Cheesy Saffron Restaurant Risotto

cheesy saffron restaurant risotto 1

Cheesy saffron restaurant risotto is why you need to learn to make this at home. I know you think it takes too long and requires too much attention. Do you wonder how your favorite restaurant whips it out so fast and perfectly timed for your main course? Well, it’s time to peek behind the curtain and solve the mystery.

How the Magic Happens

Risotto is wonderful, but turning rice into a delectable creamy delight doesn’t come easy. Add stock, heat, stir, simmer and repeat, all the while tending it carefully is tedious. It’s especially tricky when preparing the rest of a full meal simultaneously. We don’t have a sous chef at home to help with the details, so how can you do it?

The answer is divide and conquer. We partially cook the risotto until near dinner-time, then we finish it in 5 minutes to coincide with service.

Making Cheesy Saffron Restaurant Risotto

toasting the rice

Toasting the rice is essential, because it creates a thin layer over each grain to retain the starches longer and adds nutty flavor and aroma.

partially cooked risotto

After toasting, add the wine and chicken stock and simmer covered for ten minutes. Uncover and stir intermittently until the rice has absorbed almost all the liquid and the rice is 90% cooked, but still has a distinct chewy bite. Transfer it to a quarter sheet baking pan.

rice ready to chill

Spread it evenly in the baking pan, let it cool for 30 minutes, then cover and chill in the refrigerator. You can do this up to a day in advance until ready to finish.

When ready, remove from the fridge 30 minutes in advance to let it warm while you’re heating the remaining stock and infusing it with the saffron.

When the stock is hot and simmering, stir the risotto in to combine and finish until the rice is completely cooked – about 3-5 more minutes

finishing the cheesy saffron restaurant risotto

Fold in the cheeses last, immediately before serving.

cheesy saffron restaurant risotto 2 Print

Cheesy Saffron Restaurant Risotto

Risotto with cheese and saffron prepared the restaurant way

  • Author: Tim
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 1 TBL canola oil
  • 1/2 shallot – minced
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock – divided – get the recipe HERE
  • 1/4 cup white wine – room temp
  • 2 pinches saffron strands
  • 2 TBL parmigiana cheese – finely grated
  • 2 TBL asiago cheese – finely grated


  1. Pre-heat 3-1/2 cups chicken stock on medium-low heat
  2. Heat the canola oil in a steel pot over medium heat and saute the shallot 1-2 minutes until soft and translucent, but do not brown
  3. Add the rice and toast it by stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until all the grains are coated with oil. Let it heat and stir intermittently and often enough to prevent burning. Continue until the rice “blooms”. You will hear occasional popping as the rice blooms and it will develop a nutty aroma. The wooden spoon will sound like fingernails on a blackboard as it scrapes across the bottom of the pan as the rice absorbs the oil. Toasting will take 3-4 minutes
  4. Add a pinch of salt and deglaze the pan bottom with the wine. Cook until the rice absorbs the wine, then add the 3-1/2 cups of chicken stock.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to lowest heat, cover and cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  6. Uncover and stir as the stock reduces and is absorbed by the rice.
  7. When it becomes creamy, but loose after 5-10 minutes taste it, but it should still have a distinct chewy bite in the middle. Remove from the heat and spread it evenly in a baking pan. Let it cool for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until ready to finish. This can be done as far as a day in advance.
  8. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes to let it warm.
  9. Place the saffron in the remaining chicken stock and bring it to a low simmer. Stir once to make sure the saffron is fully immersed.
  10. Place a ladle of the simmering stock in a pot over low heat, then add all the pre-cooked rice. Stir to combine, adding more stock if necessary until it is rich and creamy enough to spread on a plate. If it is too tight, add more stock or water. This should take about 5 minutes.
  11. Fold in the cheeses and serve immediately


  1. Never add cold stock to risotto because it will stop the cooking process
  2. Save cheeses and flavorings until the finishing process
  3. Toasting the rice keeps the starch in and prevents the grains from “breaking” while cooking