This zucchini risotto recipe is a decadent yet simple entree or side dish. It's made with creamy Arborio rice cooked with broth and white wine, then finished with salty cheese, zucchini, fresh basil, and lemon zest.
This post may include affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Risotto is one of those dishes that sounds and tastes really fancy but is actually relatively simple to put together.
This zucchini risotto is one of my favorites and is the perfect summer risotto recipe. It's the creamiest risotto you'll ever taste and comes together with just a few simple ingredients.
📖Why This Recipe Works
- Freshly Grated Zucchini- Adding fresh zucchini at the end of the cooking process ensures it doesn't disintegrate into the rice. The zucchini also adds moisture which the rice happily soaks up.
- Butter- This recipe calls for cold butter which melts into the rice and creates the best creamy texture. Not all risotto recipes use butter but it was a trick I picked up when staying in Italy last summer.
- Summer Herbs- Adding fresh herbs like basil gives this risotto a fresh-from-the-garden taste.
This tasty zucchini risotto recipe is made with simple ingredients that add so much flavor! Here's what you'll need:
Arborio Rice - The classic risotto rice is Arborio rice, which is what I use in this recipe. I don't recommend using other varieties of rice. They just don't have the same creamy consistency and the cooking time will be different.
Stock - You can use chicken stock or keep this dish vegetarian with vegetable broth. You will need 6 cups of broth.
Zucchini - Use freshly grated zucchini for the best texture. You can use any size of zucchini in this recipe. It is also a great way to use up the large zucchini that aren't great for sauteing. You can use extra grated zucchini to make gluten-free zucchini bread.
Onion - I use white onion, but yellow onion will work too.
White Wine - Use your favorite dry white wine for this recipe. If you want to avoid the wine, simply replace it with a little bit of extra broth.
Butter - You'll need 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into small pieces.
Cheese - Pecorino or Parmesan cheese are both great options.
Garnishes - A sprinkle of fresh basil and lemon zest is the perfect way to finish off this simple dish. If you like an extra lemony flavor, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice too!
Vegan Risotto Substitutes:
You can easily make this risotto into a vegan recipe by using veggie broth, then swapping the butter and cheese out for vegan varieties of both.
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
💭 Yellow Squash Risotto
I usually use classic green zucchini in this recipe, but this recipe works great using yellow squash too! Simply swap the green zucchini out for the same amount of yellow summer squash.
And yes, you can even mix the two together.
⏲️How to Make Risotto with Zucchini
This zucchini risotto recipe is surprisingly simple to make! Before starting risotto you need to heat your broth.
The broth must be warm when added to the rice. Start by pouring the stock of your choice into a medium pot. Place it over medium heat on the stove and bring it to a simmer. Turn it down to low and keep it simmering while you make the risotto.
Step 1 -Sauté
While the stock is heating, heat oil in a large saucepan, then add in the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook until softened, then pour in ½ cup of the hot broth. Continue to cook until the stock evaporates completely.
This should take no more than a couple of minutes. This process softens the onions without turning them brown.
Once the moisture has evaporated, add the rice to the pan. Yes, we're adding it uncooked and toasting it first. This extra step adds a delicious layer of flavor to the finished risotto!
Allow the rice grains to cook with the onion for a minute or so or until the edges start to become slightly translucent. Watch carefully as the rice cooks so as not to burn it, then add in the white wine. Cook and stir until the wine has evaporated.
Step 2 - Add Stock and Stir
Next, add the remaining stock ½-1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Allow the liquid to absorb into the rice before adding more stock.
This will take somewhere around 2-3 minutes. It's worth it, I promise! You will know the rice is done when it's tender, but not mushy.
Step 3 - Add the Zucchini
Once all of the stock is added and the rice is finished cooking, stir in the grated zucchini and cold butter. Allow the butter to melt, then add the cheese, stirring frequently, until it is fully melted and the risotto is nice and creamy.
Finish the dish off with salt, black pepper, basil, and lemon zest, then dig into your perfect risotto!
🥗What to Serve with Risotto
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips for Making Risotto
- Stick to stock. Whether it's veggie stock or chicken stock, I definitely recommend using it. It's a great way to add tons of flavor to the finished dish. Water just doesn't quite do the trick.
- Cook the rice al dente. It should have a tender bite. If it's over-cooked, the risotto will be gummy rather than creamy.
- Use freshly shredded zucchini. The moisture in freshly grated zucchini adds to the creaminess of the risotto. DO NOT squeeze or wring out the zucchini.
- Grate your own cheese. Pre-grated cheeses contain an anti-caking agent that can be gritty when melted. I recommend grating your own cheese for maximum flavor.
Risotto is best served right away, but any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To reheat, warm on low on the stove with a splash of broth.
More Zucchini Recipes
💭 Frequently Asked Questions
Risotto is a rice dish. It's a classic Italian dish made by cooking arborio rice with broth and often cheese until it becomes creamy.
Yes, this zucchini risotto recipe is gluten-free.
Yes, you can add diced mushrooms (add with the onion), fresh corn, peas, or chopped tomatoes. Plus any other fresh herb you like like parsley or oregano.
Did You Enjoy Making This Recipe? Please rate this recipe with ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ or leave a comment. It helps other wonderful people connect with our food.
- 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup white onion finely chopped
- 2 cups Arborio Rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups grated zucchini
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
- ¾ cups pecorino or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese freshly grated
- 2 ounces Fresh Basil
- 1 lemon zested
- In a medium saucepan bring the chicken stock to a simmer over medium heat.6 cups chicken stock
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened about 6 minutes. Add ½ cup of the warm stock and cook, stirring often, until the stock evaporates and onion is completely tender2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 cup white onion
- Add the rice and cook for 1 minute, stirring to thoroughly coat. The grains should begin to become translucent around the edges. Add wine and bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is completely evaporated about 2 minutes.2 cups Arborio Rice, 1 cup dry white wine
- Begin adding the stock in ½ cup to 1 cup increments. Stir each time you add the stock. Allow the liquid to absorb before adding more stock. It will take 2 to 3 minutes for each addition to absorb.
- The rice will be done in 18 to 20 minutes. Start checking the rice after about 15 minutes; the rice should be al dente, i.e. tender but not mushy. When the rice is almost al dente stir in the grated zucchini.2 cups grated zucchini
- Remove the pan from heat, add the cold butter, and stir until melted. Gradually add 1he cheese, stirring until cheese is melted and the liquid surrounding the risotto is creamy but not a sludge. Stir in more stock if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with fresh chopped basil and lemon zest and serve with lemon slices.2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, ¾ cups pecorino or Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, 2 ounces Fresh Basil, 1 lemon