No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto

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This No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto recipe is a delicious autumnal risotto, just as easy to make as it is to eat! Pumpkin purée is stirred into perfectly al dente risotto with plenty of parmesan cheese & nutmeg, adding festive color & the perfect touch of earthy, sweet pumpkin flavor. Using just 10 simple ingredients, this pumpkin risotto recipe comes together in about 20 minutes of active cooking time, making it perfect for easy weeknight dinners & festive holiday gatherings alike. Naturally vegetarian & gluten-free. Easily vegan & dairy-free.

Planning your Thanksgiving menu? Be sure to check out Sidesgiving! This year PWWB is doubling down on the BEST part of a Thanksgiving plate…the side dishes! Sidesgiving is a holiday side dish extravaganza, including traditional dishes you already know & love, as well as some new & fun takes on the classics.

Creamy pumpkin risotto shown in a large terra cotta serving dish. The risotto is topped with crispy fried sage leaves & finely grated parmesan. The dish sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped linen napkin & some fresh sage leaves.

Pin this No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto recipe for later!

I REPEAT: NO-STIR PUMPKIN RISOTTO!!!

Sorry to yell, but it feels pretty necessary. The best pumpkin risotto, with practically no stirring necessary. Needless to say, we’re about to change your risotto-makin’ world!

This pumpkin risotto cooks with less than 20 minutes of active prep time, & requires very minimal stirring. You’d never guess it, though, since it has that dreamy creamy texture you want out of any good risotto dish.

As a bonus, it’s a total show-stopper! I mean…

Close up of creamy pumpkin risotto topped with crispy fried sage leaves & finely grated parmesan.

Make this pumpkin risotto whenever you want a special, festive meal this fall. It’s also a fun update for the classic Thanksgiving side dish line up, & doubles as an amazing hearty dish for any of your loved ones who are vegetarian, pescatarian, or vegan.

This pumpkin risotto recipe was originally developed & shared in 2019 in partnership with ALDI. As a life-long ALDI shopper, ALDI is near & dear to my heart, especially during the holiday season.

The affordability of shopping at ALDI means squeezing even more special moments of connection with my family & friends into the holiday season. I know I can stretch my dollar a little further to add extra festive touches to our family gatherings without worrying about breaking our holiday budget or compromising on quality. & I seriously love that.

Side angle of creamy pumpkin risotto in a large serving dish. The risotto is topped with freshly grated parmesan & crispy fried sage leaves. There is a gold spoon nestled into the risotto. the bowl sits atop a light blue surface, with fresh sage leaves in the background.

The best pumpkin risotto, & it’s seriously easy, too! Don’t be surprised when everyone asks you for the recipe! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Pumpkin Risotto recipe, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!

Pumpkin risotto ingredients:

A big reason to love this no-stir pumpkin risotto recipe is the ingredients are simple, real foods. You need 10 basic ingredients, many of which you probably already have in your pantry.

Pumpkin risotto recipe ingredients arranged on a white marble surface: Arborio rice, pumpkin, vegetable broth, butter, garlic, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, etc.

Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

The cast of characters includes…

  • Vegetable broth – When it comes to cooking risotto, a high-quality broth is really important. The Simply Nature Organic Vegetable Broth from ALDI is my favorite.
  • Arborio rice – The high-starch, short-grain Italian rice typically used in risotto dishes. Arborio rice is very readily available in the rice & grains aisle in most grocery stores. Carnaroli rice is another common variety of rice used in risotto. Use whichever you love most.
  • Pumpkin – Feel free to DIY it & make homemade roasted pumpkin puree or use canned pumpkin puree (which is exactly what I do!).
  • Onion & garlic – Plain & simple!
  • White wine – A dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, will work best. I actually
  • Parmesan – Use freshly grated Parmigiano, if you want to take your risotto to the next level!
  • & lastly, a couple of other simple staples: butter, bay leaves, nutmeg, & salt

Vegan Pumpkin Risotto: If you try to avoid dairy or you are vegan, making this pumpkin risotto recipe dairy-free & vegan is totally do-able. Check the Recipe Notes in the Recipe Card, below, for the exact how-to.

How to make no-stir risotto:

The miracle of this pumpkin risotto recipe lies in the no-stir cooking method. Traditionally, risotto achieves its signature creamy texture by having been stirred continuously over a longer period of time. This easy pumpkin risotto recipe strips almost all of the stirring out of the process, cooking the rice with a gradual simmer & steam instead.

There are a couple of moving parts, but the process itself is very easy.

Note: full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.

A quick run-down of the key steps…

  1. Cook the aromatics: Sauté up some onion & garlic in a bit of olive oil, just until the onion is translucent & the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Toast the Arborio rice: Add the rice to the pot & let it toast up for a few minutes. This step adds beautiful nutty flavor to the risotto rice.
  3. Deglaze: Pour dry white wine into the rice. The wine will bubble up & your kitchen will smell like a dream! Let it cook for a few minutes, just until the rice absorbs the wine.
  4. Simmer: Add some warm veggie broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a light simmer, then cover the pot & let the risotto cook for 20 minutes. If you want to peek halfway through & give it a quick little stir, go for it!
  5. Pumpkin-ify the risotto! After 20 minutes have passed, your risotto will be very creamy & nearly al dente. Remove it from the heat, then add in some pumpkin, parmesan, nutmeg, & a little extra veggie stock & butter. Stir to combine, then cover the pot & let it sit for 5 minutes more. The rice will steam to the perfect al dente texture, & the risotto will be so creamy & festively orange.
Pumpkin risotto shown in a large red Dutch oven. A wooden spoon is stirring the creamy risotto.

How to serve pumpkin risotto:

Because of its gorgeously vibrant color, this pumpkin risotto is a total show-stopper. You really can go as minimal or as festive as you’d like when it comes to serving it.

A couple of serving ideas for inspiration:

  • Garnishes! Top with plenty of cracked black pepper & extra parmesan cheese. Pick & choose a couple of special touches as desired:
    • For extra flavor: finely chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme) or crispy fried sage leaves.
    • For festive color: a sprinkling jewel-toned pomegranate arils.
    • For extra cheesiness: top with crumbled goat cheese or feta.
  • Delicious add-ins: Swirl cranberry sauce throughout the risotto for an extra festive touch. If the pumpkin risotto is the main event, feel free to serve with meat like shrimp, pancetta, or parmesan chicken (yum!).
  • Family-style: Keep it casual & serve the risotto in a large serving dish. Let everyone help themselves!
Side angle of creamy pumpkin risotto shown in a large terra cotta serving dish. The risotto is topped with crispy fried sage leaves & finely grated parmesan. The dish sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped linen napkin & some fresh sage leaves.

Other Risotto FAQs:

What is risotto?

Risotto, which originated in the northern regions of Italy, is a creamy savory rice dish. Unlike most pasta dishes, risotto’s creaminess comes from the rice itself, not a sauce. Typically, risotto is stirred continuously as it cooks, allowing the rice to release its starches as it absorbs the cooking liquid, creating a creamy sauce-like consistency.

In its most basic form, risotto is made with butter, onion, wine, & cooking stock. Because of its mild flavor, risotto also makes for a great vehicle for other flavors & bolder ingredients, such as spices (saffron is very traditionally used in risotto), proteins (e.g. seafood risotto), or veggies (like this pumpkin risotto recipe!).

What is risotto rice?

You can make risotto with any high-starch short-grain rice. Typically you’ll find risotto made with Arborio rice (“ar-bor-ee-oh“), which is very readily available in the rice & grains aisle in most grocery stores. Carnaroli rice (“car-nah-roll-ee“) is another common variety of rice used in risotto.

Is risotto…

  • gluten-free? Yes! Rice is a naturally 100% gluten-free food. As long as it is made with other gluten-free ingredients, risotto should be totally gluten-free. If keeping risotto gluten-free is important to you, be sure to check the labels of the broth or any other ingredients you add to your risotto for any wheat products.
  • dairy-free? It depends. Traditionally, risotto is made with butter & cheese, but it’s very easy to adapt a risotto recipe to be 100% dairy-free. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for specific instructions to make this pumpkin risotto recipe dairy-free & vegan.

Thanksgiving 2020: Meal prep, make-ahead, & portions.

In the spirit of flexibility – especially since the 2020 holiday season is unlike any other holiday season we’ve experienced before – all of our Sidesgiving recipes include guidance for meal prep & for scaling the recipe up/down based on the size of your holiday gathering.

Here’s everything you need to know about this easy Pumpkin Risotto recipe:

  • Meal prep: By dicing the onion & chopping the garlic ahead of time, all you have to do on Thanksgiving Day get cooking – easy! See Recipe Notes, below, for step-by-step guidance.
  • Make-Ahead: Pumpkin Risotto can also be made up to 5 days in advance, stored covered in the refrigerator, & reheated in a slow cooker or on the stovetop on Thanksgiving day. See Recipe Notes, below, for step-by-step guidance.
  • Portions: As written, this pumpkin risotto recipe yields a medium batch, serving up to 8 as a side dish. For a different sized crowd…
    • Scaled up: To serve up to 14 as a side dish, double the recipe. See Recipe Notes, below, for step-by-step guidance.
    • Make it a mini: To serve a cozy crowd of up to 4, halve the recipe. See Recipe Notes, below, for step-by-step guidance.
Creamy pumpkin risotto in a large serving dish. The risotto is topped with freshly grated parmesan & crispy fried sage leaves. There is a gold spoon nestled into the risotto. the bowl sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped linen napkin & fresh sage leaves.

I hope you try this No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto recipe for dinner this fall, or as a side dish this holiday season. It couldn’t be easier to throw together & it’s seriously tasty – you’re going to LOVE it!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡

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Creamy pumpkin risotto shown in a large terra cotta serving dish. The risotto is topped with crispy fried sage leaves & finely grated parmesan. The dish sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped linen napkin.

No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: serves 68 1x
  • Category: Side Dish recipe, Vegetarian Recipes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Creamy pumpkin purée stirred into perfectly al dente risotto with plenty of parmesan cheese & nutmeg, adding such festive color & the perfect touch of mild pumpkin flavor. This easy No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto recipe is the perfect festive fall dinner, & it doubles as a great side dish to serve at holiday dinners like Thanksgiving or Christmas!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • for serving, as desired: fresh sage leaves, extra grated parmesan

Instructions

PREP: This no-stir risotto recipe comes together pretty quickly, with a couple of moving parts. For that reason, I highly suggest taking a couple of minutes to get yourself prepped & organized before you begin cooking. Chop the onion & garlic. Measure the rice & wine. Grab all the ingredients you need & set them within arm’s reach from the stove so cooking is a smooth process – it’ll make a world of difference!

  1. Simmer the broth: Add the vegetable broth & bay leaf to a large pot over high heat. Bring the broth to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low or medium-low to maintain a very light simmer. No-stir risotto recipe Step #4: Adding in vegetable broth.
  2. Cook the aromatics: Meanwhile, as the broth comes to a simmer, begin cooking the risotto. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and salt. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. No-stir risotto recipe Step #1: Sautéing onion & garlic in a little butter.
  3. Toast the arborio rice: Add the arborio rice to the pot with the aromatics, stirring to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. The rice will take on some golden-brown color, but should not burn – if you feel like it’s creeping toward the burnt end of the spectrum, reduce the heat.Wooden spoon stirring Arborio rice for pumpkin risotto recipe.
  4. Cook the risotto: Increase the heat under the rice & onion to medium-high, then add in the wine to deglaze. Bring the wine to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine is absorbed, about 3-4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the simmering vegetable broth, then carefully transfer the remaining 5 cups of warm broth to the pot with the rice. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low to achieve a steady simmer. Cover the pot and cook the risotto for 20 minutes. No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto after Arborio rice has boiled in vegetable stock.
  5. Finish the pumpkin risotto: Remove the risotto from the heat. Stir the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the reserved vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, parmesan cheese, and nutmeg into the risotto. Cover and let the pot stand for 5 minutes. Adding pumpkin to no-stir risotto for pumpkin risotto.
  6. Serve the pumpkin risotto immediately, topped with fresh sage leaves &/or extra grated parmesan as desired. Enjoy!Creamy pumpkin risotto in a red Dutch oven. A wooden spoon holds up a spoonful of the risotto.

Notes

  • Dairy-free &/or Vegan Pumpkin Risotto: Use coconut oil in place of the butter. Omit the parmesan cheese – be sure taste and add some extra salt to account for the saltiness that parmesan would add. Jazz it up, as desired, with some extra spices or herbs – think: cinnamon, rosemary, crispy fried sage.
  • 5-Minute Meal prep: Dice 1 small yellow onion & finely chop or grate 3 cloves of garlic, storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. All you have to do on Thanksgiving Day get cooking – easy! 
  • Make-Ahead Pumpkin Risotto: Pumpkin Risotto can also be made up to 5 days in advance, stored covered in the refrigerator, & reheated in a slow cooker or on the stovetop on Thanksgiving Day. To make ahead of time:
    • Prep the risotto through Step 4 of Recipe Directions, above.
    • Transfer the par-cooked risotto to a sheet pan, spreading the risotto into a thin layer to help it cool quickly. Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
    • Reheat in a slow cooker: 3-4 hours before serving, place the par-cooked risotto in a slow cooker, along with remaining pumpkin risotto ingredients. Reheat on low, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in a little extra broth as needed to loosen up the texture of the risotto. If the risotto gets too loose, add in some extra parmesan cheese to tighten it back up. 
    • Reheat on the stovetop: 10-15 minutes before serving, place the par-cooked risotto in a pot, along with remaining pumpkin risotto ingredients. Reheat on low, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Just before serving, stir in a little extra broth as needed to loosen up the texture of the risotto. If the risotto gets too loose, add in some extra parmesan cheese to tighten it back up. 
  • Portions: As written, this pumpkin risotto recipe yields a medium batch, serving up to 8 as a side dish. For a different sized crowd…
    • Scaled up: To serve up to 14 as a side dish, double the recipe. Be sure to use a large enough pot or vessel to comfortably fit the risotto – about 7-qts.
    • Make it a mini: To serve a cozy crowd of up to 4, halve the recipe. 
  • The no-stir method used in this pumpkin risotto recipe is inspired by & adapted from America Test Kitchen’s Almost Hands-Free method

Keywords: pumpkin risotto recipe, no-stir risotto, vegetarian, easily vegan, easily dairy-free, gluten-free, fall recipe, side dish, Thanksgiving, Christmas, easy, creamy, stovetop

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

Craving all things pumpkin?! We got you! Here are a few more savory pumpkin recipes you’ll love…

Creamy pumpkin risotto shown in a large terra cotta serving dish. The risotto is topped with crispy fried sage leaves & finely grated parmesan. The dish sits atop a light blue surface, next to a striped linen napkin.

Ready for Thanksgiving?

Sidesgiving starts on Sunday, November 8th! Be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on Instagram – I’ll be sharing step-by-step video demos & Q&As for each Sidesgiving recipe, so be sure to follow along! 

To make things even easier, we’re sending the recipes + more Thanksgiving tips to our email friends. Use the form below to sign up to have Sidesgiving delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe below! 

Hosting for the first time? No worries! If you’ve never hosted before, I encourage you to head over to our 3-Hour Thanksgiving, where we share all of our best recipes, tips & how to make this your EASIEST Thanksgiving yet!

Launched in 2018, I created the Plays Well With Butter 3-Hour Thanksgiving Guide with one goal in mind: simplifying Thanksgiving. 3-Hour Thanksgiving is the ultimate guide to your easiest (& tastiest!) Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving dinner yet.

3-Hour Thanksgiving is a free downloadable guide that contains everything you need to plan & host Thanksgiving dinner – a full Thanksgiving menu, turkey prep guidance, a grocery list, timelines, prep notes, checklists & more.

Sign up to receive your 3-Hour Thanksgiving Guide. It’s free & easy – simply fill out the form below!

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Thank you so much for reading & supporting Plays Well With Butter. This post includes affiliate links for products I truly love & use on the reg in my own home. All opinions are always my own! Should you make a purchase using one of these links, PWWB will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original & free content.

Don’t forget to pin this No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto recipe for later!

No-Stir Pumpkin Risotto with graphic text overlay for Pinterest.

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 12.3.20
    Jeanne said:

    I LOVE this recipe! It’s so rich, creamy, and easy. It reheats well too, and that’s a big plus in my house!

    • 3.9.21
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Hi Jeanne! Thank you SO much for sharing – we are so glad you LOVED this Risotto! It’s such a cozy treat. 🥰

  2. 12.3.20
    Alyssa said:

    Made this as a side for thanksgiving and it was the highlight of our meal! I also rendered pancetta before cooking the onions and topped it off w the crispy pancetta at the end and let me tell you, wow was it good!! (And so so easy to make)

  3. 11.27.19
    Liz said:

    I made this for a Friendsgiving yesterday and it was PERFECT! I kept some of it dairy free for someone in our group and added Parmesan to the rest. Both versions were delicious! I also made it 3 hours in advance and just kept it warm in the crockpot. It made hosting so much easier!

    • 12.20.19
      jess said:

      AMAZING! So glad it was a hit, Liz! Love your slow cooker tip.

  4. 11.25.19
    Emily said:

    This was AMAZING! First time making risotto and I tried it for my Friendsgiving. Made the house smell amazing and was super easy; nice to have a stovetop dish to clear up some space in the oven. My roommates all decided I need to make it again asap!

    • 12.20.19
      jess said:

      Aw, YAY I’m so glad you loved it. The perfect Friendsgiving dish!