The instant pot is a dream when it comes to risotto. This lemon asparagus risotto is no exception. Creamy, tender, lemony rice loaded with fresh asparagus. No constant attention and stirring required.
When asparagus season comes around, I’m all over it. Cheap, fresh and flavorful.
I love pressure cooker risotto. It’s easy and it comes out great with little effort. Best part is no standing over the stove for 20+ minutes, coaxing the rice to absorb liquid to create that classic creamy risotto.
For extra nutrition, I add chopped fresh spinach to the asparagus risotto, but feel free to leave it out. Or use one of the other variations suggested below.
The bottom line is healthy and delicious risotto. I call it perfect spring comfort food.
What to serve with asparagus risotto
Or as a main dish with or without added cooked shrimp, tofu or chicken.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Saute mushrooms or zucchini along with the onions if you like.
- You can also leave out the spinach (and all that extra nutrition 🙂 )
- Or add a cup of peas to the asparagus when blanching in the microwave. Rinse under cold water with the asparagus.
Dairy free and vegan versions:
- Leave out the Parmesan cheese and replace the butter with vegan margarine.
- In this vegan lemon asparagus risotto, Food 52 use vegetable broth and nutritional yeast.
- For a non vegetarian version, stir in cooked chicken, ham or shrimp after pressure cooking the risotto.
- Use chicken broth (chicken stock) next time instead of vegetable broth.
- Or how about some tofu.
Asparagus cook method:
- If you are not fussy about how bright green the asparagus look, you can use other cooking methods for the asparagus such as grilling, sautéing in the instant pot (before onions) or roasting.
- I love lemon with asparagus (you could also add lemon zest). If you don’t, cut it back or add other fresh herbs like dill, thyme or chives.
- Wine is optional and adds nice flavor. Skip it if you want and add extra broth instead.
How to make instant pot lemon asparagus risotto
FAQ – good to know
Asparagus should be firm, bright green (not yellowy green) with dry, firm, closed tips. If the asparagus tips are mushy or the stalks are wilted or brownish, give them a pass.
Thinner asparagus are more tender. Thicker asparagus have more fiber. The taste is pretty much the same though.
Asparagus are low calorie, low carb and a good source of potatssium, vitamin B6, A and C. And high in folic acid.
Asparagus will keep will in the fridge for 3-5 days. To keep them longer, stand them up in a glass with an inch of water and keep them in the fridge with a light bag over them.
According to Cook’s Illustrated, it’s better to cut off the woody ends and peel the ends (with a peeler) if necessary. The other option is the break off each stem at the point where it just snaps off. The problem with this method is the stalks will be uneven (if you care) and you will lose more of the asparagus. Up to you.
The best and most easily available rice for risotto is the medium-grained arborio rice. You need a good starchy rice to give the risotto its signature creaminess. Jasmine and Basmati rice are not really starchy enough. A good substitute for arborio is carnaroli rice.
Asparagus turn a dull pea green when cooked with other foods or when standing around. To keep them bright green, use a simple microwave asparagus recipe. Cook the asparagus in the microwave for about 90 seconds and immediately run them under very cold water to shock them into staying a vibrant green.
Risotto is best served as soon as it’s ready. But honestly, I find leftover risotto reheated absolutely fine. You do have to loosen it up with extra broth when reheating – whether it’s an hour later or from the fridge the next day. It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
If you want to make the asparagus risotto a day or two ahead (and keep the asparagus nice and bright green), stir in the cooked asparagus just before serving.
Not huge time savers, but if you’re not in the mood for chopping and grating, use:
- pre-shredded Parmesan cheese
- minced garlic cloves from a jar (or frozen cube)
- frozen chopped onions (found in the vegetable freezer section at grocery chains)
Other instant pot risotto recipes you might like
Lemon Asparagus Risotto (Instant Pot)
- Instant Pot (I use a 6 quart)
- 1 pound (450g) fresh asparagus washed and woody ends cut off
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup (39g) diced onions (about 1/2 medium or 1 small onion)
- 2 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
- 1 cup (220g) Arborio rice (or Carnaroli rice)
- 1/4 cup white wine optional (substitute with broth if not using)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 cups (750ml) broth, chicken or vegetable plus 1/4 cup/59ml more if needed
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt if needed (depends on broth used)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 1/2 cups (45g) fresh baby spinach or kale, roughly chopped
- zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or more to taste)
- 1/3 cup (30g) Parmesan cheese, grated (pass more when serving)
- MAKE RISOTTO – STEP 1 SAUTE: Press SAUTE mode on Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker. Once heated, add oil, onions and garlic. Stir for 2 minutes until onions are translucent. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes to toast (it will stay white). Add white wine, if using and stir until completely evaporated (30 seconds). Add 1 cup/237ml of broth and stir for 1 minute. If not using wine, add 1 1/4 cups/296ml broth. Press CANCEL.
- MAKE RISOTTO – STEP 2 PRESSURE COOK: Add rest of broth, butter and thyme. Secure lid. Turn VALVE to SEALING. Set to HIGH PRESSURE or MANUAL mode. Set for 6 minutes. Count down will start when pressure has built up (about 8-10 minutes). Once time is finished (instant pot will automatically change setting to Keep Warm), do a Quick Release of pressure by turning valve to VENTING (keep fingers away from vent). When pressure is fully released and button drops, remove lid.
- MICROWAVE ASPARAGUS: While risotto is cooking, place asparagus on a plate. Cover with another plate (upside down) and microwave on High for 1 1/2-2 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. Immediately run under very cold or ice water to quickly stop cooking process and keep vibrant green color. Cut into 1 inch pieces (2.5cm) and set aside. Note 1.
- FINISH RISOTTO: Stir risotto. It will be loose at first. Stir in spinach until wilted (30 seconds). Stir in lemon juice, zest, Parmesan (if using) and asparagus. Add more broth if needed to make it looser and creamier. To thicken it, add more Parmesan. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add salt or black pepper if needed or more lemon juice. Transfer to serving bowl and serve immediately topped with additional Parmesan if desired.
- Risotto is best served as soon as it’s ready. But honestly, it is fine reheated too. You do have to loosen it up with extra broth when reheating – an hour later or from the fridge the next day. It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- If you want to make the lemon asparagus risotto a day or two ahead and keep the asparagus nice and bright green, stir in the cooked asparagus just before serving. The taste is not affected, just the color.