. This is by far the best risotto I’ve ever had or made! So creamy, succulent with risotto’s ability to amplify the flavors of whatever your main ingredients are. Lobster has never tasted so good!

    The next night, I also tried a twist I’ve been wanting to do. Reheating risotto is always been a bit of a let down compared to when its freshly made. Basically a glob of uniform starch. So I melted butter to foaming in my skillet. I made hamburger-sized patties of risotto and breaded them with panko and shredded Parmesan cheese. I sautéed them until caramelized , carefully flipping to do the same to the other side. The browning and breading brought a new depth of flavor and texture that paired well with a Caesar salad. Delicious. The best way I have found to use leftover risotto yet. Thanks so much, Elise!


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