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Caramelized Onion Risotto

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4 to 6

Onions are often used in risotto, but not usually as the main ingredient. In this soothing dish, you get a bite of beautifully browned, sweet, soft caramelized onions in every forkful. Aged Gouda gives the risotto a slightly toasty butterscotch flavor, but the more traditional Parmigiano-Reggiano is also delicious.


  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb. yellow onions (about 4 medium), halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 oz. finely grated aged Gouda or Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup on a rasp grater)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 440
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 160
  • Fat (g): 18
  • Saturated Fat (g): 7
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8
  • Cholesterol (mg): 25
  • Sodium (mg): 140
  • Carbohydrates (g): 59
  • Fiber (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 12


  • Heat the olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook without stirring until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and stir with a wooden spatula. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently and adjusting the heat as necessary, until the onions are well browned, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, combine the broth with 2 cups water and set over medium heat until steaming hot.
  • Transfer the onions to a small bowl, cover, and keep warm. Add about 1/2 cup of the broth mixture to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot with the wooden spatula until any stuck-on bits are released. Pour the liquid back into the broth mixture. Wipe out the pot.
  • Melt 2 Tbs. of the butter in the pot over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring gently, until glossy and translucent around the edges, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Ladle enough broth over the rice to just cover (about 1/2 cup) and simmer, stirring often, until most of the broth has been absorbed (test by running a spoon through the rice; no broth should pool on the pot bottom). Continue to add the broth in this manner, stirring often, until the rice is tender but still has a bit of resistance when you bite into it, 20 to 30 minutes. (You may not need all of the broth.)
  • Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter, the cheese, and all but 1/3 cup of the onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately, topped with the remaining onions.


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Reviews (12 reviews)

  • daisyace | 02/01/2021

    This is a delicious risotto. I don't think there's any way to get 1 oz of grated cheese to come out to about a cup, so that may be an error in the recipe. I went with about 1/2c of grated parmesan, and that was good. It also took me longer than indicated to caramelize the onions. I don't think I could have sped it up with higher heat -- they already needed very frequent attention and occasional drips of water on the bottom to avoid burning. So, it took longer than I anticipated and needed a little adjusting, but it came out great.

  • pokano | 02/18/2018

    Unusual but delicious risotto. I made it with extra-aged gouda and used all the broth. Because it takes a long time to caramelize the onions (30 minutes for me), this takes considerably longer than the usual risotto, but it's worth it.

  • SarahOwens | 11/21/2015

    I made this for the first time tonight and we loved it. We'll definitely be making it again and again. The flavors are perfectly blended in this recipe and it's written very well, even for a novice risotto maker. I didn't need to use the last 1/2-3/4 cup of broth. I also used the Parmiggiano-Reggiano and I'm very glad I did. It took me an hour to make this, so some will say it's time consuming, but for me it's time well spent. I love to cook, and this was a pleasant break from a hectic week. Thank you Fine Cooking.

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