Butternut Squash Risotto

This recipe has seen several variations over the course of this blog.

The first version, made when we were newly vegetarian and pre-food intolerance mayhem, was amazing. It was the first risotto I had ever made. And the first risotto I had ever had sans cheese.

Enter in a nightshade intolerance, and the recipe had to be updated. Version 2.0 swapped out the red peppers and substituted onions in it’s place. Again, amazing.

Our current variation came about because of my (ridiculously annoying) sensitivity to all forms of alcohol, including cooking wine. Meaning it had to be omitted from the recipe.

In it’s place, I use apple cider. And it honestly makes my heart sing to be able to cook with it. If I could subside of apple cider all day, every day…I totally would.

This risotto is the perfect main or side dish for Thanksgiving, and has been part of our traditional dinner for the past 4 years.

We wouldn’t have it any other way.


Butternut Squash Risotto

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 -8
Author Emily Levenson | emilylevenson.com


  • 1 small butternut squash diced into 1/2-inch cubes (approx. 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion red or white, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs freshly chopped parsley or basil


  1. Steam the squash over boiling water until tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. Measure out 2 cups of the squash and set aside; reserve any remaining squash for another use.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with oil. Add the squash and apple cider and stir gently until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of the stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. continue to add the stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each time until the liquid is absorbed before the next addition, until the risotto is creamy and the rice is just al dente. It should take about 25 minutes total.
  4. Add in parsley or basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Allergen Information

Nightshade free, dairy free, gluten free, wheat free, egg free, soy free, and corn free.
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Written by

Emily Levenson is learning to trust her gut all over again. She is committed to listening to AND following the nuggets of wisdom her gut has been dishing out for decades. You can follow Emily's journey here on the blog, through the Nourish + Flourish podcast, and through her posts on Instagram.

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. That looks absolutely DELICIOUS. The first (and only) risotto I ever made was with goat cheese but I’ve been thinking of making another one soon. I love the way this looks creamy and golden-delicious.

  2. Jason and I had some sort of frozen steamfresh risotto last night (which actually wasn’t half bad) and I was saying that I wanted to try my hand at making my own sometime.

    1. Risotto isn’t so hard to make, it’s just time intensive. This is a great one to try your hand at for a first risotto. Mostly because it’s delicious. But also because it’s in season.

  3. This looks fab and I can’t wait to try it! Could you clarify one thing for me please, what is Apple cider? I am in the uk and we have ‘cider’ but it is alcohol or we have ‘Apple cider vinegar’ – is it either of these?! Thanks in advance. Looking forward to this risotto! x x

    1. Sophie—Apple cider in the US is a non-alcoholic and generally seasonal (fall) beverage. I would say that apple juice (perhaps cloudy?) would be the closest thing. You could certainly try the alcoholic version or sub with white wine.

      Hope that helps!

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