Roasted butternut squash fulfills its greatest destiny in this fall-forward Butternut Squash Risotto. Richly creamy and comforting, this is a risotto worth standing over the stovetop for (but I promise, it’s not as labor-intensive as you might think!). It makes a special autumn meal.
Why You’ll Love This Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe
- Feels Like You’re at a Fancy Italian Restaurant. If you want the quintessential date-night-at-home dinner, it’s butternut squash risotto. (Or Steak Fajitas if you’re more into a Mexican restaurant kind of date.) Bonus: when you cook dinner at home, you can get seconds!
- Creamy and Indulgent. If you grew up on creamy, cheesy casseroles, this butternut squash risotto will scratch that nostalgic itch, but in an elevated way. It’s everything you want in a comfort food dish, but with more elegance than say, Broccoli Rice Casserole.
- The Best Winter Squash. Compared to the other widely-available winter squash varieties, I think we can all agree that butternut squash is the best. It’s creamy, earthy without being too earthy, and it has the most natural sweetness and flavor. You’ll also find it in my Quinoa Stuffed Butternut Squash and Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup.
- Plus Bacon! Is it a cliché? Yes. Is that going to stop me? Nope. Because it’s true: bacon really does make everything better. The smoky, savory flavor pairs beautifully with butternut squash—and other fall vegetables like Brussels sprouts (Brussels Sprouts Bacon Pizza) and sweet potatoes (Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon). Want your risotto vegetarian? You can absolutely leave it out and will still have a delicious dinner.
How to Make Butternut Squash Risotto
- Butternut Squash. Follow my recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds to upcycle the squash seeds into a crunchy snack!
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. For drizzling onto the squash before roasting.
- Salt and Pepper. You’ll need some for the squash and some for the risotto.
- Unsalted Chicken Stock. Homemade chicken stock is fantastic for butternut squash risotto, but store-bought is just fine. Be sure that the stock is unsalted (or reduce the salt in the recipe to start).
- Unsalted Butter. Key to risotto indulgence.
- Thick-Cut Bacon. Thick-cut means extra meatiness.
- Shallot. A shallot is the whole vegetable, not the individual cloves or sections inside.
- Garlic. Two cloves are perfect for this recipe—we want to add some oomph, but we don’t want to overpower the other flavors in the dish.
- Arborio Rice. Accept no substitutes! Well, almost no substitutes—carnaroli and vialone nano rice also work, but you can’t swap in an everyday white or brown rice here. Arborio has a unique quality that allows the exterior starches to break away and create a creamy sauce, while the center remains al dente.
- Dry White Wine. Like sauvignon blanc or vermouth—or additional chicken stock.
- Dried Thyme. If you happen to have fresh thyme on hand, you can use that here, but there’s no need to go out and buy it for this butternut squash risotto.
- Parmesan Cheese. The nutty, umami flavor of Parmesan stands up to the flavors of the squash and bacon without overshadowing them.
- Chopped Fresh Sage. A classic pairing with butternut squash; you’ll also find it in my Butternut Squash Pasta and Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.
- Roast the Squash. If you love it as much as I do, be sure to check out my Roasted Butternut Squash.
- Warm the Stock. It’s important that it’s warm for maximum risotto creaminess.
- Cook the Bacon and Shallot. The foundation of perfect risotto flavor.
- Add the Rice and Garlic. Stir to coat.
- Pour in the Wine. Simmer for just a minute.
- Add the First Ladles of Stock. Pour in 2 big ladles of the chicken stock and stir in the remaining salt and pepper.
- Simmer. Let the risotto simmer over low heat until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, stirring occasionally.
- Repeat. Stir in 2 more ladles of stock; once the liquid is absorbed, add 2 more. Rinse and repeat until the risotto is creamy and the rice is tender but still a little bit al dente.
- Finish. Stir in the Parmesan, sage, and squash. ENJOY!
- Swap in Another Winter Squash. I recommend one that’s sweet and flavorful like butternut. Delicata would be fabulous, as would honeynut squash if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some. (It’s a hybrid that’s even sweeter than butternut!)
- Try Another Meat. Crumbled sausage—something with fall vibes like chicken and apple would work well—can be swapped in for the bacon in this butternut squash risotto, or try pancetta.
- Switch Up the Herbs. Sage and rosemary also pair well with butternut squash, so feel free to use those instead of thyme; thyme or rosemary can be swapped for the sage that’s stirred in at the end.
- To Store. Refrigerate butternut squash risotto in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Warm up leftovers in a pan on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. Add more water or stock as needed to thin it.
- To Freeze. Freeze risotto in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
Meal Prep Tip
You can roast the butternut squash a day or two ahead of time. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
Make crispy arancini with your leftovers! If you have 2 cups of leftovers, combine them with 2 beaten eggs and 1/2 cup of panko or coarse breadcrumbs. Form the mixture into balls, then roll the balls into additional panko. Fry them in oil until they’re warmed through and golden brown.
What to Serve with Easy Butternut Squash Risotto
- Chicken. This easy butternut squash risotto would make a stellar pairing with Chicken Saltimbocca, or serve it with Baked Bone In Chicken Breast or Air Fryer Chicken Thighs.
- Pork. Plate your Pork Chops With Apples or Breaded Pork Chops with a side of risotto.
- Salad. Keep it light with an autumnal salad like Apple Walnut Salad or Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad.
- Vegetables. Fall vegetables like Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic or Roasted Cauliflower on the side are another light option.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. This is my favorite Dutch oven—and it’s an investment that will last for decades.
- Saucepan. For simmering the stock on the stovetop.
- Ladle. The best way to add stock to butternut squash risotto as it cooks.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Grate Your Own Parmesan. For Parm that melts smoothly into the sauce, there’s simply no way around it: you have to grate your own. Both the bagged shredded Parmesan and the kind that comes in a bottle won’t melt like freshly shredded does, which will ruin the velvety texture of the finished butternut squash risotto.
- Cook Until the Rice It’s Al Dente. Which literally means “to the tooth” in Italian. The outside of the rice grains will be tender, but once you get to the middle, there’s still a little bite to them. The centers shouldn’t be hard, but pleasantly firm.
- Add Water If Needed. Don’t stop when you run out of stock if the rice isn’t al dente yet! Instead, add water to the saucepan where you were simmering the stock and start adding that to the risotto. Keep going until the rice is done cooking.
Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 medium butternut squash about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
- 4 cups unsalted chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon cut into bite sized pieces 4 – 5 ounces
- 1/2 cup chopped shallot* about 1 medium
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon blanc or vermouth or additional chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- Water as needed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- Roast the squash: Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash in the center of the pan, drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the squash is tender, turning once halfway through, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, warm the chicken stock. Keep a ladle handy for adding the warm liquid to the risotto. It should be fairly warm and steaming, but not boiling.
- In a Dutch oven or similar sturdy pot, melt the butter over medium low. Add the bacon and shallot. Sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add the rice and garlic, stirring to coat the grains with the cooking oils. Stir in the wine and let simmer for 1 minute.
- Carefully add 2 big ladles of the chicken stock to the rice. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Let the risotto simmer over low heat until the liquid is almost completely absorbed, stirring every few minutes to help the rice cook evenly and ensure nothing sticks to the bottom. This will take 5 or so. You don’t have to stir risotto constantly. Just, check in on it periodically and stir.
- As soon as most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is about to look dry, add 2 more ladelfuls of stock. Stir as before, until most of the new liquid is absorbed. Repeat, adding the stock 2 ladelfuls at a time, until the risotto is creamy and the rice tender but still a little bit al dente, about 15 to 30 minutes total. If you run out of stock, simply use water until the risotto reaches your desired consistency and texture.
- Stir in the Parmesan, sage, and roasted butternut squash. Let cook a few minutes to warm through. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve hot, with more Parm sprinkled on top.
- *1 shallot refers to the entire shallot bulb, no matter how many cloves (the different sections you see on the inside) it contains.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate butternut squash risotto in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Warm up leftovers in a pan on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. Add more water or stock as needed to thin it.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze risotto in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating according to the instructions above.
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