This vegan butternut squash risotto with asparagus and spinach is perfect for a comforting dinner. Cheesy, savory and hearty, this risotto looks and tastes fancy, but is super easy to make for a date night as either a main course or a side dish.

Vegan butternut squash risotto

Not too long ago, I published my recipe for a delicious vegan mushroom risotto. And since then, I’ve just been making different risotto varieties non-stop! This dish is so versatile, comforting and always packed full of flavor. Plus, the process of making a dairy-free risotto from scratch really isn’t as intimidating as it seems.

Risotto is a traditional Italian dish that’s made using a process of gradually adding water to short grain rice such as Arborio, and stirring continuously. The resulting dish has a thick, creamy consistency as a result of the starches in the rice breaking down as you stir. Usually, risotto is made with cheese and butter, but it’s not difficult at all to veganise.

Give this vegan butternut squash a go, and you will see why I love it so much! It’s definitely the type of meal that’s sure to impress vegans and non-vegans alike.

Two plates of butternut squash risotto with asparagus

Why you’ll love this vegan butternut squash risotto

The star ingredient in this dish is definitely the butternut squash, which adds an amazing hint of sweetness. It also caramelises and partially breaks down in the risotto when you stir it in, which makes the texture even creamier. The other key ingredient is asparagus, which adds freshness and an amazing green color. This makes this risotto recipe ideal for fall and spring alike.

Closeup of risotto with asparagus

The other ingredients work together beautifully to create the most amazing savory, umami flavor. The addition of vegan cheese and nutritional yeast adds a distinctive cheesiness, while the addition of lemon juice helps to make the dish more tangy. Overall, the final result is:

Two plates of vegan risotto with butternut squash and asparagus
  • Incredibly flavorful and comforting.
  • Great for a weeknight dinner.
  • Just as perfect for a date night.
  • Easy to make from scratch.
  • Ready in 40 minutes.
  • Delicious as either a main course or a side dish.

Also, don’t be intimidated if you’ve never made risotto before! Although it’s not the quickest recipe ever and does require your constant presence in the kitchen to stir the rice, it’s not difficult at all to make correctly, even as a complete beginner to plant based cooking.

Ingredients and substitutions

Ingredients for vegan butternut squash risotto
  • Butternut squash. Other pumpkin varieties also work.
  • Olive oil. This will be added to the butternut squash before roasting, as well as used for cooking the risotto and vegetables.
  • Onion and garlic. These are added right at the start, to help add flavor.
  • Spices: cumin and garlic powder. Adjust the amounts that you use depending on your personal preference.
  • Arborio rice. You can use other short grain rice varieties, such as Carnaroli. This is important because short grain rice varieties have a higher starch content, which will create the creamy texture of the risotto.
  • Vegetable stock.
  • Asparagus. This is added to risotto dishes very often, helping to add flavor and a great pop of color, too!
  • Nutritional yeast. This ingredient is frequently used in vegan cooking because it helps to add an amazing cheesy flavor to various dishes.
  • Tamari. You can also use soy sauce if not avoiding gluten, or coconut aminos for a soy-free version. The addition of tamari helps to add a great umami flavor that risotto is so known for.
  • Apple cider vinegar. This helps to balance the other flavors and add a hint of tanginess.
  • Vegan cheese. Optional, but very much recommended!
  • Lemon juice. This is also added right at the end for a tangy freshness. I would recommend using fresh lemon juice from a whole lemon. Adjust the amount you use to taste.

How to make risotto with asparagus and butternut squash

Prepare the butternut squash

Firstly, cut off the top and bottom 1/2 inch of the butternut squash. Then, use a vegetable peeler to peel the entire squash. Afterwards, proceed to cut it in half vertically, and scoop out the seeds.

Butternut squash cubes on a baking tray

The butternut squash is now ready to be diced. I would recommend dicing it quite finely, as this will shorten the roasting time, and also allow it to bread down nicely when stirred into the risotto.

Roast the butternut squash

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Transfer the cubed butternut squash to the tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until tender and golden.

Make the risotto

Start by heating olive oil in a wide, flat-bottomed pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, before adding the cumin and garlic powder and cooking for 2 more minutes.

Now add the arborio rice and allow to cook for around 3 minutes to brown the rice slightly. Then, start pouring in the vegetable stock around 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously until it fully absorbs before adding more stock. The whole process should take around 20 minutes,

Add the vegetables

Once you have used up all the vegetable stock minus 1 cup, add the asparagus, baked butternut squash, asparagus, nutritional yeast, tamari, apple cider vinegar, vegan cheese, lemon juice, and the rest of the vegetable stock. Continue stirring for another 5 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green.

Risotto with asparagus in a large pan

Tips for success

  • Make sure that the stock is warm before you start adding it in order to shorten the cooking time.
  • Don’t add too much vegetable stock at the same time, as the gradual stirring process is what allows the rice to break down and create a creamy texture.
  • Keep stirring and don’t walk away from the stove during the cooking process in order to achieve the best results. This may be a good time to listen to a podcast or an audiobook!
Two bowls of vegan risotto with butternut squash and asparagus

Instructions for storage and freezing

This vegan butternut squash risotto, just like other risotto dishes, is best eaten straight away. However, you can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheat on the stove, adding more vegetable stock as you do so. I would not recommend freezing risotto, because this will cause the rice to develop a grainy texture.

Other vegan butternut squash recipes

Have leftover butternut squash? You can save it for later and use in these amazing recipes:

Dairy-free butternut squash risotto with asparagus

If you give this vegan butternut squash risotto a go, be sure to tag me on Instagram (@earthofmariaa) so I can see your creations, and leave your feedback in the comments below together with a star rating – I love hearing from you!

Vegan butternut squash risotto

Get the Recipe: Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto

This vegan butternut squash risotto with asparagus is cheesy, savory, and perfectly comforting! It's perfect for a date night either as a side dish or a main course. You won't believe this meal is entirely dairy-free!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large butternut squash
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups asparagus, chopped
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp tamari
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 cups spinach leaves

Equipment

  • Conventional oven
  • Baking tray
  • Large saucepan

Instructions 

  • Cut off the top and bottom 1/2 inch of the butternut squash. Then, use a vegetable peeler to peel the entire squash. Afterwards, proceed to cut it in half vertically, and scoop out the seeds. Dice into bite-sized pieces – you will need around 1/2 a butternut squash, or 2 cups, for this recipe.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/350 F and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Transfer the cubed butternut squash to the tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, until tender and golden.
  • Meanwhile, heat the rest of the olive oil in a wide, flat-bottomed pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, before adding the cumin and garlic powder and cooking for 2 more minutes.
  • Add the arborio rice and allow to cook for around 3 minutes to brown the rice slightly. Then, start pouring in the vegetable stock around 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously until it fully absorbs before adding more stock. The whole process should take around 20 minutes,
  • Once you have used up all the vegetable stock minus 1 cup, add the asparagus, baked butternut squash, nutritional yeast, tamari, apple cider vinegar, vegan cheese, lemon juice, and the rest of the vegetable stock. Continue stirring for another 5 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green.
  • At the last minute, stir in the the turmeric and spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts.

Video

Notes

Tips for success
  • Make sure that the stock is warm before you start adding it in.
  • Don’t add too much vegetable stock at the same time, as the gradual stirring process is what allows the rice to break down and create a creamy texture.
  • Keep stirring and don’t walk away from the stove during the cooking process in order to achieve the best results. 
Storage instructions
This risotto best eaten straight away. However, you can keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheat on the stove, adding more vegetable stock as you do so. I would not recommend freezing risotto, because this will cause the rice to develop a grainy texture.
Calories: 510kcal, Carbohydrates: 92g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Sodium: 1846mg, Potassium: 914mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 13221IU, Vitamin C: 47mg, Calcium: 123mg, Iron: 8mg
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Vegan butternut squash risotto