Warm, creamy, and comforting, this Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto is the dinner bowl you need to keep you feeling cozy all season long. It’s made with mostly pantry staples, naturally gluten-free, and it’s truly easier to make than you might think.
Risotto gets a bad wrap of being a difficult and time consuming dish to make, but if done right, it can be done in less than 45 minutes. Use precut squash to save even more time and effort and enjoy this comfort food vegan butternut squash risotto anytime!
Ingredients you need
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Rice ~ Arborio rice is the most widely used rice for risotto. Carnaroli, another short grain rice, is a wonderful choice as well.
While rice is naturally gluten-free, be sure to choose a brand that is certified gluten-free to ensure no cross-contamination if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity.
Butternut squash ~ Butternut squash is sweet and nutty and the perfect vegetable to pair with creamy risotto rice. We are tossing peeled cubes of squash with savory herbs, like sage and thyme, and then roasting it to perfection.
For tips on cutting a butternut squash, see my article about vegan butternut squash recipes. Use precut squash from the produce department to make this processes even quicker and easier.
Roasted cubes of sweet potato or pumpkin may be substituted.
If you love butternut squash, don’t miss my famous Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese! It’s a reader favorite for a reason!
Broth ~ I like to use a low-sodium vegetable broth. If you have regular, use less added salt in the recipe.
Be sure to choose a brand that is certified gluten-free, if necessary.
Wine ~ A dry white wine works best. I used a Chardonnay. The alcohol cooks off and is safe to use even when feeding kids, however, you can leave it out and just use more broth if you prefer.
Herbs ~ Dried sage and thyme complement the flavors of this vegan butternut squash risotto well. Rosemary would be an excellent choice, too.
Nutritional yeast ~ Nutritional yeast adds a savory, nutty, slightly cheesy flavor to vegan risotto and replaces the parmesan cheese typically found in traditional risotto.
You could also stir in some store-bought or homemade vegan parmesan.
Salt ~ Rice is quite bland on its own and this dish definitely needs salt! I like to add a pinch about halfway through the cooking processes and then again before the final stir at the end.
Extras ~ Feel free to add some pumpkin seeds or chopped pecans as garnish before serving for some crunch. Chopped leafy greens, like kale or spinach, would also be a great addition to this creamy autumn risotto. A dollop of vegan butter stirred in right before serving can elevate the flavors of this dish, as well.
How to make the recipe
Prep the squash: Peel the butternut squash, remove the seeds, and chop into bite-size cubes. Toss the cubes with olive oil, sage, and thyme, and roast until tender.
Warm the broth: Heat the broth in a pot over low heat and keep it warm throughout the risotto making process.
Toast the rice: Sauté the onions and then add the dry rice. Sauté for several minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and toasted. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is absorbed.
Add broth: Add a ladle of warm broth to the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining broth ½ – 1 cup at a time, ensuring the broth is absorbed before adding more.
About half way through the cooking time, when the rice is starting to get tender, add a pinch of salt.
When the rice is creamy and al dente, add the nutritional yeast, another pinch of salt, and the roasted butternut squash. Stir well. Add one last ladle of broth to loosen, if needed.
How to serve
It’s elegant enough to be part of your holiday menu along with these other Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas.
Or add a simple salad, like Kale Apple Slaw, to your plate for some extra leafy greens.
And don’t for the vegan apple crisp for dessert to round out the fall flavors!
Storage and freezing
Prep ahead: The roasted squash can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer up to 3 months.
Pro tip: lay the baking sheet of roasted squash flat in the freezer. Once the squash is frozen, transfer it to a freezer-safe zip-top bag. This will ensure the squash cubes don’t clump together.
Fridge: Store leftover risotto in an air-tight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 day.
Freezer: You can also store this vegan butternut squash risotto in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating in a pot on the stove with a bit of extra broth, stirring frequently.
Pro tips and tricks
~ Do not rinse the rice! The starch on the rice is important for the creamy texture of risotto.
~ Toast the rice for a few minutes before adding any broth to bring out the nutty flavor.
~ Warm the broth and keep it on low heat (do not boil) during the whole process of making the risotto.
~ Be sure to have enough broth. Warm up more than you think you will need.
~ Add about 1 cup of broth at a time to the rice and do not add more until it is almost fully absorbed into the rice.
~ Cook the risotto over medium heat and do not rush the process. Cooking over too high of heat will cause the broth to evaporate instead of absorb and you won’t achieve the creamy texture you’re looking for.
~ Stir frequently during the cooking process, but not continuously. About every 30 seconds or so should do the trick.
There are tens of thousands of rice varieties! Short grain, starchy rice, like arborio or carnaroli, are the best for making risotto.
Starch is released by the friction from stirring the rice and cooking it slowly creating a creamy texture that risotto is known for.
Rice, in general, is bland. Toasting the rice for a few minutes in butter or oil with the onions before adding broth will help to create flavor. Make sure your dried spices are fresh. While, technically, dried spices will last forever, they do lose flavor as they sit. And don’t skip the salt!
This vegan butternut squash risotto is a main course on its own, however it can also be served as a side dish. Extra veggies pair well with risotto, like Garlic Green Beans, Oven Roasted Rainbow Carrots, sautéed mushrooms, sweet green peas, or roasted asparagus.
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! If you tried it, please use the rating system in the recipe card and leave a comment below with your feedback.
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For even more easy family recipes, be sure to check out my cookbook, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook!
Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 small butternut squash peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 4-6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt divided, plus more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- sprinkle of fresh thyme for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the thyme and sage. Spread into one even layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until tender, about 25 to 35 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking.
- Meanwhile, in a pot, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm.
- In a large, deep skillet, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir to combine. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes to toast the rice, stirring occasionally.
- Add the wine and stir until absorbed, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of warm broth and stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth ½ to 1 cup at a time until it's absorbed, stirring frequently, until the rice is creamy and tender yet still al dente. Add ½ teaspoon of salt once the rice is starting to get tender, after about 10 minutes or so. This whole process could take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. You may not use the full 6 cups of broth, but it's better to have too much than too little. Any leftover broth can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge.
- When the rice is al dente, add the nutritional yeast, remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and black pepper, if using. Stir in the roasted butternut squash.
- Garnish with fresh thyme and serve hot.