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Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto

Vegan butternut squash risotto feels like a warm hug. It’s comforting, creamy, and has a few earthy flavors to round out the natural sweetness of the squash. This recipe is also dairy-free and gluten-free.

Every year when fall rolls around and the weather gets a little cooler (or when I pretend the weather is cooler by blasting the AC), this risotto is one of the first things I look forward to making, along with butternut squash lasagna of course.

The addition of dairy-free cream adds an indulgent component and rounds out the naturally sweet and nutty flavor of the squash. This recipe can be eaten as a side dish or the main course.

I personally love eating it as an entree and topping it with protein for a more satiating meal.

Ingredients

This recipe uses butternut squash, a combination of dairy-free butter and olive oil to create layers of flavor, earthy and warm spices like ground cumin and chili powder, along with other traditional risotto ingredients such as onion, short-grain Italian arborio rice, vegetable broth, kosher salt, and pepper. Along with cashew cream.

How to Make Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto

Cook the squash. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil along with the butternut squash. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring occasionally until fork tender and golden brown about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Cook the aromatics. Reduce the heat to medium and add the other tablespoon of butter before adding in the diced onion along with a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent before adding in the rice. Let the rice toast in the pan with the onion for about 1 minute to build the flavor.

Add the broth. Add 1 cup of broth to the rice and onion mixture, stirring frequently. Once the rice has absorbed nearly all the broth, add another cup and continue with this process until you’ve used all the broth.

Season. Add the cubed squash back in and stir in the cashew cream. Season with more salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Garnish with optional minced parsley and serve with flakey salt.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this vegan butternut squash risotto using what you already have? Here are some ideas

  • No butternut squash? – use another type of winter squash: delicata, pumpkin, kabocha, etc.
  • No cashew cream? – add in a little dairy-free milk and/or another tablespoon of dairy-free butter.
  • Use different spices – ground cinnamon, ground ginger, rosemary, sage, and thyme all go well with butternut squash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use arborio rice for risotto?

Arborio rice has a high starch content that can absorb a lot of liquid while still maintaining its shape without becoming mushy. If using a substitute, you must choose another variety with similar qualities such as carnaroli, farro (made from wheat), or vialone nano.

How does risotto get creamy?

When cooked in a liquid (broth), the starch gets released from the rice and is what helps make risotto super creamy.

Are you supposed to constantly stir risotto?

Yes, because as you stir, you’re agitating the rice which helps release the starch. If aren’t constantly stirring, the rice will stick to the bottom and also won’t cook properly.

Why does my risotto taste bland?

Don’t forget to season with kosher salt. This sounds simple, but will drastically improve the taste.

Should I rinse the rice before cooking?

No, because rinsing the rice removes some of the starch and in risotto, the starch is very important for achieving the right texture.

More Risotto Recipes

Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto

5 from 9 votes
Several plates of vegan risotto with butternut squash pieces and parsley.
Vegan butternut squash risotto feels like a warm hug. It's comforting, creamy, and has a few earthy flavors to round out the natural sweetness of the squash. This recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Serving Size 5 – 6

Ingredients
 

  • 4 cups butternut squash, peeled cut into small cubes
  • 2 tablespoons dairy-free butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 small onion, diced about 1 cup
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice
  • 5 cups vegetable broth warmed, see notes
  • 3 tablespoons cashew cream
  • parsley for garnish, optional
  • flakey salt for serving

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the olive oil along with the butternut squash. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring occasionally until fork tender and golden brown about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the other tablespoon of butter before adding in the diced onion along with a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent before adding in the rice. Let the rice toast in the pan with the onion for about 1 minute to build the flavor.
  • Add 1 cup of the warm broth to the rice and onion mixture, stirring frequently. Once the rice has absorbed nearly all the broth, add another cup and continue with this process until you’ve used up all the broth.
  • Add the cubed squash back in and stir in the cashew cream. Season with more salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Garnish with optional minced parsley and serve with flakey salt.

Notes

Warming the broth ensures that it’ll be at a similar temperature to the risotto and won’t affect the cooking time.
SUBSTITUTIONS & VARIATIONS:
No butternut squash? – use another type of winter squash: delicata, pumpkin, kabocha, etc.
No cashew cream? – add in a little dairy-free milk and/or another tablespoon of dairy-free butter.
Use different spices – ground cinnamon, ground ginger, rosemary, sage, and thyme all go well with butternut squash.

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