The instant pot is a dream when it comes to risotto. This lemon asparagus risotto – perfect for spring and summer – is no exception. Creamy, tender, lemony rice loaded with fresh asparagus. No constant stirring required.
When asparagus comes into season, I’m all over it. Cheap, fresh and flavorful.
My only pet peeve with asparagus is that they can turn a dull pea green when cooked with other foods or when standing around. It’s not a taste thing. It’s a visual appeal thing. I’m a real sucker for bold, beautiful food.
That’s why I prefer to use a simple microwave asparagus recipe. Cook the asparagus for about 90 seconds and immediately run them under very cold water to shock them into staying a vibrant green.
I love making risotto in the instant pot. It’s easy and it comes out great with little effort. No standing over the stove for 20+ minutes, coaxing the rice to absorb liquid to create that classic risotto creaminess.
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 spring risotto. I call it spring comfort food.
Try serving the asparagus risotto as a side dish with lemon butter herb baked trout, pecan crusted salmon, sous vide citrus glazed chicken, balsamic glazed chicken or marinated pork chops. Or as a main dish with or without added cooked shrimp, tofu or chicken.
FAQ – Good To Know
Asparagus should be firm, bright green (not yellowy green) with dry, firm, closed tips. If the 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 are not really starchy enough. A good substitute for arborio is carnaroli rice.
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 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.
- 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. 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.
Make Ahead Lemon Asparagus Risotto
Risotto is best served as soon as it’s ready. But honestly, I find it absolutely fine when reheated too. 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 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
How to make lemon asparagus risotto in the instant pot
Lemon Asparagus Risotto (Instant Pot)
- Instant Pot (I use a 6 quart)
- 1 lb (450g) fresh asparagus washed and woody ends cut off
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 3/4 cup (39g) diced onions (about 1/2 medium onion)
- 2 tsp 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 tbsp butter
- 3 cups (750ml) broth, chicken or vegetable plus 1/4 cup/59ml more if needed
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt if needed (depends on broth used)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 1/2 cups (45g) fresh baby spinach or kale, roughly chopped
- zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
- 1/3 cup (30g) Parmesan cheese, grated (pass more when serving)
- MAKE RISOTTO – STEP 1 SAUTE: Press SAUTE 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.
- MAKE RISOTTO – STEP 2 PRESSURE COOK: Turn Instant pot to OFF. Add rest of broth, butter and thyme. Secure lid. Turn VALVE to SEALING. Turn PRESSURE or MANUAL setting on. 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/2.5cm pieces 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 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.