This Chicken Risotto with Spinach and Lemon is an easy family night dish. My kids love it! It’s like a gourmet meal at home without too much effort. I actually tend to make this meal when I have some chicken but not enough to grill or bake for everyone:).
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What is Risotto And How Is It Made?
Risotto is an Italian way of cooking rice. It’s usually a creamy rice dish cooked in broth, wine and has added protein & vegetables to provide a variety of flavors.
How to Cook Chicken for Risotto?
There are several methods to cook chicken for risotto. I will try to summarize them below and you can pick and choose which one is your favorite.
- Thaw chicken, add to a medium pot with water, bring to boil, cover the pot then lower the heat. Boil for about 10-15 minutes. Turn heat off. Cut chicken in bite size pieces when it is safe to handle. Use the chicken bites and the broth to make risotto.
- Thaw chicken. Add butter or olive oil in a skillet, cook chicken thoroughly on both sides in high heat (about 4 minutes each side). Then cut chicken in bite size pieces and add to risotto. In this case you have to use chicken broth from a box or broth you have made previously.
- You can also used chicken cooked in Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker. Especially if you are meal prepping for the week. Cook as desired for your other meals, just add 2 chicken breasts (2 small or 1 large) to what you are cooking and store that after cooking in an airtight container in the refrigerator to use in making the risotto.
Tips and Notes
Here are some of my tips to cook the perfect chicken risotto.
- Do not rinse the rice. Rinsing will remove the starch from the rice grains and this will prevent the risotto from becoming creamy.
- Use short grain rice with a high starch content. The most common ones found in US markets are Arborio rice or Carnaroli rice. Having lived in the Mediterranean for half my life, I have tried several other types of short grain rice that I haven’t been able to find here in Florida. Also, even if you find Arborio rice or Carnaroli, experiment with different brands until you find one you like. They’re not all the same quality and you can tell when you prepare risotto.
- Broth has to be warm/hot. Don’t use broth that is room temperature or from the refrigerator. That’s why I prefer the process of cooking the chicken (method 1 above) then straight away cooking risotto because the broth will be hot.
- Try to time the preparation of this dish with dinner time. Risotto is best served right away. You can always reheat the leftovers and they will taste great, but consistency is not the same anymore. This is a dish that I usually prepare enough for dinner but don’t plan for leftovers.
- Spinach is such a great addition to this dish. I actually like adding spinach to soups and other dishes too. It’s a great way to incorporate more veggies. Add spinach at the last step of cooking this dish, when you add the last half cup of broth. Spinach welts fast so no need to add too soon.
Wine – My favorite wines to cook risotto are Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. You can’t go wrong with any of them:).
Pots – A regular medium pot will do to cook risotto. I personally prefer a 6qt Dutch Oven, mine looks similar to this Dutch Oven but the lid is made of glass. You can use a rice maker too but I don’t use one personally, not enough counter space to add one more appliance:).
Chicken Risotto with Spinach and Lemon
- Medium size pot
- 2 cups arborio rice any short grain, starchy rice will do
- 2 chicken breasts (medium size)
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 shallot or use half of a yellow onion if you don't have shallots
- 2 cups spinach
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh dill
- 4-5 cups chicken broth
- salt to taste
- 0.5 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter
- Boil chicken breasts for about 15 minutes in 5 cups of water in a medium pot. Turn heat off. Remove chicken and cut it in bite size pieces. If you already have cooked chicken as part of meal planning for the week you'll need about 5 cups of chicken broth.
- Chop shallot (fine) and mince the garlic. Chop dill and set it aside. No need to chop spinach, it will welt. Cut lemon in half, juice half of lemon and cut the other half in slices.
- In a medium pot or Dutch Oven saute onions, garlic in butter for a minute or two. Keep heat on medium. Add chicken bites and stir occasionally so chicken gets a light browning. Add rice and continue stirring so grains don't get burnt but just coated.
- Add wine to pot to deglaze and use a wooden spoon to scrape everything from the bottom of the pot as the wine simmers and gets absorbed from the rice. If you don't like adding wine you can add few tbsps of hot water in this step to deglaze the pot.
- Keep heat medium low for this step. I keep mine at a 4 setting in the stovetop out of 10. Add hot broth to rice-chicken mix half a cup at a time, stir until it gets absorbed. Once the liquid seems to be running out, add another half cup or ¾ cup of broth and repeat.
- Before you get to the last half of broth to add to risotto, add salt, pepper, dill, lemon juice and chopped spinach. Add the last half cup of broth too and mix everything together until you get a creamy mix. Spinach will welt fast.
- Once you get the desired consistency with risotto, add parmesan cheese for that gooey risotto consistency & flavor.
- Serve right away, garnish with lemon slices. Add more parmesan, black pepper and salt to the table so everyone can make extra additions as needed. Enjoy:)
- Check for salt often – both broth and butter can have different quantities of salt so adjust accordingly. I personally try to make the broth with no salt. Also, I try to use unsalted butter. Then I add 0.5 tsp of kosher salt to risotto and taste from there until I get the exact flavor I need.
- If you’re cooking the chicken before making risotto, plan for about 50 minutes or so from beginning to end. If you’re using pre-made broth then calculate about half an hour to make this dish.
- Tip – if when adding the cheese, you waited too long and risotto is losing its creaminess, then add 1-2 tbsps of hot water or broth and give it a good mix. Some extra butter wouldn’t hurt either but keep in mind that it will change the nutrition values.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please save the below image in your Pinterest boards. Let me know if you have any questions or feel free to tag me if you made the recipe:). Thank you!
Other Rice Recipes:
Check out other rice recipes from my blog.
- Bolivian Cheesy Rice (Arroz Con Queso)
- Peruvian Rice & Corn (Arroz Con Choclo)
- Albanian Baked Rice & Chicken
- Garlic Rice with Olive Oil