Making the Best Risotto: Do You Really Need to Warm the Broth?

published Oct 16, 2012
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

I recently got into debate with a friend over, of all things, how to make risotto. I was taught that warming the broth before adding it to the rice was absolutely crucial for a making an excellent risotto, but my friend said she doesn’t bother with this step and gets fine results. When she pressed me to explain why warm broth was important, I realized that I didn’t actually know. Point, scored. Research would be required.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A Case for Warming the Broth

I consulted several sources, from my culinary school notes to the recently released tome The Fundamentals Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine. The best explanation I found is that cooking is improved and proceeds more swiftly if all the risotto ingredients are the same temperature. Essentially, adding cold broth to a hot pan of cooking rice will cool everything down, whereas keeping a constant cooking temperature keeps everything moving along at the right pace.

A Case for Skipping This Step

This answer feels a little unsatisfactory to me. Risotto is usually cooked in a wide pot and the broth is being added in incremental cups — the relatively small dip in temperature from this relatively small amount of broth spread over the surface of the pot just can’t make that huge of a difference. Maybe it does in the precise and demanding environment of a restaurant kitchen, but when we’re just making risotto for ourselves in a home kitchen? In this case, I’m inclined to think that warm broth is of less vital importance.

Get our basic recipe: How To Make Great Risotto at Home

Where do you stand on this issue?

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