Tomato risotto is the perfect recipe for a heartwarming and satisfying family dinner. It exemplifies the rustic charm and simple elegance of Italian home cooking.

You’ll love the creamy texture of arborio rice, the rich tomato sauce, and the parmesan flavor. And the optional charred tomatoes are the cherry on top!

Tomato risotto plated with fork and basil leaves

Few dishes are as comforting as a warm and creamy tomato risotto.

In Italy, risotto is served as a first course or main dish. Feel free to use it as a side dish if that’s what you are used to. It goes well with most mains.

While there is a bit of stirring, tomato risotto is easy to put together, with simple ingredients, and in about 30 minutes.

Leftovers are excellent for making rice balls, risotto cakes, and supplì, which are worth the small effort of making risotto.

The recipe that follows is adapted from my Nonna’s recipe. I’ve only changed the topping of charred cherry tomatoes and burrata, but that’s optional.

tomato risotto on a flat plate

Tomato risotto video

Ingredients & Substitutions for tomato risotto

Tomato risotto ingredients

Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Risotto Rice

Not all types of rice are suitable for risotto. The best risotto varieties are Arborio Rice, Carnaroli Rice, Vialone Nano, Baldo, and Roma.

Thanks to their high starch content, they all do an excellent job at keeping al dente while creating a creamy consistency.

If you can’t find those varieties, look for something that says “risotto rice” on the package.

Tomato Puree

You can make tomato risotto with canned or bottled tomato puree, sometimes known as tomato passata if imported from Italy.

You can substitute fresh cherry tomatoes for tomato puree.

Both are delicious. The tomato puree makes a more decadent, creamier risotto with more tomato flavor.

Cherry tomatoes make a lighter and fresher meal with less tomato taste.

Olive Oil + Onion + Garlic

Finely chopped garlic and onion are gently fried in olive oil to create a flavor base that gives plenty of flavor to this risotto recipe.

You can mince the garlic cloves for a more intense flavor or crush them for a lighter aroma.

Vegetable Broth

You can use store-bought vegetable broth or homemade vegetable broth.

If you want to make vegetable broth at home, you only need to boil a carrot, a stalk of celery, a halved onion, a couple of bay leaves, and a pinch of coarse sea salt in plenty of water.

We prefer vegetable broth to chicken broth so that anyone, including vegetarians, can enjoy this recipe.

Dried oregano

It adds a pleasant herby aroma to the risotto. Substitute dried thyme.

Fresh Basil

Fresh basil is an essential ingredient in tomato risotto.

We add it towards the end to preserve the basil aroma. If you don’t have fresh basil, you can experiment with other fresh herbs and spices, such as parsley, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg.

Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese adds plenty of umami and flavor to this dish. It’s added at the end after turning the heat off.

You can easily replace parm with a vegan cheese alternative if you are vegan.

Butter

We don’t add butter to our tomato risotto. The parmesan, a drizzle of olive oil, and the burrata topping are enough. Avoiding butter will make this dish a lot lighter, and we prefer it like that.

If you want to add butter, choose unsalted or vegan butter and add it at the end with the parmesan.

Optional toppings

Charred cherry tomatoes: cut in half and charred on a grill pan for a few minutes.

Burrata: cold bits of burrata on top of the risotto meld beautifully with the warm rice and tomato sauce.

Note: traditionally, risotto is made with white wine to add acidity to the rice and boost the dish’s flavor. Tomato risotto, however, doesn’t need white wine because the tomatoes are acidic enough.

Tomato risotto recipe with burrata and a fork

How to make tomato risotto

Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

To a large saucepan, add the vegetable broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it simmering throughout the recipe.

In a large skillet, fry a finely chopped onion in olive oil for three minutes, then add minced garlic and fry one more minute.

Add the risotto rice, and stir it for one to two minutes or until it becomes translucent.

rice and onions in a skillet

Add one cup of vegetable broth, tomato puree, oregano, salt, and black pepper.

Tomato passata added to a white skillet

Cook the risotto on a gentle simmer until al dente (15 to 20 minutes). Stir with a wooden spoon almost continuously.

Add one cup of vegetable broth at a time after the previous broth is absorbed.

vegetable broth and white laddle

When the rice is al dente, turn the heat off and add grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil.

parmesan cheese and oil added to tomato risotto

Stir with the heat off for 2 minutes (this step is called mantecare in Italian).

Add more vegetable broth if the rice gets too thick.

Risotto should be very creamy, not too thick or too runny.

creamy tomato risotto with spoon

We like to serve it on a flat plate with charred cherry tomatoes and small basil leaves.

You can char the cherry tomatoes on a grill pan for a few minutes while the rice cooks. They add a pleasant fresh tomato flavor and a mild caramelized taste.

Tomato risotto with charred cherry tomatoes and a fork

Optionally, you can add small burrata bits. The fresh and creamy burrata is a perfect match with the charred tomato and the creamy risotto.

Tomato risotto recipe with burrata

Serving suggestions

Risotto is a nutritious and fulfilling meal, and you probably won’t be able to eat much else after.

In Italy is served as a “primo piatto” or first course. In the US is more of a side dish.

We recommend serving it as a main meal with fresh greens:

Alternatively, oven-roasted seasonal vegetables are also great as a side dish to tomato risotto.

Try our grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, and roasted peppers.

Variations

Tomato risotto with cherry tomatoes

crush tomatoes with fork

If you want a summer version of this recipe with a lighter feel, try making it with cherry tomatoes.

To a large saucepan, add the vegetable broth and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep it simmering throughout the recipe.

To a large skillet, add olive oil and finely chopped onion. Fry the onion on medium-low heat for 3 minutes, then add crushed or finely chopped garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.

Add halved cherry tomatoes and tomato paste, and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes until the tomatoes begin to burst.

Crush the tomatoes with a fork, add the risotto rice and two ladlefuls of vegetable broth, and keep cooking the rice like in the main tomato risotto recipe.

Tomato and eggplant risotto

tomato eggplant risotto

This recipe is almost the same as the tomato risotto with tomato puree.

All you need to do is cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch dice and add it to the pan when you add the tomato puree.

It would be best to have a larger pan for this recipe since the eggplant takes up a lot of space.

Tomato risotto with eggplant is creamy, nutritious, and delicious, and it’s perfect for a veggie-packed family dinner.

Check out our tomato and eggplant risotto recipe.

How to use leftover risotto?

Italian rice balls

Italian rice balls

Italian rice balls are one of the tastiest meals made with leftover risotto. Shape the leftover risotto rice into small balls, coat them in breadcrumbs, deep-fry, or air-fry them, and serve them with our homemade marinara sauce.

This is a delicious recipe you can serve as an appetizer or dinner with a simple side salad.

Risotto Cakes with Salad

risotto cakes on salad

Risotto cakes are so delicious! Take the risotto leftovers and shape them into burger-like patties, then bread them with breadcrumbs and shallow-fry or air-fry.

Serve them on top of a simple side salad, and optionally top them with our easy marinara sauce.

This is an incredible way to recycle leftover eggplant risotto; kids will go nuts over this recipe. It’s too good!

Italian Supplì

Italian supppli with leftover rice

Make Italian supplí, a popular type of rice balls made in the central regions of Italy, with leftover risotto rice. They are similar to arancini but a little simpler to make.

Riso al salto

riso al salto
Riso al salto made with leftover saffron risotto.

Transform leftovers into “riso al salto,” a traditional north-Italian recipe made with one to two-day-old risotto around the Milan region.

It’s a large rice cake cooked with olive oil or butter on a pan on very low heat until it gets super crunchy outside.

Tips

Don’t rinse the rice

Rinsing it will remove the starch, resulting in less flavor and less creamy risotto.

Use rice made for risotto

Arborio, Vialone Nano, Carnaroli, Roma, or Baldo. If you can’t find these varieties, go for generic risotto rice.

Basmati, wild rice, wholegrain, or generic short-grain rice are unsuitable for risotto.

Add broth and keep stirring

Risotto requires attention. Add broth, two ladles, or about 1 cup at a time, then keep stirring often, almost the whole time.

When the broth has almost completely evaporated, add one more cup. Stirring helps the rice release the starch, which helps with the dish’s creaminess.

If you stop stirring, the rice will quickly stick to your pan. If it does, the integrity of the rice grain will be compromised, and the rice won’t retain its bite and consistency.

Develop creaminess

Most people believe that the creaminess of risotto is given by adding butter at the end.

This is not entirely correct. The creaminess is given by the slow release of the starch in the rice. This happens thanks to the correct type of rice and the gentle stirring.

Yes, you’ll get some added creaminess with butter. But the rice will be fat and greasy, and you’ll want to nap after eating it.

Tomato risotto with hand and fork

Starch is the star

The real reason why risotto gets creamy is because of its starch. While cooking, the rice releases starch gradually, then when it cools down, it tries to absorb it back, leaving behind a cream. So while cooking, we want to enhance this process rather than just adding butter.

As a first step, getting good risotto rice is most important. Then we need to cook it right. Toasting it. Stirring it. Adding broth a little at a time. If you follow our recipe and tips, you’ll get a tomato risotto that is creamier than most.

As a final tip, if you don’t find great risotto rice with a naturally high content of starch that will yield the creamiest risotto, we recommend adding one teaspoon of rice starch or corn starch towards the end. Try and let us know what you think.

Questions

Is risotto healthy?

Risotto is not the healthiest dish because of the high content of animal-based saturated fats from butter and cheese.

To make risotto healthier, reduce the amount of butter and cheese.

Is arborio the same as risotto?

Arborio is one variety of rice you can use to make risotto due to its short and starchy grain.

It is the most popular choice to make risotto in Italy and abroad. Other varieties are Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Roma, and Baldo.

What can you put in risotto?

Risotto can be made with anything you want, just like pasta.

We suggest following the seasons and getting creative. In spring, try asparagus risotto; in summer, try lemon risotto; in autumn, try mushroom risotto or pumpkin risotto. In winter, try saffron or this tomato risotto.

Which risotto rice is the best?

Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Roma, and Baldo are the best choices for making risotto.

Is Jasmine rice good for risotto?

No. Jasmine rice is unsuitable for risotto because the grain is too thin and long (it will break while cooking), lacks bite, and doesn’t contain enough starch to make the dish creamy.

Storage

Make ahead: tomato risotto is best served shortly after it is made. However, leftovers are great for making risotto cakes and rice balls.

Refrigerator: keep leftover tomato risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Reheat: the rice will get dry and compact as it sits in the fridge. You can reheat it with a dash of water in the microwave.

Freezer: not suitable for freezing.

Tomato risotto recipe with burrata

More Risotto Recipes

If you love creamy risotto, take a look at our best risotto recipes. They’re all made with simple ingredients and bold flavors:

More Tomato Recipes

Take your pick at these tomato recipes for a flavorful and wholesome meal:

For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.

tomato risotto with silver fork and blistered tomatoes

Tomato Risotto

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 14 votes
Tomato risotto is the perfect recipe for a heartwarming and satisfying family dinner. It exemplifies the rustic charm and simple elegance of Italian home cooking.
You'll love the creamy texture of arborio rice, the rich tomato sauce, and the parmesan flavor. And the optional charred tomatoes are the cherry on top!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Course: Main Course, Side dish
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 white onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 24 ounces tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 15 leaves basil
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese or non-dairy cheese, grated

Optional Toppings

  • cherry tomatoes halved and charred on a grill pan for a few minutes
  • burrata or non-dairy burrata

Instructions 

  • Warm 8 cups vegetable broth and keep hot.
    In a large skillet, fry 1 white onion (finely chopped) in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3 minutes.
    Add 2 cloves garlic (minced) and 2 cups arborio riceand fry 1 to 2 minutes.
    rice and onions in a skillet
  • Add 1 cup of vegetable broth, 24 ounces tomato puree, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
    Tomato passata added to a white skillet
  • Cook the risotto on a gentle simmer until al dente (15 to 20 minutes). Stir with a wooden spoon almost continuously.
    Add one cup of vegetable broth at a time after the previous broth is absorbed.
    vegetable broth and white laddle
  • When the rice is al dente, turn the heat off and add ½ cup parmesan cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and 15 leaves basil.
    parmesan cheese and oil added to tomato risotto
  • Stir with the heat off for 2 minutes (this step is called mantecare in Italian).
    Add more vegetable broth if the rice gets too thick.
    Risotto should be very creamy, not too thick or too runny.
    creamy tomato risotto with spoon
  • Nico's serving tip: serve on a flat plate topped with charred cherry tomatoes, small basil leaves, and optionally some burrata bits.
    Tomato risotto recipe with burrata and a fork

Video

Tomato Risotto with a twist

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of tomato risotto out of 6 servings, without burrata.
STORAGE
Make ahead: tomato risotto is best served shortly after it is made. However, leftovers are great for making risotto cakes and rice balls.
Refrigerator: keep leftover tomato risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat: the rice will get dry and compact as it sits in the fridge. You can reheat it with a dash of water in the microwave.
Freezer: not suitable for freezing.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 350kcal, Carbohydrates: 61g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 7mg, Potassium: 220mg, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 442IU, Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, Vitamin C: 14mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 12µg, Calcium: 93mg, Folate: 164µg, Iron: 4mg, Manganese: 1mg, Magnesium: 26mg, Zinc: 1mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 14 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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2 Comments

    1. Ciao Rosa, I use “violife grated cheese” that should be available in most countries (I don’t know where are live but here’s my list of other favorite brands): follow your heart, miyokos, so delicious and daya. If you’re in Europe I highly recommend “Simply V”. I hope that helps, have a wonderful day! Nico