There are a whole lot of different kinds of rice in world, and for what is seemingly a pretty “standard” grain, there is a very wide variety of texture, tastes and uses for those different types.  In this short cooking video, and the description below, I talk about Arborio rice and what it can be used for.

When to use Arborio Rice?

Most commonly, I use Arborio rice for risotto; the Italian rice dish.  Arborio rice is perfect for risottos because it’s full of starch that is released slowly as you cook it in simmering stock.  That starch, thickens the stock as it releases and forms a creamy “sauce like” texture that holds up beautifully and is a great bridge for other ingredients you may want to include in your risotto.  You may want to try this recipe mushroom risotto recipe.  Arborio rice will also maintain its texture as it releases its starch so that rather than turning mushy, you’ll still have a bit of al dente firmness which is a requirement of a great risotto.

What I don’t use Risotto for, are recipes where you want the rice to be light and fluffy.  If you’re looking to have nice individual grains of rice, that are dry and easily separate from each other, say like a rice pilaf, than Arborio rice is not for you.

What does Arborio rice look like?

Arborio rice is actually pretty distinctive.  They are generally white or just off white like pearls (I have not see brown Arborio rice, but it may exist).  And the individual grains are short and fat.  Arborio rice grains also generally have one of the ends of the grain “chipped” off, which looks like an accidental little dent.  But look closely and you’ll see that little dent on every grain.   Arborio rice is available in most grocery stores, although I’ve seen it labeled “risotto” rice; and it certainly available in Italian markets.