Marx Foods Risotto Rice Varieties Comparison

Sarah Mickey All Recipes, Rice Recipes, Risotto Recipes 2 Comments


There’s more to risotto rice than arborio.  Integrale rice, vialone nano rice and carnaroli rice offer varying properties that can help take you even closer to risotto nirvana, depending on your personal taste.

Previously we’ve sent samples to intrepid food bloggers to see how they would compare them (blogger risotto reviews).  We’ve also written a risotto rice guide based on expert Italian testimony on the subject.

Until now, however, we’ve never actually run our own, hyper-scientific tests (you can tell they’re hyper-scientific because we used an infrared thermometer).  In fact, this was our first controlled test, so please bear with our arborio digression.*

The Method:
1. Cook four batches of risotto simultaneously.
2. Use infrared thermometer (after stirring) to try to get pans at near the same temperature, despite burners of varying size.

3.  Use the same ingredients & quantities.  Three frying pans (carnaroli, integrale, vialone nano) contained 2 cups of rice, 2 tbsp oil, ½ cup of white wine, ½ cup of onions.

* We discovered we only had 1 cup of arborio handy, so the last pan contained 1 cup rice, 2 tbsp oil, ¼ white wine and ¼ cup onions.  The pan was the same size as the others, so we might have seen more evaporation in this one that artificially increased the amount of stock needed.

The Results:

  Arborio Rice Carnaroli Rice Vialone Nano Rice Integrale Rice
(Brown Risotto Rice)
Stock Absorbed ~6 cups
(3 cups stock per cup of rice)
~6 cups
(3 cups stock per cup of rice)
~5 ½ cups
(2 ¾ cups stock per cup of rice)
Cooking Time Fastest
(roughly tied with carnaroli)
Similar to arborio Few minutes longer than arborio & carnaroli Longest
(10+ minutes more than any other variety)
Texture Tender, but slightly crumbly Slightly firmer grains, more body Most creamy Firmer, chewier
Flavor Mildest stock flavor, creamy/starchy More stock flavor than arborio, less than Vialone Nano Took on most flavor from stock Very nutty
Color Off-White Lightest color (white) Very Light Beige Brown

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Comments 2

  1. Good job guys! Looks like you were having fun with toys!

    Rice is an agricultural product and the produce of each field during each season is slightly different. Also as rice ages, it dries out (and takes more liquid to cook). Another way of saying this is that nearly each batch of risotto will behave differently in the pan, no matter which rice you use. This makes it very difficult to generalize about kinds of rice.

    Over the years, I have used all of these rices, the Spanish ones (such as Bomba and Calasparra), and many more. They all work well, except integrale: I’m not a fan, but that’s a personal thing.

    The most significant source of difference between batches is the cook. My experience is that cooks should focus more on the method of making risotto and less on the rice. Once you have the method down, you can cook any rice.

    That said, I have a slight preference for carnaroli.

  2. Interesting, Chef Ed. In our test, we gained a lot of respect for the challenge of rigorously comparing items … chefs like you and test kitchen editors go through it all the time. Wow, that was hard. Much respect.

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