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Saffron Risotto (Risotto alla Milanese)

4 Servings

25 minutes

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Saffron-rich risotto alla Milanese is a specialty of Milan. Medium-grain Italian rice is essential for achieving a rich, creamy consistency, as it has the ideal starch content. Arborio rice is the most common choice for risotto in the U.S., but cooks in Milan—and at Milk Street—preferred carnaroli. We found that the grains better retained their structure and resisted overcooking. With careful cooking, however, Arborio will yield delicious results. A quick five-ingredient homemade vegetable broth is the best cooking liquid for this risotto; its fresh, clean flavor won't compete with the other ingredients. Serve in warmed, shallow bowls to prevent the rice from cooling too quickly. If the flavor and aroma of saffron don't appeal to you, try one of our variations; the techniques we learned in Milan also worked well for other flavors.




Don't cook the rice to the ideal al dente texture before removing the pan from the burner. The grains will continue to cook with residual heat as the cheese and butter are stirred in.

25 minutes



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Molly N.
February 12, 2024
Great dish
Loved this dish. A super simple risotto receipt that’s very forgiving. I used my homemade chicken stock with it and had to add some more salt than called for but followed the recipe. Very good.
Emily J.

The flavor of this risotto was spot on for us. The balance of the saffron, cheese, butter, salt, and vinegar was perfect. I even reduced the butter by two+ tablespoons because, you know, butter... However, the texture wasn't to our liking. I used arborio rice because that's what was available. I'm not sure if we're just not used to truly al dente rice or if I simply cooked it incorrectly. I'm going to order carnaroli rice and try it with that because the flavor was so delicious. The header notes that using arborio can yield delicious results with "careful cooking," but I'm not sure what that means exactly. I followed the recipe as faithfully as possible, so I'd love to know if doing something different with arborio would make the difference.

Ethan U.

this was delicious until I added the vinegar, and then the whole thing just tasted like vinegar! Crying shame. I used the "O" brand, maybe it is too strong for this recipe?

April D.

Ethan - at the risk of asking the obvious, are you sure you added 4 teaspoons of vinegar, and not 4 tablespoons? 4 teaspoons should contribute only a very mild touch of brightness, which is perfect to balance out the richness and starchiness of this dish. And was your vinegar a white balsamic, or perhaps another white vinegar? Even white wine vinegar, which is less sweet than white balsamic, would work just fine, but a pure white vinegar will add an unwelcome brashness to this dish.

The Milk Street Team

Ethan U.

Thanks for your reply. It was definitely white balsamic, as I said, the "O" brand, and 'm pretty sure it was teaspoons. I'll try it again sometime to get to the bottom of this. It was very good up until the vinegar.

Ethan U.

Thanks for your reply. It was definitely white balsamic, as I said, the "O" brand, and 'm pretty sure it was teaspoons. I'll try it again sometime to get to the bottom of this. It was very good up until the vinegar.

Dana C.

Ethan U.,
Same for me as far as the strong vinegar taste and I also used the "O" brand of white balsamic. I will try next time adding a teaspoon at a time and taste as I go. The vinegar was necessary, but it was a bit overpowering. It seemed to mellow a bit as it cooled, but definitely less next time. It was fun to make and my first risotto.

Mark Y.

This was entirely too much saffron for us. 1\2 tsp would still be a very strong saffron flavor.