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Cheesy Butternut Squash Risotto

November 17, 2023

I'm a self-taught baker, recipe developer, photographer and writer in Brooklyn, New York. 

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cheesy butternut squash risotto with breadcrumb topping in a shallow green bowl

Risotto: It’s easy in its simplicity, and difficult to mess up. It’s beloved for its creamy sauce, developed by adding cooking liquid, one ladle at a time, to the bubbling rice, and stirring frequently. The rice grains bump into each other and slough off starch into the sauce, thickening things up and adding to a creamy texture without the need of actual cream (though, of course, many recipes add cream to risotto, still.)​

cheesy butternut squash risotto in a green bowl next to a jar of arborio rice

I’m partnering with RiceSelect on this recipe (and another one next month incoming!!) and we’re using their Arborio variety. Arborio is one of if not *the* best choice for risotto rice thanks to its high starch content, as well as short, stubby grains that hold together and that retain a slight chew in the middle. I genuinely loved cooking with RiceSelect. Instead of a bag, the rice comes in a resealable jar that keeps the rice fresher and is just easier for storage (plus, you can stack them). The jar opening is big enough for hands or measuring cups to get in, and provides a good spout for pouring the rice out. All this to say, the varieties from RiceSelect are really easy to recommend!​

a baking tray of halved butternut squash ready for the oven

cheesy butternut squash risotto in a green bowl next to a jar of arborio rice

a skillet of cheesy butternut squash risotto with a ladle scooping out of it

The recipe starts with roasting butternut or honeynut squash. The ones pictured above are honeynut, and you only need about one medium-sized squash for a single batch of this recipe. For butternut squashes, you’d need about half of a large one. (I give more specific measurements below.) They’re roasted in their skins so there’s no need to peel or chop or anything — and then the flesh is blended with chicken or vegetable stock to make the cooking liquid. After that, it’s as simple as pouring the cooking liquid into the rice, one ladle-full at a time, and stirring regularly until all the liquid is incorporated. Risotto is so creamy so I need a truckload of crunchy breadcrumb topping to balance it out but that’s just a personal preference. This could easily serve as a vegetarian main (if made with veggie stock) or would be at home as a side on any Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving buffet. ​

a skillet of cheesy butternut squash risotto with a ladle scooping out of it

Cheesy Butternut Squash Risotto

Print Recipe
This cheesy butternut squash risotto with a crunchy breadcrumb topping takes a little patience, but is as easy as pouring and stirring.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Cook Time 1 hour
0 minutes
Servings 4 servings



  • 1 lb butternut squash/honeynut squash 1 honey nut squash or about half a large butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil separated
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 cup RiceSelect arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Gruyère cheese grated (1.5 oz)
  • .5 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano grated

Breadcrumb Topping

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Halve the squash (if using honeynut) and remove the seeds. Cover with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then lay them insides-down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast the squash until fork tender, about 20-30 min.​
  • While the squash cooks, make the breadcrumb topping. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, then add the sage leaves and fry until bubbling and turning dark. Turn off the heat and remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.​
  • Return the skillet with the remaining oil to the stove over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs, pumpkin seeds, red pepper flakes and a hearty pinch of salt. Toast the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs are turning golden brown. Transfer the mix to a bowl, crumble the sage into the bowl, and rub the sage into the mix to break it up. Wipe out the skillet and set the breadcrumbs aside.​
  • Allow the squash to cool slightly, the scrape the flesh out with a spoon and discard the skins. Mix the flesh with the chicken stock in a blender or with an immersion blender. You should end up with about 3 3/4 cup liquid.​
  • Melt the butter and olive oil in the skillet from earlier. Cook the garlic and shallots with the rosemary over medium-low heat, and season with salt and pepper.​
  • Once the shallots are translucent, stir in the arborio rice.​
  • Increase heat to medium-high, add one half-cup of the liquid to the rice, and stir to combine. Continue cooking and stirring regularly until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.​
  • Add another half cup, and repeat the process, adding more liquid, one half-cup at a time, stirring regularly, until all the liquid is gone, and the risotto is creamy and thick, but still pourable. The whole pouring and stirring process should take about 20 to 30 minutes. If the rice is still slightly toothy, you can add another 1/2 cup of water or stock.​
  • Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cheeses just until combined.​
  • Serve immediately and top with lots of breadcrumbs.

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