Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Serve it as a main dish, or serve it along with a big healthy vegetable salad.
- Serve it as a fuss-free side dish (with Baked Parmesan Chicken perhaps?).
- Bulk it up by mixing in sautéed spinach, Italian chicken or turkey sausage.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Programmable Slow Cooker. 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.
Slow Cooker Risotto with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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