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Spinach Risotto {With Fresh or Frozen Spinach}

Spinach Risotto {With Fresh or Frozen Spinach}

This super cream Spinach Risotto is one of the most classic Italian risotto recipes.
It’s perfect to make any time of the year since you can prepare it with fresh or frozen spinach.

You’ll love its super creamy consistency, delicate spinach and butter flavor paired with slightly tangy Parmesan cheese, all stirred to perfection into a delicious bowl of comfort food.

Spinach Risotto served in a blue bowl

Spinach Risotto Ingredients & Possible Substitutes

Rice – the best type of rice for any risotto and spinach risotto is not an exception is Arborio or Carnaroli rice.

Spinachfresh spinach is the best. Regular spinach needs to be chopped thinly while or baby spinach can be used whole.
You can also use frozen spinach directly from the freezer.

Shallot/Onion/Leek – shallot gives the most delicate flavor to your risotto and it’s available all year round. But it can be substituted with fresh leek or half the amount of onion.

Dry white wine – choose medium to high quality dry white wine, which means it’s pleasant to drink as well. Low quality wine will give a bad aftertaste to your risotto after all alcohol evaporates. Wine can be skipped if needed but I don’t recommend you do.

Stock – any kind of stock will work. Meat broth gives the most flavor, vegetable stock turns it into a vegetarian risotto.
Homemade broth/stock is the best but you can also use your favorite store bought brand, preferably the one sold in carton packs which tend to be superior to any granulated or broth in cubes. Make sure to taste broth for salt and adjust accordingly.
If I don’t have homemade stock I often give preference to bottle water over store bought products and it turns out delicious as well.

Whatever liquid you use make sure it’s boiling hot when you start adding it to the rice.

Butter – unsalted cold butter. Can be substituted with cream cheese or ricotta. See recipe variations below or details.

Parmesan cheese – high quality grated Parmesan cheese is used for both finishing the cooking process of risotto (mantecatura) so as for serving. Can be substituted with Grana Padano cheese.
Pecorino is not recommended since its strong flavor will overpower the rest of the ingredients.

Olive oil – extra virgin olive oil is the best choice but since we’ll use it at the first stage of cooking, high quality olive oil or butter will do as well.

a spoonful of spinach risotto

Spinach Risotto Variations & Add-Ons

Spinach risotto is a delicious, complete risotto all on its own.

But if you want to make it extra filling or try to make a slightly different version of the same risotto, here you’ll find a few delicious add-ons and variations to it.

Spinach Risotto Add-Ons

Mushrooms, fresh Italian sausage, pancetta (Italian bacon), speck.

Whichever add-on you choose, cut it in small cubes and cook it with the shallot before adding spinach until almost done. Then proceed with the recipe.

Variations

Use ricotta cheese or cream cheese instead of butter at the final step of this recipe. It will turn your spinach risotto extra creamy and indulgent.

How To Make Spinach Risotto – Step By Step

Get all the ingredient ready.
If you want to make homemade vegetable stock or need to know how to wash fresh farmer’s market spinach properly, check FAQ section below.

If you plan to use water as a cooking liquid make sure to bring it to a boil and salt to taste.

We don’t salt rice/risotto, we salt the liquid it will be cooked with. Of course you can adjust salt slightly once risotto is almost cooked.

sautee onion and spinach in olive oil
How to make Spinach Risotto: steps 1-3
  • In a large pan add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped shallot (onion or leek). Sautee on medium low heat for a few a minute or two without letting it brown.
  • Add thinly cut fresh spinach. If using baby spinach you can add it whole.
    If using frozen spinach let it thaw quickly than add to shallot/onion as well.
  • Stir frequently.
  • Cook until spinach has significantly reduced in size.
add rice, white wine and broth
How to make Spinach Risotto: steps 4-6
  • Add rice and sautee on medium heat until it has warmed up.
  • Add dry white wine and stir until has completely evaporated.
  • Start adding stock, one ladle at a time.
    Keep the heat on low/medium low. Add another ladle of stock only once almost all liquid in the pan is absorbed but be careful not to let the rice burn or stick to the pot.
    Depending in the rice, risotto is usually ready in about 20-25 minutes. Remember, like perfect pasta it should remain slightly “al dente”.
add butter, Parmesan cheese and stir
How to make Spinach Risotto: steps 7-9
  • Once rice is cooked, turn off the heat.
  • Add cold butter, stir, then and Parmesan cheese.
  • Give another good toss in the pan and let is rest for a few minutes before serving.

Serve with more freshly grated Parmesan.

All Your Questions Answered

How to wash fresh spinach?

Fresh spinach bunches bought at the farmer’s market or grown in your own backyard have a lot of grit between its leaves due to the sandy soil and where it’s grown. For this reason it should be rinsed thoroughly before cooking.

It’s best to wash fresh spinach in 3 rounds:

  1. Rinse off all visible grit under cold running water.
  2. Place in a large bowl of cold water, toss and few times and let soak for a few minutes. During this time all the sand will land at the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Carefully transfer spinach to another big bowl with clean cold water trying not too stir the sand at the bottom of the bowl. Stir and let sit for another minute or two than transfer to a salad spinner for drying or in case if you need to use it immediately for this risotto you can simply shake off the access water.

Remember to remove hard stems, and shred green leaves thinly with a sharp knife. Don’t worry if you still get some pieces of stems in. Once cooked, they’ll be soft and tender, and you’ll actually love how they’ll give this slightly uneven texture in each bite.

How to make bright green risotto?

If you want to make spinach risotto of bright green color you need to make risotto in a little different way. First, cook shallot and spinach as described in this recipe (steps 1-3), then remove it from the pan.

Add rice to the same hot pan where you just cooked shallot and spinach and proceed with the recipe until rice is half through its cooking time.

Using a food processor or a blender reduce spinach and shallot mix that you’ve set aside until you get a smooth green paste. Add it to almost cooked risotto. Next, proceed with the recipe adding more stock until the rice is cooked and finishing it with cold butter and Parmesan cheese.

How to make vegetable broth for risotto?

In a pot add 6-7 cups of water, 1 peeled carrots, 1 large celery stick, 1 medium onion, 1 garlic clove, 1 ripe tomato or 1-2 halves dried tomatoes, parsley stems and a pinch of chilli flakes (optional).

Bring to boil and salt to taste. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Filter from all the vegetables and transfer back to the pot. Keep on slow simmer while you’re using it to make risotto.

Do you put a lid on risotto?

Absolutely not. Risotto should be cooked without the lid, stirring very frequently.

What to serve with Spinach Risotto?

In Italy, Spinach risotto is served as first course. Since it’s pretty filling all on its own it can be served with with mixed green salad or antipasto style olives and cheese.

It also pairs perfectly with a light meat or fish based dish such as:

green spinach risotto on a plate

More Risotto Recipes To Try:

spinach risotto in a bowl

Spinach Risotto {From Fresh or Frozen Spinach}

This super creamy Spinach Risotto is one of the most classic Italian risotto recipes. It's perfect to make any time of the year since you can prepare it with fresh or frozen spinach.
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Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Risotto
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 ⅔ cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice , about 340 grams
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion , finely chopped
  • 4 packed cups fresh spinach thinly cut , or 8-10 ounces frozen spinach
  • ½ stick butter , 50 grams
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese , more for serving
  • cup dry white wine
  • 5-6 cups chicken/beef/vegetable stock
  • Extra virgin olive oil , about 4 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  • In a large pan add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped shallot (onion or leek). Sautee on medium low heat for a few a minute or two without letting it brown.
    Extra virgin olive oil, 2 shallots or 1 small onion
  • Add thinly cut fresh spinach. If using baby spinach you can add it whole.
    If using frozen spinach let it thaw quickly than add to shallot/onion as well.
    Stir frequently.
    Cook until spinach has significantly reduced in size (see photo).
    4 packed cups fresh spinach thinly cut
  • Add rice and sautee on medium heat until it has warmed up.
    1 ⅔ cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • Add dry white wine and stir until has completely evaporated.
    ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • Start adding stock, one ladle at a time.
    Keep the heat on medium low. Add another ladle of stock only once almost all liquid in the pan is absorbed but be careful not to let the rice burn or stick to the pot.
    5-6 cups chicken/beef/vegetable stock
  • Once rice is cooked, turn off the heat.
    Add cold butter, stir.
    ½ stick butter
  • Add Parmesan cheese. Give another good toss in the pan and let is rest for a few minutes before serving.
    ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Serve with more freshly grated Parmesan.

Notes

If you want to make homemade vegetable stock or need to know how to wash fresh farmer’s market spinach properly, check FAQ section.
If you plan to use water as cooking liquid make sure to bring it to a boil and salt to taste. We don’t salt rice/risotto directly, we salt the liquid it will be cooked with. Of course you can adjust salt slightly once risotto is almost cooked.
Depending in the rice, risotto is usually ready in about 20-25 minutes. Remember, like perfect pasta it should remain slightly “al dente”.
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Buon Appetito!

This spinach risotto recipe was originally published on ItalianRecipeBook on May 23, 2017.

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