Risotto is delicious in a classic Italian sort of way—it only requires a few high-quality ingredients and some patience to turn plain rice into a deeply flavorful and creamy dish. While I’m willing to seek out good ingredients, I lack the patience required to make risotto on a day-to-day basis. And I want risotto more than once or twice a year, I want it monthly. Sometimes weekly. Enter my friend the Instant Pot.
As a cookbook author for said appliance, I’ve tested just about everything in the popular pressure cooker, some of which work and some…don’t. I’ll be the first to admit the Instant Pot can’t do everything, but what appliance can? Sure, it’s good at dried beans, stock, oatmeal, big tough meats. It even makes a mean cheesecake. But my favorite dish to make is hands down, Instant Pot risotto. It’s almost as good as attentively made stovetop risotto with a fraction of the effort and one dirty pot. Be still my heart.
This recipe is a simple version with a little extra Parmesan cheese, vibrant green spinach, and perky lemon, but there are endless opportunities for tweaking. Serve it as an impressive side or top with some crisp, crumbled bacon or a poached egg to make it a main dish. Leave out the greens and lemon and top with whatever strikes your fancy. A combo of tender cooked shrimp, fresh sweet corn, and basil is a summertime feast, while winter squash with roasted garlic and sausage is a wintry comfort. Roast a small bunch of beets and grate them into the risotto for a vibrant hue, garnishing with creamy feta or goat cheese. I’m even known to make breakfast risotto from time to time, the creamier cousin of savory oatmeal.
For the best possible results, use really good broth. Since almost nothing evaporates in a pressure cooker, whatever flavors you put in are what you’ll get when it comes out. Homemade chicken or vegetable broth are best. You can add a drizzle of cream at the end for extra richness, but it’s by no means required. For a nuttier, whole grain take, use short-grained brown rice and up the pressure cooking time to 25 minutes.
It’s worth noting that this recipe isn’t necessarily faster than the stovetop method. In all honesty, lots of things aren’t faster in the Instant Pot, contrary to the name. However, it’s much less intensive—sauté the onion and garlic directly in the pot, add the rice and broth, and let it go. While it’s coming to pressure and cooking, you can make the rest of your meal or you can drink a glass of wine and dance around the kitchen. I’ve done both. Add the cheese and give it a quick stir to make up for lost time and boom, it’s done. The finished dish will serve four hungry adults as a main or six as a side, but you can halve the recipe for a generous dinner party for two.
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil
medium yellow onion, diced
cloves garlic, minced
dry white wine (like Sauvignon Blanc)
short-grained white rice (like Arborio)
kosher salt, or to taste
low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
packed baby spinach
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
finely grated lemon zest
- Take the lid off of the Instant Pot and turn on the sauté function, using the “normal” or “medium” setting. Once hot, add the oil followed by the onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the onion is mostly translucent. Add the garlic and sauté another minute, until fragrant.
- Add the wine and stir. Let simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the alcohol smell has dissipated and the liquid has reduced by half. Turn off the sauté function.
- Add the rice and salt and stir. Add the broth, making sure all of the rice is submerged, and secure the lid.
- Cook at high pressure (using the “manual” or “pressure cook” setting) for 6 minutes. Once the timer goes off at the end of the cook time, make sure the keep warm function is turned off and use a natural release for 5 minutes (leave the pot alone) followed by a quick release.
- Once the pressure has released, carefully remove the lid and add the spinach, cheese, butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir well to break up the rice, wilt the spinach, and make the mixture nice and creamy.
- Taste for seasoning, adding salt and/or lemon juice as needed. Serve topped with more Parmesan.