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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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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 +.

  5. 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 !

  6. 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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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”.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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. :)

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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)

  26. 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.

  27. 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 :)

  28. 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!