Butternut Squash Risotto

5 from 9 votes
↓ Jump to Recipe 5

This post may contain affiliate links | disclosure policy

Delicious butternut squash risotto with tender grains of arborio rice suspended in a creamy white wine-infused sauce. For this recipe, I add small pieces of bright orange squash for a hint of sweetness that I think you’ll enjoy!

For more winter squash recipes, try my butternut squash soup, roasted butternut squash, and butternut squash tacos.

Bowl of butternut squash risotto topped with parmesan cheese.

This butternut squash risotto recipe incorporates this winter vegetable to add a nutty butterscotch flavor to the savory rice. The great debate is whether risotto should be eaten as a side dish or entree. Grains are often regarded as an accompaniment to a protein, but on Italian restaurant menus, risotto shines on its own.

Risotto demands your physical presence and awareness, unlike ordinary boiling and simmering methods for cooking rice. You must watch its progress like a helicopter parent caring for their newborn child. Making this dish is therapeutic because you’re fully engaged in the sounds, smells, and tastes. Daily life stress floats away.

“This recipe was easy and so delicious, enjoyed by family of 4. I Have made risotto a couple times but the caramelized sweet flavor from the sautéed butternut squash was awesome!”—Paulette

Recipe ingredients

  • Stock: Use unsalted vegetable stock to control the salt level in the recipe. If using salted stock, wait to add salt until the end of making the risotto.
  • Squash: Purchase about a 1 ½ pound butternut squash. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes; this makes it easy to saute and tenderize.
  • Rice: A traditional risotto uses Italian arborio rice. It’s short-grain and high in starch content, yielding a creamy texture. Do not rinse before cooking!
  • Fat: Use butter to saute the squash for better browning. Add extra virgin olive oil to flavor and toast the rice.
  • Aromatics: Freshly minced garlic and diced yellow onions add an earthy flavor and natural sweetness to the dish.
  • Wine: Select a dry white wine like pinot grigio, cabernet sauvignon, or chardonnay. This oaky, fermented wine adds dimension to the rice.
  • Cheese: Freshly grated parmesan cheese melts well into the dish, adding a nutty and savory flavor.
  • Herbs: Right before serving, sprinkle on some chopped parsley for a pop of color.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Warm the stock

Step 1: Vegetable stock or broth adds more flavor to rice grains than water. Heat the stock in a separate pan until warm. A hot stock allows for faster absorption, which reduces the cooking time. A constant temperature helps the grains tenderize, and the starches swell for a creamy risotto.

Cook the butternut squash

Cubes of butternut squash cooking in a large pot.

Step 2: Learning how to cut butternut squash may seem challenging, but it’s pretty easy! Remove the peel and slice into 1/2-inch diced pieces. Add the squash to the melted butter to lightly brown the surface and intensify the sweetness. The starches from the squash will help thicken and make the dish creamier.

Chef’s Tip: Another option is to cook butternut squash in the oven separately, then stir it in at the end of cooking.

Cook the aromatics

Cooking cubes of butternut squash in a blue dutch oven.

Step 3: Add olive oil to the pan once the squash has softened, then saute the diced onions and garlic. The process takes about 3 minutes for the alliums to mellow, the sulfur notes, and the onions to become translucent.

Toast the rice

Rice grains and cubes of butternut squash sauteing in a large pan.

Step 4: When I learned how to make risotto in culinary school, they taught a simple technique to bump up the flavor of the plain rice. Briefly saute the raw rice in the garlic and onion-infused oil. The goal is to lightly toast the grains to add a nutty flavor. I’ve found that this elevates the taste of this butternut squash recipe.

Reduce the wine

Step 5: Any dry white wine can be used. I prefer chardonnay for its buttery and oaky flavor. The acidity from the natural malic and tartaric acids from the fermented grape juice balances the sweetness of the squash and savory ingredients.

Add the wine, then stir and simmer until it nearly evaporates. Even though the liquid is not there, the flavor will remain!

Cook the rice

Pouring vegetable stock liquid into a dutch oven with rice and butternut squash.
spoon mixing butternut squash risotto in a large pot

Step 6: This step should not be rushed! It gradually adds broth or stock to achieve separate tender grains suspended in a creamy sauce. Add the warmed stock a ½ cup at a time. Cook over medium heat and stir the risotto; this allows the rice to absorb the liquid gradually.

Continue to add more stock until nearly 8 cups is absorbed. Constantly stir the rice to release the starches. This thickens the cooking liquid and keeps the granules separate. The process takes about 30 minutes for the dish to become thick and creamy.

Add the cheese

Freshly grated parmesan cheese added to a pot of risotto.

Step 7: Turn off the heat, then add the cheese. Stirring in freshly grated aged Parmesan cheese locks all of the grains together in a cheesy union.

Serve the risotto

Step 8: Right before serving, I like to sprinkle the risotto with chopped parsley leaves and freshly ground black pepper. A piping hot bowl must be enjoyed immediately! The butternut squash adds a festive fall and winter taste, perfect for highlighting this seasonal ingredient.

Flavor variations

  • Stock: Vegetable broth, chicken stock, or turkey stock can be used to make the risotto. The broth will yield a lighter color and flavor in the dish.
  • Wine: If you want a hint of red wine, add rosé. Try a more acidic Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc for a crisp white wine. Wine substitutes can be white grape juice or stock with 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar.
  • Squash: You can saute or roast other types of squash, like pumpkin, kabocha, acorn, or delicata. Sweet potatoes are also good substitutes.
  • Cheese: Instead of parmesan, add pecorino romano or parmigiana reggiano.
  • Herbs: For a stronger herbaceous note, add fresh sage, tarragon, thyme, or chives.

Serving suggestion

Frequently asked questions

How do you know when the risotto is ready?

With the significant volume of liquid you’re tasked to incorporate, it seems like magic that the tiny riso, or rice, could absorb it all. Then, finally, it happens: when you think you can’t stir a moment longer, the rice becomes tender yet slightly chewy, and suspended is a luscious sauce. Bellissimo! Dedicate at least 30 minutes to the stirring process.

What can I substitute for white wine?

Grape juice can be substituted for wine, but the dish will have a sweeter residual flavor. Add ½ cup of vegetable stock or broth plus 1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or champagne vinegar.

What wine goes best with butternut squash risotto?

The creamy and savory risotto pairs well with champagne, prosecco, cava, or rosé. The crispness of the drink complements the rich consistency of the rice dish.

Bowl of butternut squash risotto garnished with cheese and parsley on top.

Do not rinse arborio rice before cooking

The naturally occurring starches on the outside of the rice grain add richness to the risotto. It provides thickening properties when heated with a liquid and stirred over time. It adds a punch of creaminess to the texture of the dish.

Butternut Squash Risotto

An Italian fall side dish or entree, butternut squash risotto is made with tender grains of arborio rice suspended in a creamy white wine infused sauce.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • 8 cups unsalted vegetable stock
  • 3 cups butternut squash, ½" dice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion, 1⁄4" dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1⁄2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Warm Stock – In a large saucepan, add the vegetable stock and heat over medium-low heat until warmed.
  • Cook Squash – Separately in a Dutch oven or a large sauté pan with high sides, melt the butter over medium heat. Add butternut squash and salt, and saute until lightly browned and softened, about 6 minutes.
  • Cook Aromatics – Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Toast Rice – Add arborio rice and stir until the grains are coated with oil. Cook until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
  • Reduce Wine – Add the wine to the pan, stirring until the wine has evaporated.
  • Cook Rice – Add the warmed stock from the large saucepan to the Dutch oven, 1⁄2 cup at a time, stirring frequently, until the liquid has been almost entirely absorbed by the rice.
    Repeat adding the stock in 1⁄2-cup additions as the liquid is absorbed, frequently stirring, until rice is tender yet slightly chewy, about 25 to 35 minutes. The desired result is an oatmeal-like consistency that's loose and not a big clump of rice.
  • Add Cheese – Turn off the heat and stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • To Serve – Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and parsley.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 8 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Squash Size: Purchase about a 1 1/2-pound butternut squash
  • Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Freeze in a resealable bag for up to 3 months, and defrost before using.
  • Reheating: If not served right away, the rice will continue to absorb the liquid and thicken further. Add warm stock as needed right before serving to loosen the consistency. Stir over medium heat until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 8 servings
Calories 339kcal (17%)Carbohydrates 51g (17%)Protein 8g (16%)Fat 8g (12%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Cholesterol 12mg (4%)Sodium 1290mg (54%)Potassium 284mg (8%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 6225IU (125%)Vitamin C 12.5mg (15%)Calcium 182mg (18%)Iron 2.7mg (15%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

Tried this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram. I'd love to see how it turns out!

Tag @jessica_gavin

Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

Quick & Easy Meals in Under 30 Minutes!
Get 25 simple meals your whole family will love.
Jessica Gavin standing in the kitchen

You May Also Like

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




5 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Cynthia says

    I have had zero luck with making risotto. I hope I can pull this one off. Is there a favorite brand of arborio rice you use?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I know you can! I don’t have a specific brand, the ones from Italy are a bit more expensive but I have used some from the states and they work well in recipes too. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Paulette Smyte says

    This recipe was easy and so delicious, enjoyed by family of 4. I Have made risotto a couple times but the caramelized sweet flavor from the sautéed butternut squash was awesome! Substituted veggie broth for the chicken. Thank you for a recipe I will make often this winter.

  3. Alba says

    This was delicious!! Thank you! Everyone loved it and I love your recipes so easy to follow and not a long list of unusual items!