Ah, Risotto, the northern Italian way to simmer rice and broth to a delicious, cream-like consistency. But is it gluten-free? That depends on what’s added to the broth.
Risotto begins with rice, which is naturally gluten-free but at a risk for cross-contact because it can be grown, produced, packaged and shipped near other gluten-containing grains. Next, the rice is added to a broth or sauce, which can be based from many different sources such as meat, seafood, vegetables, butter, and white wine, and often includes other additives for flavor, color, or consistency, which is where those with celiac disease are at an increased risk of being glutened. Think of Risotto as similar to soup, in that different flavorings or thickening agents added to the broth can often contain gluten.
Furthermore, the traditional way of cooking risotto does not involve pre-rinsing the rice in order to maintain the starchiness of the grain so that it can soak up additional flavor from the broth. For people with celiac disease, however, this traditional method increases the risk of cross-contact.
As always, consult with restaurant staff and management before ordering risotto when eating out. If eating at a gathering with family and friends, ask as many questions as you need to feel safe before eating, and if you can’t obtain the needed answers, feel no obligation to eat the risotto. For store-bought varieties, always look for the gluten-free label and call to ask about possible sources of cross-contact in the production process.