Risotto can be frozen. The results depend on the recipe you use and how you freeze it.
Risotto will dry out when reheated. This is because as it cools, steam is released causing moisture loss. Freezing and thawing can also cause the risotto to lose some of its creaminess. This is due to the ice crystals melting and releasing extra water into the risotto.
Freezing can alter the texture of your risotto and may cause the rice to become grainy. This is likely due to the starch content.
Risotto is an Italian rice dish, made with a specialty rice. The grains are slowly simmered in a vegetable or meat broth over a medium heat until the dish takes on a creamy consistency. Traditional risottos contain rice, butter, onions, parmesan cheese, and stock.
Risotto is a hugely versatile dish and can be adapted to incorporate any flavor.
Arancini are bite-sized balls of risotto, reduced to a moldable consistency. These are then breadcrumbed and deep-fried. Arancini usually contains a chunk of cheese in the center that melts and oozes when you cut into the ball.
There are other, less traditional types of risotto too. These use farro, barley, and even lentils in place of the risotto rice.
How to freeze risotto
You must allow your risotto to cool completely before you even think about freezing it. Allow it to cool, covered, on the countertop. If you want to cool it faster, increase the surface area.
Spread the risotto in a thin layer over a baking sheet, for instance. Try to leave the risotto out for no more than 2 hours to prevent harmful bacterial growth.
We suggest splitting the risotto into individual portions prior to freezing. This will make it easier to reheat the correct amount. This will save the hassle of portioning and prevent food waste.
We advise freezing the risotto in rigid airtight containers, but you can also use ziplock freezer bags. You should label the freezer bags with the contents, quantity, and date frozen. This will help you to find what you want quickly in the future. Transfer to the freezer for storage.
For best quality and taste, we recommend storing the risotto in the freezer for no more than 2 months. It will remain safe to eat for longer, but the taste and texture may deteriorate over time.
How to defrost risotto
The easiest way to defrost risotto is to remove from the freezer the night before you want to eat it. Place in the refrigerator and leave for up to 12 hours to thaw fully.
Reheat carefully, ensuring it is piping hot all the way through. This is the safest method and the one that we advise following.
For a slightly faster result, you can submerge the container in lukewarm water in the fridge during the day. Ensure the container is airtight to prevent water permeating the risotto. This method will not be much faster, but will only take a day rather than a night too.
You can also defrost risotto in the microwave. Turn it onto the defrost setting in 30-second increments, stirring to break the risotto up and distribute the heat evenly. If the top of the risotto appears dry, pour over a teaspoon or so of water and mix to incorporate.
Keep doing this until fully thawed. After this, heat on the regular setting until piping hot all the way through. This process should take between 3 and 6 minutes. Ensure you stir regularly and add in stock or butter if necessary.
The final way to defrost a risotto is on the stovetop. Place the frozen risotto in a non-stick pan with a few tablespoons of water. Place on a medium-low heat. Turn the risotto over in the pan regularly and scrape the thawed outer layers off the risotto block.
Continue doing this until the risotto has thawed completely. This may take a little while, but it is important not to turn the heat up to rush the process, as this can cause the risotto to burn. Add some butter and stock, tasting as you go. Heat until boiling hot all the way through.
You can also reheat thawed risotto in the oven. Turn it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the risotto in a greased ovenproof dish. Add a little butter and stock and cover the surface of the risotto in aluminum foil. Put in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
Factors to consider before freezing risotto
It is important to freeze the risotto quickly after it has been made. This minimizes the window of time for harmful bacteria to grow in the rice. If you freeze risotto on the same day it is made, you have a window of 2 to 3 days after thawing to eat it.
If you freeze the risotto after 2 or 3 days, you should eat it on the same day that it is thawed,
We do not recommend freezing risotto in a metal container as it can begin to take on some metallic flavors. The metal can also tint the risotto and change the color slightly. This is not dangerous but is not very appetizing.
Risotto is a creamy rice dish, hearty, comforting, and filling. The perfect meal for cozy fall dinners. Armed with these tips, there is no reason you can’t cook large batches of warming risotto and freeze.
If you portion these into individual serving sizes prior to freezing, you have an oven-ready dinner for those days where you just can’t be bothered to cook.
Risotto is easy and safe to freeze, provided you follow our tips correctly. It can alter the taste and texture slightly, although this is easily rectified. Once thawed, reheat and add in butter, stock, and seasonings. Use these to modify the taste and consistency to get it to your desired result.
You can also use your thawed risotto to make arancini or a risotto bake if you do not like the resultant texture.