Zucchini risotto is creamy, tasty, and easy to make in one pot with grated zucchini in just about 30 minutes.
This is a comforting meal that everyone is going to love. It's a perfect dinner for the whole family.
Check out our Best Zucchini Recipes
The best way to turn zucchini rice into an incredibly creamy, rich, and tasty meal is to cook it like risotto.
Risotto is an Italian first course that you can make with pretty much any vegetable. And zucchini is perfect for it. So here we'll show you how to make the best zucchini risotto in the easiest way possible.
We are sure you are going to love this dish, and your family is going to devour it, lick their plates clean, and ask for seconds.
Please don't be intimidated by the name "risotto". The recipe is very simple. It's basically one-pot rice with shredded zucchini.
There are only a few tips we'll share with you to take this meal from good to creamy-dreamy-delicious.
And you can easily make this vegan by using vegan butter and vegan parmesan cheese. Let's see the ingredients!
Zucchini: we use green zucchini but any type of summer squash is good for this recipe. Try globe zucchini, yellow crookneck, yellow squash, yellow zucchini, grey zucchini, and costata romanesco. You can even add chopped zucchini flowers.
Risotto rice: to make the creamiest risotto you need risotto rice. You can easily find it in the supermarket next to regular rice, or in the Italian section.
Some good varieties of risotto rice are Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, and Roma. If you can't find those, then just get something that says "risotto rice" on the package.
Can you make this recipe with other types of rice? Yes and No. If you want the creamiest most authentic risotto then you need to use risotto rice. If you are not fussed about this, then you can certainly use other rice or even other grains, such as whole-grain rice, whole oats, and barley. Keep in mind that with whole grains you'll need at least twice as much liquid and cooking time.
Shallots: to build a light flavor base. You can also use white onion or leek instead.
Olive oil: we use it to fry the shallots and slightly toast the rice. You can use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil.
White wine: to add acidity and boost flavor. White wine is commonly used in most types of risottos and we like to use it here too. You can replace it with vegetable broth.
Vegetable broth: you can use store-bought vegetable broth or homemade vegetable broth. If we are making this for a quick dinner we use store-bought.
Butter: you can use traditional butter or vegan butter. We prefer to use vegan butter in this case. A good alternative to butter is cream cheese and vegan cream cheese. They are both perfect with rice and zucchini.
Parmesan Cheese: traditionally, Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano are the two most common types of cheese ideal for risotto. They add an incredible amount of umami; those savory notes that no other cheese can replicate. However, those cheeses are not vegan, nor vegetarian (because they are made with rennet). If that's a problem for you, replace parmesan with store-bought vegan cheese or homemade vegan parmesan.
Salt and pepper: sea salt or kosher salt is good. Black pepper, freshly ground if possible, adds an aroma that is perfect in this creamy zucchini risotto.
Lemon: we add lemon last, only after the risotto is on the plate. But it does make a big difference to add some grated lemon zest and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top of the risotto.
Thyme: optional. We like the combination of fresh thyme, zucchini, and lemon. You can replace thyme with fresh mint, or leave it out completely.
1) Prep your ingredients.
Warm up the vegetable broth till almost boiling in a pot and keep it warm throughout this recipe.
Finely chop the shallot. Grate the zucchini with the large holes of a box grater.
2) Shallot, rice, and wine.
To a large skillet, add the olive oil and the finely chopped shallot. Fry on low heat for about a minute.
Add the risotto rice to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and stir the rice around the pan with a wooden spoon. Do this for about a minute, until the rice is shiny and translucent.
Add the white wine and stir continuously until the wine has completely evaporated.
3) Broth, zucchini, and stir.
Add two ladlefuls of hot vegetable stock, salt, and shredded zucchini, and stir.
Keep adding 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth at a time as soon as the pan gets dry. Stir slowly and almost continuously, until the rice is cooked. This will take about 15 to 18 minutes.
Tip: If you run out of broth, add hot water instead. The rice is cooked when al dente. The rice grain should not be mushy. It should still have some bite to it. There should be no vegetable broth floating around. The consistency should be creamy.
4) Butter and parmesan.
Turn the heat off and add the butter and parmesan cheese (vegan or not is up to you). Stir until they are melted and fully incorporated with the rice, cover, and set aside for 2 full minutes.
After two minutes, taste the rice and adjust for salt if necessary. If the rice is too thick and sticky, add a little more vegetable stock, and give it a stir before serving.
The final consistency should be perfectly creamy - not too thick like glue, nor too runny.
Serve the risotto on a flat plate. Add some freshly grated lemon zest on top, a few leaves of fresh thyme or mint, a twist of freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!
This creamy zucchini risotto is a nutritious and fulfilling meal but if you want to increase your veggie intake, take a look at these vibrant veggie suggestions:
- Serve with salad: we usually serve it with a tomato-cucumber salad to clean our palate. Depending on the season and availability of veggies, you can serve it with a fennel and orange salad in autumn. Or, you can choose any of these healthy vegan salads.
- Serve with a vegetable side: for example steamed asparagus or roasted artichokes. Or get loads of veggie inspiration with our list of best vegetable sides and easy artichoke recipes.
- Serve with bruschetta: Try crostini or tomato bruschetta, they pair well with risotto.
Basil and pinenuts topping: want to try something different than thyme and lemon? Try adding a few leaves of finely chopped basil and toasted pine nuts on top of the risotto. Those two ingredients are incredible with zucchini and offer a great alternative to lemon and thyme.
Mint and lime topping: do you want something even fresher and tangier? Then you've got to try adding chopped mint leaves, grated lime zest, and a squeeze of lime juice on top of this zucchini risotto. Delicious!
More risotto recipes
If you liked this zucchini risotto, you might also like our other easy risotto recipes:
- Fresh asparagus risotto: with a vegan and vegetarian version.
- Tender eggplant risotto: with inspiration for how to cook risotto leftovers.
- Tomato risotto: made with ingredients you already have in your pantry.
- Saffron risotto: yellow and unique, a crowd-pleasing risotto recipe.
- Butternut squash risotto: a creamy and tasty way to cook up butternut squash.
- How to make vegan risotto: 5 different veggies and 5 easy risotto recipes.
Got risotto leftovers?
No problem, try our vegan supplì or rice pancake and turn your leftovers into a scrumptious meal. You can make these leftover recipes with any risotto.
Use risotto rice
I know it sounds obvious, but if you want to make the best risotto you've got to use risotto rice. Its grain is richer in starch compared to other types of rice, which will yield a much creamier dish.
Don't rinse the rice
Rinsing will wash off the starch and the risotto won't get as creamy. It will also affect the texture of the grain.
Add broth slowly
The secret to a creamy risotto (aside from using risotto rice) is to add the broth slowly (1 to 2 ladlefuls at a time), stirring till the broth has been absorbed by the rice, and only then adding more broth.
Stir, stir, stir
The slow stirring allows the rice to cook evenly, and the grain to release starch that will make the dish creamy.
Store leftover zucchini risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave, or on a skillet with a dash of olive oil and water.
Risotto is not suitable for freezing. On the second day, the risotto will be less creamy and more sticky.
- 1½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot
- 1½ cups risotto rice
- ⅓ cup white wine
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 3 medium zucchini
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 - 3 tablespoons vegan or regular butter
- 4 - 5 tablespoons grated parmesan (or vegan parmesan)
- 1 medium lemon (grated zest + wedge to squeeze)
- 2 twists black pepper (optional)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
1) PREP YOUR INGREDIENTS
- Warm up vegetable broth in a pot to almost boiling, and keep warm throughout this recipe. Finely chop the shallot. Grate the zucchini with the large holes of a box grater.
2) SHALLOT, RICE, AND WINE
- To a large skillet, add olive oil and the finely chopped shallot. Fry on low heat for about a minute.
- Add the risotto rice to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and stir the rice around the pan with a wooden spoon. Do this for about a minute, until the rice is shiny and translucent.
3) BROTH, ZUCCHINI, AND STIR
- Add two ladlefuls of hot vegetable stock, salt, shredded zucchini and stir.
- Keep adding 2 ladlefuls of vegetable broth at a time as soon as the pan gets dry. Stir slowly and almost continuously, until the rice is cooked. This will take about 15 to 18 minutes.Tip: If you run out of broth, add hot water instead. The rice is cooked when al dente. The rice grain should not be mushy. It should still have some bite to it. There should be no vegetable broth floating around. The consistency should be creamy.
4) BUTTER AND PARMESAN
- Turn the heat off and add the butter and parmesan cheese (vegan or not that's up to you). Stir until they are melted and fully incorporated with the rice, cover, and set aside for 2 full minutes.
- Taste the rice and adjust for salt if necessary. If the rice is too thick and sticky, add a little more vegetable stock, and give it a stir before serving. The final consistency should be perfectly creamy - not too thick like glue, nor too runny.
- Serve the risotto on a flat plate. Add some freshly grated lemon zest on top, a few leaves of fresh thyme or mint, a twist of freshly ground black pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!
If you liked this risotto, you might also like:
Worked for me, delicious!
I'm so happy to hear that, Michael. Thanks for coming back to leave a comment! Have a great Sunday, cheers Louise
This is a winner! Didn't have any of the risotto rice varieties you mention so I just used another which mentions on the pack 'suitable for risotto'. It turned out really nice but I'll make sure to use one of the varieties mentioned in the recipe next time. I also substituted Parmesan cheese with some grated vegan cheese https://violifefoods.com/ on top. This dish is so good and a delicious way to add more veggies. Thank you!
Amazing, Jenniffer! I'm happy you figured out the rice and vegan cheese, AND that you liked the recipe, YAY! Thanks for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it! Cheers, Nico