Loaded with autumn flavors, this cozy Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto is a delicious entrée or side. This easy rice dish is family friendly.
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, optional (see note 1)
- 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, finely diced (or 2 medium shallots)
- 3 cups finely diced (1/4-inch dice) butternut squash (or other winter squash)
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1+1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon dried sage or rosemary
- 1+1/2 cups Arborio rice (see note 2)
- 4-5 cups vegetable broth (see note 3)
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (see note 4)
- 1/2 cup vegan parmesan cheese*, optional (see note 5)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- NOTE: I recommend using a wide heavy bottomed pot to ensure your butternut risotto cooks evenly. I like to cook with my All Clad Nonstick pot but any good quality pot you feel comfortable with will work. If cooking oil-free, it is imperative to use a nonstick pot.
- Sauté Onion: Heat your large nonstick pot over medium heat and add the olive oil (if you wish). Let the oil heat for a few moments and then add the onion. Sauté for 2–3 minutes until it softens slightly. (If cooking without oil, simply add a tablespoon or two of water and stir if things start to stick.)
- Heat Broth: In a separate pot over low heat, add the broth. It's better to add hot broth to the risotto so it doesn't hinder the cooking process (if you add cold or room temperature broth, the rice will take MUCH longer to cook because you’ll be cooling it down every time you add broth). Cover the pot so the broth doesn’t evaporate too much!). If you don’t want to deal with two pans, you can place the broth in a large microwave safe cup and heat it every time you need to add the broth to the pan, but I think this method is actually more work.
- Add Squash: Add the finely diced butternut squash and cook for about 5–7 minutes until the butternut slightly softens, stirring occasionally.
- Sauté Garlic and Toast Rice: Add the garlic and stir well, then add the thyme and sage (or rosemary) as well as the rice. Stir frequently for about 1 minute. This toasts the rice and adds flavor.
- Cook the Risotto: Add broth about a half cup at a time (I recommend using a ladle for this), and stir continuously, letting all the broth sink in for about 2–4 minutes before adding more. Repeat this process for about 20-25 minutes until the squash is fully tender and the rice is soft enough to eat, but still somewhat al dente—or a little chewy (in a pleasant way. If it is unpleasant, cook a bit longer). Babysitting the pot is key to a super creamy and delicious butternut squash risotto.
- Taste: Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve: Turn off the heat and add the vegan parmesan cheese (if using), lemon juice, and parsley. Stir well and serve.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a pan with a little vegan butter or olive oil for best results (microwave is OK too). Freeze if desired in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months.
- Note 1: Feel free to use vegan butter, another oil, or cook oil-free. To cook oil-free in this recipe, use a large nonstick pot and add a splash of water or broth whenever the veggies start to stick during the sautéing process. I’d make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan whenever you stir it during the risotto cooking process and stir a bit more often than indicated. I usually have no problem cooking vegan risotto without oil.
- Note 2: Other types of rice will not work, so you must use arborio rice, vialone nano, or carnaroli to get a delicious creamy vegan butternut squash risotto. Otherwise you will just have butternut squash rice, and not creamy risotto.
- Note 3: I normally cook with low sodium vegetable broth. You could substitute a more flavorful broth like Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base or Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed with hot water if you like! Use less to no salt if you use this option (to taste).
- Note 4: This really brightens up the flavors at the end. Add to your personal tastes. Use fresh squeezed if possible. A good substitute is white wine vinegar (start with a tablespoon and add more if you’d like).
- Note 5: This adds so much flavor at the end and feels very fancy. But if you can’t find it, this recipe will still be absolutely delicious. You can add a little nutritional yeast, or if you want to make my 2 minute vegan parmesan topping, that would also be a lovely addition (start with 2 tablespoons, mix, and taste).
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Risotto, Dinner
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: American, Italian
Keywords: Vegan risotto, butternut squash recipes