This creamy pumpkin risotto needs only 6 main ingredients, and is ready in 40 minutes! Arborio rice turns into creamy risotto with pumpkin purée and parmesan cheese. It makes a great fall dinner or side dish, and can be made vegetarian or vegan with a simple swap.
Pumpkin is a fall favorite ingredient and works with sweet and savory dishes. Pumpkin and parmesan go great together in this seasonal pumpkin risotto. For more savory pumpkin recipes, try Pumpkin Pasta Sauce. For dessert, you'll love these ultimate Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!
Dana’s note: When it's fall and winter, I crave warm, comforting food. One of my favorites is this pumpkin risotto. I feel gourmet when I make it, but it's not hard to make as long as you can stay by the stove for 25 minutes. This is no second-rate "eat from the pantry" meal. This is a satisfying, luscious meal. I adapted this recipe from Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan's basic risotto in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I also got a few tips from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.
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Why You'll Love This Recipe
- A great pumpkin dish to enjoy when fall pumpkin-mania strikes you.
- Can be made with pantry ingredients.
- A delicious vegan or vegetarian main course.
- Works as a side dish too.
What’s the Best Rice for Risotto
The type of rice definitely matters when making risotto!
Use a short grain rice like arborio or carnaroli. These short grain rice varieties are starchy and able to absorb a lot of liquid, yielding a creamy texture when cooked.
Other rice varieties will not yield the same results and are not recommended for risotto.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
See the recipe card below for a complete ingredient list and measurements.Jump to Recipe
- Broth - I usually use chicken broth. To make this dish vegan or vegetarian, use vegetable broth or vegetarian no-chicken broth.
- Onion - Can substitute with shallot.
- Risotto rice - You will need arborio or carnaroli rice. These are specific types of short-grain rice that are used to make risotto. Do not substitute with regular rice - the recipe won’t be creamy.
- Sherry cooking wine or dry white wine - Can omit if needed.
- Pumpkin purée - Use canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin purée from fresh pumpkin. Butternut squash purée also makes a great variation.
- Cheese - Can use parmesan cheese or pecorino romano. If you'd like the dish to be vegetarian or vegan, be sure to get vegetarian safe or vegan cheese, as parmigiano reggiano often contains rennet, an animal product.
- Optional ingredients - Add additions to this dish like peas, asparagus, or cooked chicken. Top with fried sage leaves or fresh parsley.
- Make it vegetarian - This pumpkin risotto makes a great vegetarian entrée. Use vegetable broth and vegetarian safe parmesan cheese.
- Make it vegan - Use vegetable broth or vegetarian no-chicken broth and vegan “parmesan cheese”.
- One pot meal - Add chopped chicken, cooked mushrooms, or a green vegetable like peas or asparagus to make this a complete meal.
- Extra creamy - Add a scoop of mascarpone cheese at the end of cooking to make this pumpkin risotto extra creamy.
Step by Step Photos
See the recipe card below for complete directions.Jump to Recipe
Step 1: Sauté
Warm broth in a separate pot. Sauté onion until translucent.
Step 2: Rice
Add rice to the onions and stir to coat. Add in wine, and cook until the wine has evaporated.
Step 3: Broth
Add ½ cup of hot broth and continue stirring until most of the liquid has absorbed. Repeat this process for 20 minutes.
Step 4: Pumpkin
Stir in the pumpkin purée and continue to stir until the rice is tender and creamy. Stir in parmesan and pepper. Then taste and add salt if needed.
Serve pumpkin risotto warm. Optional to top with extra parmesan and parsley.
- Keep broth warm in a separate pot to speed up the cooking process.
- Add a little broth at a time, and keep stirring. Don’t add more broth until the previous scoop has absorbed.
- For best results, keep stirring constantly for a creamy risotto. Scrape the sides and bottom of the pan so the rice doesn’t stick.
- Taste the rice to know when to stop cooking. The rice should be cooked to al dente - creamy with a slight chewy texture and no crunchy bits.
The dish is best served hot as soon as it’s ready, so making it in advance is not recommended. If you need to park it briefly, make it with a little extra liquid, and leave it in the hot pan with a lid and the heat off. Don’t let the rice overcook.
Storage and Reheating
Storage: Leftover risotto can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
How to freeze: Do not freeze risotto.
How to reheat: To reheat, add a little water or broth and stir in, then heat in the microwave or stovetop until warm.
What to Serve with Risotto
When to Serve Pumpkin Risotto
Pumpkin risotto is a great fall and winter comfort food. It makes a great one pot meal to take out to the sukkah for Sukkot. It feels fancy enough for a small dinner party or a New Year’s Eve celebration.
This post was updated in 2024 to include new photos and more tips. The recipe remains the same.
Pumpkin Risotto Recipe
- 2 quart sauce pan
- 10-12” sauté pan
- 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons onion finely chopped
- 1 ¼ cups arborio or carnaroli rice do not substitute with regular rice
- ⅓ cup sherry cooking wine or white wine
- ½ cup pumpkin purée
- ¼ cup cooked peas optional
- ½ cup cooked chicken cut in bite-sized pieces optional
- ¼ cup finely grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese
- Diamond Crystal kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Warm broth in a small sauce pan, and bring to a low simmer. Move the flame to low. If the broth starts to boil, leave the flame off.
- On a neighboring burner, heat the olive oil in a heavy, large sauté pan on medium high heat. Stir the onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice, and stir until the rice is coated with olive oil.
- Set a timer for 20 minutes. Add in the wine, and stir until the wine has completely evaporated.
- Add in a ½ cup of simmering broth. Stir constantly to help develop the creamy consistency. Stir the sides and bottom surface of the pan completely to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. The rice should bubble "at a lively pace."
- When there's not much liquid in the pan, add another ½ cup broth, and keep stirring constantly. With the addition of more broth, the rice should be just covered in broth. Do not let the rice completely dry out. Continue in this manner until the timer goes off.
- Stir in the pumpkin purée, and optional peas and chicken. Keep tasting the rice for doneness. Cook for about 5 minutes more and stir gently. At this point add in a small amount of liquid at a time until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite. The center of the rice should be cooked but not mushy. Adjust the final addition of broth so that when the rice is cooked, the liquid evaporates to the point of the rice being moist but not runny. When in doubt, remember that you can always add a little more broth, but it is difficult to take out broth. You may or may not need to use all of the heated broth, and if you run out of broth, you can add a little water. Turn the flame off.
- Season with a few grinds of pepper. Stir in the cheese, which is salty. Taste for salt and add a few pinches if needed. Serve immediately and enjoy.
- Substitute onion for shallot.
- Leave out wine/sherry if needed.
- For butternut squash risotto, swap pumpkin purée with butternut squash.
- Adapted this recipe from Marcella Hazan's basic risotto in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I also got a few tips from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food.
- Storage: Leftover risotto can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
- How to freeze: Do not freeze risotto.
- How to reheat: To reheat, add a little water or broth and stir in, then heat in the microwave or stovetop until warm.