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Pumpkin Risotto (Instant Pot Method)

This rich, creamy, flavor-packed Pumpkin Risotto recipe in the instant pot is pure comfort food. It’s a knockout vegetarian dinner for Fall or Winter. Substitute butternut squash if you can’t find pumpkin. 

The instant pot is an easy and efficient cooking method that takes the traditional stovetop risotto and transforms it into a hassle-free dish while maintaining all the richness and velvety texture. The pumpkin adds a subtle sweetness and vibrant color.

pumpkin risotto in bowl with pumpkin behind it.

I find that the Instant Pot does a really good job with risotto. Pressure cooking streamlines the cooking process (and long stirring times) while producing equally delicious results as the traditional way on the stovetop. It creates a consistent heat distribution, allowing the rice grains to effortlessly absorb the flavors of pumpkin, Parmesan cheese, and aromatics.

If you’re craving comfort food or planning a fall season gathering, this Instant Pot pumpkin risotto will hit the mark for a hearty and delicious meal or side.

What to expect

Ultimately, this pumpkin risotto recipe is creamy, but not mushy, and the pumpkin, herb and cheese flavors shine through. It’s a satisfying vegetarian, gluten-free meal on its own or as a side for fish, turkey or chicken. And I love how it looks so Fall-ish.

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

Pumpkin, broth, wine, spinach, onion, butter, garlic, arborio rice, oil, salt, pepper, curry powder, thyme.
Fresh pumpkin, vegetable broth, wine, spinach, onion, butter, garlic clove, arborio rice, oil, salt, pepper, curry powder, thyme

Rice: For the best results, you will need short-grain rice like the Italian Arborio rice or Carnaroli rice. These have a higher starch content allowing the rice to absorb more liquid to create a creamier risotto.

Pumpkin: I wouldn’t start with a whole fresh pumpkin as you only need one pound/450 grams. Some stores sell chunks in a package. When I see that, I grab it to save the pumpkin gutting effort. Otherwise, I make butternut squash risotto instead which has a slightly lower water content so reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup (or don’t worry about it and adjust with more cheese if needed).

Seasonings: Instead of thyme, try dried or fresh sage leaves or poultry seasoning. You can omit the curry if you want. Just taste and add something else you like.

Wine: You can substitute the wine with 1/4 cup/59ml extra broth or water if you prefer.

Variations:

  • Omit the spinach if you want. I just love the color and extra nutrition it adds to this instant pot risotto recipe. You can also stir in chopped parsley or chives instead.
  • Omit the Parmesan for a vegan version (and reduce the broth to 4-4 1/4 cups) or use a vegan-style parmesan cheese. You can also swap the butter with vegan butter.
  • Try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup for some sweetness.

Step by step instructions

cubed pumpkin, chopped onion, garlic on cutting board.
Dice pumpkin into 1/2 inch/1.3 cm cubes and chop garlic and onions
onions and pumpkin in instant pot.
Place the onion, garlic and part of the pumpkin in the bottom of the pot of your electric pressure cooker and sauté for a few minutes.
sauteed rice and pumpkin in instant pot.
Add and sauté rice, then add the wine.
risotto after pressure cooking in instant pot.
Add broth and the remaining pumpkin. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
spinach, cheese and butter added to cooked risotto in instant pot.
Stir in the spinach, butter, and parmesan
finished pumpkin risotto in instant pot.
Stir until the spinach has wilted.
pumpkin risotto in bowl with pumpkin behind it.
Transfer the creamy risotto a serving bowl and serve. Top with a little more Parmesan cheese if you like.
pumpkin risotto with grated parmesan in bowl beside a pumpkin.

Helpful Tips for the perfect risotto

Build the flavors: You can play around with the seasonings. I use thyme mostly, but lately, I’ve been using poultry seasoning and highly recommend it. Poultry seasoning is a combination of sage, thyme, rosemary, marjoram nutmeg and pepper – all of which complement pumpkin perfectly.

Get the right consistency: Mostly this comes from the ratio of rice to liquids, but you can cheat quite easily by adding more Parmesan (to make it thicker) or more broth (to make it looser) at the end.

Keep some pumpkin cubes for show: Some of the pumpkin disintegrates and mixes into the risotto when cooked, but a few chunks remain. If you like more chunks, dice the pumpkin into slightly larger pieces and don’t sauté part of the pumpkin with the onions. This tip is included in the recipe card notes below. 

What to serve with pumpkin risotto

The risotto is a wonderful main dish on its own, perhaps with a nice fig salad with pomegranate seeds or a soup starter such as our root vegetable soup.

It’s also delicious dish to serve as a side with roasted herb salmon, grilled rack of lamb, sous vide tri tip, and Mediterranean grilled chicken.  

Make Ahead

  • Creamy pumpkin risotto is best served fresh, but if it needs to hang around for a while, you can leave it on warm in the Instant Pot and stir in extra broth before serving to loosen it up if you need. (It always thickens on standing.)
  • If you have leftover risotto, store it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat it gently over medium heat on the stove top or in the microwave, stirring part way through and adding extra broth or water if needed. Don’t freeze.
pumpkin risotto in bowl with pumpkin behind it.

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!

pumpkin risotto in bowl with pumpkin behind it.
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4.69 from 32 votes

Pumpkin Risotto (Instant Pot Method)

This rich, creamy, flavor-packed Pumpkin Risotto recipe in the instant pot is pure comfort food. It's a knockout vegetarian dinner for Fall or Winter. Substitute butternut squash if you can't find pumpkin.
Prep Time13 minutes
Cook Time27 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 sides (5 mains)

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 4 tsp fresh thyme (or use poultry seasoning or sage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more at end if needed)
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups short grain Arborio rice or Carnaroli rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or cooking wine (or substitute with broth)
  • 4 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth (or use 1 litre box + 1/2 cup water)
  • 1 pound peeled, seeded uncooked pumpkin, diced in 1/2 inch/1.3 cm cubes, Note 1
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • SAUTÉ VEGETABLES/AROMATICS: Press the SAUTÉ function button. When indicator button says 'hot', add onions and oil. You can also add 1/3 of the diced pumpkin at this point if you like (Note 1). Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and curry powder. Stir for 1 minute. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes to toast it (rice will stay white). Add white wine and stir until completely evaporated – 1 minute.
  • PRESSURE COOK RISOTTO: Turn Instant pot to OFF. Add broth and remaining squash, Secure lid. Turn VALVE to SEALING. Turn PRESSURE or MANUAL setting on to High level. Set for 6 minutes using + and – buttons. Count down will start when pressure has built up (in about 10-12 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, remove lid.
  • FINISH RISOTTO: Stir risotto. It will be loose at first. Stir in butter and Parmesan and spinach if using. Stir until spinach is wilted (30 seconds). If too thick, add more broth or water if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings (e.g. add another 1/2 teaspoon salt if needed, more thyme, curry, etc). Transfer to serving bowl and serve immediately topped with additional Parmesan if desired.

Video

Recipe Notes

  1. Pumpkin notes: 
    • Any pumpkin will work. Some good options are small sugar pumpkins (also called pie pumpkins) and cinderella pumpkin (bright orange, sweet).
    • Here’s a video on  how to clean a pumpkin for cooking purposes.
    • Some of the pumpkin will disintegrate in the instant pot and mixes into the risotto when cooked, but a few chunks remain. If you like more chunks, dice the pumpkin into slightly larger pieces and don’t sauté part of the pumpkin (as noted in the recipe) with the onions.
    • You can substitute butternut squash for the pumpkin. It has a slight lower water content so reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup/59 ml (or don’t worry about it and adjust with more cheese if needed).
  2. Risotto recipe variations:
    • Omit the spinach if you want. I just love the color and extra nutrition it adds to this instant pot risotto recipe. You can also stir in chopped parsley or chives instead.
    • You can also swap the butter with vegan butter.
    • Omit the Parmesan for a vegan version (and reduce the broth to 4-4 1/4 cups) or use a vegan-style parmesan cheese.
    • Try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup for some sweetness.
  3. To make ahead:
    • Fresh is best for risotto, but here are some options:
      • Keep on WARM setting in Instant Pot for 30-45 minutes. Stir and add both to loosen if needed.
      • Or, if using later, turn off instant pot and warm in microwave before serving, stirring in extra broth as needed.
    • Store leftovers in fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
    • Reheat risotto over medium heat on the stove top or in the microwave, stirring part way through, and adding extra broth or water if needed. Don’t freeze.
 
Nutrition values are estimates for generous portions.
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 858mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5983IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 146mg | Iron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating




24 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was the first recipe I made using my new Instant Pot. I never dared making risotto on the stovetop so I was eager to make it when I stumbled upon this recipe. It was so goooood!! Perfectly cooked and very creamy. We will definitely be making this again!

  2. 5 stars
    So super easy. I thought oven risotto was simple but it will be this recipe in the Instant Pot from now on! I sauted a couple of mushrooms first as we don’t eat onion or garlic. I added some peas at the end. Scrumptious! I will try 8 mins cook time as the rice was great but I’d just like it a bit softer. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I used med grain sushi rice bc that’s what I had on hand and added mushrooms as well and it turned out beautifully! Thank you for the recipe! How long do you think this will last in the freezer?

    1. Wonderful! Cool it first then freeze it in a ziploc or airtight container for up to 2-3 months. You may have to add extra liquid when warming it up. Hope that helps.

  4. 5 stars
    Turned out beautifully. Only thing I did differently was to add Rosemary and fresh Thyme. Will make it again and again.

    1. Hi Janet. Yes you can. As long as the ingredients don’t fill the instant pot more than two thirds tops. For this recipe, you would use 1 cup of pumpkin purée. Same liquids and timing. If you are not using Parmesan, you can probably reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup. Hope that helps. Good luck!

    1. Hi Brit. If you double the recipe, you will need to double the liquid (stock) but the cooking time and pressure will remain the same. The risotto will take a bit longer to get up to the target pressure though. Just make sure your instant pot is not more than 2/3 full. You should be ok with doubling this recipe if you have a 6 or 8 quart pot. Hope that helps.

  5. 5 stars
    This recipe is AMAZING! So delicious and tastes creamy. Definitely one of our new favs. Highly recommend. Love love LOVE it.

  6. Hi I’d love to try this. Would it work if I halved the recipe? Would you use the same cooking time? Also could I swap the wine for extra stock? I don’t have wine. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tracy. Yes to everything. You can halve the recipe, use the same cooking time and swap extra stock for the wine. 🙂