If you want to give the risotto a try, you should check out this delicious vegan butternut squash risotto recipe. It is easy to make as part of the job is done by the oven. It is aromatic, creamy, and rich, made with Arborio rice, sweet butternut squash, green peas, and roasted pine nuts.
Risotto can be cooked and baked. Who knew, right? After trying this baked risotto recipe, learn also how to make classic vegan risotto on the stovetop.
What is risotto?
Risotto is the most common way to cook rice in Italy. According to the traditional Italian risotto recipe, it means that high-starch, short-grain rice is cooked in broth, which has to be added in batches with frequent stirring. Risotto usually, but not always contains butter, white wine, and parmesan cheese for extra creaminess. It is creamy due to the high starch content, while the rice grain is still firm not mushy.
If you want to make any type of vegan risotto, the main ingredients you need are
- arborio rice – or any other risotto rice you have.
- white wine – while the classic recipe calls for dry white wine, we prefer using sweet white or even semi-sweet rosé
- vegetable broth
- vegan butter – it is better with butter than using olive oil I ensure you
Anything else is up to you. As we were making a vegan butternut squash risotto, we added vegetables and spices that pair well with it. These are:
- Thyme – fresh sage is not the only herb that goes great with butternut squash
- Green peas
- Pine nuts
- Freshly chopped parsley
🛒 You can find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
The best rice for risotto
If you have seen our classic vegan risotto recipe you have already known that we recommend choosing short-grain rice with high starch content. The 3 most common types of rice to cook risotto with are:
- Arborio rice – We use this type just as well it is recommended in Italian recipes.
- Carnaroli rice – Chefs claim this to be the best rice for risotto as they use it to make restaurant-style risotto.
- Vialone Nano rice – It is also quite popular rice as it is more starchy than arborio. Hence, it results in a creamier risotto, but not available in your everyday store.
Can you use basmati rice?
If you have basmati rice at home, you don’t need to rush to the store to get arborio rice. It may not be restaurant-style and be less creamy, but you can make up for it with extra butter and vegan parmesan. If you want to try this recipe with basmati rice, make sure you adjust your expectations as it will be mushier and less firm than you would expect from risotto.
Preparing the ingredients
- Peel and dice the butternut squash.
- Peel and chop onion and garlic.
- Pre-cook green peas or use pre-cooked frozen ones.
- Don’t wash the rice as you need its starch content to make the risotto creamy.
- Toast pine nuts. Heat a frying pan over medium heat. No oil or butter is needed. Just add the pine nuts plain and simple. Stir continuously with a wooden spatula and toast them until brownish. Takes 2-3 minutes. Watch them as they can get charred easily.
Starting on the stove-top
- Take a large pot or a Dutch oven and heat it over medium heat. Add dairy-free butter and chopped onion and cook them until they are soft and tender. It takes usually 2-3 minutes.
- Add chopped garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Now, add unwashed arborio rice and stir it for 1-2 minutes to coat it with the melted butter. (picture #1)
- Next, add the white wine and cook the rice in the wine until the wine is absorbed or steamed away. It usually takes 2 minutes.
- Add chopped butternut squash. Mix well. (picture #2)
- Add vegetable broth (picture #3) and seasoning (picture #4). Stir well.
- Now, you are ready to move your risotto to the oven.
Let’s bake it!
- Preheat the oven over 390 Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- Cover your pot with an oven-safe lid and place it on the middle rack.
- Bake the risotto for 20 minutes.
- When it is ready, take it out and remove the lid. (picture #5)
- Add more dairy-free butter, pre-cooked green peas, and toasted pine nuts. Mix well, but gently. Try not to crush the cooked butternut squash too much. (picture #6) Serve it with chopped parsley or vegan parmesan cheese.
Top tips to make it perfectly
- High heat or low heat? – You need to pay attention to that when you make classic vegan risotto. This baked recipe will make this much easier as you only need to cook on the stovetop for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat.
- Why baking? – If you want easy, baking will give that to you. I wouldn’t say it will be perfect Italian restaurant chef-style, but your risotto will still taste pretty awesome.
- Hot or cold veggie broth? – We recommend using hot veggie broth although as it is a baked version it doesn’t make much difference. If you use hot broth then it will take less time to bring it to boil before placing it in the oven.
- Don’t wash the rice. – You need its starch content to get a creamy consistency.
What to serve with it?
Italians may serve it as a side dish or first course, but we eat it as a main course meal. This vegan butternut squash risotto is so rich and filling. We batch cook it in advance so it easily lasts for several meals. So what else can you add or serve with it?
- Chopped nuts like pecan, cashew, or walnut
- Dried fruits like cranberries
- Roasted asparagus
- Sauteed mushrooms
- Pan-fried oyster mushrooms
- Roasted beetroot – like the ones we served on top of our roasted pumpkin sweet potato soup
- Vegan shredded chicken aka oyster mushrooms
- Vegan bacon bits or other plant-based bacon or ham alternatives
- Fresh green salads – I can eat them with fresh arugula on top
FAQs and substitutions
Can you use another type of pumpkin or squash?
Yes, you can. While we love butternut squash because of its sweetness, other types of pumpkin or squash are equally delicious with risotto, for example, buttercup squash, Hokkaido pumpkin, kabocha squash, or acorn squash.
What other veggies can you add?
While we love pairing butternut squash with green peas, it goes well together with other green veggies as well. For example, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or spinach. I can see it with oyster mushrooms or portobello mushrooms.
Can you make them ahead of time?
Absolutely. We love to batch cook it so that it can last for multiple meals. The only thing you need to pay attention to is that even if the rice is cooked, there is still moisture. The longer you store it, the mushier it gets as the rice will continue to absorb any liquid.
This butternut squash risotto recipe is meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free.
- Vegan – All ingredients are supposed to be vegan. Although wine can be non-vegan, so be sure to check the bottle.
- Nut-free – Skip the pine nuts topping. Other than that the only issue may be with dairy-free butter and vegan parmesan cheese as they can be made of coconut oil. In any event, check for cross-contamination issues in any products you buy.
- WFPB-friendly (whole foods plant-based) – It is not easy to make compliant risotto since white rice should not be used in this diet. You can skip oil to sautee onion and garlic and start with a bit of veggie broth or water to get the ball rolling, but I have never made this recipe with brown rice so I am not sure of the outcome.
- Gluten-free – All other ingredients are supposed to be gluten-free, but always check the packaging for cross-contamination info.
- Soy-free – All other ingredients are supposed to be soy-free. The only issue may be with dairy-free butter and vegan parmesan cheese as they can be made of soy products as well.
More vegan Italian recipes
Baked Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 cup Green peas (frozen or canned)
- ¼ cup Pine nuts roasted
- ¼ tsp Parsley (fresh) chopped
Start on stove-top
- Heat a pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp of butter and chopped onion. Cook them until they are soft and tender. It takes usually 3-4 minutes.
- Add chopped garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add unwashed rice and stir it for 1-2 minutes to coat it with oil.
- Add the white wine and cook the rice in the wine until the wine is absorbed or steamed away. It usually takes 2 minutes.
- Add chopped butternut squash and veggie broth. Stir.
- Add seasoning (thyme, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper) and bring it to boil.
Switch to oven
- Pre-heat oven on 390 Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Cover it with an oven-safe lid and bake the risotto for 20 minutes undisturbed.
- When it is ready, take the lid off. Add pre-cooked frozen peas and 2 Tbsp butter. Mix well. Cover it with a lid again and leave it to rest for 5 minutes. Serve it with toasted pine nuts and freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!
How to toast pine nuts?
- Take a frying pan and heat it over medium heat. No need to add oil or butter.
- Add pine nuts and toast them until brownish. Stir continuously with a wooden spatula.
UPDATED: This recipe was originally posted in Nov 2021. More info, tips, and details were added and it was republished in Sep 2022.