Incredibly creamy pumpkin risotto made with roasted pumpkin, simple and genuine Italian flavors captured in one easy-to-make, comforting dish.
This flavorful pumpkin risotto is a twist on the classic Italian risotto, a delicate yet satisfying dish for the winter or fall season, perfect for any occasion. Easy and quick enough to make on a weeknight, but also fancy and exciting enough to serve to guests.
You might consider risotto to be just a side dish, but we seldom do. For us, risotto is a meal on its own most of the time, although I love an excellent saffron risotto to go with this Slow Cooker Ossobuco.
Try another irresistible Pumpkin and Gorgonzola Risotto, make a Salmon Risotto, or one with Leftover Turkey. The Pea and Asparagus Risotto or the Wild Garlic Risotto are amazing in spring, and the Creamy Zucchini Risotto Recipe is perfect in summer.
- Risotto: I usually use Arborio rice because that’s the most common sort around here. Vialone nano or Carnaroli are also great.
- Pumpkin: Choose a flavorful sort like Hokkaido pumpkin, also known as red Kuri squash, butternut squash, or sugar pumpkin. They are my favorites and are more delicious than any other sorts I've tried. Don't use Halloween pumpkins (Jack-o'-lantern); it’s tasteless.
- If using Hokkaido, there is no need to remove the peel after roasting; it will get perfectly soft. Remove the peel of butternut squash or any other sort, however.
- Parmesan: Freshly grated from a wedge.
- Other ingredients: Vegetable broth (or chicken broth or stock), onion, dry white wine, butter, olive oil, rosemary (or fresh sage leaves for a change), and spices (fine sea salt, ground black pepper, nutmeg).
How to make pumpkin risotto?
Roast and prepare the fresh pumpkin
- Roast the halves in the preheated oven on a lined baking sheet for 40-50 minutes or until tender (1).
- Once it’s cool enough to handle, remove its peel (unless it’s a Hokkaido). Weigh the needed amount (1 lb/500 g) and keep the leftovers for another recipe (See the end of the post for suggestions).
- Puree half of the needed roasted pumpkin and cube the other half. Set aside until needed (2).
Make the risotto
- Keep the stock in a small pan on the stovetop on very low heat during the entire cooking process.
- Sauté the onion on medium heat in a large skillet, large saucepan, or Dutch oven (3). Add rice, stir well with a wooden spoon, coat it with the oil, and toast it lightly (4).
- Add rosemary and wine, stir, and let the wine bubble away (5,6).
- Add the warm broth little by little (7), only adding the next cup of stock when the previous one has been absorbed, stirring often, and scraping the bottom of the pan (8).
- After 15-20 minutes, the rice should be tender but check that it’s cooked to your liking; it should be soft but not mushy.
- Stir in the pumpkin puree, butter, and Parmesan cheese, and adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and a little bit of nutmeg (9). Finally, fold in the chopped roasted pumpkin (10).
- Let stand for about 5 minutes and serve.
- Rinsing: Never wash risotto rice; the water will remove most of the starch, which is vital for the creamy texture.
- Toasting: Don’t skip toasting the grains for about 2 minutes before adding the wine. This step makes the rice waterproof and helps against overcooking.
- Stirring: Many risotto recipes instruct you to stir the rice continuously for the entire cooking process. I did it once or twice and never noticed any difference, so I stopped. It would be best if you stirred it very often, but don’t stress about doing it continuously. Instead, let the chefs (or their apprentices) do it, and rest assured that your food will be as creamy and delicious as possible.
- Wine: While it adds flavor, you can still leave it out if you don’t have it or don’t want to use alcohol.
- Parmesan: I always recommend using freshly grated cheese; it’s superior in every possible way. However, if using already grated Parmesan and measuring in cups, take a bit less than one cup, only about ½ - ¾ cup. Freshly grated Parmesan has more volume than the already grated one. You can replace it with pecorino romano.
Short grain rice.
Carnaroli rice makes the creamiest risotto; try it if you can get it. Unfortunately, it’s not as readily available as the very popular Arborio, which is a bit less starchy, but still makes a great dish.
Vialone nano is also fantastic; it has a higher starch content, thus making a super creamy risotto, and it cooks a bit quicker than the other two.
No, regular white rice, Basmati, or Jasmine rice are not suitable; the dish will not have the same texture and will not be creamy.
You could cheat by using sushi rice, which is also a short-grain sort. The dish will not be quite the same, but you will still like it.
Use long-grain rice to make Pumpkin Rice.
I used a sweet dumpling squash for today’s roasted pumpkin risotto recipe, and I loved its flavor.
However, I am a big fan of Hokkaido or red Kuri squash. It has the best flavor, more than any other sort I’ve ever tried, it doesn’t need peeling, and it’s creamier than butternut squash, which is also great for use in this recipe.
Only if you use vegetarian hard cheese, regular Parmesan is made with animal rennet.
Any risotto is best served immediately.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Cool quickly and refrigerate; cooked rice should always be chilled as soon as possible.
Reheat on the stovetop or the microwave. Add a splash of stock or water to loosen it, and keep stirring until hot.
The dish is not suitable for freezing.
How to serve?
Main dish: The recipe serves 4 people. Serve with a leafy salad with Yogurt Dressing or vinaigrette. Try the pumpkin risotto with steamed, boiled, or roasted vegetables, for example, Buttered Peas, Roasted Carrots, or steamed greens. Try it with a poached or fried egg on top.
Side dish: It serves 6-8 people, and it goes with so many meals. How about serving it with Cast Iron Chicken Breast, Slow Cooker Chicken Legs, Boneless, Skinless Turkey Breast, Tender Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs, Beef Tagliata, pan-fried fish, scallops, or shrimp?
What to do with the remaining roasted pumpkin?
Creamy Pumpkin Risotto
- Dutch oven or a large saucepan
- 1 lb pumpkin 500 g Notes 1, 2
- 5 cups vegetable stock 1.2 liter, Note 3
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 sprig rosemary finely chopped, Note 4
- 1 ½ cup risotto rice 300 g, Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone nano
- ½ cup dry white wine 125 ml
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup Parmesan freshly grated, 60 g/ 2 oz Note 5
- a few gratings nutmeg
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roast pumpkin: Halve the pumpkin and remove the seeds. Place the halves on the prepared tray, cut side down, and bake the pumpkin for 40-50 minutes or until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle.
- Prepare pumpkin for risotto: Remove the peel. Weigh the amount you need 1 lb/500 g (use the remaining pumpkin for another recipe). Puree half of the required amount and cut the other half into cubes. Set aside.
- Heat 5 cups of vegetable stock in a small pan (1.2 liters). Keep the stock on the stovetop on very low heat during the entire cooking process.
- Toast risotto: Heat the oil and cook 1 small finely chopped onion until translucent. Add 1 ½ cup risotto (300 g) and stir well until it’s coated with the oil and glossy, about 2 minutes. Add 1 sprig of chopped rosemary and ½ cup white wine (125 ml), stir, and let the wine bubble away.
- Cook risotto: Start adding the vegetable stock, about ½ to 1 cup at a time, stirring often, and only adding the next cup of liquid when the previous one has been absorbed. I don’t stir continuously, but I stand by and stir often. This will take about 15-20 minutes; check that the rice is cooked to your liking; it should be soft but not mushy.
- Finish the risotto: Add the pureed pumpkin, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 cup Parmesan. Stir well. Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Fold in the chopped pumpkin, ensuring it doesn’t break too much when you stir the risotto.
- Let stand for about 5 minutes and serve with a bit more grated Parmesan on top.
- Pumpkin: 1 lb was ½ a pumpkin in my case. You can bake a whole pumpkin and use the other half for another recipe or make pumpkin puree (See blog post for ideas).
- Use a flavorful sort like Hokkaido (no peeling), sugar pumpkin, butternut squash, or sweet dumpling squash.
- Sub with chicken stock.
- Parmesan: 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan (lightly packed) weighs 60 g/ 2 oz. If using already grated Parmesan (which I don’t recommend at all), use only ½ to ¾ as it has less volume than freshly grated Parmesan.
- Sub fresh rosemary with ¼ - ½ teaspoon dried rosemary. Or use sage leaves; they are a great alternative.