How To: Make Fast, Easy Single-Serve Risotto in the Microwave

Make Fast, Easy Single-Serve Risotto in the Microwave

Ah, bello risotto. There are few comfort foods in the world that provide the same savory creaminess. Yet for all its simplicity, risotto has gotten a bad rap as a difficult dish to cook. In actuality, nothing is further from the truth.

Much of risotto's undeserved reputation as a difficult food comes from risotto purists who should probably check their history books before telling anyone the "proper" way to make risotto. Within Italy itself, there are variations on this delicious dish. Risotto alla Milanese, for example, is a bright saffron-infused dish that supposedly was inspired by a Flemish painter who was decorating the cathedral in Milan. So much for authenticity.

As far as we're concerned, risotto needs to only be two things: rich and savory. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways and with endless combinations. There is no right way to make it. You can prefer your rice to be al dente or have it dissolve on your lips like rice pudding. Belleza is in the mouth of the beholder.

Unfortunately, what is unavoidable is the time that it takes to make large portions of risotto. Water absorption cannot be sped up in a dish that size, so if you're making risotto for your family, then you may want to check out this great hack on making it in a rice cooker.

However, if it's a small portion that you're looking to make, then there's a version of risotto that can be ready in minutes. It involves a cup and a microwave. It's perfect if you live in a dorm or are traveling with a small kitchenette at your disposal. You could also travel with the ingredients and quickly make in a friendly convenience store or gas station.

Gather Your Ingredients & Tools

You'll be making your risotto in small single-serve microwave safe dishes or cups. The recipe over on Brit+Co used ramekins, but I made my risotto in small dishes that we use for dips and snacks. You'll also need some plastic wrap and a spoon for stirring.


  • ¼ cup of arborio or any medium-grained rice (there's a great breakdown on which rice is best here)
  • a pinch of minced garlic or garlic powder
  • Half a tablespoon of butter
  • Half tablespoon of finely chopped onions
  • ¼ cup of chicken or vegetable broth
  • Two tablespoons of dry white wine (red will do if that's all you have)
  • Herbs and grated Parmesan cheese to taste (or any kind of cheese)
  • Feel free to add diced veggies, mushrooms, or bacon lardons if you like

Step 1: Butter & Onions

Place the salted butter and finely chopped onion in whatever dish you're using. Heat the dish for 90 seconds on high, stopping to stir the onions around with the melted butter at 30 seconds. Don't worry if the onions spark at first; that will stop once the butter melts.

Step 2: Rice Is Nice

Add the rice, garlic, and chicken broth to your butter and onions.

Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap and return to the dish to the microwave. Zap it again for two minutes, but this time at 50% power. After the two minutes is up, stir it and check to see if the broth has evaporated. Add more broth if necessary and heat it again covered at 50% for another two minutes.

Step 3: Wine Time

After four minutes, it's time to add wine. White wine is generally used but a red one can also do in a pinch, especially if you're cooking with any meats or mushrooms. Pour in the wine and add any mushrooms or vegetables that you'd like.

Heat the covered dish again at 50% for another two minutes.

Step 4: Add Herbs and Cheese

Any herbs or leafy, delicate vegetables should be added at this point along with your cheese. One last time, cover and zap it for two minutes. You're almost ready to eat your microwaved risotto.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Add your chipped bacon or additional vegetables and fire it up for one more minute at 50% power. You're at the end now. Remove from the microwave (careful!) and sprinkle some cheese on top.

There! Now your risotto is ready to go, on the go, in less time than it takes to make pasta. Now is that really so hard?

Get More Rice Hacks

See how to rinse rice and other grains properly. If you're watching your weight, turns out adding coconut oil to the cooking process could cut rice's calorie count in half. And if you own a rice cooker, make the most of it and cook just about anything like bread, pancakes, and poached fruit (they work as sous vide machines, too).

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Photos by Mario Hernandez/Food Hacks

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