The inspiration behind the recipe…
Today we’re talking about what is likely the best food in the world – RISOTTO! I’m not one to turn my nose up at a bowl of warm & cozy carbs, especially in the middle of winter here in MN, but risotto is one of those things that just feels a little extra special, you know? And while we have a pretty hefty archive of Italian recipes here on PWWB (ahem, Best-Ever Bolognese, Braised Ragu, Gnocchi, & so on…), the one thing I realized we were missing is a proper risotto recipe. So! That’s exactly what we’re doing today – real-deal, proper Italian risotto.
Enter this Creamy Porcini Mushroom Risotto. It is seriously good, which I don’t say lightly whatsoever. In fact, when I set out to create a vegetarian mushroom risotto recipe, I promised myself I wouldn’t share it unless it was really special. And special it absolutely is.
This risotto recipe is simple, but it packs a big punch of umami mushroom flavor. It’s made with not one but two varieties of mushrooms – cremini mushrooms (the cutie everyday brown mushrooms also known as baby bellas) & porcini mushrooms (rockstar Italian mushrooms prized for their rich flavor). When you combine them with perfectly al dente arborio rice, flavorful aromatics, & a handful of parmesan, the result is damn good. This mushroom risotto is amazing on its own as a vegetarian main dish, though it also has big & bold flavor to pair well with something like a decadent lobster or steak dinner.
Versatile, special, perfect. ♡ Read on to learn more about this Seriously Creamy Mushroom Risotto recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
First, Risotto 101 – What is risotto?
Before we jump into all the details of this porcini mushroom risotto recipe, let’s start with some risotto basics – What is risotto? Is it a pasta dish? What makes risotto a risotto? – all great questions, with pretty straight-forward answers.
Simply put, risotto is a creamy, savory rice dish, which originated in Northern Italy. In its most basic form, risotto is made with butter, onion, wine, & cooking stock. Because of its mild flavor, risotto also makes for a great vehicle for other flavors & bolder ingredients, such as spices (saffron is very traditional), proteins (e.g. seafood risotto), or veggies (like this vegetarian mushroom risotto recipe!). A proper, real-deal risotto gets its creaminess from the rice itself, not a separate sauce or creamy dairy products.
Other risotto FAQs…
- Is risotto gluten-free? Yes! Rice is a naturally 100% gluten-free food. If keeping your risotto gluten-free is important to you, be sure to check the labels of the broth or any other ingredients you add to your risotto for any wheat products.
- Is risotto dairy-free? It depends. Traditionally, risotto is made with butter & cheese, but it’s very easy to adapt a risotto recipe to be 100% dairy-free. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for specific instructions to make this mushroom risotto recipe both dairy-free & vegan.
Key Ingredients – Mushroom Risotto
This porcini risotto delivers big & bold mushroom flavor, despite being made with 10 simple ingredients.
The key ingredients include…
- Mushrooms – Of course! This mushroom risotto recipe is made with a combination of fresh cremini mushrooms (i.e. baby bellas) & dried porcini mushrooms. The porcinis are reconstituted in the vegetable broth to infuse even more mushroom flavor into the risotto. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for porcini mushroom sourcing tips.
- Arborio rice – The high-starch, short-grain Italian rice typically used in risotto dishes. Arborio rice is very readily available in the rice & grains aisle in most grocery stores. I really like Lundberg Farms. Carnaroli rice is another common variety of rice used in risotto. Use whichever you love most.
- Vegetable broth – When it comes to cooking risotto, using a high-quality, flavorful broth is really important. I typically use the Simply Nature Organic Vegetable Broth from ALDI, which I absolutely love. Note: the day we photographed this recipe, I used Pacific Foods Vegetable Broth, which is made with a pretty substantial amount of carrot & resulted in the risotto developing the intensely orange-brown color you see in the photos. A clearer vegetable broth will yield a lighter colored risotto. FYI!
Plus, a couple of other flavor boosters…
- Shallot, garlic, & butter – All the best things!
- White wine – A dry, unoaked white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, will work best.
- Parmesan – Use freshly grated Parmigiano, if you want to take your risotto to the next level!
Note: Vegan Mushroom Risotto – As written, this mushroom risotto is naturally vegetarian & gluten-free. With a couple of simple tweaks, you can also make this recipe completely dairy-free & vegan. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for more guidance!
How to make Creamy Mushroom Risotto
For whatever reason, homemade risotto has a reputation of being really fussy & time-consuming. It’s actually pretty simple to make! This easy mushroom risotto recipe cooks up in about 45 minutes, & the process itself is quite meditative.
To make this creamy mushroom risotto, you will…
- Reconstitute the porcini mushrooms: Simmer dried porcini mushrooms in vegetable broth for about 10 minutes. Why? ⇢ The warm broth softens the dried mushrooms so you can chop them up & add them to the risotto. Plus, as the mushrooms reconstitute, they infuse incredible rich umami flavor into the broth. Since it’s the cooking liquid of the risotto, infusing it with extra flavor is what really takes this mushroom risotto recipe over the top.
- Cook the aromatics: Cook thinly sliced cremini mushrooms, diced shallot, & garlic in plenty of butter, until browned. Why? ⇢ Aside from the porcini-infused broth, these aromatics are what makes this easy mushroom risotto recipe so flavorful! Taking 10 minutes to get them nice & browned creates a much richer flavor in the final dish.
- Cook the risotto: Add the rice to the aromatics & slowly cook it. Working 1 cup at a time, ladle the porcini infused broth into the pot & stir frequently until the arborio rice absorbs all of the broth. Why? ⇢ Adding the broth little by little & frequently stirring throughout the cooking process ensures the individual grains of rice are in in close contact with each other as they cook. This agitates the natural starches on the surface of the rice & develops the creamy, dreamy signature consistency of risotto.
- Finish & serve: The risotto is done when the arborio rice is creamy & cooked through with a nice bite (i.e. al dente).
What to serve with your Porcini Mushroom Risotto:
This creamy mushroom risotto doubles as a cozy & filling vegetarian main dish or a wonderfully special side dish to serve alongside a protein.
If serving as a main dish…
⇢ Crispy Roasted Mushrooms: If you’ve never roasted crispy mushrooms before, you’re in for such a treat! They add awesome crispy texture & provide another layer of rich, caramelly flavor to the mushroom parmesan risotto. To make: Generously season your mushrooms of choice (wild mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, etc.) with garlic, herbs, salt & ground black pepper, & toss with a good amount of olive oil. Roast at 450 degrees F for 20-25 minutes, until golden & crispy. For the full recipe visit our Crispy Roasted Mushrooms post here.
I cannot wait for you to try this Creamy Mushroom Risotto recipe. It’s the best mushroom risotto I’ve ever had, & I know you’re going to love it too. When you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
Seriously Creamy Porcini Mushroom Risotto – Starchy Italian arborio rice slowly simmers with shallots, garlic, & cremini mushrooms in a simple porcini-infused broth until perfectly al dente & ridiculously creamy. Naturally vegetarian & gluten-free. Easily dairy-free & vegan – see Recipe Notes, below.
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or stock
- 1 (one) 1-ounce package dried porcini mushrooms (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large (or 2 small) shallot, finely diced
- 16 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry, unoaked white wine
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- Reconstitute the porcini mushrooms: Add the vegetable broth, dried porcini mushrooms & bay leaf to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil & reduce to a gentle simmer. Simmer 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon or spider strainer to remove the mushrooms & bay leaf from the pot, allowing all excess liquid to drain back into the pot. Keep the porcini-infused broth simmering gently over low heat. Transfer reconstituted porcini mushrooms to a cutting board & finely chop. Discard the bay leaf.
- Cook the aromatics: Meanwhile, begin cooking the risotto. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter to a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add in the shallot & cremini mushrooms. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened & all of the water drawn out of the mushrooms is cooked off, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic & reconstituted porcini mushrooms. Stir to combine & cook 2-3 minutes longer.
- Toast the arborio rice: Stir in the arborio rice. Cook 2-3 minutes, until lightly toasted.
- Make the mushroom risotto (stir, stir, stir!): Pour the wine into the Dutch oven, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits that may have formed at the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until all of the wine evaporates. Reduce heat to low. Ladle the porcini-infused vegetable broth into the risotto 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently until the arborio rice absorbs all of the broth between additions. Start tasting for doneness after 15 minutes. The risotto is done when the arborio rice is creamy & cooked through with a nice bite (i.e. al dente). This step will likely take 20-25 minutes total, & you may not need to use all of the broth.
- Finish the mushroom risotto: Once the arborio rice is perfectly al dente, finish the risotto. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter & the grated parmesan. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired.
- Serve immediately, topped with crispy mushrooms (see blog post, above), a light drizzling of truffle oil, fresh herbs, extra parmesan, and lots of freshly cracked black pepper, as desired. Enjoy!
- Porcini mushrooms are an Italian mushroom with especially rich & deep umami flavor. They are the star ingredient in this mushroom risotto recipe! Dried porcini mushrooms are more readily available throughout the year here in the States, which you can typically find in the bulk section or in 1-ounce packages at grocery stores or natural food stores that stock dried mushrooms. You can also purchase dried porcini mushrooms online.
- Dairy-free &/or Vegan mushroom risotto: To make this recipe dairy-free &/or vegan, use coconut oil or your favorite plant butter in place of the unsalted butter. Omit the parmesan cheese – be sure taste and add some extra salt to account for the saltiness that parmesan would add. Jazz it up, as desired, with some extra spices or herbs – think: thyme, rosemary, crispy fried sage.
- 10-Minute Meal Prep: While there’s lots of stove time involved in making any risotto recipe, you can eliminate all of the active prep needed for this mushroom risotto by chopping up the veggies in advance. To meal prep, complete the following tasks & store in individual airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. At dinnertime, all you have to do is get cooking – easy!
- Clean, trim & thinly slice 16 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms
- Dice 1 large shallot & finely chop or grate 2 cloves of garlic.
Keywords: mushroom risotto recipe, vegetarian, easily vegan, easily dairy-free, gluten-free, side dish, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, winter recipe, easy, creamy, stovetop
Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.