When you want comfort but you don’t want to overdo it and still feel like you’re eating somewhat virtuously, that’s when you put together this straightforward risotto and top it with some pretty prawns, or shrimp. You’ve got richness and healthiness all in a single dish. And while there’s enough flavor to satisfy adults at the table, chances are kids will be fine with the rice beneath. (You may want to omit those green flecks of parsley if you have picky eaters at the table.)–Renee Schettler

Do I really have to stir risotto constantly?

No. Frequently, yes. But not constantly. We suggest staying in the kitchen during the entire cooking time so you can keep an eye on the pot and stir it to evenly cook the rice and also to ensure the rice in contact with the bottom of the pan doesn’t scorch. Those of you in search of using risotto stirring as an excuse for not working out, be certain to switch arms halfway through the cooking time.

A white bowl of citrus risotto and garlic-chile prawns on a white plate with a fork on the side.

Citrus Risotto with Garlic-Chile Prawns

5 / 4 votes
This citrus risotto with garlic-chile prawns is made with lemon and sautéed shrimp for a healthy dish that’s still quite rich and satisfying.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories614 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes


  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (1 3/4 ounces) butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • Zest from 1 lemon, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 small red chiles
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 20 large or extra-large prawns, (shrimp), shelled with tails intact, and deveined
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Lemon wedges


  • In a large saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Reduce the heat and keep it at a simmer.
  • Place another large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the oil, the onion, salt, and half the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the rice is well coated.
  • Gradually add the simmering stock to the rice, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and making sure the stock is absorbed before you add more. This should take 20 minutes total and the rice should be al dente and creamy. 
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the remaining butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and pepper to taste. Cover and let sit for 3 minutes for the flavors to develop.
  • Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle, pound the chile and garlic. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Season the prawns with salt and pepper. Cook, shaking the pan, until the prawns are just opaque, about 2 minutes. Then add the chile and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir the risotto and divide it among 4 bowls. Toss the prawns with the parsley and then place on the risotto. Serve with lemon wedges.
Bills Open Kitchen by Bill Granger

Adapted From

Bills Open Kitchen

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 614 kcalCarbohydrates: 79 gProtein: 16 gFat: 26 gSaturated Fat: 9 gMonounsaturated Fat: 13 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 47 mgSodium: 1110 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 8 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2005 Bill Granger. Photo © 2005 Petrina Tinslay. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

The shrimp are wonderfully seasoned with a bit of heat and garlic that goes so well with the creamy lemony risotto. A match to remember. I used my homemade stock which I keep tightly bagged in my freezer for such an occasion. The zest of a whole lemon along with a tablespoon of lemon juice permeate the risotto to form a creamy, wonderful, base for the shrimp.

You don’t really think of risotto as a summer dish, but this was so light, bright, and refreshing. It was the perfect summer meal. My husband couldn’t wrap his head around risotto without cheese, but this dish was perfectly creamy without it. I can see myself making this as a side for so many seafood and non-seafood meals.

I used gypsy peppers. My supermarket rarely has fresh red chiles, and I had gypsy’s growing. They weren’t nearly spicy enough.

Simple, easy, and elegant. This recipe is so darn easy that I made it on a weeknight, but I wouldn’t hesitate to serve it to guests.

I’ve made many risottos, but I will say this recipe is a great reminder that the best ones are often made with just a few good quality ingredients.

Risotto is one of my favorite things to make, but I’ve never made it with lemon. The lemon juice and zest in this recipe add depth of flavor to the risotto. The scent of the zest is very nice, too. It’s a really creamy risotto with a fresh citrus flavor.

The shrimp had the perfect amount of heat and garlic for me. My husband thought it could stand a bit more, even though he loved the dish. Great combination of spice in the shrimp with the citrus flavor in the risotto.

The citrus risotto with garlic-chile prawns recipe is easy to follow and ingredients are easy to find although I could only find curly parsley. It made 4 servings with leftover risotto for lunch today can’t wait!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

5 from 4 votes (1 rating without comment)

Leave a comment

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

Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    What a great dinner. Made the citrus risotto for my husband and we both loved it. Next time probably cut back on the salt content a little. Definitely a keeper!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious, a nice change from the normal risotto recipes. I liked the tanginess of the lemon and I used sriracha instead of chilies but it was still nice and spicy. Will definitely make again.

    1. Sounds excellent, Sandra. I love your substitutions. And I’m delighted you’ll be making it again.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was surprisingly yummy. I am not a risotto person, but I really enjoyed this dish a lot! I boiled the prawn shells with the chicken stock, so the stock had a sweeter, more fragrant taste. The dish had a very interesting flavor. The light citrus taste combined with the spiciness of the prawns made it very appetitizing.