What is carnaroli rice

Carnaroli – The King of Italian Risotto Rice

What is Carnaroli rice, you ask? It is a medium-grained Italian rice, famously known for its use in risotto dishes.

Grown in the northern provinces of Pavia, Novara, and Vercelli, it boasts a higher starch content and firmer texture, as well as a longer grain compared to other types of rice, such as Arborio.

Known for its rich flavor and remarkable ability to absorb liquids while maintaining its shape, Carnaroli rice is often considered the “king of risotto” by many chefs and cooking enthusiasts.

As a central ingredient in Italian cuisine, Carnaroli rice carries a long-standing tradition that’s appreciated for its unique cooking characteristics and contributions to delectable dishes.

Appreciated by passionate home cooks and professionals alike, the use of Carnaroli rice in recipes allows for the creation and enjoyment of truly authentic Italian meals. For those who share the flavors and enthusiasm found on our blog, this rice cultivar effortlessly embodies the essence of genuine Italian food culture.

Key Takeaways

  • Carnaroli rice, the “king of risotto,” is a popular choice for creating authentic Italian dishes.
  • Its higher starch content and firmer texture make it ideal for absorbing liquids while maintaining its shape.
  • A staple in Italian cuisine, its versatile use is appreciated by chefs and home cooks alike.

Cooking With Carnaroli

Carnaroli rice, also known as the “king of rice,” has become increasingly popular in the world of Italian Cooking and Living due to its unique characteristics and versatility.

When it comes to making the perfect risotto, many chefs and home cooks alike turn to carnaroli rice as their preferred choice.

One reason carnaroli rice is so highly valued in Italian cuisine is its high starch content, which results in a creamier, more luxurious risotto.

It also has a firm texture that holds up well during cooking, ensuring that your risotto maintains a desirable “al dente” quality.

carnaroli rice

Best for Risotto

To cook carnaroli rice for risotto, start by picking a high-quality rice brand, which will make a significant difference in the outcome of your dish.

When preparing carnaroli rice, proceed similarly to how you would cook other rice varieties for risotto.

Begin by sautéing finely chopped onions or shallots in olive oil or butter until soft and translucent. Then, add the carnaroli rice to the pan, toasting it lightly to release its full flavor profile.

Once the rice is toasted, slowly add warm vegetable or chicken stock to the rice, one ladle at a time. Stir constantly, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of stock before adding more. This process will release the starch from the rice and create the creamy texture that is characteristic of a perfect risotto.

After about 15-20 minutes, the carnaroli rice should be cooked to a perfect “al dente” consistency, with a slightly firm bite but not undercooked.

At this point, you can add your choice of ingredients, such as sautéed mushrooms, roasted vegetables, or cooked seafood, to enhance the flavor and create a more substantial dish.

Finish your risotto by folding in grated Parmesan cheese and a small amount of butter. This final step adds another layer of richness to your dish and further enhances the creamy texture.

In conclusion, using carnaroli rice for risotto is an excellent choice for those looking to elevate their Italian cooking. Its high starch content and firm texture contribute to a luxurious and delectable risotto that can be enjoyed by all.

carnaroli rice for risotto
Carnaroli rice with seafood

Buying Tips

At Italian Cooking and Living, we understand that finding the perfect rice for your risotto can significantly impact your culinary experience. Introducing Carnaroli rice, a lesser-known yet exceptional option for creating delightful traditional Italian risottos.

Carnaroli rice is a short-grain Italian rice, widely regarded for its outstanding texture and ability to absorb flavors. It is preferred by many expert Italian cooks over Arborio rice, thanks to its better ability to maintain a creamy yet firm texture when cooked. For a truly authentic Italian risotto experience, we highly recommend giving Carnaroli rice a try.

When it comes to purchasing Carnaroli rice, you may not find it as easily in your local supermarket compared to the more popular Arborio rice. But fear not, as there are several avenues through which you can acquire this hidden gem.

Specialty Italian grocery stores often carry this Italian delight, but if you are unable to locate one nearby, do not worry. Online shopping has made it easier than ever to access exclusive food items like Carnaroli rice right at your fingertips.

Several well-known online retailers offer carnaroli rice and often provide an array of related products or even bundle options featuring different Italian rice varieties.

In wrap up this part, when you venture into the realm of Italian cooking, don’t hesitate to seek out Carnaroli rice for your risotto preparations.

Delve into the rich flavors and textures that this remarkable grain has to offer, and bring the essence of authentic Italian cuisine into your home.

We are always here to help you uncover the secrets of Italian culture and food, one delightful discovery at a time.

Comparing Rices

Carnaroli Vs Arborio

Carnaroli and Arborio rice are two main varieties of Italian rice used for making the famous Italian creamy dish called risotto.

We know that the right choice of rice can make or break a risotto dish. Carnaroli rice is known as the “king of Italian rice” for its characteristics, while Arborio rice is more widely known and commonly used.

Carnaroli rice is more elongated and elegant compared to Arborio rice, giving it a distinct look and feel. Its superior texture makes it less likely to become overcooked or mushy, which is ideal when making delicate and sophisticated risottos, such as those with white truffle or saffron.

On the other hand, Arborio rice, although less refined, is more consistent and easier to find in grocery stores.

The main difference between the two types comes down to their starch content. Carnaroli rice has a higher amount of amylopectin, which provides a creamier texture in the final dish.

Arborio rice, while still providing a creamy result, does not have the same level of starch and can result in a slightly looser dish.

Carnaroli Substitute

carnaroli rice vs arborio

If you are unable to find Carnaroli rice or simply prefer an alternative, there are a few great substitutes we can suggest from our experience at Italian Cooking and Living.

  • Arborio rice: This popular rice variety is the go-to alternative, as it is widely available and still provides the creamy quality desired in risotto dishes.
  • Vialone Nano rice: This short-grain rice is another Italian variety with similar characteristics to Carnaroli. It absorbs flavors well and maintains a firm texture throughout cooking, making it a good option for risotto.
  • Japanese sushi rice: Known for its sticky texture and short grains, sushi rice can also work in a pinch as a substitute in risotto recipes. It’s important to rinse the rice well to remove excess starch before cooking.
  • Bomba rice: Primarily used in Spanish paella dishes, bomba rice is another short-grain rice option that can hold up well to the slow-cooking process of risotto. It does not produce as creamy a texture as Carnaroli, but it will provide a satisfactory final result.

While each substitute has its unique characteristics and advantages, always keep in mind that the choice of rice will impact your risotto dish’s final texture and flavor.

These alternatives are here to support your experimentation in the kitchen and help bring the joy of Italian culture and food to your table.

Health Benefits

Carnaroli rice, while celebrated for its culinary excellence in Italian dishes, especially risotto, also brings a bouquet of health benefits to the table:

  1. Rich in Complex Carbohydrates: As a primary source of energy, the complex carbohydrates in Carnaroli rice provide sustained energy, making it a suitable choice for those leading active lifestyles.
  2. Low in Fat: Carnaroli rice is naturally low in fat, making it a heart-healthy choice for those mindful of their dietary fat intake.
  3. Source of Essential Minerals: This rice variety contains essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and selenium. These minerals play crucial roles in bone health, metabolic processes, and antioxidant defense mechanisms.
  4. Vitamin Rich: Carnaroli rice is a good source of B vitamins, particularly niacin (B3) and thiamine (B1). These vitamins are essential for energy production and cognitive function.
  5. Digestive Health: The dietary fiber in Carnaroli rice aids in digestion, promoting a healthy gut and preventing constipation.
  6. Gluten-Free: For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, Carnaroli rice offers a delicious and safe alternative to gluten-containing grains.
  7. Stabilizes Blood Sugar: The starch composition in Carnaroli rice has a slower absorption rate, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels, making it a better choice for individuals with diabetes compared to other refined grains.
  8. Antioxidant Properties: The outer bran layer of Carnaroli rice contains essential antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

Incorporating Carnaroli rice into your diet not only elevates your culinary experiences but also contributes to a balanced and healthful diet. As with all foods, moderation is key, and it’s essential to enjoy Carnaroli rice as part of a varied and balanced diet.


From its rich history in the heart of Italy to its esteemed position in kitchens worldwide, Carnaroli rice truly stands out as a culinary gem. Its unique texture, ability to absorb flavors, and versatility in dishes, especially risotto, make it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike.

As we’ve journeyed through the intricacies of this remarkable grain, one might come back to the initial question: “What is Carnaroli rice?” It’s not just a type of rice; it’s a testament to Italian culinary tradition, a blend of culture and flavor, and an embodiment of the passion that goes into creating authentic Italian dishes.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious food enthusiast, Carnaroli rice promises an unparalleled experience, bringing a slice of Italy to every plate.


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