Risotto is a dish that a lot of people save for special occasions, because all the time spent slowly adding the liquid and stirring until it is absorbed can be taxing.  Personally, I love making risotto for that very reason.  The act of cooking in general brings me great pleasure (obviously), and I don’t usually mind the time or effort it takes.  Of course, part of my enjoyment in making risotto normally comes from enjoying a glass or two of wine with some good cheese and crackers while I cook…and since I am not able to indulge in wine these days, I look less forward to risotto.  But risotto still sounded good on the menu last week, and this almost hands-free version was intriguing.

I’ll admit I was skeptical of how well this hands-free version would compare to a more traditional risotto.  Of course, I should know by now – trust in Cook’s Illustrated.  The method works wonderfully and Ben immediately declared, “Best risotto you’ve ever made!”  I must say, I loved being able to spend time reading books and playing choo-choos with Andrew while the risotto took care of itself.  I think I could get used to this method :)  The caramelized onions were my own addition, and I think they really made this dish.  That said, the time required to caramelize the onions does add a significant amount of time to this meal.  Next time I’ll make the onions the night before, especially for a weeknight, so the process goes quickly on the night I plan to serve it.


1½ tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
¾ tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups Arborio (medium grain) rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
2 tbsp. minced fresh chives
Ground black pepper


  • 01

    Add 1½ teaspoons of the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the sliced onion and sugar, stirring to coat.  Allow the onion to cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown and caramelized.  Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.

  • 02

    In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer.  In the meantime, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet used to cook the onions set over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Transfer the chicken to the heated skillet and cook, turning once, until each side is a light golden brown.  Remove from the heat and transfer the chicken pieces to the saucepan with the simmering broth mixture.  Let cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165˚ F or until cooked through (no longer pink).  Remove the chicken from the broth and transfer to the plate with the onions.

  • 03

    Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Once melted, add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the rice to the pan, stirring to coat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the grains are translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes.

  • 04

    Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir 5 cups of hot broth mixture into the rice.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is just al dente, 16-19 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.

  • 05

    Add ¾ cup of the hot broth mixture to the risotto and stir gently and constantly until the risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

  • 06

    Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Stir the shredded chicken and caramelized onions into the risotto with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, lemon juice, parsley and chives.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add up to ½ cup of the remaining broth mixture to add moisture and loosen the texture.  Serve immediately.


  • Oh my. We have a leftover chicken breast from dinner last night; I’m going to have to make this tonight.

  • I’ve never made rIsotto, now I can’t wait to try it!

  • “Trust in Cook’s Illustrated.” Roger that.

  • looks so yum,.thnks for sharin,..

  • I’m putting this on my menu for next week. I love making risotto because it can be so calming, especially while enjoying a glass of wine. :) However, I’m reading an awesome book right now and love the idea of reading while the risotto does its thing. I’m so excited to try this.

  • Stephanie

    This sounds great.. and I think my 3 1/2 year old and 1 year old will love this! I started reading your blog Annie.. and I love it. I made your french stuffed chicken and it was amazing! thank you for your hard work with this lovely blog and CONGRATS on your pregnancy!

  • Great! Fantastic :-)

  • I, too, enjoy the process and could almost smell this cooking. Will be trying this soon.

  • This sounds delicious. I haven’t had risotto in some time b/c of the work it requires, but I do love it when I do. This sounds like a great alternative to standing there the entire time cooking!

  • I will say that my favorite thing about making risotto is that the stirring and attention relaxes me after a busy day, but I am intrigued by this process and I can’t wait to try it out. Anything to add the ability to multi-task I’ll try!

  • I was intrigued by this recipe as well, but I really do love making risotto – just sip some wine and stir, stir, stir! Maybe I’ll give this one a try though – I love the addition of caramelized onions.

  • I enjoy cooking with a plate of cheese and crackers by my side too! I find cooking so therapeutic- I don’t mind spending my time in there at all :) I’ve never made risotto and to be honest have been intimidated by it, but this recipe sounds perfect!!

  • risotto is such a warm, cozy dinner – perfect comfort food for winter. i like the idea of caramelizing a few onions the night before, then adding to the risotto and saving the leftovers for pizza or sandwiches.

  • You had me at risotto. Yum!

  • Mmmm, I love risotto as well. Intrigued by a hands-free version. I got a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated for Christmas. I can’t wait until my first issue comes!

  • Delicious! I love risotto and do not make it enough!! I love, love caramelized onions….great addition!

  • Oh, I am absolutely making this for dinner tonight. It sounds amazing!

  • Must be fate, I just shredded some chicken last night and have the bones in my Crockpot making broth right now while I’m at work! I had no idea what I was going to do with the chicken or broth but now I can’t wait to try this!

  • Alice

    This sounds delicious! I’ve always been leery of the “no stirring” risotto recipes I’ve come across, too… but this sounds like it deserves a chance. A local restaurant does an amazing balsamic chicken risotto – I’m thinking this could easily be adapted to accomdate the vinegar :)

  • anna maria

    LOVE risotto – especially this time of year. Definitely don’t mind standing by a warm stove while it cooks. Will have to try this version, though. My absolute favorite part about making risotto, though, are risotto cakes as leftovers. I just roll leftover risotto in bread crumbs, fry it in a little olive oil and serve over greens or as a side dish. yum!

  • Interesting. Supposedly all the constant stirring serves to help release starch from the rice for creaminess. I’m willing to try this method.

  • this looks wonderful! I have been wanting to make a risotto lately. thanks for sharing!

  • I definitely wouldn’t mind the long cooking time if I got to have some wine and cheese too! :)

  • Nice recipe. There so many recipes of risotto, but I haven’t seen yet with caramelized onions :) it’s really interesting

  • That looks incredible!Thanks for the recipe!

  • Jenni

    What kind of dutch oven do you use? I’m trying to decide if Le Creuset is worth the investment, or if I should go with Tramontina, since Cooks Illustrated ranked them so highly. I know Cooks Illustrated can do no wrong, but I’m also still torn. Advice? :)

  • Annie

    I love Le Creuset.

  • Tara

    Thanks for the lovely post, Annie! I’m making this now. I bought a Cuisinart Dutch oven at Winners in Canada and it’s great :)

  • Marie

    This was absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipes. I am a new follower and I have already put truffles and macarons on my list to attempt this year :)

  • Oh how I adore risotto. I’m adding this to my list to make next week.

  • this looks so delicious! my friend is so allergic to almost everything but not rice so risotto works. ill definitely make this for us one night! thanks!

  • We subscribe to Cook’s Illustrated; how did I miss this recipe?! I think risotto is the most delicious comfort food; this will definitely go on the list of recipes to try. I made one right before Christmas that had sharp cheddar stirred in at the end. It was amazing! Like really, really good mac and cheese, only with rice. Let’s just say I ate a LOT!

  • Caitlin

    I am new to your blog, but have tried several recipes in the past few days. This one was amazing! Risotto reminds me of when I was young…this was just perfect. I added mushrooms (my husbands favorite) I can’t wait to try more!

  • Gwyn

    Made this tonight… YUM! (My first time making risotto). Lots of leftovers (fed 2 adults & 2 small kids with 4-5 servings left). Delicious!!!

  • Shawna

    I am not a wine drinker and have no knowledge of wines. When you say dry white wine, how do I know if it is dry? Thanks!

  • Annie

    This is a good question for Googling.

  • Adam

    I made this for our Wednesday Family night meal and it was great!! I had to use Uncle Ben’s Rice and it turned out great. I think next time I will double the onions they were a nice addition. Thanks for the great recipe.
    P.s. This goes good w/ fresh green beans.

  • Nadia

    I made this for dinner and my husband and I absolutely loved it. The caramelized onions are an excellent addition! Thanks for another amazing recipe, Annie.

  • Susan

    I made this for dinner last night and it was crazy delicious! I have never made risotto before-I thought it was too intimidating-and I am so happy that I tried this. I doubled the onion,and served it with roasted asparagus. I am already planning to make it again. Thanks you for this and all of your wonderful recipes-I truly enjoy your blog!

  • Cari

    Made this for dinner last nice. Absolutely delicious! This is the only risotto recipe I’ve come across where I didn’t have to stand in front of the stove stirring for 20 mins.

  • ashlee

    this was amazing .. very rich, but delicious

  • I made this on Thursday. It is to die for! I am in heaven.

  • Margaret

    This is a fabulous dish!

  • Margaret

    I have made this dish twice and it just keeps getting better. YUM!

  • Cindy Davis

    This was fantastic! I made it for Sunday night dinner and we just LOVED it. Leftovers were gobbled up for lunch yesterday! I added mushrooms and used a little bit different risotto technique, but the flavor was spot-on! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Stephanie

    I had risotto for the first time a few weeks ago and it was fantastic! Do you think I could make this with vegetable broth instead of chicken as I’m a vegetarian?

  • Annie


  • Just made this for dinner-it was super tasty! The husband is always appreciate of good risotto recipes.

  • Angel Shadoff

    OMG! I have never had Risotto ever (I admit I was afraid to make it) so I have no idea if this turned out correctly – but we just had it for dinner and it was SO GOOD! I had two plates – my 8 year old had FOUR plates. Even my son – who HATES everything that doesn’t come from a box ate two plates. So good. I just wanted to keep eating (even though I am SO FULL). I must admit – I licked the serving spoon clean. This was amazing and easy (plus gave my husband and I an excuse to finish a bottle of white wine!) Thanks for posting!

  • Martin Panek

    guys I am cooking it right now as I speak – do not be afraid and go for it, this is very easy and enjoyable stuff to do and sooo rewarding:) very nice combination indeed!!

  • Stephanie

    Just made this and it’s amazing! Thanks for another awesome recipe :]

  • Jocelyn

    Made this last night. It was my first attempt at risotto. It was absolutely heavenly!! Beyond delish!

  • rb

    delicious! very rich, but perfect with a side of asparagus with a touch of lemon juice. definitely a must for any fans of carmelized onions. i didn’t have white wine, so i subbed cheap champagne, which worked well.

  • AliGThang

    This was great and easy. I substituted Better Than Bouillon mushroom broth for the chicken broth. Made this for a potluck and several people asked for the recipe which must mean it was pretty tasty :) http://epifurious.tumblr.com/post/21232072289/no-stir-herbed-risotto-with-chicken-and-caramelized-onio

  • Nicole M.

    This was wonderful! Low maintenance with a delicious result! I am never disappointed with recipes from this blog!

  • Dawn

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was FABULOUS!! This was the first time I made risotto and I think I did everything correctly because it was the tastiest thing I ever made in my life! Next time I make it I’m going to omit the chicken and add asparagus since I”m trying to eliminate meat in my diet. Thanks, Annie for including this recipe in your blog.

  • breezle

    One of my favorite meals by far!! Even good as left overs (if you have any (; )

  • A New Zealand Sauvignon blanc should do the trick. Try a cheaper one like Yellowtail. Should be $6 or so.

  • Hayley

    This looks incredible! I want to make this for my mom for Mother’s Day but don’t have a dutch oven. Do you think the no-stir method would work in a stock pot?