Brown Rice Risotto

5 Reviews / 5 Average
I've created a simple recipe for Risotto that includes brown rice instead of brown Arborio rice for a real food approved side dish. Add this to your dinner rotation for endless possibilities by adding in meat or seafood, much like a stir-fry. I've adapted this recipe from Willams-Sonoma.
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Brown Rice Risotto from 100 Days of Real Food

My great-grandparents were born in Italy so for as long as I can remember risotto has been a staple dish in our family. When my dad is the one cooking, which is the norm in my family, we have risotto at almost every gathering including holiday dinners.

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What a nice recipe! I tried it and everyone liked it! My family said that I have to make this everyday.
– Ann

I even remember my dad making the Italian flag with his risotto one year by mixing tomato paste with a third of the batch and parsley with another third. I don’t remember who was at this particular dinner, how old I was, or what holiday we were even celebrating, but oh how I remember the Italian flag risotto. :) Clearly I was destined to somehow have food be a big part of my life.

But enough nostalgia for now… What I am really here to say is that I was slightly devastated when I first thought whole-grain risotto was impossible.

You see, when we made the switch to “real food” I looked everywhere for brown Arborio rice to no avail. I even went almost a year without eating risotto (yikes!) until one day I saw a post from Deliciously Organic explaining that you can actually make risotto with just regular brown rice…it doesn’t have to be Arborio or anything special!

You know how something can suddenly seem so simple when the information is presented to you like that. Plus this is such a great recipe to have in your dinner rotation because (similar to stir-fry) you can mix in almost anything you have on hand from veggies to seafood to meat in order to make it into a complete meal.

And if you have some homemade chicken stock available for this recipe, too…then yum!!

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69 thoughts on “Brown Rice Risotto”

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    we made this last night and it was wonderful!! the nutty bite from the brown rice was a nice change of pace and paired really well with our salmon.

    we added blanched asparagus at the end.

    and yes – it took twice as long.

  2. I only had regular long grain brown rice, and I read the helpful comments so I expected this might take a little longer… but it really did take fully twice as long to cook, and twice as much liquid, and we still ended up eating it al dente because we couldn’t wait any longer! Great flavor though, and even more delicious the next day. Just plan ahead!

  3. Just so everyone knows, although you’ll never get the same taste/texture as arborio rice, the best way to use the same process/cooking time as arborio rice is to use long grain brown rice and you don’t even have to change your recipe. Speaking from experience as I have tried the various brown rices out there. I even learned (after my trial and error of coarse :-( ) from cooks corner that long grain is the way to go. I love Risotto so much as many of you on this post and was very thankful to find the solution. Thanks for all the clean eating tips, things like these are always so awesome.

  4. This makes me so happy. I have also been living without my favorite mushroom risotto for several years no, and I miss it terribly! I love quinoa, but quinoa risotto is just not the same! Can’t wait to try this tonight!

  5. Hi. Made this tonight. Firstly, brown rice takes ages to cook. Seriously a long time. 2 hours to cook 2 x cups of rice and stacks of stock, plus a little more water. But, what a great risotto. I made the above with Apple, ginger, garlic and vegetable stock with a ham hock. Sensational. Thanks.

  6. This is delicious and I know you recommended quick cooking rice, but for those of us who have regular rice you might want to rest in the recipe it takes more like an hour and half – 2 hours way more than double the time. I love the idea of cooking for 20 min then following your recipe. wish i had read the reviews first, but great recipe. thanks!

  7. I was looking for a brown rice risotto recipe for arancini (which I bake.) I have found a medium grain brown rice in the part of the grocery store that sells Bob’s Red Mill & gluten free stuff. I can also get it in bulk from the local organic grocery. It’s pretty close to Arborio and I much prefer the medium grain brown rice over the long grain. I haven’t timed it, but I believe it also cooks a little quicker.
    I also saw a recipe for just what I wanted to make from Rocco Dispirito – baked brown rice arancini! His recipe included pulsing the rice in a food processor or coffee grinder to break it up a bit so it will cook quicker. This is probably especially good for risotto as ut would release more creamy starchiness.
    I may also wind up trying it in a slow coomer as I like to make a lot of arancini to freeze and have on hand. Great for snacks or impromptu appetizers – just pop in the oven for 30 min!

  8. 5 stars
    What a nice recipe! I tried it and everyone liked it! My family said me that I have to do that meal everyday, thanks my Redmond 4500 multicooker – it can do it without my attention – just put ingredients in the multicooker and you are free.

  9. The recipe calls for quick cooking ( parboiled) brown rice,such as Uncle Ben’s..not regular brown rice. If you want to use rehular brown rice, cook it for twenty minutes, drain, and then use the above recipe.

  10. I also had trouble with the time it took to get the brown rice al dente until a friend recommended pre cooking the brown rice the night before.Makes the evening meal a bit quicker the next day and still tastes great.My brown rice rissotto is a hit. Thanks ML

  11. Was looking forward to a healthier option trying to eliminate processed foods for our family, so making a risotto with brown rice was one l was keen to try. This recipe was an absolute disaster, it took 2 litres of stock, along with 1.5 hrs to cook! The brown rice simply wouldnt absorb the stock, hence the cooking time was sooo long, am at a loss as to why the recipe turned out poorly, and l call myself a reasonable cook. Very disappointing!

    1. Could it be that it wasn’t boiling or simmering, only on low heat?
      I soak and/or sprout my brown rice. Soaking the rice for at least 8 hours beforehand make the rice take less time to cook and even more so when I sprout it. I also use a pressure cooker, so I can cook rice in less than 10 minutes!
      I really suggest trying either/both of those options. Soaking and sprouting increases the bio-availability of nutrients in the brown rice and my pressure cooker is one of my most-used kitchen utensils.

  12. 5 stars
    Fabulous recipe. I didn’t want to open a bottle of wine just for the little bit needed so I just used a bit more broth. I used organic vegetable boullion cubes to make the broth as I didn’t have any frozen broth left. We added shrimp, mushrooms, and spinach (cooked) to ours and it was amazing! And I used not quick cooking rice- took about 45 minutes of cooking.

  13. I wound up covering the pot for a time to speed up cooking of regular brown rice. I couldn’t stand at the stove for hours. I’m at about an jour and a half and it’s almost ready.

  14. Jennifer Emerson

    I am 1.5+ hours in and I cannot get the rice done! I’m obviously not using the quick cooking kind ;-) I’m going to add some chicken and veggies!

  15. I was web searching for a brown rice risottos recipe and lucky for me I stumbled upon your blog. I love it! Great recipes for a new follower and his family!

  16. I must be the outsider on this one! I have made risotto successfully many times with arborio, but was excited to try brown rice (and I was out of arborio!). But I’m at 2 hrs and 25 minutes + twice the suggested liquid and my rice is stuck at 90% cooked! It is creamy, albeit not done. We already ate the rest of dinner, I’m not giving up on this, it will cook! Note – it isn’t fast cook rice, so I was expecting an hour +.

  17. I haven’t tried this yet, but I’d love to try this recipe using short grain sweet brown rice. This variety of rice is both a whole food and very starchy. With that in mind I think it would be the best replacement for arborio. I hope you check it out !

  18. Lisa thanks for the tip, but i think I improved the recipe: try throwing in some sliced, quick fried Portobello mushrooms and some cream or mascarpone and it will be much nicer.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Krystal. You could leave it out and just add more stock thought wine really adds to the richness of the flavor. I have seen where others have used apple cider with a bit of white wine vinegar but I’ve not tested it. And, that might be off limits, too? Adding a little butter and some extra parmesan would add richness, as well. Best of luck. ~Amy

  19. Hi,
    I really want to try out the recipe but I am new to making risottos or cooking with wine, so what white wine do I use and do I need to use wine? Thank you!

  20. Delicious. I always have a hard time with the salt, either too much or not enough.This time it was not enough, but not to worry, I added some more st the table? Even sans the cheese it’s a great way to cook brown rice. Love it.

  21. I made this for my family last night with bacon and lima beans. My 5 year old not only helped me cook it (and informed me I need to be on the food network show chopped) but she ate 2, count them 2 servings.

    As a tip, if you are using bacon: chop the bacon into small pieces and saute first, remove the bacon bits from the pan, then you can use the rendered fat to saute the onions in before adding the garlic and rice (make sure you turn the heat down to low and allow the rendered fat to cool slightly before you add the onions or you will just end up burning them – also important to salt and pepper your onions to help render their flavor while cooking). When you add the rice you need to cook it for a solid 2 minutes, at least, to toast up the rice and thus activate the starches. Add the wine to deglaze the pan and “shock” the rice so it will begin producing the creaminess that Risotto is famous for. While you are adding your chicken stock to the risotto, a ladle-full (and yes you MUST do it spoonful by spoonful – you cannot dump in all the liquid and end up with good risotto) at a time steam your lima beans so they are warm and ready to plop in at the end.

    When you’ve used up almost all of your stock, check the tenderness of your rice. It should have a creamy mouth-feel and a slight “al dente” pasta-like bite to it. You may need more or less stock, but cook it to your preferred texture then add back in your limabeans and bacon bits. A traditional Italian trick for the finishing touch on Risotto – after letting almost all the stock absorb and instead of adding more to “make soupy” add 1 – 2 Tablespoons of butter and toss in your parmesean cheese, this binds the starches and makes for a thick and creamy rich “sauce”.

  22. My husband and I found brown rice risotto at the Healthy Home Market on South Boulevard in Charlotte. It made great risotto, but took about an hour and a half. Totally worth it!

  23. All I had was brown minute rice and was wanting to make risotto on a cold wintry day. I found this recipe and it was perfect. I had made the whole chicken in a crockpot yesterday then made stock from it overnight and used it for the risotto. Being Italian and growing up on risotto with nothing but arborio rice I was skeptical but it turned out to be delicious! Tasty and healthy….what else can one ask for!

  24. Clean Eating magazine from Jan/Feb 2012 has a fantastic recipe for Lamb and Mushroom Barley Risotto which is made using pearl barley in the crockpot! It is so yummy, creamy, good. You can modify the recipe to make plain risotto or any variation you wish. I can’t find the recipe printed online but there are similar recipes if you search.

  25. I kept putting off making risotto since I do not keep any white rice in the house – just brown basmati. I finally just decided to throw caution to the wind and try to make it with that. The recipe I found was identical to the one you have posted, with the exception of the amount of broth (it called for 4 cups but I believe I ended up using around 6). All told it took about an hour with the brown basmati an it definitely wasn’t as smooth or as tender as risotto should be. I have hope, thanks to your post, that a shorter grain brown rice could work! Thanks!

  26. Made this last night…not a fan! It had good flavor but the texture was way off…like oatmeal what’s up with that?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Jaci. It sounds like maybe you used too much liquid and it got too mushy. You might reduce the liquid next time. Risotto is supposed to be creamy though keep in mind. Jill

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Peter. According to the Whole Grains Council, a comparison of quick cooking brown rice vs. regular brown rice showed no appreciable difference in their nutrient profile. Both varieties are considered whole grains. Jill

  27. Thanks for the recipe. I’m a first time visitor to your blog & I like it.
    For those who are switching to brown rice, it could be a bit hard to compromise the yummy flavor of processed white rice. One trick I used, and it worked miracles, I use homemade salad dressing (I’m from the middle east, our original salad dressing is: 1 clove Freshly minced garlic, juice of 1 or 2 lemons, Olive Oil. Simply drizzle 2 tbsp of that on your cooked brown rice and enjoy. Works best next to Grilled Salmon or Chicken Breast.
    Other ideas: any homemade tomato sauce (usually the one we prepare for Pasta)- or even try to stir fry 2 or 3 minced garlic gloves into the pot before adding the rice & water.

  28. Sounded like a great idea. I had short-grain brown rice in the house and thought I’d give it a shot. I’m on 2 1/2 hours and counting…can’t recommend trying it that way, even if it comes out perfect.

  29. We’ve been eating real food for a while now, but I have completely given up on brown rice. What is the best brown rice to get? I like my rice to be tender, not firm or “crunchy” and I can’t find a brown rice that isn’t firm when cooked no matter how much water I add! Help! Thank you!!!

    1. Lisa, please see Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice, on The Food Network’s website. I, too, love fluffy, tender rice, and it just didn’t work on the stovetop, but after one batch of Alton’s brown rice, I was hooked for life. Now I buy short-grain brown rice (from Henry’s/Sprouts, in my Los Angeles area), and bake it to use with everything. Even makes an incredible Chinese Fried Rice if I bake it the day before and chill it thoroughly overnight to stir fry with veggies, chicken, and soy sauce for a delicious dinner; the texture is wonderful.

  30. Oh and I served it with another favorite from your site – “The Best Whole Chicken in a Crockpot” and I will be using the broth from that for chicken noodle soup.

  31. Made this last night (nearly following your recipe) and it was great! thanks for the recipe and suggestion. This will be a regular in our dinner rotation from now on. :)

  32. I think you may have made my day! I looove risotto and since I’m slowly moving over to whole foods this is makes me so happy to see. Thanks, I’ll be trying this very soon!

  33. Have you tried farro? It’s my new dream grain and an excellent substitute for brown rice. The kind I have cooks fairly quickly (15 minutes or so), is organic, and can be found at Costco in some cities (though not mine). Also, it’s a whole food and still true to your Italian roots.

  34. I actually found, of all places at my local walmart, short grain brown rice, and I also do it in the pressure cooker, but found it took only 14 minutes in mine. I brown some onion and other veggies in some olive oil and garlic, stir in the rice and cook it a minute or two, pour in the liquids and close up the pressure cooker setting it on high for 14 minutes. So easy, but I also have an electric one as opposed to a stovetop one. Best investment ever for cooking real food, in my opinion. I love reading all about your experiences with real whole food cooking, and have enjoyed many of your recipes.

  35. To those commentors talking about cooking traditional brown rice quicker, it can be done in a pressure cooker–I do it all the time. Use 3 to 4 parts water for 1 part rice (you need the extra water for steam) and cook at 15psi for 25 minutes (as opposed to 45 in a regular pot). Quick release and drain/rinse. I’ve also mixed wheatberries in with the brown rice and it cooks in the same amount of time.

    I’d be interested in hearing how the Pressure Cooker Risotto works out. Since brown rice takes 25 minutes under pressure, it should take slightly longer to get a risotto consistency and you’ll have to play with the water to get the “sauce” right without burning the bottom but it should be possible.

  36. I’ve recently been finding short-grained brown rice at places like Whole Foods (bulk aisle) and even the regular Megamart. Short-grained brown rice might have a little more starch and might behave a lot more like your favorite Aborio.

    I also ran across a recipe recently that we’ve tried and love–Risotto made with Scottish Oats. You’d swear you were eating regular risotto but it has a nice nutty flavor to it and a bit of bite and it’s a whole grain.

  37. I have been experimenting with a new pressure cooker my wife purchased. It makes a “killer” risotto using Arborio in 15 minutes. Looks like brown rice risotto will be my next venture. Thanks for the idea! (and the recipe)

  38. You can also make risotto with barley, and it’s deliciously creamy! There is a recipe for it in the “Eating Well When You’re Expecting” book… if I remember correctly it was a tomato and parm risotto. Yum!

    Is quick-cook brown rice a grocery store staple? We only eat brown rice now (thank you for the nudge to change from basmati to brown!) and one problem we have is the time it take to cook. It’s usually about 45 minutes start to finish. Not bad if you have other things cooking too, but when we’re making a quick stir fry after work, it’s problematic.

    1. Did you know you can make brown rice beforehand? I cook dinner with 3 little kids around, and this helps me so much! I bake my brown rice in the oven, and make a big batch at a time (9×13 pan). I freeze it in ziploc bags for later. Then I just thaw it, and heat it in the microwave loosely covered with plastic wrap until warm. It works great!!

      1. Hi Michelle,

        I was wondering if you could elaborate on how you bake the brown rice, do you use quick cooking or regular and how long and what liquid do you add! This would work well for my family as we have an active 16 month old! Thanks :0)

    2. 100 Days of Real Food

      I can always find the quick cooking brown rice at our local Earth Fare (healthfood supermarket), but not sure about the stores in your area. It might be a good item to order in bulk online because it would have a decent shelf life.

    3. for stir fry i used rice that I’ve cooked the day before or leftover rice. You can also invest in a rice cooker for the microwave. Pampered Chef has a great one for the microwave and I use it for my brown rice it cooks in about 25 minutes using the cooker versus the stove top.

  39. Thank you for the recipe! I’ve been eating wholegrains for several years now and have always ignored risotto recipes because of the arborio rice. Now I can rethink :)

  40. I actually made brown rice risotto for dinner on Wednesday night! I knew it had to be possible so I tried it, and it worked out perfectly. I added some chopped spinach and butternut squash to mine and served it with pan seared chicken breasts. It was delicious! I will never use arborio again!