A favorite reborn: risotto with anchovies and capers

We turned a beloved pasta dish into a delicious risotto loaded with flavor and umami

We’ve had a secret fave pasta recipe for years. It’s secret because, even though we entertain a lot, we can envision friends and family turning their noses up at the ingredient list. (ANCHOVIES! GASP!)

It’s also an easy weeknight meal that we could imagine enjoying in a quaint Tuscan village: Capers and garlic, sauteed briefly with the aforementioned anchovies in olive oil, then served with fresh pasta and topped with Parmesan and toasted bread crumbs.

So yeah, that’s how we roll at SSS HQ on a Tuesday night. But it was time to switch it up, so we pondered how those flavors would translate to risotto.

Pretty darn terrifically, it turns out.

Risotto with capers and anchovies, garlic and parmesan.
Risotto with capers and anchovies

We did this in our Instant Pot, because the risotto turns out just as good without all the stirring. But the recipe below will include a non-Instapot method for those who prefer. Either way, you’ll start by sauteing the garlic briefly in a little butter and olive oil with the minced anchovies and any oil from the anchovy can. After a minute or so, you’ll toss the arborio rice in with the garlic mixture and stir for about 3 minutes until it’s toasted and coated in the fat. Then stir in the capers and some red pepper flakes.

Arborio rice toasting with garlic and capers in butter

Making Risotto with Anchovies and Capers

For the Instant Pot method, here’s where you stir in the wine and scrape the bottom to deglaze the pan until the wine is mostly cooked off. Then add the chicken broth, seal and cook on the Instant Pot’s Manual setting on high pressure for five minutes. If you’re doing the traditional risotto method, start stirring and adding the broth until it’s done, about 45 minutes or so.

Toasting breadcrumbs as a topping for risotto with anchovies and garlic

While the risotto is cooking, since you don’t have to stand there and stir constantly, you can toast some breadcrumbs. We just tear a hunk of bread into pieces and throw it in our blender or food processor. (We use a Magic Bullet, actually.) We’ve used spare English muffins, hot dog buns, whatever you have handy, and grind it into fine bread crumbs. Then toast it dry in a nonstick skillet under medium-low heat, stirring often, until it gets golden brown but before it burns. This is a great topping that gives a little toasty, crunchy texture to your risotto, pasta or other dishes.

After you’ve released the pressure on your risotto, or stirred it on the stovetop for a while, taste it to see if it’s soft and creamy. If it’s still a bit crunchy, stir on saute mode a bit longer, adding a little water if it’s too thick. Once it’s creamy and done, stir in the Parmesan, reserving a quarter cup to put atop your dish with the breadcrumbs and some capers.

Your hot bowl of risotto with anchovies and capers is great topped with toasted breadcrumbs, Parmesan and a few more capers, maybe even a drizzle of good olive oil.

And here’s the result. Maybe this will become your new favorite recipe that you don’t tell anyone about.


Risotto With Anchovies and Capers

Risotto with capers and anchovies, garlic and parmesan.

This is a recipe we adapted from a favorite pasta dish, loaded with garlic, capers and Parmesan cheese, with a backbone of minced anchovies that adds some salty umami goodness.

  • Author: Dave_Grimm
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian


1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 2-ounce can of anchovies packed in oil, minced with oil reserved

2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice

1/4 cup capers, drained, plus more for garnish

A pinch of red pepper flakes

1/2 cup white wine

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Salt and black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup breadcrumbs


Instant Pot version: 

Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add the olive oil and butter. When melted, add the minced garlic and saute until it is fragrant, 1 minute. Add the minced sardines and the reserved oil from the can and saute another 1 minute. 

Add the rice and stir to combine. Saute the rice, stirring often, until the grains are coated with butter/oil and lightly toasted, 3 minutes.

Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it and release the browned bits from the bottom of the pan; stir the mixture until the wine has been mostly absorbed, about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in the capers and red pepper flakes, then the broth, until the mixture is combined. Lock the lid onto the Instant Pot and set it on high pressure for 5 minutes. 

While the risotto is cooking, set a medium nonstick skillet on medium-low heat until it’s warm. Add the breadcrumbs and toast them, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Once the risotto’s time is up, release the pressure manually on the Instant Pot. Stir the risotto and assess it; if it’s too thick, stir in a quarter cup of water. If it’s still a bit crunchy, set the Instant Pot to saute and allow it to cook, stirring, until it’s done. 

Add the Parmesan and stir it in until it melts. Taste again and add salt, if needed, and pepper to taste. Serve in heated bowls with a tablespoon or so of the toasted breadcrumbs on each serving, along with some more grated Parmesan and a spoonful of capers. 

Traditional risotto method:

Instead of using the Instant Pot, follow the instructions above until it’s time to add the broth. Heat the broth in a separate pot and ladle it into the rice, roughly a quarter cup at a time, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is tender and creamy, about 40 minutes or so, then finish as described above.

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