Warm and comforting, this deliciously creamy pumpkin risotto is the perfect recipe for fall. Rich with the taste of pumpkin, flavored with thyme, and sprinkled with crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds for contrast in texture, this is one recipe you’ll be making over and over! Naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
Warm Risotto for Cooler Days
As the weather gets cooler during the fall, temperatures drop and sweaters became our daily uniform, we should definitely make and eat foods that will keep us warm and full during the colder seasons. Foods like hearty soups; warm, filling casseroles; and one of my favorite dishes – risotto.
I’ve always been amazed at how little you need to actually prepare a good risotto – all you need is the rice, broth, water, and some optional ingredients of choice. In this case, since I had a container full of homemade pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge, and a packet of fresh thyme in my fridge, I decided to make a simple but deliciously creamy pumpkin risotto.
What is Risotto?
If you’ve never eaten or cooked risotto before, here’s a little bit of background. Risotto is basically a northern Italian dish of short-grained rice cooked in a broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. The broth used can be made from meat, fish or vegetables, and most recipes typically include onions, garlic, butter, white wine, and it is also typically flavored with herbs for taste. Risotto is probably one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy, the country where Juan and I hope to one day live in (ever since we fell in love with it on our trip to the Amalfi Coast and Rome).
In this recipe for pumpkin risotto, I won’t be using neither butter nor wine, and I’ve found that as long as you season the risotto well with a good vegetable broth, and let it cook until it turns creamy, you’ll still end up with an absolutely delicious meal that you’ll want to make over and over again!
Ingredients You’ll Need + Notes/Substitutions:
- Pumpkin Puree: I always recommend using homemade pumpkin puree whenever possible (simply because it’s cheaper, tastier, and doesn’t contain any additives or preservatives that come with the store-bought version), but if you only have access to canned pumpkin that will work just as well! Feel free to use butternut squash puree or sweet potato puree too if you prefer.
- Rice: A starchy short grain rice such as Carnaroli rice or Arborio rice will work best, to get the creamiest results. I do NOT recommend using basmati rice as that does not have enough starch to achieve the creamy texture so characteristic of risotto.
- Onion: I like using yellow onions because I usually always have those in my pantry, but feel free to use red onions or white onions too.
- Garlic: I love garlic, and fresh minced garlic will definitely add extra flavor and depth to the pumpkin risotto.
- Broth: To keep this pumpkin risotto completely vegan, I’ve used vegetable broth, but feel free to substitute it for equal amounts of chicken or meat or fish broth if you are not vegan or whatever broth you happen to have on hand. Homemade unsalted broth is best in my opinion.
- Herbs: I used thyme in this recipe, but you can also use rosemary if you prefer. If you have fresh herbs, add it almost at the end once the rice is almost done cooking. If you have dried herbs, add it at the beginning and use only 1/3 of the amount of fresh herbs.
- Salt and Pepper: I like seasoning the risotto with salt and pepper to taste once it’s cooked.
- Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Since this is a pumpkin risotto, I find that topping it with crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds is the perfect combination, to give it contrast in both color and texture. However you can also top the risotto with chopped nuts of your choice or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.
How to Make the Risotto: Step by Step
1. Sauté the Veggies
In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat up a little oil and sauté diced onions until translucent. When onions are translucent, add in minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
2. Let the Rice Absorb the Flavors
Add in arborio rice (or other short-grained rice that you’re using) and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes to let it absorb the flavors.
3. Allow to Simmer
Once the rice has absorbed the flavors, bring the heat down to low and add in the vegetable broth, letting the ingredients simmer. Make sure to stir the ingredients with a wooden spoon every couple of minutes to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. As the rice absorbs the broth, add the water 1 cup at a time until rice is almost cooked (and starts to stick together).
4. Add Pumpkin Puree and Thyme
When rice is almost cooked, add in pumpkin puree and stir well, along with fresh thyme sprigs, and let the pumpkin risotto cook for another 10 minutes, before seasoning to taste.
5. Garnish and Serve
Once cooked, divide the pumpkin risotto equally into 4 bowls, then garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh sprigs of thyme.
- Patience is Key: Risotto requires patience and constant attention to prevent the rice from getting burnt at the bottom of the pan or the liquid from drying out, but like with most things that require patience, you’ll reap results that are totally worth it.
- Pattern of 8: I learnt a long time ago in cooking class with my teacher Pelusa Molina that the best way to ensure that nothing burns at the bottom of the pan is to stir the rice in a figure-8 motion, to ensure you’re constantly moving the rice all over.
If not eating immediately, simply store the pumpkin risotto in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Heat up the risotto in either in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop before eating.
Yes, you can definitely make a large batch of this creamy risotto and then transfer it to freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then heat it up in either the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop before eating.
Yes, it is! Rice is naturally gluten-free, and all the other ingredients that are used in this risotto is gluten-free and vegan too.
Other Pumpkin Recipes You’ll Love:
- Homemade Pumpkin Puree (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins (Vegan)
- No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Creamy Pumpkin Soup (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Easy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Scones
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread (Dairy-Free, Vegan)
- Super Moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread
- Gluten-Free Vegan Pumpkin Scones
- Gluten-Free Pumpkin Gnocchi
Comforting Dinner Recipes:
- Easy Slow Cooker Lentil Curry (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Easy Chickpea Curry (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Garlic Eggplant Penne Pasta (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Mushroom Spaghetti Aglio Olio (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
- Warm Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash, Avocado and Arugula
P.S. If you try this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating below, and/or a review in the comment section further down the page. I always appreciate your feedback. Be sure to check out my entire Recipe Index for all the recipes on the blog. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram! Sign up for my Email List to get fresh recipes in your inbox each week!Print
Warm and comforting, this deliciously creamy pumpkin risotto is the perfect recipe for fall. Rich with the taste of pumpkin, flavored with thyme, and sprinkled with toasted pumpkin seeds for crunchy contrast, this is one recipe you’ll be making over and over! Naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cups arborio rice (not rinsed)
- 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish
- Sauté: In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat up a little oil and sauté diced onions until translucent. When onions are translucent, add in minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add Rice: Add in arborio rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes to let it absorb the flavors.
- Simmer: Bring heat down to low and add in vegetable broth, letting the ingredients simmer. Stir every couple of minutes to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add Water: As rice absorbs the broth add water 1 cup at a time until rice is almost cooked.
- Add Pumpkin Puree: When rice is almost cooked, add in pumpkin puree and stir well, along with fresh thyme sprigs, and let the rice cook for another 10 minutes.
- Season: Add salt and pepper taste
- Garnish and Serve: Divide into 4 equal portions, garnish with pumpkin seeds and fresh thyme
Pumpkin Puree: I always recommend using fresh pumpkin puree (because it’s cheaper, tastier, and doesn’t contain any additives or preservatives that the store-bought version usually has). However, if you only have access to canned pumpkin that will work just as well. You can also use substitute pumpkin puree for equal amounts of butternut squash puree or sweet potato puree if you prefer.
Rice: I recommend using a starchy short grain rice such as Carnaroli rice or Arborio rice as this will result in the creamiest consistency. I definitely do NOT recommend using a non-starch rice such as basmati rice as that will not achieve the creamy texture so characteristic of risotto.
Broth: To keep this recipe completely vegan, I’ve used vegetable broth, but if you are not vegan, feel free to use either chicken, beef, or fish broth in equal amounts instead. I recommend homemade broth as that will taste way better is much healthier than store-bought broths.
Herbs: I’ve used thyme in this recipe, but feel free to use other herbs such as rosemary instead. Just make sure that if you’re using fresh herbs, to add them almost at the end once the rice is almost done cooking. If using dried herbs, add the dried herbs at the beginning as they need time to rehydrate. Also make sure to use 1/3 the amount of dried herbs as the stated amount of fresh herbs as dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Since this is a pumpkin risotto, garnishing the final dish with pumpkin seeds on top seems like a perfect complement. The crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds also add contrast in color and texture to the creamy risotto. However, feel free to swap out the pumpkin seeds with chopped nuts or even a sprinkle of nutritional yeast if you prefer.
Barely adapted from: Watch Learn Eat
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: pumpkin risotto