Deliciously creamy and fragrant, this Lemon Parmesan Risotto is prepared with shallots and garlic, and studded with fresh green asparagus. It’s a gourmet dinner you can make at home!
An Easy Homemade Risotto Recipe with Parmesan and Lemon
Risotto is one of my true side-dish loves. The richness of the broth and aromatics cook right into the rice, slowly, until you get a perfectly warm, creamy, and silky dish. And, you can make it in so many ways! With mushrooms, chicken, fish, or whatever you like!
For this recipe, I’m making a vegetarian version of lemon parmesan risotto with fresh asparagus. Serious yum factor right here!
Why lemon and parmesan? I find that these two bring the perfect blend of bright notes and umami depth to a risotto! Plus, when you add freshly sauteed shallots and garlic, you get a totally satisfying flavor profile you’ll want to make again and again!
On top of all of that, the asparagus adds beautiful color and texture. You’ll have to excuse me if I do a little chef’s kiss, because this recipe has alllll that gourmet goodness! 👌
What Exactly Is Risotto?
Is it porridge? Is it pilaf? Maybe it’s just a different name for chicken and rice? Well, no! Risotto is its own special dish, hailing from northern Italy, and made with short-grain Italian rice such as arborio.
Risotto is an ultra-creamy rice dish made by cooking rice in an open pot (no steaming) and adding the liquid in gradually. This gentle and slow-paced approach basically means that you are babysitting your pot of rice, adding liquid every few minutes, and giving it a gentle stir every 30 seconds or so.
The big question is, why? Well, risotto fans love this technique because it turns a basic pot of rice into a finely textured gourmet specialty, with well-developed flavor, a gentle al dente bite, and a naturally creamy, starchy “sauce.”
Mastering risotto is like mastering the perfect omelette, soup, or even burger: you’ll be glad you did, and so will your tastebuds!
What You’ll Need
This recipe is best with homemade broth or stock, but it’s also really good with a quality store-bought version. Whatever you have, it’s all good!
- Chicken Broth: To build depth of flavor into your risotto, start with broth instead of water. You will need about four cups of chicken broth, homemade or store-bought is fine. I usually use low-sodium broth.
- Butter: A bit for sauteing the veggies and toasting the rice, plus a little more to stir in at the end.
- Shallots: Finely chop or mince four shallots.
- Garlic: Garlic plays a big part in the overall taste of the risotto, so I use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder here. I recommend pressing the cloves through a garlic press, but you can finely mince them if you prefer.
- Rice: Arborio rice makes the best risotto! It is a short-grained rice that cooks up very creamy when making risotto.
- Lemon Juice: You will need about two tablespoons of lemon juice for this dish.
- Asparagus: The asparagus is optional, but if you decide to use it, I recommend using thinner asparagus rather than large thick stalks. Trim or break away the tough ends, and cut the remaining tender pieces into 1 to 2-inch sections.
- Parmesan: Delicious freshly grated parmesan cheese packs a lot of flavor.
- Salt and Pepper: To taste.
- Parsley: I like to sprinkle on some chopped fresh parsley, for garnish.
How to Make Lemon Parmesan Risotto
The key to making great risotto is patience! Make sure to add the liquid slowly and let it almost completely absorb before you add more. Give yourself time and a distraction-less experience. Good LUCK! 😉
- Heat the Broth. Heat the chicken broth in a saucepan until it’s warm. You don’t want it boiling; just bring it to a slow simmer and keep it warm.
- Saute the Veggies and Toast the Rice. While the broth is heating, melt two tablespoons of the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook them for a minute or two, until they become translucent. Next, stir in the garlic and cook for about 20 seconds. Finally, stir in the arborio rice; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the grains of rice are coated in butter and lightly toasted.
- Begin Adding Liquid. Add the lemon juice to the rice mixture and stir to combine. Then add half a cup of the hot broth to the rice, and stir continuously until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Continue Gradually Adding Broth. When the first half-cup of broth has been almost completely absorbed, add another half cup and stir until almost absorbed. Continue this process until you get to the last half-cup of broth.
- Add the Last Half-Cup of Broth and the Asparagus. When you get to the last bit of broth, add in the asparagus pieces, then stir in the last of the broth. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until the risotto is done and asparagus is tender. Lemon parmesan risotto is usually ready in about 20 to 25 minutes, when the rice is tender and the consistency is like a thick porridge.
- Finish the Dish. Remove the cooked risotto from the heat. Gently stir in the parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of the butter. Taste for salt, and adjust if needed. Finally, add more lemon if you like a more citrusy taste.
- Enjoy! Garnish the finished dish with freshly cracked black pepper and chopped parsley.
Tips for Success
Let’s talk tips! There are a few helpful tricks you should know for making this lemon parmesan risotto shine. I think they really help to make the most of these simple ingredients!
- Try Wine: This is a great recipe for adding a little bit of white wine! You’ll be amazed at how this optional ingredient makes the recipe even more amazing.
- Veggie Swap: Not a fan of asparagus? I got you. You can also use green beans, broccoli, mushrooms, or peas! All go perfectly with lemon and parm.
- Add Protein: Want to up the ante? Try placing a little grilled chicken or cooked sliced Italian sausage atop of this risotto. Droool.
What do you guys like to have with risotto? I like it as-is, but sometimes I also add an extra side or some protein…or bread. 🥖 Here are a few faves!
- Salad: This Spinach Blackberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing is packed with tangy, fresh flavor and texture. It is a great contrast with the smooth, creamy risotto!
- Breadsticks: Super easy Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks with Garlic Dipping Sauce are a crave-worthy side the whole family will love!
- Bruschetta: Who doesn’t love bruschetta? And I’m not just talking about the classic tomato version! This Mushroom Bruschetta is out of this world, and goes perfectly with risotto.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To refrigerate, pack cooled leftover risotto into airtight food storage containers (don’t let it sit out for more than an hour, though).
- Store in the fridge for up to four days.
- To reheat, place the desired portion in a covered saucepan or skillet with a splash of water, broth, or milk. Heat on low, stirring often, until piping hot all the way through.
Can I Freeze Lemon Parmesan Risotto?
- While it might seem like this is a good recipe to make and freeze, most cooks agree that the frozen rice does not usually thaw well. It can become very mushy, or grainy, or tough.
- If you decide to freeze risotto anyway, use airtight containers and consume it within one month for the best flavor.
- Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Lemon Parmesan Risotto
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ pound thin asparagus, (optional), ends trimmed off, and stalks cut into about 1½-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, for garnish, optional
- Heat the chicken broth in a small saucepan until it’s warm. You don’t want it boiling; just bring it to a slow simmer.
- In the meantime, melt two tablespoons butter in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat.
- Add in the shallots and cook for a minute or two, or until translucent.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
- Stir in the arborio rice; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until coated in butter and lightly toasted.
- Add the lemon juice and stir it in.
- Add ½ cup chicken broth to the rice and continue to stir until the liquid is almost all absorbed.
- Add more of the chicken broth in ½ cup increments, stirring after each addition.
- As soon as the broth is all absorbed, add the next ½ cup of broth.
- When you get to the last ½ cup of broth, add in the asparagus pieces, then stir in the last ½ cup of broth. Continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until risotto is done and asparagus is tender. Risotto is ready in about 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice is tender and the consistency is like a thick porridge.
- Remove from heat.
- Gently stir in the parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon butter.
- Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Add more lemon if you like a more citrusy taste.
- Garnish with black pepper, chopped parsley, and lemon zest.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.