This healthy chicken risotto is a light and easy side dish! This flavorful dish takes less than 30 minutes to make and has chicken added, which makes it a balanced meal!
This healthy chicken risotto recipe is a family favorite! Risotto is typically eaten as a side dish, however, this recipe is perfect as the main entree, because it contains chicken for some added protein.
The risotto is creamy and flavorful. It's the perfect comfort food for anyone craving a creamy, delicious dish!
Ingredients Notes and Subs
- Olive Oil: used to sauté the spinach. You can also substitute with canola or coconut oil.
- Spinach: use fresh spinach leaves. This can be substituted with frozen spinach, however, cook and drain all water before adding it to the risotto.
- Cooked and Shredded Chicken: any shredded chicken works perfectly – chicken thighs (skin removed) or chicken breast is fine. You can use a rotisserie chicken, make chicken in the crockpot/instant pot and shred it or boil chicken and shred it.
- Butter: adds flavor to the dish. I do not recommend substituting with margarine.
- Garlic: adds flavor, make sure to use fresh garlic for the best flavor. Short on time? Use the pre-minced garlic packaged in oil.
- White Onion: adds flavor, I recommend fresh over powdered onion.
- Arborio Rice: it’s important to use this type of rice, as it makes the risotto creamy.
- Low Sodium Chicken Stock: adds flavor, do not use chicken broth!
- Parmesan Cheese: use freshly grated parmesan cheese.
- Salt/Pepper: add based on taste preferences.
Step by Step Instructions
Chop the spinach into small pieces. Cook the spinach and olive oil in a large sauce pan until wilted. Set aside.
In the same pan, add the butter, onion, and garlic. Cook until soft.
Add the rice to the onion mixture. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Rice will be brown in color. Add 1 cup of stock and turn heat to medium. Stir constantly until absorbed.
Continue to add 1 cup of stock, stir until absorbed, and repeat. Important: do not add more liquid until it’s fully absorbed- this will be your rice tender and creamy.
Once all liquid has been added and absorbed, add the parmesan cheese, shredded chicken and cooked spinach to the risotto. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Add salt and pepper to taste, serve warm. Enjoy!
Refrigerator: store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 3 days. Refrigerate within 1 hour of cooking so it has time to safely cool. More safe storage guidelines here.
Freezer: store in a freeze safe container or freezer zip lock bag for up to 3 months. Store in small portions for easier reheating.
Reheating: this can be reheated in the microwave in 1 minutes intervals until steaming hot. You can also add it to a sauce pan with a small amount of olive oil and cook over medium heat until warm. The USDA recommends reheating all food to 165F for food safety purposes.
Gluten Free: to make this chicken risotto gluten free, look for a chicken stock that does not contain any gluten. All other ingredients should be gluten free, however always double check the labels.
Dairy Free: to make this risotto dairy free, leave out the parmesan cheese or use a dairy free parmesan cheese. You will also need to replace the butter with a different type of oil, such as olive oil.
Type of meat: the shredded chicken can be replaced with any meat that is tender and shreds easily, such as shredded turkey, shredded roast beef cut into small pieces or even ground turkey. This risotto is a great way to use up leftover meats!
Vegetarian: this can easily be turned into a vegetarian risotto! Simply remove the chicken breast and add tofu, veggies or don’t replace with anything.
Feel free to add additional toppings to the risotto. Here’s some favorites:
- Stir the risotto frequently when adding the liquid. This will prevent it from burning.
- Add only ½ c liquid at once and do not add more until its absorbed. This is important for the overall consistency and to make a tender and creamy risotto.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I make a creamy risotto?
Use the correct type of rice (Arborio rice) and add liquid slowly. Do not add the liquid all at once!
What types of rice can you use?
Short grain will provide a creamier risotto; it absorbs less liquid because it has a higher starch content. I prefer to use Arborio rice! You can also use Carnaroli rice or Basmati Rice.
What makes this a healthy chicken risotto? First, it’s a good balance of grains, protein and fat. The rice provides grain, the chicken is a great protein source and the cheese/oil provide fat.
Add in spinach for an extra nutrient boost! It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Some studies show that consuming a diet high in potassium may help lower your blood pressure.
Looking for ways to make this healthier? Swap out the cheese with diced avocado- the avocado is a heart healthy fat source! Replace the butter with olive oil as another heart health fat.
To decrease the sodium content, use a salt-free chicken stock and do not add any extra salt.
How to Serve the Risotto
More Delicious Recipes
Healthy Chicken Rissoto
- 1 stove top
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves optional
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ medium white onion chopped
- 1.5 cup Arborio rice
- 5.5 cups low sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup parmesan cheese fresh
- ¾ pound chicken breast cooked and shredded
- Add the olive oil to a large sauce pan over medium heat. Allow it to warm. Meanwhile, chop the spinach leaves into small pieces. Add to the olive oil and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.
- In the same pan, add the butter, onion and garlic. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.
- Add the rice to the onion mixture. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Rice will be brown in color.
- Add 1 cup of stock and turn heat to medium. Stir constantly until absorbed.
- Continue to add 1 cup of stock, stir until absorbed and repeat. Important: do not add more liquid until it’s fully absorbed- this will be your rice tender and creamy.
- Once all liquid has been added and absorbed, add the parmesan cheese, shredded chicken and cooked spinach. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, serve warm. Enjoy!