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Paella vs Risotto What is the Difference And Who Wins

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Our full recipe guide Paella vs Risotto who wins and the differences, two of the most popular dishes in Spain and Italy.

Paella and Risotto are both iconic dishes in their respective cuisines—Spanish and Italian. While they both center around rice, they are quite distinct in their preparation, ingredients, and culinary techniques.

Here’s a breakdown of each dish, highlighting their differences along with recipe guides for both.


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Paella vs Risotto


Paella vs Risotto What is the Difference And Who Wins, How to Make Paella - An Authentic Spanish Paella (Recipe Guide)

Origin: Valencia, Spain

Rice Type: Short-grain rice, typically Bomba or Calasparra, which absorbs liquid well but maintains some firmness.

Cooking Method

Cooked in a wide, shallow pan called a “paella.” The rice is usually not stirred once it has begun to cook, allowing the bottom to caramelize and form the coveted “socarrat.”

Ingredients and Flavors

Commonly includes a variety of meats like chicken, rabbit, and seafood such as shrimp and mussels.
Characterized by the use of saffron and sometimes paprika, giving it a vibrant yellow color and a rich flavor.
Often cooked with vegetables like bell peppers, peas, and tomatoes.

Recipe Guide

Heat olive oil in a paella pan, and sauté meat until browned. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, cook onions, garlic, and bell peppers. Add tomatoes and cook down. Return the meat to the pan, add rice and stir to coat with the pan mixture.

Add hot broth (usually chicken or seafood) seasoned with saffron, spreading the rice and ingredients in an even layer. Arrange seafood on top, and cook without stirring until the rice is al dente and the liquid has been absorbed. Let sit for a few minutes before serving to develop the socarrat.

Read here how to make Paella


Paella vs Risotto What is the Difference And Who Wins

Origin: Northern Italy

Rice Type: Short-grain rice, typically Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano, known for its high starch content which lends creaminess to the dish.

Cooking Method

Cooked in a deep pan or a pot. Involves adding warm broth gradually and constantly stirring to release the rice’s starch, resulting in a creamy consistency.

Ingredients and Flavors

Often starts with a soffritto of onions cooked in butter or olive oil. Wine is typically added to the rice at the beginning of cooking. Primary flavors come from ingredients like mushrooms, seafood, or saffron. Finished with butter and Parmesan cheese for richness.

Paella vs Risotto What is the Difference And Who Wins, How to Make Rissoto – An Authentic Rissoto (Recipe Guide)

Recipe Guide

Sauté onions in butter until translucent in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the rice, stirring to coat with butter. Pour in white wine and simmer until evaporated. Gradually add warm broth, stirring constantly, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid slowly.

Continue to add broth and stir until the rice is creamy and al dente. Stir in additional butter and Parmesan cheese before serving immediately.

Read here how to make Risotto

Differences Between Paella and Risotto


Paella rice is left to cook untouched to develop a crust at the bottom; Risotto requires constant stirring to achieve creaminess.


Paella is drier and can be eaten with a fork; Risotto is creamier and often requires a spoon.


Paella uses saffron as a dominant spice, while Risotto is more about the natural flavors of the broth and added ingredients, enhanced with cheese and butter.

Calorie Comparison

Paella: Depending on the ingredients (especially if using a lot of seafood and lean meats), a serving could range from 300-500 calories.

Risotto: Typically higher in calories due to the use of butter and Parmesan cheese, averaging between 350-600 calories per serving.

Who Wins Paella Vs Risotto

Well for us Spanish Paella is one of our favorite dishes and it’s tough to beat it, we eat paella almost every month!

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