The real Italian “Saffron Risotto”

The real Italian “Saffron Risotto”

How to make the real Milanese risotto with saffron? Here the original recipe explained step by step.

The real Italian ” Saffron Risotto”  or “Risotto allo Zafferano” ( in Italian) is a great classic of Lombardy cuisine that illuminates the coldest winter days with its golden color!

Cooked in beef broth, with the addition of saffron that gives it its flavor and its bright yellow color.

According to legends, saffron risotto arrives in Italy at the end of 1500, as a very ancient tradition of “kosher” Jewish cuisine.

And is thanks to Jewish merchants, the recipe from Sicily appears in northern Italy in the Middle Ages.

Only in the 18th century, the Saffron Risotto recipe appears in Italian cookbooks.

In fact, in 1809, a cookbook printed in Milan describes a recipe of  “Yellow rice in a pan”. A very similar recipe to the current one: rice sautéed in butter, with hot broth and saffron.

Since then, this recipe has been changed many times by many chefs, until we get the perfect recipe. The recipe that nowadays has become a true flag of Italian cuisine in the world.

You can serve the Saffron Risotto alone as a first course, or as a single dish together with Ossobuco alla Milanese as tradition dictates: the final touch that makes this dish a true masterpiece!

Note: To make this recipe according to the traditional recipe, I recommend using pure saffron in pistils.
Avoid if you can use saffron powder, it may contain other spices or food colors that alter the taste.

Let’s find out how to make the original recipe.

Italian Saffron Risotto

Italian recipe of Saffron Risotto: Cooked in beef broth, with the addition of saffron that gives it its flavor and its bright yellow color
Course Rice
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Saffron Risotto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 people
Calories 420kcal
Author Authentic Italian Cuisine


  • 150 gr. Rice "Carnaroli"
  • 500 ml. Beef Broth
  • 100 ml. Dry White Wine
  • 50 gr. Onion minced
  • 60 gr. Butter
  • 15 Saffron Pistils
  • 50 gr. Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt


  • Soak the saffron pistils in a coffee cup with hot water and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours.
  • Prepare the beef broth ( it would be better if done by boiling the bones, alternatively use that in cubes ).
  • In a pan with high sides, put 30 gr of butter and fry finely chopped onion let cook over medium heat until lightly golden.
  • Add the rice and toast it stirring continuously until become shiny.
  • Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate over high heat.
  • At this point proceed with the cooking for about 18-20 minutes, adding the broth a ladle at a time, when needed, as it will be absorbed by the rice that must always be covered.
  • Five minutes before the end of cooking, pour the water with the saffron pistils that you had put in infusion.
  • Stir well to flavor and dye the risotto of a beautiful gold color.
  • When cooked, turn off the heat, season with salt
  • Stir in the Parmesan and the rest of the butter, stirring quickly to give the creamy texture



Like all risottos, it should be served "all'onda" means that the risotto must have a certain fluidity.
Basically, when you put a large spoonful of rice on a plate, it should drop slightly, flatten and widen a little when you shake the plate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating