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Riso al Forno (Baked Risotto)

Hailing from the Campania region of Italy, riso al forno (baked risotto) is a simple peasant dish of Italian baked rice, tomato sauce, and lots of cheese.
4.08 from 39 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 529kcal


  • Large pot
  • Large pot
  • Fine mesh sieve
  • 12x8 daking dish


  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese divided
  • 1 teaspoon neutral oil
  • 1 pound loose hot Italian sausage
  • 1 pound ground beef or use ground turkey or ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons butter plus more for greasing the casserole dish
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 15- ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar optional
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For serving:


Parboil the arborio rice:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rice and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under very cold water. Once the rice is cool to the touch, transfer it to a large bowl with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese and toss to coat. Set aside.

Brown the meat:

  • Add 1 teaspoon neutral oil to the second large pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the sausage and beef and use a wooden spoon to break them up as they cook—season with salt and pepper. Continue cooking for 12–15 minutes until the meat browns and is mostly cooked through. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook the sauce aromatics:

  • Melt the butter into the pot used to brown the meat. Once bubbly, add the onion and cook for 6–8 minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and thyme and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Simmer the sauce:

  • Add the tomato paste and mash it into the aromatics. Cook for 2 minutes until the paste deepens in color. Add the canned tomatoes and stir to incorporate. Add the sugar, if you like. Add the cooked meat to the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent it from sticking.

Assemble the rice:

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Grease a 12x8 baking dish with butter.
  • Add half of the parboiled arborio rice to the dish and use the back of your spoon to flatten it into an even layer. Next, ladle over half the sauce and spoon it into an even layer over the rice. Next, add half the shredded mozzarella cheese and half of the remaining grated parmesan. Add the remaining rice and then the sauce. Finish the casserole with the remaining mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese.

Bake the rice:

  • Transfer to the preheated oven for 25–35 minutes. Check the rice at 25 minutes and continue baking until tender.

Broil the rice (optional):

  • Once the rice is tender, drizzle with 1–2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and transfer to the broiler for 1–2 minutes until the cheese bubbles and turns deep golden brown.

To serve:

  • Allow the riso al forno to set out at room temperature for 5–10 minutes. Garnish with parsley, basil, or chili oil if you like. Enjoy!


Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 32g | Sodium: 597mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 2mg
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