Saffron-Lemon Risotto

A risotto with luxurious, fresh flavors and simple ingredients.

Saffron-Lemon Risotto

Risotto gets a bad rap as a difficult dish to make. And it's sort of true -- it does require more attention than some dishes. But it's not the beast that it gets made out to be, and it's totally worth the effort. This recipe uses simple ingredients to produce rich, bright flavors. Saffron provides a beautiful color and a subtle, floral flavor, while lemon juice and lemon zest add the perfect amount of acidity. A healthy amount of Parmesan cheese finishes it off with some salty, cheesy, umami flavor. And once you make a habit of keeping Arborio rice in your cupboard and Vanns Saffron in your spice rack, this is essentially a pantry dish, something that can be pulled out for a last-minute fancy dinner any time.

Spices used in this recipe

Salt, Kosher


  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • Vanns Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups arborio or other risotto rice
  • 2 small pinches Vanns Saffron, crumbled
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, grated zest and juice of
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Pour your stock into a pot and heat over medium-high heat to bring to a gentle simmer. 
  2. Heat a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt, and cook over medium heat until softened and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and saffron and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The onion will brown slightly. Stir in the wine and another sprinkle of salt and simmer for another 5 minutes, until the wine reduces slightly.
  3. Ladle about 1 cup of the hot stock into the rice mixture and stir, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice has mostly absorbed the liquid. Stir in another cup of broth and repeat the process, stirring frequently and adding more broth when the liquid has been almost absorbed. The process will take about 20 minutes, leaving the rice grains slightly al dente, but fully cooked, with no significant crunch in the grains. You may or may not use all of the stock.
  4. Stir in the butter and lemon zest and juice, stirring until butter is melted. Stir in the parmesan and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed. If the risotto is thicker than you like, add some more stock.
  5. Serve in shallow bowls, drizzled with good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 6. Adapted from One Good Dish.

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