Risotto Allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto)

Risotto Allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto)

This vegan and naturally gluten-free risotto allo zafferano (saffron risotto) is a classic and authentic Italian dish loved for its creamy texture and rich flavor.

Type: main

Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: gluten-Free, golden risotto, Italian, lunch, risotto allo zafferano, saffron risotto, side

Recipe Yield: 4

Calories: 385

Preparation Time: 5

Cooking Time: 20

Total Time: 25

Recipe Video Name: Risotto Allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto)

Recipe Video Description: This vegan and naturally gluten-free risotto allo zafferano (saffron risotto) is a classic and authentic Italian dish loved for its creamy texture and rich flavor.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (200 gr) Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) white wine
  • 1/2 small white onion (or ¼ large onion), finely chopped
  • 3 cups (600 ml) vegetable broth, warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads or ¼ tsp saffron powder
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (25 gr) nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese, cold
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter, cold
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Recipe Instructions: In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron threads in warm water and set aside. In a large pot, heat up the vegetable broth and keep it warm on low heat. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the rice to the pan with the onions, and stir to coat the rice with the oil. Continue to stir for 1-2 minutes or until the rice is slightly toasted. Add the white wine to the pan, and stir continuously until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add a bit of the warm vegetable broth to the rice, and stir continuously until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this process a bit at a time until all of the broth has been used. This takes about 18-20 minutes. Add the saffron water to the pan, and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice and the rice has become yellow. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cold vegan butter and the nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese until melted and combined. Season the risotto with salt and white pepper to taste, if desired. Serve the risotto hot, garnished with additional grated Parmesan cheese or saffron threads.

Editor's Rating:
5


This vegan and naturally gluten-free risotto allo zafferano (saffron risotto) is a classic and authentic Italian dish loved for its creamy texture and rich flavor. With a few simple ingredients, the rice is cooked slowly in broth until it reaches a deliciously creamy restaurant-quality consistency. This homemade dish is ready in 20 minutes.

🌟 Why You Should Try This Recipe

There are many reasons to love this saffron risotto recipe.

  • First and foremost, the dish is incredibly flavorful, simple and satisfying, with the distinct taste of saffron and the creamy texture of the arborio rice. 
  •  Additionally, it’s a great option for those who are following a vegan or plant-based diet, as this recipe is free of any animal products.
  •  It’s a good option for a cozy weeknight meal or a fancy dinner party, as it’s both elegant and easy at the same time. 
  • Whether you serve it as a main course or a side dish, risotto allo zafferano is a versatile and flavorful dish.
  • Plus, it’s easy to customize by adding your favorite vegetables or proteins.

📖 What Is Risotto Allo Zafferano?

Risotto allo zafferano, or saffron risotto, is a classic Italian dish that’s loved for its creamy texture and rich flavor.

Saffron is the key ingredient in this recipe and gives the dish its characteristic golden color and unique taste. The dish is made by cooking Arborio rice in a broth made from vegetables, white wine, and saffron. The rice is cooked slowly, with the broth added gradually, until it reaches a creamy consistency. The final result is a delicious, comforting dish that’s perfect for any occasion.

The dish originates from the Lombardy region of Italy, but it’s now enjoyed all over the world. Risotto allo zafferano is a popular dish during the fall and winter months when warm and comforting foods are preferred.

The inspiration and cooking technique for this recipe is inspired by this authentic recipe for risotto alla Milanese.

The ingredients for Risotto Allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto) on a white backdrop in several different bowls and small plates and glasses with descriptive labels.

🥣 Ingredient Notes

Here’s a breakdown of each ingredient:

Carnaroli or Arborio rice

These types of short-gran rice are ideal for risotto as they have a high starch content, which is important for creating a creamy texture when cooked. It’s also able to absorb a lot of liquid without becoming mushy, which is why it’s the preferred rice variety for making risotto.

Olive oil

The olive oil is used to sauté the onion and adds flavor to the dish.
White onion: The finely chopped onion adds flavor and depth to the dish and is sautéed in olive oil before the rice is added.

Vegetable broth

The vegetable broth serves as the base liquid for the risotto and contributes to the overall flavor of the dish. It’s important to use warm broth so that it doesn’t slow down the cooking process.

White wine

Adding white wine to the rice as it cooks helps to deglaze the pan and adds a bright, acidic flavor to the dish. You can use any white wine you like, such as dry white wine, but avoid using wine that’s too sweet.

Saffron threads

Saffron is a key ingredient in saffron risotto and provides the signature golden color and unique flavor. It is known for its unique taste and aroma. It can be quite expensive, but a little bit goes a long way in this recipe.

Warm water

Warm water is used to steep the saffron threads and extract their flavor. This also prevent the saffron threads from breaking.

Vegan butter

Adding a small amount of vegan butter at the end of cooking helps to enrich the dish further and creates a smooth and creamy texture. Depending on your preference, you can use salted or unsalted butter. 

Cheese

Vegan Parmesan cheese is typically added at the end of cooking to add richness and creaminess to the dish. For a more wholesome ingredient, nutritional yeast also makes a good vegan alternative to Parmesan cheese (see the recipe notes for a quick recipe for vegan cheese with nutritional yeast). 

Salt & white pepper

Adding salt and white pepper (at the end) helps to enhance the overall flavor of the dish.

Make sure to check the recipe card for the full recipe with the exact quantities and information on all the ingredients. 

🥄 How To Make Risotto Allo Zafferano (step-by-step with photos)

Now that you have your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking! Follow these steps to make your risotto allo zafferano. The full recipe is down below.

Step 1.
In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron threads in warm water and set aside. In a large pot, heat up the vegetable broth and keep it warm on low heat.

Step 2.
In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Step 3.
Add the rice to the pan with the onions, and stir to coat the rice with the oil. Continue to stir for 1-2 minutes or until the rice is slightly toasted.

Step 4.
Add the white wine to the pan, and stir continuously until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.

Step 5.
Add a bit of the warm vegetable broth to the rice, and keep on stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this process, a bit at a time, until all of the broth has been used.

Step 6.
Add the saffron water to the pan, and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice and the rice has become yellow.

Step 7.
Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cold vegan butter and the nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese until melted and combined.

Step 8.
Taste and season with salt and white pepper, if desired. Serve the risotto hot, garnished with additional grated Parmesan cheese or saffron threads.

🍄 Substitutions and Add-ins

There are a few variations and additions you can make with this saffron risotto recipe. Here are a few ideas:

Substitutions

  • Instead of white wine, you could use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to add acidity to the dish.
  • If you don’t have saffron threads, you could substitute with turmeric powder for a similar golden color or use other spices like cumin or smoked paprika to add flavor.4
  • Instead of vegetable broth, you could use chicken-style or mushroom-style broth for a different flavor profile. Vegetable broth is used in this recipe to keep it vegan, but any broth will work.
  • Instead of nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese, you could use grated vegan cheddar or mozzarella cheese for a cheesy flavor.
  • If you don’t have vegan butter, you could use coconut oil or vegan margarine as a substitute. Or you can use regular butter if you are not vegan. 

Additions

  • You could add some chopped mushrooms or diced tomatoes to the risotto for additional flavor and texture.
  • If you want some extra protein, you could add some cooked white beans or chickpeas to the dish.
  • For some added greens, you could stir in some chopped spinach or kale towards the end of cooking.
  • To make the dish more filling, you could add some cooked or roasted veggies like asparagus, broccoli, or butternut squash.
  • For some extra crunch, you could sprinkle some chopped toasted nuts or seeds on top of the risotto before serving.
  • More traditional recipes for risotto allo zafferano typically don’t use garlic. However, some modern variations of the recipe do include garlic as a flavor enhancer. If you like the taste of garlic, feel free to include it in this recipe. It’s usually minced and added to the onion while it’s cooking.
Yellow colored risotto in a shallow white bowl on a plate with a gold colored fork next to the bowl and red saffron threads as a garnish and a small glass of white wine in the background.

📗 Expert Tips

Here are some expert tips for making the perfect risotto allo zafferano.

Rice

Use Carnaroli or Arborio rice or another short-grain rice variety, as it will result in the most creamy risotto.

Toast the rice before adding the liquid, as it will help to seal in the starches and give the dish a creamy texture.

Traditionally, risotto is cooked until it is creamy and has a slightly firm texture. It should not be cooked until it is mushy. The key to achieving this texture is to add the liquid to the rice gradually, constantly stirring, so that the starch is released slowly and the rice cooks evenly.

Broth

Add the broth gradually, stirring constantly. This will help the rice release its starch and create the creamy texture that’s characteristic of risotto.

It’s important to keep the broth warm while making the risotto. This helps the rice to cook evenly and results in a creamier texture. You can heat the broth in a separate pan on low heat or in a microwave-safe container.

Slow cooking

Making risotto is easy, but it requires patience and slow cooking to allow the rice to absorb the liquid and release its starch, resulting in a creamy and flavorful dish.

Saffron

Saffron is a potent spice, so it’s important to use it sparingly. A little goes a long way, so start with a small amount and adjust to taste. And be careful with your clothing as it can leave stains.

Butter and cheese

Use cold butter and cheese. Adding cold butter and cheese at the end of cooking helps to thicken the risotto and create a creamy texture. Make sure to stir the risotto well before serving.

Serve immediately

Risotto is best served immediately while it’s still hot and creamy. If you need to wait before serving, keep it covered and warm on the stove, and add a little extra broth if it gets too thick.

Yellow colored risotto in a shallow white bowl with saffron threads as a garnish on a white napkin with a gold colored fork placed next to the risotto and a small glass of white wine next to it.

🥡 How To Store Risotto Allo Zafferano

Refrigerate
Let the risotto cool to room temperature. Don’t leave this risotto at room temperature for more than two hours, as this can lead to bacterial growth. Transfer the risotto to an airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Freeze
It’s not recommended to freeze risotto allo zafferano, as the texture can change when it’s thawed and reheated.

Reheat
To reheat risotto allo zafferano, you can either microwave it or heat it up on the stovetop. If using a microwave, place the risotto in a microwave-safe dish, cover it loosely with a lid, and microwave for 1-2 minutes or until heated through. If heating on the stovetop, place the risotto in a saucepan over medium heat and stir it constantly until heated through.

Add liquid
If the risotto has become too dry after refrigeration, you can add a bit of liquid to help revive it. Vegetable broth, water, or white wine can be used to add moisture and help restore the creamy texture.

💭 Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add vegetables or protein to this recipe? 

You can customize this risotto by adding your favorite vegetables or proteins. Some popular options include mushrooms, peas, or tofu.

Do I need to use white wine in this recipe?

White wine can add a nice depth of flavor to the dish, but it can be omitted if necessary.

What goes well with saffron risotto?

Saffron risotto is a rich and flavorful dish that pairs well with various ingredients. Some classic combinations include:

  • Mushrooms, such as porcini or chanterelles
  • Peas or asparagus.
  • Grilled or roasted protein such as tofu or tempeh.
  • A simple green (leafy) salad.

Can I use another type of onion in this recipe? 

You can use a different type of onion if you prefer. White onions have a milder flavor than yellow or red onions, but any type will work. White onions and white pepper is used in this recipe mainly to keep the color yellow.

Yellow colored risotto in a shallow white bowl with little saffron threads as a garnish on a white napkin with a gold colored fork placed in the risotto.

🍲 For More Comforting Recipes You Might Like:

Did you love this recipe? Leave a comment & rate it!

⭐⭐⭐⭐
Your feedback is super appreciated and helps others.
Want to stay up to date with all new mouth-watering recipes? Subscribe to The Green Creator newsletter and follow The Green Creator on Instagram and Facebook.

📖 Recipe

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Yellow colored risotto in a shallow white bowl with little saffron threads as a garnish on a white napkin with a gold colored fork next to the bowl.

Risotto Allo Zafferano (Saffron Risotto)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Bianca
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: side, main, starter
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This saffron-flavored risotto is based on an authentic Italian recipe for risotto allo zafferano. This vegan and gluten-free recipe is both delicious and easy to make in 20 minutes.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup (200 gr) Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) white wine
  • 1/2 small white onion (or ¼ large onion), finely chopped
  • 3 cups (600 ml) vegetable broth, warm
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads or ¼ tsp saffron powder
  • 1/2 cup (100 ml) warm water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (25 gr) nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese, cold
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter, cold
  • optional: salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the saffron threads in warm water and set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat up the vegetable broth and keep it warm on low heat.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the rice to the pan with the onions, and stir to coat the rice with the oil. Continue to stir for 1-2 minutes or until the rice is slightly toasted.
  5. Add the white wine to the pan, and stir continuously until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice.
  6. Add a bit of the warm vegetable broth to the rice, and stir continuously until the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Repeat this process a bit at a time until all of the broth has been used. This takes about 18-20 minutes.
  8. Add the saffron water to the pan, and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice and the rice has become yellow.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cold vegan butter and the nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan cheese until melted and combined.
  10. Season the risotto with salt and white pepper to taste, if desired.
  11. Serve the risotto hot, garnished with additional grated Parmesan cheese or saffron threads.

Notes

Rice
Toast the rice before adding the liquid, as it will help to seal in the starches and give the dish a creamy texture.
Cooking
Risotto is cooked until it is creamy and has a slightly firm texture. It should not be cooked until it is mushy.
Broth
Keep the broth warm while making the risotto. This helps the rice to cook evenly and results in a creamier texture. 
Slow cooking
Making risotto is easy, but it requires patience and slow cooking to allow the rice to absorb the liquid and release its starch.
Butter and cheese
Use cold butter and cheese to help to thicken the risotto and create a creamy texture. 
Serve immediately
Risotto is best served immediately while it’s still hot and creamy. If you need to wait before serving, keep it covered and warm on the stove, and add a little extra broth if it gets too thick.
Nutritional yeast
When using nutritional yeast as a substitution for Parmesan cheese, make vegan Parmesan cheese by pulsing 1/2 cup of raw cashews, 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a food processor until it reaches a coarse crumbly texture. This vegan Parmesan cheese is a great substitute for traditional Parmesan cheese and adds a delicious nutty and cheesy flavor to the risotto.
Store
Transfer the risotto to an airtight container and store the container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. It’s not recommended to freeze risotto allo zafferano.

(the recipe and cooking technique is inspired by this authentic Italian recipe)


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 385
  • Sugar: 3.3g
  • Sodium: 864.6mg
  • Fat: 14.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 52.2g
  • Protein: 7g
  • Cholesterol: 0

The links mentioned in the text are affiliate links, indicated by being underlined and bold.