This Seafood Risotto recipe is easy to make, full of flavour, and endlessly customizable! Add or change the proteins, herbs, and/or broth to suit you!
Originally published September 6, 2013. Updated on 11/9/2022
The other day, the awful midwest heatwave finally broke ... and I was finally in the mood to cook again. Extreme heat just really does nothing for my desire to be in the kitchen!
My husband looked pretty ecstatic when I offered to make a seafood risotto for supper that night.
Not only was it the first time I'd cooked in a few days, but it was also the first time I'd made risotto since getting all kinds of risotto'ed out in Training for MasterChef last winter.
I'd made so much risotto back then - it was something I hadn't made before getting accepted for the show - that I was pretty sure I never wanted to make it again.
I’d gotten it in my head, through my research beforehand - that being able to make the perfect risotto was basically a requirement.
... never got the chance to make the creamy dish while outthere. LOL!
I used what we had on hand, but there is plenty of room to adapt this recipe to your own tastes, or what YOU have on hand.
Add some saffron, add some fresh or dried herbs of your choice, or add some clams or mussels... even crab. Yum!
This makes a fair amount of risotto, but it freezes pretty well - Porter loves to bring leftovers to work for lunches.
This is a simple recipe - with simple ingredients - and you should be able to find everything in your favourite grocery store.
That said, it’s one of those cases where simplicity demands accuracy - you want to use the right ingredients to get the best result!
So, I have some notes for you
I use 1 lb of Arborio Rice for this, as it’s easy to find and has the perfect consistency.
This is a medium-grain rice with a high starch content, which is what creates the creamy sauce during the cooking process.
Note: This works out to about 2 ⅓ cups Arborio rice
That said, Arborio is known to be more of a North American way to make risotto.
When it comes to actual Italian food, Carnaroli Rice is generally seen as the gold standard across most of Italy.
It’s known to produce the creamiest risottos, but Vialone Nano is another very popular option out there.
Any of these 3 rice types will make an excellent risotto - with a great creamy texture - so you can definitely use whichever makes the most sense or is easiest to come by, where you are.
There are a few different types of stock you can use for this - fish stock, seafood stock, vegetable broth, chicken broth, or shrimp stock.
You can use store bought stock, homemade, or - as I tend to do - a quick, dressed-up store bought stock. (More on that in a second).
Your stock is where the bulk of the flavour comes from in your seafood risotto, so be sure to use something that is well seasoned and tastes really good!
I’ll bring some standard chicken stock up to a simmer, and add shrimp shells, celery, some onion, etc and let it simmer.
I like to save little baggies of raw shrimp shells in the freezer for when I need to make some seafood stock.
The empty shells from this seafood risotto will eventually be used to make stock for another meal, usually this risotto, or some Jambalaya
I like to use a dry white wine, usually a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
It’s important to use a wine that you actually like the flavour of and would drink, NOT a cooking wine.
Cooking wine is very low quality and full of salt - it will ruin this dish.
Don’t want to use wine at all? Just use the same amount of extra stock.
The Fresh Seafood
As a basic recipe, I just call for bay scallops and shrimp, as they’re easy to find and tend to be relatively affordable.
That said, you can definitely use other types of seafood in this.
Feeling bougie, or celebrating a special occasion? Substitute sea scallops for bay scallops, or add some crab meat or chunks of lobster tail.
It’s all good.
1. Thaw, drain, and - if necessary - blot all seafood with a paper towel before adding it to the risotto.
2. If you’re using cooked seafood, add it to the risotto when it’s basically done, and heat just long enough to warm it through - you don’t want to overcook seafood!
3. If you’re using different types of seafood and they are wildly different in size, add them in stages.
Anything that’s big or will take longer to cook can and should go in earlier than smaller items that will cook faster.
Rounding out this recipe, you will need:
1 Medium onion
Fresh parsley (or green onions)
Unsalted butter (Can use extra virgin olive oil)
Salt & Pepper
... I just don’t have anything really significant to say about any of these!
How to Make Seafood Risotto
Full recipe follows, but here’s a pictorial overview, with extra info added.
I like to have all of the ingredients prepped before I actually get started cooking. I situate everything within an arm’s reach - and in the order of use - so it’s good to go when I need it.
Onion: Finely chop it.
Garlic: Peel and mince or press it
Butter, Rice, Wine: Measured and at hand.
Stock: Seasoned and brought up to a low simmer over medium low heat, in a medium saucepan.
Seafood: Thawed and shrimps peeled, waiting in a large bowl.
Parsley: Finely chopped.
Start Cooking the Risotto!
In a large pan (large skillet, large saucepan, large pot, or large saute pan) over medium-high heat, sweat onions in the 2 tablespoon butter until translucent - should be a couple of minutes.
Add garlic and rice, stir well, cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add half of the wine, stirring until the wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Repeat a second time, with the remaining wine.
Add warm broth, about a quarter cup to ½ cup broth at a time, stirring constantly, and gently scraping the bottom of the pot with your wooden spoon or spatula as you go.
As the rice absorbs one ladle of stock, add another and continue stirring.
Once the rice is almost cooked to the desired consistency, stir in as much of the lemon zest as you want (we like it really lemony, and use all of it), and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Note: Depending on the type and size of your seafood, this cooking time could be anywhere between 2-3 minutes (small shrimp), to 8-10 minutes (Jumbo shrimp).
Stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley, just until well incorporated and smooth.
Serve hot, garnished with more parsley and Parmesan.
Leftovers can be transferred to an airtight container and kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.
We generally reheat it in the microwave, covered.
If it’s too solid after chilling, add a bit of chicken or seafood stock and stir it in.
More Fish & Seafood Recipes
Fan of fish and seafood recipes? Here are a few more for you!
Almond Crusted Halibut with Lemon Dill Sauce
Cashew Crusted Halibut with Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice
Crab Rangoon Pizza
Marie's Low Country Boil
Pepper Crusted Tuna with Wasabi Cream Sauce
Phyllo Crab Triangles
Smoked Salmon Pizza
Tuna Mango Poke
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Easy Seafood Risotto
- 1 Medium Onion finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon Butter
- 4 Garlic Cloves pressed or minced
- 1 lb Arborio Rice
- 1 ½ cups Dry White Wine
- 5 cups Well seasoned chicken or seafood stock * Simmering
- Zest of 1 Lemon
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 lb Raw Shrimp shelled
- 1 lb Bay Scallops
- ¾ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- ⅓ cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- In a large pan, sweat onions in butter until translucent. Add garlic and rice, stir well.
- Add half of the wine, stirring until wine is almost completely absorbed by the rice. Repeat.
- Add stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly. As rice absorbs one ladle of stock, add another and continue stirring.
- Once rice is almost cooked stir in as much of the lemon zest as you want (we like it really lemony, and use all of it), and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add scallops and shrimp along with one final scoop of simmering stock. Stir gently until seafood is cooked through. Remove from heat.
- Stir in parmesan cheese and parsley, just until well incorporated and smooth. Serve hot, garnished with more parsley and parmesan.