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7 Ways to Make Risotto a Complete Meal

Cooking up a big pot of risotto with extra ingredients.

Basic risotto is rich, creamy, and delicious, but it’s not a complete meal on its own. Simple additions like shrimp or perfectly poached eggs can turn this side into a main dish.  And the list doesn’t stop there. We have tons of ways to turn regular risotto into a dream-worthy dinner.

shrimp risotto

Shrimp: Adding in sauteed or roasted shrimp is a great way to turn risotto into a meal. Classic risotto goes perfectly with lemony sauteed shrimp. Grilled shrimp, though, adds a whole new dimension. The charred, smoky flavor creates extra depth in a rich, but otherwise somewhat monotonous dish.

Get the Recipe: Giada’s Lemony Shrimp Risotto

Chicken: Cooked chicken is an easy addition to rice dishes like risotto. Convenient, grocery-store rotisserie chickens can quickly turn a side dish into a whole meal. But better than that, are crispy chicken thighs. They have more flavor than chicken breasts, and the crispy skin creates a stunning contrast to creamy risotto.

Get the Recipe: Crispy Chicken Thighs with Parmesan Risotto

Sausage: Spicy chorizo sausage is a great way to add lots of flavor to basic risotto. Sweet or spicy Italian sausage works wonders too. Add in a few roasted tomatoes, and you’ll have a weeknight dinner of dreams.

Get the Recipe: Tomato and Chorizo Sausage Risotto

bacon and leek with poached egg risotto
Bon Appetit

Eggs: The ever-economical egg is a wonderful way to turn a simple starch into a full-blown meal. Poached on top of the creamy rice, it looks delightful. But when you pop its jiggly center and watch the yellow yolk run — well,  in the world of food, it doesn’t get much better than that!

Get the Recipe: Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg

Scallops: Like shrimp, scallops make a great addition to classic risotto. They also do well with fresh vegetables. Adding in spring peas or asparagus along with the seafood gives a bright pop of color and a uniquely fresh flavor.

Get the Recipe: Brown Butter Scallop Risotto

burrata risotto

Burrata: Speaking of extra cheese, burrata is always an excellent addition when it comes to risotto. A bubble of fresh mozzarella nestled within creamy risotto sounds like something you’d see on a fancy restaurant menu. But trust us, it’s a cinch to create this gourmet dish at home.

Get the Recipe: Spring Pea and Burrata Risotto

Mushrooms: Don’t just use one type of mushroom. Get wild and use a variety of fungi to create an earthy take on regular risotto. Mushrooms are full of umami flavor, so they work wonderfully as a meat substitute. If you’re worried about getting enough protein, amp up the parmesan. No one will complain about extra cheese.

Get the Recipe: Wild Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is like a blank canvas. It’s begging to be topped and filled with all sorts of colorful, flavorful, and textural delights. So it’s easy to turn it into dinner all on its own. That means next time you’re craving comfort food for dinner, the problem’s solved. Just add your favorite protein or umami-packed vegetable and make risotto a meal.

Lauren Sakiyama Lauren Sakiyama
Lauren Sakiyama is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the hospitality industry. She has managed restaurants, country clubs, and large-scale event operations, but her passion has always been about the food. Read Full Bio »
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