Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash

Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash is a simple looking crock pot side dish that’s packed with flavor. Made with brown rice, butternut squash, and goat cheese, this is clearly one of the best crock pot recipes for busy people, because there’s NO STIRRING required. You’ll never make stove top risotto again!

As much of a current Type-A/former teacher’s pet as I am, I love to bend the rules, in my own Type-A way at least. Don’t by deceived by the demure look of this Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash. It’s more rebellious than you think!

dinner plates of healthy slow cooker risotto made with brown rice and butternut squash

Rules I break on the regular: the speed limit (I set my cruise to 4 mph over. Wild, I know!), samples at the grocery store (the sign usually says “Take One” buuuuuuut), and happy hour (“I can still squeeze my order in at 6:01 p.m., right?).

And the biggest one of all: don’t try a new recipe for the first time the night you are hosting a dinner party.

Unless that recipe is this Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese. In which case, rules were made to be broken.

crock pot full of brown rice risotto with butternut squash

How to Break the Rules with Slow Cooker Risotto

Risotto and I have a long history of rule-breaking. The first time I ever made it was for a dinner party (broken rule #1). Firm believer in whole grains that I am, I decided to make it with brown rice instead of white (broken rule #2), unaware that the swap would cause the risotto to take an extra 40 minutes to cook. By the time the finished brown rice risotto was on the table, we’d gone through two bottles of wine and an entire cheese plate.

Crock Pot Risotto with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Sage

Today’s recipe for Slow Cooker Risotto follows along with my rebellious risotto ways. I’ve used brown rice again and ignored the traditional Parmesan in favor of goat cheese (though I won’t stop you if you use both). Best and baddest of all, I removed the risotto from the stovetop completely. This easy butternut squash risotto is made right in your crock pot, no stirring required!

If you were to taste traditional stovetop risotto and this slow cooker risotto side by side, you might detect a slight difference in texture (the slow cooker risotto isn’t *quite* as creamy), but honestly, the difference is marginal. The ultimate ease of this no-stir slow cooker method outweighs any negatives.

Still worried about the creamy? Add extra goat cheese. It’s ultra luscious and velvety and makes the texture of the risotto absolutely dreamy.

Healthy Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Fresh Sage

If you read my latest C’est La Vie post, you know that this Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese is the most recent new recipe that I’ve been excited to share. It’s simple, deeply comforting, and unquestionably delicious.

Flexibility of Slow Cooker Risotto

This slow cooker risotto recipe is flexible and adaptable too! You can enjoy it in any of the following ways:

EXCITING UPDATE:

  • I have a NEW slow cooker! (Yes, I find this exciting.) After years of faithful service, my old one cracked, so I ordered this replacement and am so happy with it. The insert can be used on the stovetop, meaning that for recipes where you begin by browning veggies and/or meat, you can use it on the stove first, then pop it right into the slow cooker and save yourself a dish. GENIUS.
plate of Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash and goat cheese
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Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time:
15 mins
Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Brown Rice. Just as creamy and comforting as the original, but no stirring required!

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots — finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine — or substitute additional chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 medium butternut squash — about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • Coarse sea salt — and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 1/2-4 cups vegetable broth — or reduced-sodium chicken broth*
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked short grain brown rice — see recipe notes for other rice types
  • 6 ounces loosely crumbled goat cheese — about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves — about 4 large leaves, plus additional for topping

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat the bottom of a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium-low heat. Add the shallots, salt, and pepper. Sauté until the shallot is soft and translucent but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the shallot mixture to the slow cooker. Add the squash, 3 1/2 cups broth, and rice. Cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (or on low for 4 to 6 hours), until the rice is tender and creamy. Check the broth level towards the end of the cooking time to ensure the risotto doesn't dry out. If it seems too dry, stir in a bit more broth as needed.
  3. Stir, then taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired (I added a scant 1/2 teaspoon additional salt). Stir in the goat cheese and fresh sage. Serve immediately, topped with additional fresh sage as desired.

Recipe Notes

  • To ensure the risotto does not become too salty, purchase broth with a lower amount of sodium (mine had 570mg per serving). You can also purchase unsalted broth, but you will likely need to add additional kosher salt to the recipe to taste.
  • The cooking time for this recipe was calculated using short grain brown rice. Short grain white rice (arborio rice), which is more traditional for risotto, can be substituted, but the cooking time may vary. Check your slow cooker at least 1 hour early to ensure the rice does not overcook. I do not recommend long grain rice, as it is not starchy enough to create risotto's classic creamy texture.
  • Know thy slow cooker! Every crock pot is a little different, so you may need to adjust your cooking time, depending upon how quickly yours tends to finish recipes. If you use a larger or smaller slow cooker than what is specified in the recipe, that may affect the cooking time too. I also recommend using a programmable slow cooker, like this one, so that if you don’t check it right away, the food doesn’t burn.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat with a bit of chicken broth to keep the risotto from drying out. I have not frozen risotto before but think that it would freeze well for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Easy Crock Pot Dinner, Healthy Risotto Recipe, Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1(of 8), about 1 heaping cup) — Calories: 195, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 10mg, Sodium: 412mg, Carbohydrates: 26g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 7g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Brown Rice. This easy crock pot risotto recipe is as creamy as traditional risotto, but there's NO stirring required! #crockpot #slowcooker #rice #easysidedish #risotto

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About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

42 comments

  1. This looks great, Erin! Cannot wait to try it.

  2. Wow I never thought you could even do risotto in a slow cooker. That’s awesome!

  3. This looks so comforting and delicious!

  4. Hi Erin – What if I DO have risotto in my pantry? Could I use it in place of the brown rice? REALLY want to try this recipe. It sounds yum!

  5. We made this today and it was delicious! We bulked it up with some sweet Italian sausage! A definite keeper!

    • I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Dorothy! The sausage sounds like a delicious addition. Thank you so much for leaving this wonderful review!

  6. hey girl- this looks really tasty!

  7.  Absolutely fabulous recipe. I am going to cut back the goat cheese next time to four or 5 ounces because it was a bit rich. I would also suggest pan frying some sage    To add for a crispy  garnish and additional texture. Really yummy. 

    • Thank you, Toni! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. The pan-fried sage garnish idea sounds SO good. Thanks for taking the time to leave this wonderful review!

  8. I tried to make this in my instant pot using the slow cooker setting, but I couldn’t get it to work. So I used the manuel pressure cooker setting. It turned out at lot creamier than your photo.   I did add some Italian turkey sausage to make it a main dish. All things considered it turned out pretty good. I would definately make it again!  Delicious :)!!!  However next time I will just use my slow cooker. 

    • Kathryn, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this! I’ve never tried a pressure cooker, but now I’m totally intrigued. Great tip with the Italian turkey sausage too. Thanks so much for sharing and taking time to leave this wonderful review!

  9. Yuck. Not sure what I did wrong but it was inedible, bland and mushy. It is not a slow cooker recipe, probably better if you roast the squash and mix with properly cooked risotto. 

    • Hi Tina, I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t come out for you. As you can see from the reviews, other readers have liked it very much, but everyone’s taste is different. It’s hard to know what exactly may have gone wrong since everyone’s slow cooker is different. I know it’s disappointing to try a new recipe and not have it turn out as expected, so I truly wish you would have loved this.

  10. Any suggestions for how to make this on the stove? I don’t have a slow cooker :\

    • Hi Rose, unfortunately, this can’t really be adapted to the stovetop, because not only are the liquid levels and cooking times different, but also you would need to do some sautéing of the squash first. You can look for other squash risotto recipes online too!

  11. I gave this recipe a try with long grain rice (I didn’t read the notes all the way through!). Surprisingly it actually turned out quite good, although I had to cook it approx an hour longer, and the rice still could have used a bit more time.  I’ll definitely try it again with the recommended short grain rice.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica, thanks so much for reporting back! I’m glad it still turned out with long grain rice—I’d love to know what you think if you try it with the short grain too!

  12. Hi there, 
    I am not a fan of goat cheese but really want to try this recipe . Suggestions for another kind of cheese would be gratefully appreciated. 
    Thank you 
    Diana 

  13. Made this today and it turned out amazing!! It was so creamy and delicious you almost forget that it is actually healthy. Who knew risotto can be delicious and not totally maddening. 

  14. Can you do this recipe with instant rice? 

    • Hi Kendra! I’m afraid not. The rice will become too mushy. If you try it with the rice suggested in the recipe, I’d love to hear how it comes out!

  15. I made this with regular risotto rice and it didn’t work for me at all. The flavor was great, but the rice out cooked the squash and ended up really mushy. I’ll try again with the short grain brown rice. I had wanted this as the rice dish for the Hoppin John recipe but ended up having to cook up some brown rice really quick. (I only had long grain brown rice)

    • Terri, the issue is the rice. Regular risotto rice cooks much more quickly and needs a different liquid ratio than brown. I’m sorry it didn’t work out, but I think brown rice will do the trick next time!

  16. If I added sausage to the recipe when would I add it in? In the beginning or cook separately and add at end?  Sorry, I’m not that great of a cook!

  17. Made this yesterday for Mother’s Day – really delicious and SO easy. For awhile I thought it wouldn’t work because it just looked like uncooked rice and broth for a long time! But at the end of the cooking time, it was fluffy, creamy deliciousness. I used frozen butternut squash (added it frozen) which was fine – it basically blended into the risotto and didn’t stay in chunks, but was quite pleasant like that. I added a bit of parmesan just because I like it :). The goat cheese got all melty and smooth – YUM. I love sage, but I’m not sure that I would do the fresh sage again, it didn’t quite do it for me, but literally, that was the only part that I might change. SOOOO good!

    • Deb, HOORAY! I’m so glad you loved the risotto, and I so appreciate your taking the time to leave this wonderful comment!

  18. Have you ever doubled the batch? I was planning on bringing it to a dinner tonight and just exactly doubling everything.

    • Hi Bethany, I have not tried doubling it myself, but that should work if your slow cooker is large enough. It may need more time if the slow cooker is pretty full, but everyone’s slow cooker seems to cook a little different, so it’s hard to give more specific advice. I know this reply may be coming too late for your dinner, so if you did give it a try, I’d love to hear how it went.

  19. what is the easiest way to get the skin off of the squash? They are usually hard to cut threw. Do you cook it first in the oven?

  20. Do you need to peel the squash? 

  21. How might this work with cauliflower rice?

    • Hi Emily! I am afraid that it won’t. It’s designed for grains vs. cauliflower which will break down and become watery and mushy. I know that’s probably not what you were hoping to hear, but I want this recipe to turn out for you!

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