Yes, You Can Make Risotto Without Wine

updated Aug 14, 2022
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20-Minute Fresh Tomato Risotto (Image credit: Brie Passano)

Take a look at pretty much any recipe out there for risotto and you’ll notice it calls for white wine, usually about 1/2 cup or so. It’s one of risotto’s signature ingredients so you may think, given that it’s in so many recipes (including ours), using it is nonnegotiable. In actuality, it’s possible to make risotto without white wine and you could swap it in for verjus instead.

What if, for whatever reason, you’d like to leave it out, though? Maybe you don’t drink or you’re cooking for kids (while the alcohol does cook out, you’d feel more comfortable not using it). Or perhaps you happen to have everything in the house to make risotto except the wine and you’re in no mood to run back out to the store.

Well, the good news is you can definitely make risotto without wine. Here’s how.

How to Make Risotto Without Wine

The reason wine is used when making risotto is that it lends flavor and a bit of acidity to the dish, which can help balance out its inherent richness. A big splash is added right after the rice is toasted and just before the main cooking liquid, usually broth, starts to get stirred in.

Learn the basic technique: How To Make Risotto at Home

What You Can Swap White Wine to Verjus

Yet, there’s actually no reason why you have to add wine. In fact, beloved cookbook author Marcella Hazan doesn’t even include wine in her recipe for basic risotto in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Although the alcohol in the wine does cook out after all the stirring and simmering, if you’re hesitant to use it for whatever reason, you don’t have to!

You could swap the white wine in for verjus, if that’s something you happen to have in your pantry. My personal preference, since I am not that person, is to simply leave it out! You can skip that step in any recipe and just start adding the broth to the pan.

If you’d like to lend a touch of acidity to the risotto you can add a squeeze of lemon juice or a touch of white or red wine vinegar at any point while you’re stirring in the broth.