Cheesy Chicken Risotto with Broccoli

Main Dishes  |  Published Mar 14, 2022  |  Updated Mar 14, 2022  |  By Tawnie

risotto with broccoli in a large saute pan

If you’re looking for a big ol’ plate of comfort and a ridiculously delicious dinner idea we’ve got you covered with this chicken risotto recipe.

It’s filled to the brim with creamy risotto perfection, roasted broccoli bits, tender pieces of chicken and lots of yummy sharp cheddar cheese. It’s an all-in-one type meal and we can’t get enough of it!

Chicken risotto sounds like a fancy meal but in reality it’s really easy to make. It’s one of those meals you can make for a weeknight dinner but feels like a total restaurant quality dinner.

Our pantry is rarely ever seen without a bag of arborio on the shelf. We use it in this mushroom parmesan risotto and love making these arancini rice balls with it too!

chicken broccoli risotto in a large all clad skillet

What we love about this risotto:

  • It comes together pretty quickly once you have everything prepped!
  • It’s mega flavorful
  • It’s totally decadent and comforting
  • You’ll feel so proud after making it. Trust me, you’ll only get better and better each time you make it with practice and lots of stirring, tasting, and stirring!
  • It’s cozy and makes really yummy leftovers.

So with that, let me introduce you to the best chicken risotto meal!

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Broccoli: Fresh broccoli, cut into small florets get roasted in the oven and then stirred into the risotto at the end. I love adding in roasted broccoli compared to steamed because it’s both crisp and tender and they’re just little irresistible bites of heaven.
  • Arborio rice: It’s crucial to use arborio and not a long-grain rice such as basmati or jasmine. These varieties do not contain enough starch to achieve the creaminess we all adore about risotto. You can find arborio in most grocery stores in the grain section.
  • Chicken: Boneless chicken breasts work great but in a pinch you can use a rotisserie chicken!
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: Buy a block and grate the cheese fresh for the best flavor.
  • Other ingredients needed: white onion, broth, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic.
ingredients needed to make chicken risotto

How to Make Chicken Risotto

Don’t let the steps intimidate you. Once you have all of the ingredients prepared and you’re ready to get cooking this recipe flies by!

risotto in a skillet with a wooden spoon and cheddar, chicken and broccoli on risotto
  1. Roast the broccoli for 12-15 minutes at 425°F
  2. Warm the broth in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat and keep warm.
  3. Cook the chicken until is no longer pink, place chicken on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
  4. Sweat onions for ~5 minutes Add in the garlic, thyme and more salt and pepper to taste. Then add in the arborio.
  5. Add the broth slowly and in increments. Ladle about 1/3 cup of warm broth in at a time and never stop stirring. Once the liquid has been mostly absorbed, continue to ladle in more warm broth and regularly stir. After ~20-25 minutes, risotto should should be al dente with still a little bite to it. There should be a pleasant chew, on the soft side of al dente.
  6. Lastly, add in the shredded cheese, cubed chicken and roasted broccoli. Stir to combine.
risotto with broccoli in a large skillet with a wooden spoon in it

Pro tips to making perfect risotto

  • Use warm broth. Keep broth at a simmer in a saucepan. This will keep the temperature from dropping each time you add it to the rice. This process will help the rice absorb the liquid faster resulting in a better texture.
  • Stirring the rice frequently is key. Not constantly, but frequently. You can take 30 second breaks! 😉 Stirring the rice constantly will add air into the risotto, cooling it down and making it gluey. Yet if you don’t stir enough, the rice will stick to the bottom and burn. It’s important to stir frequently because risotto’s creaminess comes from the starch generated when grains of rice rub against each other. So do stir often, but feel free to give your arms (and the rice) a break.
  • The rice should be cooked at a medium high heat throughout the cooking because if you cook the rice on a low heat, it will never cook. But you also want to avoid extremely high flames and rapid boils.
  • Don’t rinse the rice. Doing so will remove its sticky consistency. Washing the rice, strips off the starch that is the key element to maintaining that classic creamy texture. And we want creaminess!
  • Toast the rice in the pan for only about a minute or two before adding in the broth. We don’t want the rice to get burned and we don’t want hard rice either.

cheddar risotto on a blue plate with a fork

FAQ

Do I have to use Arborio rice to make risotto?

Arborio rice (risotto rice) is a preferred rice to use when making risotto. You can also use Carnaroli and Vialone nano rice if you can find it in stores, or order online. Arborio rice is a short-grain Italian rice that has a high starch content that imparts a creamy texture, and the thickness of the grain helps it stay intact during the cooking time. If you use a long grain rice such as basmati or jasmine, you’ll end up with a pilaf style dish instead.

Why does risotto take so long to make?

Risotto isn’t necessarily a hard dish to make, but it does take some time and your undivided attention for 20-25 minutes. It requires you to almost continually stir, and ladle in warm broth to release the rice’s natural starches to make the creamy, velvety risotto we all know and love.

Do you need to add wine in risotto?

Some recipes deglaze with wine, but this recipe doesn’t require that step.

Why is my risotto crunchy?

You may have needed to cook it longer – it’s perfect when it has a soft chew but not mushy or crunchy.

HUNGRY FOR MORE? If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow me on Pinterest or Instagram. Sign up for my email list, too!

risotto with broccoli in a large saute pan
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Cheesy Chicken Risotto with Broccoli

This Chicken Risotto will be your new favorite all-in-one dinner. It's filled with velvety risotto, juicy chicken, sharp cheddar cheese and lots of roasted broccoli.
4.86 from 14 reviews
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 642kcal

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped into small florets (~4 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into small 1-inch pieces
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 small white onion, minced (or 1 shallot, minced)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio
  • 6 cups chicken stock or broth, unsalted (or water*)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  • Roast the broccoli: In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, a generous pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Turn the broccoli over onto the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until browned around the edges. Set aside.
  • Warm the broth: Pour the broth into a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to simmer, turn the heat down to low and simply keep it warm. (The warm broth helps to release the rice's starch and make it nice and creamy!)
  • Cook the chicken: Heat remaining olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or in a heavy bottomed straight sided skillet. Once hot, add the cubed chicken pieces. Stir frequently so the chicken pieces don't stick. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Cook until chicken is no longer pink, remove with a spoon onto a paper towel lined plate and set aside with the broccoli.
  • Make the arborio: Add 2 Tbsp. butter to the same pan, and allow to melt. Add in the onions and sweat onions for ~5 minutes or until onions soften and become fragrant. Add in the garlic, thyme and more salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Add in the arborio rice and stir until the grains look translucent, ~2 minutes.
  • Add the broth slowly and in increments. Ladle about 1/3 cup of warm broth in at a time and stir frequently. Once the liquid has been mostly absorbed, continue to ladle in more warm broth and regularly stir. This gradual process is key to creamy, perfectly cooked risotto (see video for guidance).
  • After about 20-25 minutes, taste the risotto. It should be al dente with still a little bite to it. If it's not quite there yet, keeping adding broth and stirring. You may or may not use up all of the broth. You'll know the risotto is done when it's not too soupy, not too thick…but when it's creamy and not overly thick. If you run your spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly back to fill in the space. And of course, taste it! There should be a pleasant chew, on the soft side of al dente.
  • Lastly, add in the shredded cheese, cubed chicken and roasted broccoli. Stir to combine and serve warm.

Video

Notes

  • Sometimes concentrated chicken broth or chicken stock can mask the wonderful flavor arborio rice already has so using warm water is also fine. 
  • Prep all of the ingredients before you start cooking because once you start the arborio you can’t really walk away. Have the cheese grated, onion chopped, garlic minced, etc.
  • Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • To reheat, add in a little broth or water to make creamy again. 
  • Make with a rotisserie chicken for convenience, just cut into bite sized pieces and stir in at the end 🙂
  • Omit the chicken for a meatless meal. 
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Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 642kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 686mg | Potassium: 1258mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1767IU | Vitamin C: 185mg | Calcium: 254mg | Iron: 5mg

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