Is Risotto Gluten Free? How To Know

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A bowl of gluten free risotto for a healthy life

Is Risotto Gluten Free | Is Risotto Healthy | Risotto’s Nutritional Value | Gluten Containing Risotto | Gluten Free Substitutes

Risotto, a popular Italian rice dish, is loved by millions worldwide. But is risotto gluten free? If you have been on a gluten free diet due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you may want to know about the ins and outs of this most sought-after dish.

Even if you are not medically required to avoid gluten but belong to the 25% of Americans following a gluten free diet, this guide is there to help. Read on to know what risotto is made of, risotto nutrition facts, and much more.

Is Risotto Gluten Free?

Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice, which is a type of short-grain rice. But is Arborio rice gluten free? Like all varieties of rice have gluten free properties, Arborio rice is also naturally gluten free. Therefore, in its basic form, risotto is gluten-free

However, when preparing risotto, additional ingredients such as broth vegetable stock, seasonings, and garnishes are often added, and these can potentially contain gluten.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein [1]PubMed: What is gluten? naturally found in grains like wheat, triticale, rye, and barley. It may sometimes even be artificially added to provide some foods with a stretchy texture. It is most commonly present in foods like baked goods, pasta, cereals, candies, and crackers.

What Is Risotto?

Risotto is a traditional Italian dish of creamy texture, cooked with rice and vegetable or chicken broth. The delicious dish uses starchy, short grain arborio rice. The dish also contains onions, butter, vegetable broth, chicken stock, white wine, vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and different aromatics. Other rice varieties that can be used to prepare this Italian dish are Carnaroli or Vialone Nano rice.

This warm and comforting creamy arborio rice dish is super easy to make and can be prepared in less than an hour. It is best enjoyed hot. However, that’s not the only way to enjoy this dish. 

Mix the leftovers with an egg, roll them in breadcrumbs, and fry these risotto balls to serve them as a side dish.

Is risotto healthy?

Risotto is a carb-rich meal, but its nutrition will vary with the ingredients used for its preparation. For instance, if you cook it with a lot of butter and cheese, such recipes will be high in saturated fats. Since short and starchy rice is the primary ingredient of risotto, the dish will be missing out on protein from grains unless you decide to cook it with protein-rich vegetables.

What Is Risotto’s Nutritional Value?

According to the USDA’s [2]U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Rice, white, with cheese and/or cream based sauce, fat added database, the creamy rice dish (100 g) made with cheese or cream sauce has the following nutritional profile:

  • Calories: 166
  • Fat: 7g
  • Sodium: 322mg
  • Carbohydrates: 20g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Sugars: 0.1g
  • Protein: 5.2g

When is risotto not gluten free?

Here are some scenarios when risotto may not be gluten-free:

  1. Broth Containing Gluten: Risotto often requires broth to enhance its flavor. Some pre-packaged or canned broths may contain wheat or other gluten-containing ingredients, so it’s essential to check the ingredient list or use a gluten-free alternative.
  2. Added Sauces or Seasonings: Some risotto recipes call for additional sauces or seasonings that may contain gluten. For example, if soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or other condiments with gluten are used, the risotto will not be gluten-free. Always check the labels of any sauces or seasonings you add to ensure they are gluten-free.
  3. Cross-Contamination: Even if the risotto itself is made with gluten-free ingredients, cross-contamination can occur during the manufacturing process. For instance, using the same utensils or cutting boards that have been used for gluten-containing grains and foods without proper cleaning can introduce gluten into the risotto.
  4. Pre-Made or Packaged Risotto: Pre-made or packaged risotto products like risotto mixes, available in stores may not always be gluten-free. Some brands or varieties might contain gluten as an ingredient because they may get cross-contaminated during manufacturing.  Always read the product labels carefully or look for specific certified gluten-free products to ensure the risotto is safe for consumption.
  5. Restaurant Risotto: When dining out, it’s important to be aware that the risotto served in restaurants may not always be gluten-free. Some restaurants may use gluten-containing ingredients while cooking risotto or have a higher risk of cross-contamination in their kitchens. It’s best to communicate your gluten-free needs to the restaurant staff and inquire about their preparation methods and ingredients to ensure that the food is made out of a gluten free risotto recipe to enjoy your gluten free meal.

Gluten Free Substitutes For Risotto

The main ingredient in risotto is Arborio rice which is naturally gluten free. However, if you want to use other whole grains instead of rice, ensure they are labeled gluten free. 

Some options you can rely on include gluten-free quinoa, amaranth, millet, or buckwheat. These grains are healthy and provide similar nutrients as rice. If you are a fan of lentils, you can substitute rice with green lentils.

Does risotto have dairy?

No, risotto is not necessarily dairy free. Although it is conventionally prepared using rice, broth, and an assortment of ingredients such as vegetables, meats, or seafood, certain versions of risotto recipes may incorporate butter, cheese, or cream to augment the flavor and creaminess of the dish. 


If you have gluten intolerance or sensitivity, you may wish to eat gluten-free risotto. 

Although risotto is made from rice, which is 100% gluten-free, the presence of other ingredients causes gluten to sneak into this creamy and delicious traditional Italian rice dish. So, read your labels and make sure the ingredients contain no gluten. 

If you are eating at a restaurant, ask the chef to ensure the risotto dish you are about to eat is entirely gluten-free.  For best results, it is always a good idea to make your own gluten free risotto at home.


1 PubMed: What is gluten?
2 U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE: Rice, white, with cheese and/or cream based sauce, fat added

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