Shrimp Risotto features classic ingredients, such as Arborio rice, broth, white wine, butter, and parmesan cheese. This traditional Italian dish not only tastes great, but it also looks amazing on a plate! And, it's a great way to get more creative and make restaurant-worthy comfort food with shrimp! It's a perfect choice for weeknight dinners or for special occasions when you have company over! Impress your family and friends with this easy-to-follow recipe!
Homemade shrimp risotto
Risotto is classic Italian comfort food that can be served as a first course, main course, or side dish to any meal! The basic risotto is traditionally made with high-starch white rice with round short grains such as Arborio rice. Other traditional risotto ingredients include white wine, chicken stock, butter, and Parmesan cheese. This homemade shrimp risotto features all these classic ingredients plus sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and, of course, shrimp! It's naturally gluten-free since it's made with rice. Make this restaurant-quality meal at home by following my simple recipe instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post! And, if you love the shrimp and rice combination, be sure to check out cilantro-lime and black bean shrimp and rice. Looking for more Italian-inspired shrimp dinner inspiration? Then, don't miss pesto shrimp and mushroom pasta as well as this reader-favorite shrimp tomato spinach pasta in garlic butter sauce.
Why you'll love it
- Easy-to-follow instructions. This dish certainly has a fancy name and a beautiful presentation, but it's surprisingly easy to make. Scroll down to the recipe card to see a complete list of the ingredients and detailed instructions to make risotto making process as simple as possible.
- Comfort food. If you love cozy and comforting weeknight dinners during colder months of the year, try something different such as this shrimp risotto. It might sound fancy, but it's comfort food at its core!
- Gluten-free. While this dish will certainly remind you of your favorite Italian pasta, it's naturally gluten-free since it's made with rice!
What kind of rice should you use?
- High-starch white rice with round short grains is the best rice for making risotto. The most popular variety is Arborio. Other popular varieties of rice that work well in making risotto are Carnaroli, Maratelli, and Vialone Nano.
- Do not use Basmati or Jasmine rice. Do not use long-grain rice. Their starch content is not high enough to produce the proper creamy consistency. The size of their grains will also not work well for risotto.
- Shrimp. I used 1 lb large raw shrimp peeled and deveined large (16 or 20 count per 1 pound of shrimp). You can use any size of shrimp you like.
- Arborio rice is high-starch white rice with round short grains. It's the best rice for making risotto which results in a creamy consistency. Do not use jasmine rice or basmati rice.
- White wine. Use a dry white wine variety. Or, use chicken stock instead.
- Chicken broth. You can use chicken stock, beef stock, or vegetable stock. The more flavorful, the better for shrimp risotto! You can also use broth (even though the stock is preferred). Make sure it's very warm or hot before adding it to the rice.
- Butter is folded into the risotto at the very end for creaminess.
- Parmesan cheese adds creaminess and salty flavor to the final dish. Make sure to use a block of cheese and shred/grate it yourself. Also, make sure the cheese is at room temperature.
- Sun-dried tomatoes. I used sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil which I drained and then used some of the oil in the cooking of the minced garlic and rice.
- Spinach is added at the very end. Shrimp risotto works well with veggies, such as spinach, arugula, and asparagus. Add those at the very end.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice is added to the shrimp for flavor.
- Garlic adds pungency and flavor to shrimp, as well.
How to make shrimp risotto from scratch
You can find very detailed instructions for making shrimp risotto in the recipe card at the very bottom of this post. But, in a nutshell, here is the overview:
- The rice is gradually cooked in white wine and chicken stock until it reaches a creamy consistency. I provide detailed instructions on how to make the most creamy risotto using appropriate rice (Arborio).
- I elevated a simple risotto with the addition of sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.
- Then it's made even creamier by adding butter and freshly shredded (or grated) Parmesan cheese.
- While you gradually cook the risotto, you will also sear the most delicious shrimp together with olive oil, butter, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Make it a complete meal by serving the shrimp over creamy risotto.
Cooking tips for making the perfect risotto
- Use high-starch white rice with round short grains such as Arborio. Other popular varieties of rice that work well in making risotto are Carnaroli, Maratelli, and Vialone Nano. Do not use Basmati or Jasmine rice. Do not use long-grain rice.
- Use a heavy-bottomed pan such as a cast-iron skillet, or stainless steel saucepan to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. It's very important.
- Do not wash and do not drain rice before making the risotto as that would get rid of a lot of starch that you actually need to achieve a creamy texture.
- Do not boil rice in advance as you would normally do when cooking rice.
- Gradually add the hot stock. The key to making the proper risotto is to gradually add hot chicken stock (or other broth of your choice) for about 20 minutes, in ½ cup increments, stirring often, until the stock is absorbed.
- Serve it right away as risotto tends to get mushy and dry really fast.
Does risotto have cream?
The risotto has no cream. The creaminess comes from the starch in the rice grains that are properly cooked. The Parmesan cheese also adds a creamy texture.
What can you use instead of white wine?
While the traditional way to prepare risotto uses dry white wine, you can simply use more chicken stock, beef broth, or vegetable broth instead.
What is the proper texture of risotto when it's done?
Risotto should have a rich and creamy consistency and should not be overly thick (mushy). The rice should have an "al dente" texture (a bit hard to bite but in no way crunchy) and the grains should be visibly separate (not mushy). It's a fine balance.
What if risotto gets too thick?
Add a small amount of chicken stock or broth to thin it out on low-medium heat. If you run out of stock, just use hot water.
Can you use cooked shrimp?
While I cooked raw shrimp from scratch for this risotto recipe, you can use pre-cooked shrimp and enhance its flavor by adding garlic, lemon, and butter (as in this recipe).
What can you use instead of shrimp?
- Add seared scallops in addition to or instead of shrimp.
- Cooked lobster meat always goes well with creamy risotto.
- Chicken. While this is a seafood recipe, you can easily use chicken instead of shrimp. Add store-bought, shredded, cooked rotisserie chicken. Or, use this simple method to cook skinless boneless chicken thighs with Italian seasoning.
Variations, substitutions, and add-ins
- Can you use frozen spinach? I used fresh spinach but you can use frozen kind - thawed and drained really well from all liquid.
- Use other veggies in addition or instead of spinach. You can use/add kale, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, or artichoke hearts.
- Cheese. I used Parmesan, but you can also use Asiago cheese or Pecorino Romano.
Storage and reheating tips
Shrimp risotto is one of those dishes that doesn't really refrigerate well and does not freeze well either. It should be eaten right away. Reheating the risotto can be difficult and the sauce is likely to lose its texture. If you do want to store the risotto, here are some tips:
- Fridge. Leftover shrimp risotto can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. I do not recommend freezing this dish.
- How to reheat in the microwave. Add a small amount of water, chicken stock, or milk to leftover risotto and reheat it briefly in the microwave in 30 seconds increments.
- How to reheat on the stovetop. Reheat the risotto in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-low heat and add a small amount of water, chicken stock, or milk to thin it out.
What to serve with it
Because shrimp risotto features a rich and luscious creamy sauce, serve it with a slice of good quality bread and a side salad:
- Bread. Serve this with warm garlic bread or olive bread. Baguette would be delicious, too.
- Salad. Serve a simple fresh salad with this creamy Italian dish. My favorites are a simple spinach salad with pine nuts and Parmesan or apple spinach salad. Or, pair the shrimp risotto with the colorful and easy-to-make arugula salad with apples, cranberries, and pecans.
Other creamy shrimp recipes you might enjoy
- Spicy Shrimp Pasta in Garlic Tomato Cream Sauce
- Creamy Shrimp Pasta with Mozzarella Sauce and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Creamy Shrimp and Mushroom Pasta
- Creamy Tortellini with Shrimp and Veggies
Other rice dishes that go well with shrimp
- 4 cups chicken stock
- ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped (drained of any oil)
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1.5 cups arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ⅔ cup parmesan cheese freshly grated or shredded, at room temperature
- 4 oz fresh spinach
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb raw shrimp peeled and deveined large, 16 or 20 count per 1 pound of shrimp
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Use a heavy-bottomed pan such as a cast-iron skillet to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. Note: while you cook the risotto, you can also cook the shrimp as directed in the recipe card below.
- Heat chicken stock in a separate saucepan until hot and keep it hot.
- Drain oil from sun-dried tomatoes, leaving just enough (about 1 tablespoon) for sauteeing garlic. Sautee minced garlic with chopped sun-dried tomatoes for about 1 or 2 minutes in a cast-iron skillet (or another heavy-bottomed pan).
- Add rice and stir it with a wooden spoon or spatula to coat it with olive oil. Saute the rice in olive oil for about 1 minute on medium heat, stirring. Make sure the rice doesn't burn.
- Add white wine and cook on medium heat, occasionally stirring, until the wine is completely absorbed by the rice.
- Add ½ cup of hot chicken stock to the rice and stir occasionally on medium-low heat until the stock is almost absorbed. You don't have to stir constantly, just once every minute or two.
- When the stock is almost absorbed, add another ½ cup of chicken stock to the rice and repeat the process. Continue to add chicken stock in ½ cup increments until the texture of the rice is soft but not too soft. You might not have to use all of the chicken stock. Or, you might have to use more. The rice should have an "al dente" texture (a bit hard to bite but in no way crunchy) and the grains should be visibly separate (not mushy).
- Reduce heat to low and add butter and grated parmesan. Stir everything well until the parmesan is melted.
- On low heat, add spinach and stir it in. Remove from heat, cover the pan with the lid and allow the spinach to wilt for a couple of minutes. Stir again to incorporate wilted spinach into the risotto.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Note: you can prepare and cook the shrimp at the same time as you make the risotto.
- This recipe uses 1 lb of large raw shrimp (peeled and deveined) which usually means 16 or 20 count.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet until hot. Add shrimp and minced garlic. Season the shrimp with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Cook for about 3 minutes per each side or until it's cooked through.
- Stir in freshly squeezed lemon juice and butter. Remove from heat.
- Add cooked shrimp on top of the risotto and serve. Top with chopped fresh parsley, if you like.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.