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asparagus risotto in serving bowl
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4.91 from 11 votes

Lemon Asparagus Risotto (Instant Pot)

The instant pot is a dream when it comes to risotto. This lemon asparagus risotto - a great recipe for spring and summer - is no exception. Creamy, tender, lemony rice loaded with fresh asparagus. No constant stirring required.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings (change as needed): 5 (or 4 larger side dishes)
Author: Cheryl


  • 1 pound (450g) fresh asparagus washed and woody ends cut off

For Risotto

  • 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.


Vegetables: Saute mushrooms or zucchini along with the onions if you like. You can also leave out the spinach. Or add a cup of peas to the asparagus when blanching in the microwave then rinse under cold water with the asparagus.
Dairy free and vegan versions: Leave out the Parmesan cheese and replace the butter with margarine. For a vegan version, Food 52 uses 5 cups vegetable broth (vegetable stock) and nutritional yeast.
Add-ins: For a non vegetarian version, stir in cooked chicken, ham or shrimp after pressure cooking the risotto. Or tofu in keeping with vegetarian recipes.
Asparagus cook method: If you are not fussy about how bright green the asparagus look, you can use other cooking methods such as grilling, sauteing in the instant pot (before onions) or roasting.
To make ahead:
  • 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. 
Nutrition values are estimates for the risotto as a side dish. 
Calories: 294kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 321mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2106IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 4mg