Red Chilli Pesto Risotto (Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante)

A rich, creamy and somewhat spicy risotto, perfect for cooler months. So easy to make!

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Red Chilli Pesto Risotto
Red Chilli Pesto Risotto

I simply adore this Red Chilli Pesto Risotto! It really is the simplest thing ever. And absolutely delicious, with its rich, spicy and creamy flavours. It’s perfect as a main or a starter. As you can see in the images here, I’ve topped it with some mozzarella balls and balsamic vinegar pearls, which add a sophisticated look to the dish.

Both are optional. But the mozzarella adds a touch of cream and the balsamic pearls, a tangy sweetness.

Pesto Love

If you’ve been following me a while, you’ll know that I love my pesto, both the green Pesto Genovese, as well as the red Pesto Rosso, preferably Pesto Rosso Picante (spicy). I use pesto in so many different ways, as an ingredient, as a condiment, as a topping, and so much more; as you can see below:

Red Chilli Pesto Omelette
A quick and easy pesto omelette using red chilli pesto and marinated vegetables; a delicious pantry recipe, perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!
Get the Recipe!
Red Chilli Pesto Omelette
Pesto Halloumi – Canapé
This Pesto Halloumi is a super quick canapé recipe this summer that's sure to impress your guests! Lightly fry the halloumi and top with pesto – too easy!
Get the Recipe!
Pesto Panna Cotta – a savoury take on a Sweet Classic
Pesto Panna Cotta, a savoury take on a sweet classic, served as a starter or as an amuse-bouche.
Get the Recipe!
Pesto panna cotta

And, as you’ll see on the Risotto Masterclass page, we’ve already got a risotto recipe with basil pesto. So doing a Red Chilli Pesto Risotto was almost a foregone conclusion. It was just a matter of when.

And the best part? It’s so, so easy to do! Whether you use a homemade red chilli pesto or shop bought pesto rosso (red pesto), is completely up to you. If your shop bought red pesto isn’t spicy, just chop up some fresh chillies and add to the risotto with the pesto. Or use chilli flakes.

Red Risotto dotted with balsamic, fine dining risotto
Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante

Red Chilli Pesto Risotto Recipe

You know my recipes and posts are always broken down into a lengthy description of the method and ingredients. But not today, because we are essentially combining 2 recipes to make one.

This is how we do it:

  1. Start with making a basic white risotto (see below)
  2. Add the red chilli pesto in
  3. Finish off with some mozzarella balls, if you like

Basic Risotto

Risotto dark picture. White risotto on dark blue plate on dark blue background
Basic Risotto

Now, as always with our risotto recipes, before we go any further, I suggest you head on over to the Basic Risotto article here on LinsFood. It’s full of everything you need, to master the art of cooking risotto.

On the basic risotto post, we talk about:

  • the history of risotto
  • risotto rice
  • risotto stock
  • risotto science (!)
  • fat for risotto
  • stirring or no stirring
  • mantecatura – the art of creaming with the addition of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese), how we finish cooking risotto

In other words, everything you ever wanted to know about risotto. But were too afraid to ask!

Red Chilli Pesto Risotto
As a starter. Why settle for boring plates when you can serve it in champagne saucers?

Red Chilli Pesto

Red Chilli Pesto is one of those must have staples for me. Like your regular pesto, it is such a versatile ingredient, and can be used in so many different ways.

Here in the UK, you can buy chilli pesto or pesto rosso (red pesto) pretty easily, sitting next to your regular old pesto, but, what do I always say? Yep, nothing beats homemade! You can make it as spicy or as mild as you want it to be!

I know that red pesto isn’t as well known in the US or Asia as it is in Europe. So head on over to our Red Chilli Pesto page, for the 10-minute recipe. Make it up and either use all of it as this recipe calls for, or if you are making half the amount, keep the rest to have with pasta anytime in the next week or so.

Or have it with some potatoes. Or use it as a salad dressing. Did I say versatile?

Red Chilli Pesto
Red Chilli Pesto

Risotto 101

If you are new to cooking risotto, or just want to improve your technique, head on over to the Basic Risotto page for a complete Risotto 101!

In fact, I suggest you do anyway, you’ll be amazed at what you may pick up. Because while extremely easy, risotto cooking is still an art. An art that is far too often mutilated in these days of quick and easy.

Why settle for mediocrity? 

Also, don’t forget to check out the recipe for Red Chilli Pesto. So easy, and so, so versatile. You’ll be hooked from the word go, and I bet you this: you’ll be making it again and again with your own variation! 5 bucks say you do! 

Risotto amuse-bouche
Red Chilli Pesto Risotto as amuse-bouche

Final word on our Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante Recipe

When cooking risotto, we finish with mantecatura, the process of creaming your risotto with fat (butter or olive oil) and cheese (not with seafood). Head on over to the Basic Risotto Post to read up on this and to understand it.

With today’s recipe, I opted to finish it with just olive oil, because the red chilli pesto is rich enough and we don’t really need any parmesan. Especially if you are serving it with some mozzarella balls. If you can’t get balls, just drop pinches of mozzarella for a rustic look. Or skip it altogether!

Shall we get our aprons on?

More Risotto Recipes

If you fancy more risotti, head on over to the Risotto Masterclass page, for treasures like:

Pumpkin Risotto (Risotto alla Zucca)
Deliciously easy pumpkin risotto recipe, cooked in 20 minutes, and taken up a notch with a spicy, balsamic pumpkin topping.
Get the Recipe!
yellow risotto on grey plate
Asparagus Risotto Recipe (with British Asparagus)
A quick, easy and delicious asparagus risotto recipe that’s just slightly different as we add some freshly puréed asparagus at the end of our cooking time. Get the very flavours of spring on your plate!
Get the Recipe!
Asparagus Risotto
Lemon Risotto (Risotto al Limone)
Lemon Risotto or Risotto al Limone is a simple risotto with a light, delicate flavour with the citrus juice and zest taking centerstage, without ever overpowering.
Get the Recipe!
white risotto on pink plate dark background

If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! Thank you!

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Red Risotto dotted with balsamic, fine dining risotto

Red Chilli Pesto Risotto (Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante)

Red Chilli Pesto Risotto recipe. A rich, creamy and somewhat spicy risotto, perfect for cooler months. So easy to make!
5 from 37 votes
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Course: Starter or Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: italian, risotto, spicy
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Servings: 6 (Serves 6 as a starter and 4 as a main)
Calories: 426kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor


  • 400 g carnaroli rice (or any risotto rice you can get)
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock or chicken
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 Tbsp salted butter
  • 2 Tbsp EV olive oil
  • 125 ml dry white wine skip if you don't do alcohol
  • 250 g 1 cup roughly red chilli pesto
  • salt if needed
  • freshly ground black pepper

For finishing

  • 1 Tbsp EV olive oil

For garnishing

  • red chilli flakes
  • small mozzarella balls about 3 per person – optional
  • balsamic pearls about 1/2 tsp per person – optional


  • Place your stock, or water plus stockpots on high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat down and leave it to simmer happily.
  • While waiting for the stock, chop the onion up finely.
  • Heat the butter and olive oil on low heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes, stirring. If your onions start to brown, lower the heat more or use a smaller hob.
  • Add the rice and coat with all that fat, stirring well. Toast the rice for 3 more minutes, until the edges turn translucent.
  • Increase the heat to medium and pour in the wine, stir, and leave to evaporate, stirring a little. Skip this step, if you don’t do alcohol.
  • Add 1 cup of the simmering stock and stir gently. You can take a break, it doesn’t need to be round and round constantly, just regular stirring while the stock evaporates.
  • When the stock has evaporated, add half a cup more of the stock, stir, and repeat this process for 13 minutes. Yes, watch the clock or put your kitchen timer on.
  • Check the rice at the 13 minute mark. It should be just about done, depending on your rice, and the heat. Is it cooked – soft on the outside with just a bite in the middle? Is the risotto looking creamy, like a thick version of rice pudding? If it is, it's done. If it's not, add 1/4 cup stock, and stir. When that stock has been absorbed, check again. You shouldn't really need to cook more than 15-17 minutes.
  • When the rice is done, stir in the red chilli pesto and some freshly ground black pepper, and heat through for 30 seconds if at room temperature. If your pesto rosso was in the fridge, give it a full minute.
  • Check seasoning, and add salt if you think it needs it.
  • Turn the heat off, take the pan off the hot hob, and stir in the 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Leave to rest for 2 minutes.
  • Dish up onto plates, sprinkle with some red chilli flakes and garnish the top of your risotto with mozzarella balls and balsamic pearls, if using. Serve immediately.


Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 420mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 387IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 3mg
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25 thoughts on “Red Chilli Pesto Risotto (Risotto al Pesto Rosso Picante)”

  1. Jennifer Prince

    Kudos to you for making risotto! I LOVE it, but it seems to be so time-consuming to make that I save it for eating out. Ha! This flavor combo sounds divine.

  2. This looks delicious. Risotto is such a warm and filling meal, I’ve never tried cooking it with pesto! I find pesto such an easy way to make meals taste nice so will definitely be trying this out.

  3. Amazing post! I have added it to my favourites. I will make risotto one day, it looks sooo tasty!

  4. Aiai Damigo

    My first time to taste risotto was in the Hell’s Kitchen of Gordon Ramsay in Las Vegas. It was so yummy!. Maybe we will try making this recipe soon!

  5. blair villanueva

    This seems coincidence coz my Mom just suddenly messaged me about any risotto recipe. This is heaven-sent! Can I share this to her?

  6. I’ve been thinking of ways to use the balsamic vinegar pearls I bought last month and using it as a garnish on risotto starter or amuse bouche looks beautiful. I will try this soon!

  7. Yummmmm Red Chilli Pesto Risotto sounds pretty tasty. I don’t know how to cook things but I’d love the recipe with the lady cooks for me.

  8. Nina Nichols

    Not a big fan of red chilli Pesto Risotto but the pictures look so delish! I might just try the recipe coz it looks so yummy!

  9. Paolo Antonioni

    Why settle for mediocrity – exactly! I love the idea of a spicy red pesto risotto, Azlin. I am Italian, born and bred, but have never come across this combination. So hat off to you, Chef! On my list to make asap! I love your basic post, by the way, my mother will kill me if I use the pressure cooker for risotto!

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