Risotto al Salto (Crispy Rice Pancake)

Turn leftover risotto into this crispy, savory rice pancake.

Riso Giallo al Salto (Crispy Rice Pancake)

Greg Dupree / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
1 hrs
Soak Time:
4 hrs
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
10 hrs 15 mins
4 servings

As a Milanese, Laura Lazzaroni grew up on risotto giallo. Also known as Risotto alla Milanese, risotto giallo is a yellow risotto that gets its vibrant color as a result of the pigment released by saffron, the hero of the dish. Today, Lazzaroni prefers her risotto giallo made “al salto,” with day-old risotto fried in a pan to form a crunchy, salty, rice pancake. (“Salto” means jump, referring to the act of frying and flipping.) 

In this two-for-one recipe, you can make this saffron-stained, creamy yellow risotto that is perfectly delicious served all’onda (creamy and hot) — or prepare it al salto (fried) into crisp golden pancakes. Already have leftover risotto? Make sure you have it cooled and separated into two (2-cup) containers, and start the recipe at step 6. (Note that the cakes won’t have the golden color if the leftover risotto does not contain saffron)

Keep in mind three golden rules when making risotto al salto: Start with good risotto giallo, which means start with great saffron. Lazzaroni prefers saffron threads, but you can also use powdered saffron. Use a good pan — nonstick is key. And finally, you can eat risotto al salto by itself, but Lazzaroni suggests serving it topped with gremolata, a parsley and lemon mixture. It provides a fresh, zesty kick that perfectly complements the rich, fatty bite of the crisped risotto.



  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (about 40 threads)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for greasing 

  • 1 1/2 cups carnaroli rice

  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • Black pepper, to taste


  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup), plus additional parsley leaves, for garnish

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped (about 1 teaspoon)

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Make the risotto

  1. Submerge saffron threads in 1/2 cup water. Let soak at room temperature at least 4 hours.

  2. Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high; reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain a gentle simmer.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium. Stir in rice, and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, until rice is too hot to touch, 2 to 3 minutes. Add about 1 ladleful of broth (enough to cover rice) and water with saffron threads. Cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1 ladleful (about 1/2 cup) at a time, stirring constantly until broth is absorbed between additions, 12 to 15 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat, and let rest 1 minute. Vigorously beat in Parmesan cheese, butter, and salt using a wooden spoon until risotto takes on a creamy and glossy texture. Add additional broth to thin, if necessary; season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Let risotto cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Divide evenly between 2 (2-cup) containers. Cover and refrigerate until completely cold, at least 4 hours.

Make the risotto al salto

  1. Remove 1 container of risotto from refrigerator. (You want to use it while it’s still cold so the grains are more compact.) Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium. Add cold risotto, pressing and spreading using a spatula into a compact round disk (about 1/2 inch thick and 7 to 8 inches in diameter). Cook, undisturbed, until bottom releases easily from skillet and is golden and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

  2. Lightly grease a large heat-resistant plate or a flat lid with oil, and place over skillet. Carefully lift skillet, keeping the plate in position, and flip skillet to release rice pancake onto plate. Slide pancake from plate back into skillet, browned side up. Cook over medium, undisturbed, until bottom is golden and crunchy, about 10 minutes. Transfer cooked pancake to a plate, and set aside. Repeat with remaining container of risotto.

Make the gremolata

  1. Stir together parsley, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, and salt in a small bowl.

  2. To serve, sprinkle gremolata evenly over pancakes, and garnish with fresh parsley leaves. Serve pancakes hot with additional gremolata alongside.

To make ahead

Risotto can be prepared through step 5 up to 2 days in advance.

Suggested pairing

Citrusy, minerally Soave Classico: 2021 Inama Vin Soave

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