What Is Arborio Rice?

There are a lot of different types of rice out there, and it goes beyond brown and white. We’re talking basmati rice, jasmine rice, even forbidden rice. But one of my favorite types of rice is arborio. What is arborio rice, though? Is arborio short grain rice? Is arborio rice risotto rice? Let’s get granular and answer all the questions about arborio rice! 

What is arborio rice?

Arborio rice is an Italian rice named after the place where it was originally cultivated, a town called Arborio, in the Po Valley, in the Piedmont region in Northern Italy. Arborio rice belongs to the Oryza sativa japonica species of rice. It’s a plump, oval-shaped rice which, when cooked, becomes both creamy and chewy, while still retaining some firmness. 

Is arborio short grain rice? 

Arborio rice is considered a short grain rice, but it is on the larger side of the short grains. You know, like how a small soda at a movie theater is still kind of big and you’re like, “I ordered a small!” and they’re like “That is the small, ya jerk! Get out of here and never come back!” So yeah, arborio is a short grain to medium grain rice. 

Is arborio rice risotto rice?

Arborio rice is used to make risotto, but it’s not the only kind of rice used to make risotto. Risotto is a creamy Italian rice dish, usually cooked with broth. Risotto calls for a superfino rice (the highest grade of Italian rice), and arborio is one of the largest of the superfinos. Other types of rice that can be used for risotto are carnaroli, vialone nano, roma, ribe, and baldo—but arborio is the most common risotto rice available in America. In Italy, carnoli is considered the king of risotto rice, so it can be pricier than arborio.

Is arborio rice gluten free?

Arborio rice is naturally gluten free, but if you’re trying to avoid gluten, you may want to ask a few questions before ordering the risotto. Risotto is typically cooked in broth and some broths contain gluten.

What is arborio used for?

Arborio is known primarily as a risotto rice, but it can be used for any dish that requires a creamier rice. It’s a great choice for rice pudding. You can make those little fried Italian rice balls called arancini. Or even use it in a soup or paella. The reason arborio is so good in risotto and these other dishes is because it is high in a starch called amylopectin. When you cook arborio low and slow, that extra starch is released and binds the rice together. Don’t rinse arborio before cooking as that will release the starch. And unlike the Kraken, you do not want to release the starch. 

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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