Can You Freeze Risotto?
Can you freeze risotto? Making a perfect pot of risotto takes time and effort. If you made too much, you have to store it in the fridge, where it’s good for only 2 or 3 days. What if you won’t be able to eat it within this time period? Or what if you wanted your perfect risotto for lunch on Friday, but can make it only on Saturday or Sunday? That’s when freezing risotto is an idea that comes to one’s mind.
Hearty, creamy, and oh so decadent, Risotto is a northern Italian dish enjoyed all over the world. Risotto is made with a type of short-grain rice in a creamy sauce. That’s why it goes bad easily even when refrigerated.
Obviously, you can freeze risotto. But pretty much everyone agrees that a risotto that’s frozen and thawed is nowhere near as good as a fresh one. They might be right. Or are they?
Truth is, freezing and defrosting risotto will change its texture. Everyone will agree with that. The dish will lose some of its creaminess everyone is loving it for. Though thinner and definitely not as good as a fresh one, it’s safe to eat. And you can play with it by changing the recipe and the way you reheat it to try to get back some of the creaminess. In other words, to make it work. So, if you’re willing to exchange some of the taste for the ability to freeze this dish, read along!
Image used under Creative Commons from Consell Comarca Baix Empordà
The sooner you freeze risotto after cooking it, the better. If you freeze it the same day it’s cooked, you can eat it within 2 to 3 days after thawing. If you’re a little late to the party and freeze it 2 days after cooking, you should consume it the same day you thawed it for best results.
After cooking, let it cool down. You can leave it on the counter or maybe store in the pantry for an hour or two. Once it’s no longer hot, pour it into a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag.
Now it’s time to cool it down entirely before you chuck it into the freezer. Toss it into the fridge or give it an ice bath. Keep it there until its cool.
Tossing the risotto into the freezer is our next step. Before doing that, make sure you leave some head space in the container or freezer bag and close it tightly. If you’re afraid the freezer bag will get damaged in the freezer and leak its contents, put it into a container and leave in in there until it has frozen. You can then remove the bag from the container without the risk of spillage.
You can keep the risotto in the freezer for up to six months for best quality. You can pretty much keep it there indefinitely, but I cannot guarantee it will taste anywhere near it used to.
Image used under Creative Commons from Vegan Feast Catering
The best way to thaw risotto is by doing that overnight in the fridge. If you’ve frozen it in a container, toss it directltly into the fridge. If you’re used a freezer bag, put it into a large bowl and then into the fridge. This way, if the bag god damaged in the freezer, you won’t have risotto all over your fridge.
Another way to thaw it is to toss the container or bag into cold water. If you’ve forgot to chuck it into the fridge yesterday, put it into cold water in the morning and you still should have it ready for dinner.
Thawing in a nonstick pan on the stovetop is a last resort option. Doable, but you should add water or stock right away and pay close attention to it and use very low heat.
Once thawed, give it a good whisk to mix the ingredients. Now it’s time to reheat it. You can do that in a number of ways.
The best option is to go with a nonstick pan on the stovetop. Set it over medium head, stirr often and add butter, stock, or water to achieve the texture you’re looking for. There are no magic tricks here – you might need a few runs to figure out what to add and in what proportions to make it work. So don’t dispair if it’s not that good after your first try. Reheating this way is best because you have the most control over the dish and you can adjust things as you go.
Another option, although not the healthiest one, is to microwave the risotto. It should be hot in 3 to 6 minutes on lowest setting. Microwave it in short, 30 to 45-second increments. Stirr and add stock, butter, or water between increments. Putting it into the microwave for the whole 3 minutes without stirring and extra liquids will result in an extremely dry risotto. You don’t want that to happen.
The third option is to rehead it in the over. Use a greased oven-safe dish and cover it. If it doesn’t have a cover, use tinfoil. Preheat the oven to 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit, stick the dish in and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. If it turns out to dry, next time add stock or butter and see how it goes.
Apart from serving it the traditional way, you can make risotto cakes and balls from your leftovers. Now that you know how to freeze risotto, you can store larger batches of the dish in the freezer and play up your everyday meals.