With vibrant orange zest, creamy parmesan cheese, and crisp cauliflower this creamy orange risotto no wine is our go-to dinner as a main course or as a side. It can be enjoyed on its own or paired with meatballs, chicken, or any other protein you like for a complete meal!
Ok, so there is a restaurant in Minneapolis that has this orange cauliflower gnocchi. Naturally, I heard about this crazy combination and knew I needed it at home. So I made the gnocchi version and then proceeded to put that combination to use everywhere - hello risotto!
If you've never had risotto, it's a very old Italian dish that dates back to 1809. It's pasta's cool cousin in terms of popularity across Italy. Risotto is made with special short-grain rice, liquid, and cheese, brought together with a little-by-little cooking process until a delicious rice dish with a crazy creamy texture comes together.
Classic parmesan risotto uses white wine to deglaze the pan (deglazing means adding an acidic component to a hot pan to release the caramelized bits of flavor like garlic or onion). And although this alcohol cooks out, some people just don't want wine in their dish. Don't worry, that’s where this risotto without wine recipe comes in!
Ingredients and Substitutions
All substitutions are a 1:1 substitute unless otherwise noted.
Shallots: Shallots are like a combination of onion and garlic cloves. It has a slightly milder flavor than a white onion.
Substitutions: You can use garlic or white onion if you cannot find shallots. Shallots are typically found in the refrigerated section of the local grocery store, near the carrots and cucumbers.
Arborio Rice: This type of rice is what makes risotto what it is. It's a short-grain, high-starch rice. Because of this, it absorbs tons of liquid without getting mushy.
Substitutions: Arborio, Caranoli, or Vialone Nano rice must be used for risotto. Regular white rice cannot be used.
Orange Juice and Zest: My favorite part of this dish! The acidic orange juice is what we use to deglaze the pan. The orange zest, added at the end, is what really brings home the bright orange flavor.
Substitutions: Lemon juice can be used in place of orange juice and lemon zest can be used in place of orange zest. Although, it's a creamy lemon risotto at that point (also tasty!).
Chicken Stock: By using stock instead of water, like normal rice uses, tons of flavor is cooked or absorbed into the rice as it cooks. For this recipe, we used reduced sodium broth. If you use a different salt content broth, you'll need to adjust the salt added.
Substitutions: Any broth can be used. This can be vegetable broth or vegetable stock for a vegetarian take, beef stock, or bone broth. If you'll be pairing this risotto with a protein (such as beef meatballs), I recommend matching the stock to the protein.
Heavy Cream: While this creamy parmesan risotto is quite creamy before heavy cream or parmesan, a little more cream never hurt anyone!
Substitutions: Half and half and whipping cream can be substituted for heavy cream.
Parmesan: Parmesan cheese is a must for risotto. While you can use other cheeses, risotto and parmesan is the classic combination and really the only one I care about.
Substitutions: As I said, parmesan is a must. But, if you don’t have it, you can use another nutty or creamy cheese like asiago, mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, fontina, or mascarpone.
Cauliflower: Ok, hear me out, cauliflower in this risotto is SO DARN GOOD. A lot of risottos will add mushrooms, which is fine, like whatever, use a fungus. But, I prefer to live dangerously. The trick is to make sure the cauliflower is as finely sliced as possible either with a mandolin or a super-sharp knife.
Substitutions: Broccoli or mushrooms (I guess…) can be used if you don’t have cauliflower. But, do not substitute these just because you think “I don’t like cauliflower, eew”. You can only substitute after you've tried the cauliflower!
Basics: A few basics really bring this dish to life - butter, salt, and red pepper flakes. Butter for fat and to caramelize the shallots and cauliflower, salt to enhance the other flavors, and red pepper for a kick.
Substitutions: Instead of butter, you can use olive oil or ghee. Instead of red pepper flakes, you can use black pepper or ¼ teaspoon of cayenne, and unfortunately, there is no substitute for salt.
How to Make this - Step by Step
Step one: Thinly slice the cauliflower, finely chop the shallots, and juice and zest the oranges to prep. Set aside until ready to use.
Step two: Melt the butter over medium heat in a very large skillet that's at least 3” deep. This can be a large pot or medium saucepan that's deep. A wider pot works best to brown the ingredients though.
Step three: Add the shallots, rice, and cauliflower to the pan to sauté. Cook for 2-3 minutes until everything is toasty golden brown and the shallots are fragrant.
Step four: Pour the orange juice into the pan to deglaze the pan. Stir constantly until it has absorbed into the rice.
Step five: Add ½ a cup of broth and stir until absorbed into the rice. Continue to add ½ cup of broth at a time, after absorbing each time, until you have added all the broth and the rice is al dente. Keep stirring to avoid anything burning. You can also reduce to medium to low heat and continue to cook low and slow. It should take about 15 minutes for all of the liquid to absorb.
Step six: Once all the liquid is absorbed, add the cream, parmesan, salt, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Slowly add the heavy cream while constantly stirring because if added too quickly to the hot stock, it can curdle.
Step seven: Mix in the orange zest and enjoy this scrumptious risotto without wine!
Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
Thinly slicing cauliflower and dicing shallots takes time and risotto is a very time-sensitive dish. To ensure you crush this recipe, prep all the chopping before you start melting the butter. This will ensure your butter doesn’t burn.
Facts and Common Questions
What is the secret to a good risotto?
Using short-grain Arborio rice or other short-grain rice and not rinsing your rice is critical for risotto. This ensures the rice doesn’t get mushy but does get creamy.
What do I do if I want my rice cooked more?
If you don't like al dente rice, you can simply continue to add a ½ cup of liquid at a time, tasting each time. Continue this until your rice reaches the texture you like. Everyone has different preferences!
What is the secret to creamy risotto?
Agitating the rice is what develops the starch in the rice. This starch is what creates the creaminess of the risotto, hence why it's important to continually stir the risotto as you add liquid.
Can you do risotto without wine?
Yes! All you need is a liquid that's added to the hot pan to break free all the tasty toasty bits that have cooked. It helps to use an acidic liquid to better release any bit stuck to the bottom of the pan (like orange juice!).
Want to Save it for Later? Here’s how!
Risotto is definitely best enjoyed the day it is made. However, with these tips, you can enjoy it later on too!
Storage: This risotto without wine shouldn't be frozen, but it can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days in a sealed container. If you store it with meat, only keep the risotto for 3 days. As it sits, the starches will cause it to thicken even more.
How To Reheat Risotto
To reheat risotto, you need to add about ¼ cup of additional liquid for every cup of risotto. This can be done by adding them together in a pot or in a large bowl in the microwave. Obviously, the stovetop method will result in a better texture while the microwave method is much quicker. If still thick, you can add a splash of additional liquid or cream to thin it out.
Leftover Recipe Ideas
One of my favorite ways to use leftover risotto is by transforming it! Here are a few tasty leftover risotto recipes.
Risotto Arancini: Arancini is an Italian fried rice ball with gooey cheese. To make this with leftover risotto, prepare a breadcrumb mixture and egg mixture.
Mix 1 part parmesan with 2 parts breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Scoop the cold risotto, mix with 1 egg for every ½ cup of risotto, and then roll into 1-2” balls. Drop these into the breadcrumbs mixture and coat. Refrigerate these for 1 hour and then fry in hot (350 degrees) oil until golden brown.
Rice Cakes: Rice cakes are another Italian staple and are a great way to use up risotto. For these, you will need to either remove large cauliflower chunks or chop the rice and cauliflower up smaller in a food processor or with a knife. Spread the risotto onto a non-stick pan or well-seasoned cast iron, like a normal pancake, and cook until browned on each side and crispy.
This creamy Italian rice dish is typically served as the first course in Italy. It comes from northern Italy, a region that is known more for growing rice in its wet environment than it is known for growing wheat like its southern counterpart. Risotto is to northern Italy like pasta is to southern Italy. (source)
More Joyful Recipes!
Try these recipes to pair with this no wine risotto!
Did you try this and love it? Leave us a review, we would love to hear from you!
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1.5 cups Arborio rice dry
- 2 shallots
- 3 cups cauliflower thinly sliced**
- ½ cup orange juice
- 5.5 cups chicken stock reduced sodium*
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup parmesan
- 2 zest from 2 oranges
- Thinly slice the cauliflower, finely chop the shallots, and juice and zest the oranges to prep. Set aside until ready to use.
- Melt butter in large skillet that is at least 3” deep over medium heat.
- Add shallots, rice, and cauliflower to skillet and sauté until browned and fragrant - about 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in orange juice into the pan to deglaze the pan, stirring until fully absorbed.
- Add ½ cup of broth at a time. Each time stirring until absorbed, then add another ½ cup and repeat until all of the broth is added and the rice is cooked al dente, about 15-20 minutes.
- After all the liquid is absorbed, stir in cream, parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and salt (see notes about salt) and cook 2-3 more minutes while stirring. Heavy cream can curdle when added to high heat, so ensure the risotto is on low heat.
- Mix in orange zest and enjoy!