I cook risotto pretty regularly as It’s a straightforward dish that can be dolled up with various ingredients with relative ease. Of course, there’s a few downsides to risotto, though. First, it’s a bit irritating to have to continuously stir the dish. I’m the type that likes to prepare something and then let it do its thing and only check in on it periodically. Secondly, I always seem to make too much, or too little of it (or at least I used to). I normally tended to make too little but then I figured it’s way better to have more than not enough.
So, I even bought a bigger pan to allow for more risotto to be made! That was such a good investment. No longer do I have to carefully stir the risotto with the fear that I’ll send piles of it onto the stove as I mix. Now I can easily add the extra water and white wine while stirring with ease! Now though, my problem is that I always have a ton of leftover risotto.
My solution sometimes is to freeze it. But can you really freeze risotto? Yes, you can. However, it may not be for everyone. Let’s see why.
Does Risotto Freeze Well?
Risotto kind of freezes well. It depends on your taste and what you plan on using the defrosted risotto for. Freezing risotto may not be for everyone.
The reason that it may not be for everyone is that the texture and freshness of risotto can change when you freeze it. If you do freeze it you shouldn’t expect it to have the same exact quality as when it’s fresh.
However, later I’ll go into how you can transform your frozen and defrosted risotto into something totally different. By making something else from the defrosted risotto you can still enjoy it and not worry so much about the degraded texture.
How Long Does Risotto Last in the Freezer?
Risotto unfortunately doesn’t have such a long lifespan in either the fridge or the freezer. In the fridge, risotto lasts from 3-5 days. In the freezer, risotto lasts up to 3 months.
So, unlike other foods that can stay frozen for nearly a year, your risotto should be defrosted and eaten much sooner.
How Does Freezing Impact the Texture of Risotto?
The problem with freezing risotto is that, like other rice ,the process changes its texture and freshness.
It can become harder after it’s been frozen, defrosted, and then reheated. This is because when risotto is fully cooked, it’s absorbed the maximum amount of moisture.
Any food that has a high water content is more prone to texture changes. This is because ice crystals form in the food and thus change the texture of the food. This means that when it defrosts, it becomes soggy. That’s why a berry can be nice and firm when fresh, but when you freeze it and defrost it, it becomes a soggy blob. The same thing happens to rice, except not quite as drastically.
It can also dry out and become very hard or succumb to freezer burn. If that happens, then the risotto is pretty much ruined.
All of these are reasons why if you plan on storing risotto to eat in its same form, I would recommend that you don’t freeze it. Instead, store it in the fridge and try to eat it as soon as possible.
Is It Safe to Freeze Risotto?
While the texture and overall quality of the risotto may suffer, it’s still completely safe to eat after it’s been frozen, defrosted, and reheated.
However, this is only true if it’s been frozen correctly.
If at any point before or after it’s been frozen it has been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours, there is a chance that harmful bacteria can spread as this is a dangerous temperature zone for foods.
If you freeze it or put it in the fridge within this time, it will be fine. However, it’s best to safely store it as soon as it’s cooled down to minimize the risk.
How to Freeze Risotto
Freezing risotto is pretty straightforward and it doesn’t differ much from other foods that you can freeze. Here is how you do it.
- Let the risotto cool down completely before storing it in the freezer. Similar to other foods, you should not put warm food in the freezer. Not only will it not freeze as well due to the temperature shock, but it can have adverse effects on other foods in the freezer by raising the temperature.
- After it’s cooled down completely, place the risotto in either an airtight rigid container or a resealable bag. If you use a bag, make sure there are no small holes in it. If there are, they may allow some of the moisture or sauce from the risotto to leak out, leaving a mess.
- Label the bag or container and place it in the freezer.
- Use within 3 months.
Tips for Freezing Risotto
Here are a few tips for getting the best results when you freeze risotto.
- In a rush? If you don’t have time to wait for the risotto to cool completely at room temperature after it’s not steaming anymore you can first put it in the fridge to quicken the cooling. This is particularly helpful if you have a very large batch of risotto. To do this place it on a baking sheet in an even layer and put it in the fridge.
- If you’re using a bag, I recommend that you try to freeze it flat. It lessens the time of the defrosting process and allows for more versatile storage options in the freezer to save space.
- Also if you’re using a bag and you’re worried about a leak, you can use two resealable bags for added safety.
- If you’re freezing a very large amount of risotto it’s helpful to freeze it portion sizes so you can defrost only what you need.
- Don’t freeze risotto in metal or glass containers. The problem with glass containers is that they can crack when the rice freezes and expands. When you freeze it in a metal container, the taste and color will both be affected.
- A vacuum sealer can help to preserve the quality of the risotto when you freeze it.
How to Defrost Risotto
Whether you’re in a pinch or planning ahead, there are three ways that you can defrost risotto.
- Defrost the risotto by putting it in a pot and placing it on a very low heat. Continuously add small amounts of water as it defrosts to prevent dryness. When you use this method you can continue on to reheat it as well.
- If you have more time, and you planned ahead, you can simply place the container in the fridge the night before. Or if you used a bag, place the bag on a plate and also put in the fridge the night before.
- If you’re short on time you can defrost your risotto in the microwave. If you stored it in a container that’s freezer-safe and microwave-safe you can simply defrost it in the same container. However, if you stored it in either a non-microwave-safe container or a bag, you need to first put the risotto on a microwave-safe plate or in a microwave-safe bowl before defrosting. Use the defrost setting and a teaspoon of water every 30 seconds to prevent dryness. Repeat until it’s completely defrosted.
How to Reheat Risotto
I’ll go over three ways that you can reheat risotto, two of them keep the risotto in its original form, and the third is a transformation of the risotto into a separate dish.
Reheating Risotto in the Microwave
Reheating risotto in the microwave can deliver both on speed and keeping the texture better. The exact method and time can vary between microwaves as they could have different settings, quality, and power.
Normally, heat the risotto on high power for two minutes. Then, stir and add a little bit of water if necessary. If it’s not done, repeat this process in 1-minute intervals until it’s hot all the way through.
Reheating Risotto on the Stove
Continuing on from the defrosting method of the same name, you do just that. You cook it on low-medium heat. Add splashes of water as needed. Reheat until it’s hot all the way through.
Make Risotto Fritters
You can not only revive the risotto, but you can make an entirely new and delicious dish!
By making risotto fritters, the texture difference after freezing won’t be as noticeable compared to eating the risotto by itself as-is.
All you need to do is add a few eggs to the cold risotto and mix them into it well. Shape the mixture into balls, coat them in bread crumbs, and then pan-fry them until they are cooked all the way through.
Tips for Reheating Risotto
If you are reheating risotto to eat as-is, you should give yourself the best chance to bring it back to life. To do this you should use either stock (whatever you used when making the risotto) or white wine.
For every 1 cup of risotto add about ¼ cup stock or wine when you are reheating it. This works best when you reheat it on the stove.
Can You Refreeze Risotto?
No! You should avoid refreezing risotto. Defrosting and refreezing risotto not only reduces the quality and texture even further, but by exposing it to the “danger zone” of foods, the temperature at which bacteria like to multiply, you put yourself at increased risk of getting sick as well.
Alternatives to Freezing Risotto
In addition to being tasty comfort food, risotto is also quite versatile. Instead of freezing it, there are multiple alternatives.
You can make something like the aforementioned risotto fritters, or you can transform your risotto into something else like arancini or stuffed portobello mushrooms.
This Italian dish, specifically from Sicily, is next-level comfort food. Not only do you have risotto but you have mozzarella too. It’s hard to get much better than that. They are very similar to the fritters I have mentioned but arancini has a few more ingredients. They are still pretty easy to make though. Here’s how to do it:
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop roughly ¼ cup risotto into your hands and form a patty of about 2.5 inches in diameter.
- Place some mozzarella in the center.
- Carefully pinch the risotto closed and form a ball. It doesn’t need to be perfectly round. Misshapen is okay.
- Place on the baking sheet.
- After you have put all of the balls on the baking sheet, place the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze for 10 minutes.
- Beat 1-2 eggs (amount depends on the number of arancini) and put in a shallow bowl.
- Place flour in a shallow bowl. Place panko crumbs in a shallow bowl. Season all the bowls with salt and pepper.
- For each ball dip in flour then the eggs, and finally coat with panko breadcrumbs.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Deep fry the balls in 350-degree Fahrenheit oil and cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt and eat with your favorite sauce.
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
This is a super easy and delicious recipe to use up any leftover risotto. Mushrooms and risotto are one of the greatest combos!
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms and then cook on a grill or bake in an oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
- Stuff each mushroom with risotto and cover with cheese. I prefer Monterey Jack or pepper jack. Return the stuffed mushrooms to either the grill or oven and cook until the cheese has melted.