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The Tastiest Ways to Use Up Leftover Risotto

Tired of that leftover risotto in your fridge? We asked foodies for their best recipes. They’re so good, you’ll keep wanting to make them on repeat.

Somehow, when you’re the cook, you can hardly have enough of your risotto. But when you’re the diner, it’s a different story, and you can have too much of a good thing.

Suppose you made a big batch of risotto. Now, you want to serve yourself—and your household—something other than reheated rice. Let’s just say we’ve got you covered.

These clever ideas will help you turn that sticky rice into some of the most delicious snacks you’ve ever munched on.

Fry ‘Em Up

With the help of an air-fryer, a Dutch oven, or a deep-fryer, that leftover plate of classic, traditional risotto can easily be turned into one of contemporary Italian cuisine’s most delicious street foods.

“Leftover risotto is fantastic for recipes like Arancini,” Strength and Sunshine Founder Rebecca Pytell says. She runs a recipe and food website for those seeking to thrive with dietary restrictions, including celiac disease, food allergies, and plant-based eating.

Arancini, a staple Sicilian street food, are risotto balls that have been stuffed, coated with bread crumbs, and air- or deep-fried to absolute perfection.

As a result of the deep-frying, the risotto balls form a crispy, browned, flavorful crust on the outside. On the inside, they become salty, savory, and gooey, largely thanks to the stickiness of the rice and the melted parmesan and/or pecorino cheese.

Serve the arancini alongside slightly spicy “all arrabbiata” tomato sauce and a glass of cold lager beer or chilled white wine. They also pair well with pesto, red or green, and creamy Alfredo sauce.

Pytell tells Home Cook World readers that they could also use the leftover risotto in their fridge to make burgers, fritters, or patties. “The rice is already sticky enough that giving them a quick bake or fry is perfect for anything in a pattie form.”

She suggests air-frying the arancini rather than deep-frying them:

“Air frying is a fantastic way to make a once ‘indulgent dish’ 100x healthier! No oil is needed, so you drastically reduce the calories.”

At Strength and Sunshine, Pytell has shared some of her favorite air-fryer recipes, among other cooking methods, including for falafelpotato latkes, and popcorn chicken.

“Air frying also offers superior crispiness and crunch! You don’t have to worry about soggy oil-soaked fare and “reheating” foods in the air fryer, quickly brings them back to life in minutes!”

Make Rice Pancakes

Risotto al Salto, or crispy rice pancakes, is a lesser-known—but just as tasty—way to use up day-old risotto from Milan, Italy.

You start by making creamy Risotto alla Milanese, the fashion capital of the world’s famous recipe for saffron-infused risotto.

Alternatively, writes Serious Eats’ Culinary Director Daniel Gritzer, you could make Risotto al Parmigiano, a.k.a. a simple risotto dish with arborio rice and parmesan cheese.

The trick is not to add too many chunky ingredients, like mushrooms, as they can cause your pancake to fall apart in the pan.

Once it’s cooled down (or, preferably, taking the leftover risotto out of your fridge on the following day), you spread the risotto on a non-stick pan or well-seasoned carbon steel or cast iron skillet, much like you’d do if you were preparing a regular pancake.

Then, you cook the crispy rice pancake over medium heat, browning it on one side before gently turning it over to the other. “The hardest part of the whole process,” Gritzer remarks, “is keeping the pancake together as it cooks, and especially when flipping it.”

As soon as your crispy rice pancake is done, transfer it to a flat plate, grating hard Italian cheese such as parmesan, pecorino—or why not a mix of the two—generously on top.

This recipe requires excellent flipping technique and a spatula with the right amount of flexibility to it. When in doubt, get a fish flipper and stay away from hard, inflexible wooden scrapers.

Whip Up Creamy Mushroom and Risotto Soup

Wondering what to do with that leftover mushroom risotto? Why not turn it into a creamy and hearty mushroom and rice soup!

Dice a handful of mushrooms, ideally of the same kind that you used for yesterday’s risotto that you neatly packaged and put in the fridge.

(As a general rule of thumb, and according to food blogger Jaron a.k.a. Foods Guy, shiitake, portabella, and porcini mushrooms pack the biggest punch in terms of flavor for whipping up a mushroom risotto or, in our case, a soup from its leftovers.)

Sauté the diced mushrooms with butter and minced garlic in a preheated, thick-bottomed carbon steel or cast iron skillet till they’ve turned crispy and brown.

Transfer to a Dutch oven, add the leftover risotto, drown the ingredients in mushroom stock, and let the soup simmer over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes so that it gets creamy and becomes consistent.

For extra creaminess, scoop out a third of your soup with a ladle, add heavy cream (dairy can curdle under high heat, so make sure you do this only after you’ve finished cooking), and run it for a few seconds in the blender.

How to Store Leftover Risotto

As delicious as arancini, pancakes, and cream soup can be, it’s crucial that you store the risotto leftovers properly in the first place.

Risotto, a perishable food, should not be left to sit out for longer than two hours. Because bacteria known to cause food-borne illness multiplies quickly at room temperature, doing so may make a plate of risotto unsafe to eat.

To store leftover risotto, transfer it to an airtight food storage container and refrigerate it. Properly sealed, leftover risotto will stay good for three to four days in your fridge. Reheat for a few minutes in a frying pan over medium heat, adding half a ladle of cooking liquid if necessary so that it doesn’t dry out.

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Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.