Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto that is BAKED (no babysitting!) to creamy perfection in just 20 minutes!

Butternut Squash Risotto with Toasted Pine Nuts and Pepper Jack Cheese is easy to prepare, wonderfully smooth and creamy, super flavorful and is absolutely fool proof!  This Butternut Squash Risotto recipe doesn’t require any roasting butternut squash, but instead, everything cooks in the same pot!   It makes the most amazing Thanksgiving or holiday side but is easy enough for every day!

up close of a spoonful of easy butternut squash risotto in a white dish

Butternut Squash Risotto 

Guys, I’ve been giddy compiling all of my Thanksgiving Recipes for you and can’t wait to hear what you are making for your holiday spread!  From Million Dollar Mac and Cheese to Cranberry Apple Cranberry Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf, to Double Layer Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecake (ps, have you seen the new video?), there is something for everyone no matter what you are “assigned” to bring (and the most amazing Cornbread Stuffing coming soon!).

So without further ado, I bring you one more reason to get giddy for Thanksgiving – Butternut Squash Risotto!  It not only is destined to become a new Thanksgiving tradition but one of your favorite weekly side dishes.

This Butternut Squash Risotto is the perfect risotto to conquer your fear of cooking risotto because it is super easy and absolutely full proof!   This risotto is baked instead of cooked on the stove so you don’t have to worry about stirring for 30 minutes, keeping your chicken broth the correct temperature, or stirring to just the right consistency.   It is extremely forgiving and lends itself to adding virtually anything to it.

top view of BAKED Butternut Squash Risotto in a large white Dutch oven with peas, mushrooms and pine nuts

What is Risotto?

I absolutely adore risotto from my Spinach Risotto, Parmesan Risotto and Greek Risotto but this Butternut Squash Risotto might take the cake.  Risotto is a northern Italian rice dish slow cooked in a broth until delectable creamy consistency. It often contains butter, garlic, onions, chicken broth, white wine, and Parmesan cheese.

What Ingredients do I need for Butternut Squash Risotto?

This Butternut Squash Risotto includes the common cast of charters:

with the addition of:

  • chopped butternut squash
  • cremini mushrooms
  • Pepper Jack cheese
  • petite frozen peas
  • seasonings:   chicken bouillon, dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, pepper

Essentially, Butternut Squash Risotto includes all the creaminess of traditional risotto but made extra creamy (if that’s even possible) because the butternut squash cooks right with the risotto then mixes with the rice to create a luxuriously creamy butternut squash sauce.  Drool.

What Rice do you use for Risotto?

It is essential to use arborio rice i for all risotto recipes, including this Butternut Squash Risotto.  When cooked, the rounded grains of the arborio rice become creamy and chewy due to the high starch content without become mushy.   You can find arborio rice at pretty much any grocery store alongside the other rices.

CAN I USE A DIFFERENT RICE?

You may also use carnaroli rice which is dependable and hard to overcook but can only be found at specialty markets.  Please use only these two varieties of rice.  If you use any other rice variety, your Butternut Squash Risotto recipe will not taste the same or have the correct consistency and texture due to the different starch content.

DO YOU WASH ARBORIO RICE BEFORE COOKING RISOTTO?

While it is good practice to rinse most rice before cooking it to eliminate extra starch, do NOT rinse arborio rice – we WANT the extra starch to create creamy risotto. Some of the starch is released while cooking and once again while vigorously stirring.  This starch adds body and creaminess to the risotto and gives it the characteristic velvety consistency.

a wooden spoon stirring best Butternut Squash Risotto in a white pot

How do you cut butternut squash for Butternut Squash Risotto?

The only real prep work for this Butternut Squash Risotto is peeling and chopping the butternut squash.   If you aren’t experienced chopping squash, I promise it s easy, here’s how:

  • Step 1 – Slice off the end:  Cut off 1/4-1/2-inch from the bottom of the squash in an even slice.  Cut off 1/4-1/2-inch from the top of the squash in an even slice to remove the stem.
  • Step 2 – Peel:   Hold the squash in one hand to stabilize while you us the other to peel off the tough, outer layer of the squash with a sharp vegetable peeler.  You can microwave the entire butternut squash before peeling for 30 seconds to help soften the skin and make it easier to peel.
  • Step 3 –  Cut squash in half:   Place the butternut squash on its side and cut it in half where the skinnier part meets the larger part.  Slice both pieces in half down the middle so you now have 4 quarters which are much easier to work with.
  • Step 4 – Remove seeds:  Scoop out the seeds and scrape away the pulp from the inside cavity of the squash (there should just be two larger pieces with seeds/pulp).
  • Step 5 – Chop:  Lay the squash quarters cut side down on the cutting board.  Working with one piece at time, cut the squash into 1/2-1″ slices.  Turn these slices over and stack them, then cut them into long sticks.  Finally, rotate the sticks and chop them crosswise into 1/2″-1″ cubes.

Can I use pre-cut Butternut Squash?

Yes!  If you want to eliminate the step of chopping and cutting your squash, you can purchase pre-cut squash from Costco and the like. Usually these packages of pre-cut squash come with larger pieces so just make sure you chop them down into 1/2-1” chunks if they are larger.

So let’s get cooking – or should I say baking?

a white serving bowl of baked Butternut Squash Risotto garnished with Parmesan, parsley and pine nuts

How do you make butternut squash risotto?

  • Step 1:  First, saute some mushrooms and shallots for 5 minutes then add your rice and garlic and saute for 3 additional minutes.
showing how to make Butternut Squash Risotto by sauteeing mushrooms, shallots, garlic and rice in a white stock pot


Step 2:  Add some warm chicken stock, chicken bouillon, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.

showing how to make Butternut Squash Risotto by adding a ladleful of warm chicken stock to rice in a white pot along with oregano, thyme, salt and pepper

Step 3:  Stir in your uncooked squash.  Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to your oven to bake for about 20 minutes.

showing how to make Butternut Squash Risotto by stirring in uncooked squash to rice in white pot.

Step 4:  Once tender, remove the rice from the oven and stir in ½ cup chicken broth, heavy cream and both Parmesan and pepper Jack cheeses. The pepper Jack adds a wonderful multidimensional flavor without being overpowering.  Vigorously stir fir just a minute or so to break down the butternut squash until everything is mega creamy.

showing how to make Baked Butternut Squash Risotto by removing the rice from and adding Parmesan

Step 5:   Stir in your peas…and just look how creamy your Butternut Squash Risotto is!

showing how to make Butternut Squash Risotto by stirring peas into risotto

Step 6:  Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan, toasted pine nuts…

side shot of baked Butternut Squash Risotto in a white stock pot with a wooden spoon

And in under 30 minutes you have soft, creamy Baked Butternut Squash Risotto with Toasted Pine Nuts infused with Pepper Jack!

Tips for Butternut Squash Risotto

  • Right pot:  Use a large, heavy bottom pot so your rice will cook evenly.  You also need a tight fitting lid in order for the risotto to cook correctly and for the liquid to not evaporate too quickly, otherwise you will be left with crunchy butternut squash risotto.
  • Low sodium chicken broth: this is essential otherwise your risotto will be too salty.  You can add salt, but it is hard to take it away! To make vegetarian butternut squash risotto, you can substitute with  vegetable broth but I only suggest this for dietary needs as it is not as flavorful as chicken broth.
  • Prep ahead: make sure you have everything prepped and ready to go – your garlic, shallots, squash, cheese, etc, before you start cooking.
  • Toast rice: sauteing the arborio rice might not sound very important but it is actually critical to perfect risotto.  Toasting the rice hardens the outside of the rice which helps it absorb moisture slowly which produces the perfect al dente rice without becoming soggy.
  • Stir vigorously:  Stirring vigorously at the end of cooking releases the starch from the rice and is what gives the risotto its characteristic creaminess.
  • Salt to taste: if your butternut squash risotto tastes like its missing something – it is probably salt!  Salt to taste at the very end.

What is the correct consistency of Risotto?

  • Add risotto and some chicken broth or water to a skillet, about ¼ cup liquid for 1 cup risotto.
  • Heat over medium heat until warmed through, stirring often.
  • If the risotto is still thick, stir in additional liquid one tablespoon at a time.
  • You can also add additional butter and salt to taste as the salt will mellow when refrigerated.

Butternut Squash Risotto Variations

Here I’ve obviously added butternut squash, mushrooms and peas, but you could really use any of your favorite vegetables, or herbs you have on hand, just be sure to add any fresh herbs or peas to the very end.  Here are some add-in ideas for Butternut Squash Risotto, but the possibles are endless!:

  • chicken
  • ground beef, turkey or sausage
  • sliced sausage
  • mushrooms
  • peas
  • bacon
  • zucchini
  • broccoli
  • arugula
  • sage
  • sliced almonds

HOW TO STORE RISOTTO

It’s hard to imagine there would be any leftovers of decadently delicious Butternut Squash Risotto recipe, but I’m always very excited when there is!  To store risotto, transfer it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for three to five days.

HOW TO REHEAT RISOTTO

Risotto will thicken in the refrigerator due to the starch in the rice, but you can easily thin it out to and restore it to its glory.  To reheat risotto:

  1. Add risotto and some chicken broth or water to a skillet, about ¼ cup liquid for 1 cup risotto. 
  2. Heat over medium heat until warmed through, stirring often. 
  3. If the risotto is still thick, stir in additional liquid one tablespoon at a time.
  4. You can also add additional butter and salt to taste as the salt will mellow when refrigerated.

CAN YOU FREEZE RISOTTO?

Yes, you can freeze risotto, but SHOULD you?  Risotto is best eaten fresh or refrigerated, never frozen.  Freezing risotto will change its texture – the risotto won’t be as firm or creamy.

Happy almost Thanksgiving and happy Baked Butternut Squash Risotto forever and ever.

Want to try this Butternut Squash Risotto?

Pin it to your SIDE, THANKSGIVING or FALL Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

up close of a spoon of butternut squash risotto in a white disih

Looking for more Butternut Squash Recipes?

No Babysitting, easy, creamy BAKED Butternut Squash Risotto! This simple to prepare risotto is wonderfully smooth and creamy, seasoned to perfection and is absolutely fool proof! It makes the most amazing Thanksgiving or holiday side but is easy enough for every day!

Baked Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto that is BAKED (no babysitting!) to creamy perfection in just 20 minutes! This Butternut Squash Risotto recipe with Toasted Pine Nuts and Pepper Jack Cheese is easy to prepare, wonderfully smooth and creamy, super flavorful and is absolutely fool proof!  It makes the most amazing Thanksgiving or holiday side but is easy enough for every day!
Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

BAKED RISOTTO

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 oz cremini mushrooms diced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups warmed chicken stock divided
  • 4 cups butternut squash (1/2-1” pieces), peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup Pepper Jack cheese freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 cup petite frozen peas thawed

Garnish

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt butter in olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven (or large oven proof heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid). Turn heat to medium high and add mushrooms and shallots. Saute for 5 minutes. Add rice and garlic and continue to cook for 3 minutes while stirring.
  • Add 4 ½ cups warm chicken stock, squash, chicken bouillon, salt, oregano, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
  • While rice is cooking, toast pine nuts. Add pine nuts to a dry skillet and heat over medium heat. Toast until golden, watching closely so they don’t burn. Transfer to a bowl so they don’t continue to cook.
  • When rice is tender, remove from oven and stir in remaining ½ cup chicken stock, heavy cream and cheeses. Stir vigorously to break down the squash until smooth. Stir in peas and heat through.
  • Garnish with pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.

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32 Comments

  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says

    This sounds so yummy and my Italian cousin and I would have lengthy discussions of what is our favorite risotto. I’m so inspired by this. Have a great day,!!

  2. chris says

    Your recipe for Baked Squash Risotto looks so delicious…however…could I make it a day ahead….?? I hate the last minute prep with guests coming ..
    thank you…

    • Jen says

      Yes Chris, this makes wonderful leftovers, you can definitely make it ahead of time! Enjoy!

  3. Cynthia says

    Could I leave out the peas? Or would I have to replace them with something else? I’ve never fixed Risotto before. BUT it looks really good! Can’t waite to try your Cranberry Rice Pilaf, it looks wonderful! Thank You!

    • Jen says

      Hi Cynthia! You can certainly leave out the peas if you wish! I am excited for you to try both of these recipes – hope you love them!

  4. Brittany says

    This looks amazing! Is it possible to leave out the bouillon? Or do you think it would be too bland without it?

    • Jen says

      Hi Brittany, you can certainly leave out the bouillon. It adds a nice dimension of flavor but it will still be good without it just be sure to add additional salt to taste. Enjoy!

  5. Molly says

    Wow! i cannot emphasise how much you need to make this! if you’re considering making this then stop considering and go and make it! i had this for dinner and for lunch the next day, it’s too delicious for words and even though peeling the squash is a pain, its so worth it!

    • Jen says

      Hi Molly, thank you so much for such a rave review!! I am thrilled you loved this risotto so much especially because it is one of my favs! Thank you thank you and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  6. Michele says

    I just made this for Thanksgiving tomorrow–it is DELICIOUS and SO easy to make! My grocery store sells pre-cut butternut squash, so there was hardly any prep at all. Wow– it is so yummy!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Michele, I am thrilled you love it so much!!! That is great your grocery store sells precut squash – always nice to find shortcuts, especially for Thanksgiving! I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and everyone loves the risotto!

  7. Caryn says

    This sounds amazing. Can I leave out the mushroom?

    • Jen says

      absolutely! I think you’ll love it!

  8. Jess Lambie says

    I’m going to make this for Thanksgiving! Looks amazing 🙂 if I leave out the heavy cream, will it alter the taste/texture?

    • Jen says

      Hi Jess! Yes, leaving out the heavy cream will make it less creamy but the taste will still be great.

  9. Casey says

    None of you recipes have ever disappointed and I’m excited to try this! If I make the day or even morning before what is the best way to reheat to make sure it’s still creamy?

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Casey, I LOVE hearing you trust my recipes! I am so excited you are making this one because it is one of my absolute favorites. I would heat it over low or medium low heat on the stove and add a little additional cream if you think it needs it. Enjoy!

      • Casey says

        OMG!! This was amazing! Everyone was going crazy for it! So easy to make. I was skeptical but I trusted your recipe since you have never let me down and so happy I did. I also made your cornbread which is the best cornbread I have ever had! Thank you so much!

        • Jen says

          What an awesome comment Casey, thank you so much! I am so happy you tried this recipe even if you were skeptical because it is one of my favs and I am thrilled it was a hit – wahoo! I’m flattered the cornbread was the “best” too! You totally made my day, thank you!

  10. Desiree says

    Hi Jen,
    Another hit at our house! Do you use a certain brand of Arborio rice? I noticed the second time making this, it did come out a bit more mushy in texture…still delicious just the same though! The first rice was from Trader Joe’s and they are no longer carrying it. Do you think cooking this dish on a convection setting could contribute to the softer texture?

    Your recipes are always a hit at our house, thank you!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Desiree, I’m so happy this Butternut Risotto was a hit and you’re enjoying my other recipes! I use Rice Select. Yes, I think cooking it on the convection setting could definitely affect the texture – maybe try less liquid if you cook it on convection again?

      • Desiree says

        Thanks, Jen! I’ll adjust when I make it again next week. Headed to the store for the Loaded Zuppa Toscano soup ingredients, (BTOG) :)!!

        • Jen says

          mmmm, I love that one! I hope you love it as much as us!

  11. Andi says

    We love this recipe and always add chicken sausage (apple or Italian flavored) after it’s done in the oven

    • Jen says

      That is such a brilliant idea, YUM! Thanks for taking the time to comment Andi!

  12. Paige says

    I just made this recipe to test it out before making it for 20+ guests on Christmas. Oh boy is it good!! Huge hit in my household and I can’t wait to make it for all of our guests. Love the addition of pepperjack- makes for great flavor. Thanks for an awesome recipe! I’ll also be making your million dollar mac and cheese, as that is requested every year!!

    • Jen says

      I apologize for my delayed response as I’ve been swamped for the holidays, but thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I love hearing this butternut squash risotto was such a hit with your family especially because it is one of my all time favorite recipes! I hope it was a huge winner with all of your guests, Merry Christmas!

  13. Donna Toop says

    I printed this recipe off and it sat on my table for a week before I remembered to buy the Arborio rice. I finally made it and served it with left over Turkey. I have to say this is AMAZING …. so creamy, so flavourful, so decadent! A super big hit with the family ! Easy and quick (I prep early in the day). A big THANKS for sharing!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Donna, thank YOU for taking the time to comment! I’m thrilled it was such a hit with your entire family!

  14. Royal F says

    This is another great dish. So creamy. And appealing to non-veggie people.

    • Jen says

      Thank you Royal, I’m so pleased it’s a winner with everyone!