Creamy Seafood Risotto

updated Oct 27, 2022
Seafood Risotto Recipe

A cozy, creamy risotto in a garlicky clam butter sauce crowned with Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, scallops, shrimp, and shucked mussels.

Serves4 to 6

Prep15 minutes

Cook40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
overhead photo of a bowl of seafood risotto with a fork on a countertop. There is another bowl in the upper left, and some lemon wedges
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

Risotto is a dish that is deceptively simple to make. When you start with the right ingredients and put in a little bit of time, anyone can make a restaurant-quality risotto. And once you’ve mastered the classic, it’s time to add upgrades like butternut squash or, my favorite, a seafood medley.

This bubbling pot of creamy risotto is infused with a briny broth and flavored with nutty, salty Parmesan cheese and white wine. Tender shrimp and scallops are stirred in at the end, while each bowl is garnished with garlicky steamed mussels. It’s easy enough to make on a weeknight, but can be the star of a dinner party. Here’s how to make it.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich; Prop Styling: Paige Hicks

Key Ingredients in Seafood Risotto

  • The rice: Great risotto starts with the rice. For the best risotto choose short- or medium-grain rice like carnaroli, arborio, or vialone nano. These varieties are high in amylopectin, which contributes to the creamy texture as the rice is stirred.
  • The seafood: This recipe uses three types of seafood: mussels, sea scallops, and shrimp. You can adjust the recipe to include clams, pieces of mild fish, or cooked lobster tail. Cook the clams as you would the mussels, add the fish at the same time as the scallops and shrimp, and wait to stir in the cooked lobster until the very end.
  • The broth: Risotto recipes require warm broth, and in this recipe we will add flavor in two ways. First, use a combination of water and bottled clam juice in lieu of seafood or vegetable stock to give the risotto a clean, briny flavor. Next, steam the mussels in the broth with butter and garlic. The liquid released by the bivalves will add an extra layer of flavor to the cooking liquid.

How Long Does It Take to Make Seafood Risotto?

Risotto has a reputation as a laborious undertaking, and while it does require attention and occasional stirring, it is not a difficult dish to prepare. This restaurant-style dish takes less than an hour from start to finish to prepare at home.

What Pairs Well with Seafood Risotto?

Seafood risotto should take center stage, so keep the supporting sides simple. Here are a few elegant options.

Seafood Risotto Recipe

A cozy, creamy risotto in a garlicky clam butter sauce crowned with Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, scallops, shrimp, and shucked mussels.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    large shallot

  • 5 springs

    fresh parsley (optional)

  • 1

    small lemon (optional)

  • 2

    medium Roma or plum tomatoes

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup firmly packed freshly grated or 1/3 cup store-bought grated)

  • 8 ounces

    mussels

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 (8-ounce) bottle

    clam juice, such as Bar Harbor

  • 4 cups

    water

  • 8 ounces

    sea scallops

  • 8 ounces

    medium peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed if frozen (26 to 30 per pound)

  • 1 1/2 cups

    carnaroli, arborio, or vialone nano rice

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine

Instructions

  1. Mince 2 garlic cloves. Finely chop 1 large shallot. Pick the leaves from 5 fresh parsley sprigs and finely chop if desired. Cut 1 small lemon into wedges if desired.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same medium bowl as you complete it: Core and dice 2 Roma or plum tomatoes. Finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, if needed, until you have 1/2 firmly packed cup, or measure 1/3 cup store-bought grated.

  3. Rinse 8 ounces mussels in a strainer and check them over. All the mussels should be tightly closed. Discard any mussels with cracked shells. If the shell is open, tap the mussel lightly against the counter; if the shell doesn't close in a few minutes, discard the mussel. (If the mussels have “beards”, see How To Clean and Debeard Mussels.)

  4. Melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  5. Add the mussels and 1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice. Cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally with the lid still on, for 3 minutes. Uncover and check the mussels. If most of the mussels are not opened by now, cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.

  6. Using tongs, transfer the mussels to a medium bowl, reserving the liquid in the pot. Add 4 cups water to the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, prepare the mussels, scallops, and shrimp. Reduce the heat to low to keep warm.

  7. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Set aside 4 to 6 mussels in their shells for garnish (depending on how many people you will be serving). Shuck the remaining mussels, adding the meat to the bowl of tomatoes and discarding the empty shells. Pour any liquid left in the empty bowl into the saucepan with the clam juice and water.

  8. Remove the tough side mussel from 8 ounces sea scallops and place in the now-empty medium bowl. Add 8 ounces cleaned and deveined uncooked medium shrimp. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  9. Melt 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a large, straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallot and sauté fragrant and soft, but not browned, 1 to 2 minutes.

  10. Add 1 1/2 cups carnaroli, arborio, or vialone nano rice, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the edges of the rice are translucent, but the center is opaque and you smell the aroma of toasted rice before the grains brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until the wine has completely reduced and the pan is almost dry, 1 to 2 minutes.

  11. Begin incrementally adding the warm broth a 1/2 cup at a time, stirring often. Wait until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice before adding another 1/2 cup. Cook for 15 minutes from when the first broth went in, until the rice is almost al dente.

  12. Add another 1/2 cup broth along with the scallops and shrimp. Stir gently and cook until the shrimp is pink, the scallops are cooked through and no longer translucent, the rice is al dente, and the broth is thick and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes more. (Add more broth as needed if the pan is dry.) If you run your spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly to fill in the space. You may not use all of the broth.

  13. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the Parmesan, tomatoes, shucked mussels, and remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Stir gently until the butter is melted. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls, and garnish each serving with a mussel in the shell and the parsley. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.