Risotto is a nutritious and flavorful dish. Authentic risotto takes time to prepare, so you want to enjoy every delicious morsel. If you have leftovers, can you freeze risotto for another meal? Yes!
You can freeze risotto successfully, but the texture may change slightly when thawed. The key is freezing the risotto in an air-tight container after it has cooled down and consuming again within six months.
Read on to learn all about risotto freezing, thawing, and reheating!
What is risotto?
The roots of risotto were planted in Milan, Italy, centuries ago. Short-grain rice was introduced to Italians during the days of Spanish rule. They turned this simple staple into a delectable, slow-cooked dish suitable for an entree or a side dish.
Risotto is an Italian rice dish traditionally made with rice, chicken stock, onions, white wine, butter, parmesan cheese, and saffron. It is slow-cooked and stirred often. The starch from the rice releases into the other ingredients resulting in a creamy dish. Meat, seafood, and vegetables can also be added.
To achieve the perfect creamy consistency for which risotto is known, cooking low and slow while stirring is required. Since the process is a labor of love, you definitely don’t want to throw away any leftovers – if you are lucky enough to have some!
Does risotto freeze well?
You spent an hour creating an amazing risotto dish for a dinner party. At the last minute, two couples had to cancel. Everyone in attendance raved about the taste, but you made too much. Don’t want your hard work to go to waste? Freeze it!
Preserving risotto by freezing is possible if you store it correctly. Risotto begins to lose moisture as it cools down. Freezing in an airtight container will keep it from getting freezer burn. Thawing, reheating slowly, and adding moisture will bring it back close to its original consistency, but you might notice a slight texture change.
Can you freeze mushroom risotto?
A good mushroom risotto is my favorite, but can it be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze almost any type of risotto. Mushroom, chicken, and beef risotto freeze exceptionally well. Risotto made with shrimp or seafood can be problematic when frozen and reheated because the shrimp or fish cooks faster than the rice.
Whenever meat is involved, make sure to thaw the risotto safely to avoid bacteria growth.
How to freeze risotto
Freezing risotto is a straightforward process, but it is best to freeze it on the day it is cooked to maintain quality.
Freezing risotto involves three easy steps. Cool down the hot risotto dish, portion out leftovers into freezer-safe bags or containers, label and date the contents, and transfer to the freezer. Now your risotto leftovers are available when you need a quick and easy meal.
Let’s look at each step.
Step 1: Cool down the risotto
It’s tempting to immediately throw leftovers in the freezer while you are cleaning the kitchen, but you should allow a cool-down period.
For best freezer results, allow the risotto to cool down naturally. This reduces condensation and will prevent hot foods from partially thawing out other frozen foods in the freezer.
Cooling foods before putting them into a refrigerator or freezer is smart. It will keep them closer to their original state when thawed out again. However, do not leave them on the counter for too long, or harmful bacteria can form.
According to food safety experts, the temperature danger zone for foods is 40 -140 degrees Fahrenheit. It is dangerous to expose foods to this temperature range for more than 2 hours.
Quick cooling trick: If you don’t want to wait for a huge pot of risotto to cool down, spread the risotto out thinly on a baking sheet. The thinner layer will cool faster than the large mound.
Step 2: Portion your risotto
Every time food is thawed and refrozen, its quality suffers. That’s why it is important to only freeze and thaw what you will eat immediately.
Portion out risotto leftovers into the number of servings you will eat immediately after thawing and reheating. You can use freezer-safe bags or containers. If using bags, make sure to expel as much air as possible.
Do you have a large pot of risotto left over? Resist the urge to throw it all into one container. Have meat leftovers too? This is the perfect opportunity to get a headstart on meal prep. Grab a portioned container, fill it up with the leftovers, and enjoy lunch or dinner on another day.
Step 3: Label and date the container
How many times have you thrown something in the freezer, only to remove it and find it’s unidentifiable? Guilty!
Label and date the freezer container containing your risotto so you will remember what it is. Dating is helpful because freezer food quality can start to diminish after three months.
Step 4: Transfer risotto to the freezer
Freezer ware is packed and ready for the freezer!
After you’ve cooled down the risotto, portioned it out in freezer-safe containers, and labeled them, it’s time to transfer it to the freezer.
Freezer storage tip: If using freezer bags, put risotto in the bag and seal it. Then, lay the bag on its side and press the risotto gently into a flat layer. This will avoid a lot of clunky, clumpy bags in the freezer and allow you to stack them. Plus, the risotto will thaw quicker when you are ready for it.
How long can you freeze risotto?
When should you eat your frozen risotto?
You can freeze your risotto for up to 3-6 months. It should taste as good as the freshly prepared meal after storing it this long, assuming it was packaged correctly. After six months, ready-to-eat meals can begin to develop freezer burn, which will affect the quality and taste.
Foods stored in a freezer can keep indefinitely. The risotto won’t magically “go bad” after 6 months, but it won’t be as appetizing.
How to defrost risotto
It’s been a busy week, and you are dreading cooking dinner. Wait! You have some risotto in the freezer!
You can defrost frozen risotto using the refrigerator, stove, or microwave. Each method has its own advantages depending on the amount of time you have until consuming.
Method 1: The fridge
The fridge method is simple but does take time. Transfer the freezer bag or airtight container (with the risotto inside) into a bowl, and leave the bowl in the fridge overnight.
The bowl traps the condensation that occurs during the thawing process and catches any leaks that may happen.
Method 2: The stove
If you have time to babysit the risotto while you are prepping other things, you can thaw it on the stove. You’ll need a non-stick pan and a little water.
Place your pan on the stove, turn on the LOW heat, and add two tablespoons of water or broth. Add the frozen risotto and watch it carefully. The outer layer will thaw first, so you will need to stir and gently scrape frequently until it is all thawed. Add more water or broth until it reaches the desired consistency.
Method 3: The microwave
Are you planning to have risotto for dinner but forgot to put it in the fridge and don’t have time to do the stove method? Don’t beat yourself up! You can utilize the microwave to thaw your risotto.
If the freezer container is microwave-safe, put it directly into the microwave. Use the defrost setting. Thaw in 30-second increments and stir after each one. You made need to add a small amount of water or broth to prevent the risotto from drying out. Once it is completely thawed you can continue to reheat it in the microwave or use another method.
How to reheat risotto
You can reheat risotto in a microwave, stove, or oven.
Method 1: Use a microwave
After the risotto has thawed completely, you can use the microwave to reheat it. Use the LOW setting at 30 – 45 second intervals. After each interval, stir the risotto, add water or stock, and butter until it reaches its original creamy goodness.
Your risotto should be ready for consumption within 3 to 6 minutes on a low-heat setting.
Method 2: Use a stove
This is my favorite method for reheating risotto because it gives you massive control over the dish.
Use a non-stick pan, set the stove to low, and add the thawed risotto. Add water, stock, and/or butter as you stir. It is ready once it is heated through.
Method 3: Use an oven
Want a hands-free method of reheating your risotto? Use an oven. Just note that results can vary with this method because you aren’t stirring and adding liquid at intervals.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease an oven-safe dish, and transfer the thawed risotto into it. Add water or stock together with butter, and cover the dish with its lid or aluminum foil. This will keep the top from drying out and getting too crispy.
Heat for approximately 15 minutes – 20 minutes until bubbly.
Can you refreeze risotto?
You thawed out the leftover risotto in the fridge, but your dinner plans changed. Can you refreeze the risotto for another day?
No, it is not recommended to refreeze risotto. Refreezing can ruin the texture of the risotto and diminish the overall quality. If the thawing process wasn’t done correctly, bacteria could be introduced before the second freeze.
Thawed risotto can remain in the fridge for up to 3 days before reheating.
Does cooled rice have an impact on blood sugar?
Did you know that your frozen risotto could lower your blood sugar?
Studies have shown that cooling and reheating white rice lowers the glycemic impact. The cooling and heating process raises the resistant starch levels of the rice.
Resistant starches are good for gut health, keep you full longer, stabilize blood sugar, and can even aid in weight loss.
Alternatives to freezing risotto
Leftover risotto can also be turned into other appetizing dishes.
If you don’t want to freeze your risotto leftovers, use them in other dishes like arancini rice balls or stuffed portobello mushrooms.
Arancini is an Italian dish hailing from Sicily. Leftover risotto combines perfectly with a special blend of cheeses and herbs. Roll into balls, dip in a breadcrumb mixture, and fry in a touch of oil. Check out this recipe for Cheesy Italian Arancini Balls by Recipe Tin Eats. Since you’ve already made the risotto, these come together in a snap.
You can make the balls, flash-freeze them on a cookie sheet, and place them into freezer bags. Then, you can grab a few out of the freezer to cook for a quick appetizer.
2: Stuffed Portobello mushrooms
Another yummy way to use up risotto leftovers is to make stuffed Portobello mushroom caps. Since the risotto is already seasoned, simply add it to clean, trimmed mushroom caps and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until heated through and golden brown.
Summary of “Can you freeze risotto?”
Yes, risotto freezes well as long as you let it cool down before portioning it out into freezer-safe containers. Label and date the contents before transferring them to the freezer. Frozen risotto can be thawed in the fridge overnight or by using the stove or microwave.
Risotto is best reheated on the stovetop, but it can be reheated in the microwave slowly or in the oven.
Does rice risotto freeze well?
Yes, rice risotto freezes beautifully if cooled down before placing in freezer containers. It can be thawed in the fridge, microwave, or on the stovetop. It is best to reheat slowly using the stovetop, but the microwave or oven can also be used.
How long can you keep risotto in the fridge?
It is best to consume risotto within 3 days of cooking. If you plan to freeze the risotto, you’ll yield the best quality if you freeze it on the day it is cooked.
Can you freeze homemade mushroom risotto?
Homemade mushroom risotto freezes well, as does risotto containing meat. Seafood risotto can be problematic because the shrimp or fish will cook faster than the rice.
How do you store leftover risotto?
Leftover risotto should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.