Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto
This Instant Pot risotto with butternut squash is creamy, flavorful, and easy to cook entirely in your Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. We love the cubes of sweet butternut squash, fragrant sage, tangy Parmesan, and crisped prosciutto on top for an elegant but easy finishing touch.
Risotto is one of those foods that can seem intimidating. Making it the traditional way on the stovetop is not actually very difficult, but requires a bit of time and patience. And honestly, even when I have patience, I rarely have time!
Enter the Instant Pot. Pressure cooking is a wonderful shortcut to pretty darn good risotto that you can enjoy at home without constant watchfulness and stirring over the stove. For the busy home cook, this makes risotto possible where it previously wasn’t, especially if you have small kids underfoot.
Creamy risotto also pairs perfectly with cubes of butternut squash, which become delightfully tender and sweet in the pressure cooker, herby sage, and Parmesan. This is the same flavor combination that works so well in our favorite butternut squash frittata, and it’s equally enticing here.
Please don’t skip the crisped prosciutto on top! It is truly the perfect finishing touch. I tried making this once without prosciutto, and my family ate half as much as usual. Lesson learned!
If you must keep this recipe meat-free, sample and be prepared to add extra salt at the end. This will compensate for the missing prosciutto, which is a salty cured meat.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions. Find full amounts in the print-friendly recipe card below.
- Butter or extra-virgin olive oil.
- Shallot. You can substitute 1/2 of a medium red onion, sweet onion, or yellow onion as needed.
- Sage. I like to use dried or crushed sage in the Instant Pot, then garnish with fresh sage on top, but you can use one or the other, no problem. Thyme or rosemary would also go well.
- Arborio rice.
- Chicken or vegetable broth and dry white wine. The white wine is just for a little extra depth of flavor. You can certainly use extra broth or even just water in its place.
- Cubed butternut squash. I always buy this pre-cubed, because working with raw butternut squash makes my hands break out in a rash!
- Parmesan cheese.
- Kosher salt and black pepper.
What is Arborio rice?
Arborio rice is a short-grain rice with an oval shape and a pretty, pearlescent sheen. It’s very starchy, and can absorb more water than most other types of rice without becoming mushy. Risotto is the classic Italian dish based on Arborio rice, and this absorbent power is what makes risotto so creamy.
Beyond risotto, arborio is also used to make arancini and rice pudding. It can also be used to make paella, because it is easier to find than the truly authentic bomba rice. If you’re curious to read more about Arborio’s origin and uses, this is a good summary.
How To Make Instant Pot Risotto with Butternut Squash
The Instant Pot is pretty much the only way to make risotto remotely hands-off. You’ll use both sauté mode and regular high pressure cooking. Let’s hit the highlights.
This is a general overview. As always, you will find full instructions with exact ingredients and times in the print-friendly recipe card below.
- Sauté a bit of shallot, garlic, and sage
- Stir in the rice, followed by white wine, broth, and squash.
- Cook for 6 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid, add Parmesan, and give everything a good stir.
When you first open the Instant Pot, the squash pieces will still be in cubes. They’re so soft, however, that as you stir with a wooden spoon they will easily break down, adding to that luxurious creamy texture.
Be sure the shallot or garlic does not burn at all during the first step. If it begins to crisp and brown too much, just stir in a splash of the broth right away to save things, then proceed as directed by adding the rice.
How to Crisp Prosciutto in the Microwave
While the risotto cooks, take a couple of minutes to make your prosciutto crispy. This is so easy but feels fancy, at least to me! Like up-leveled bacon.
Lay a few pieces of prosciutto flat on a paper-towel lined plate, cover with another paper towel, and microwave in 1 minute increments. It’s done when the pieces are dark red and crisp to the touch. They’ll crumble easily into bite-sized pieces, which are perfect for sprinkling.
The crisp, salty prosciutto perfectly sets off the sweet, creamy butternut risotto. A must-have, in my opinion!
Serve with more salt, pepper, and Parmesan to taste.
Recipe FAQs & Expert Tips
Can I make this vegetarian or vegan?
Yes, it is quite easy to make this recipe vegan. Use a vegan-certified broth, omit the Parmesan cheese, and use olive oil or a plant-based butter alternative to sauté the shallots and garlic before adding the rice. Clearly, you will also want to skip the prosciutto. Be ready to add extra salt to taste at the end. A spritz of lemon juice can also help add tang.
Can I add more veggies?
Always! Try stirring some frozen peas directly into the risotto after lifting the lid off of the Instant Pot; the residual heat will soften them in no time. You can also sauté some green onions or leeks in with the shallots in the first step; this adds nice flavor.
Creamy and rich, we enjoy this butternut squash Instant Pot risotto as either a main dish or as a side. It makes a great and somewhat unique side dish for Thanksgiving!
Storage & Reheating
- Storage: Place leftovers in any airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Store the prosciutto separately and crumble onto individual portions. (These are our favorite meal prep boxes for the fridge.)
- Warming: Reheat in the microwave or in a small pan over medium heat on the stovetop. If warming on the stovetop, add a splash or two of broth or water to keep things creamy.
- Freezing: I have yet to try freezing this recipe, but suspect it would keep well for 3-4 months.
If you try this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto recipe, don’t forget to rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto
- 2 Tablespoons butter or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons ground or crushed sage
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 4 cups chicken or veggie broth low-sodium preferred
- 16 ounces fresh cubed butternut squash
- 3-4 slices thin-sliced Prosciutto
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly-ground black pepper
- fresh sage optional garnish
- Set Instant Pot to sauté, and add butter or olive oil. When warm, add the chopped shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sage and cook for 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant. (Watch carefully; if the shallot or garlic begins to burn at all, stir in a small amount of the broth right away.)
- Stir in the rice and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the wine and cook 1 minute more, then add the chicken broth and squash and stir very well. Cover, seal, and cook for 6 minutes on manual/high pressure.
- While risotto is cooking, crisp the prosciutto. Place slices in a single layer on a paper-towel lined plate, and cover with another paper towel. Microwave in 1 minute bursts, until very crisp. (This takes 2 minutes in my microwave on full power.) Crumble into small pieces and set aside.
- When the 6 minutes is up, allow pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, then open the valve to release the rest. Open the lid and turn off the Instant Pot.
- Stir in grated Parmesan, salt, and a few turns of pepper. Serve in bowls topped with more Parmesan and crisped prosciutto, and a few leaves of fresh sage if desired. Enjoy!
- Prosciutto: A little goes a long way and adds so much, I highly encourage you to try it! If you must keep this recipe meat-free, however, sample and be prepared to add extra salt at the end. This will compensate for the missing prosciutto.
- Butternut Squash: You can peel and cube your own butternut squash, but I always buy this pre-cubed, because working with raw butternut squash makes my hands break out in a rash! It’s also a big time-saver. 🙂
- Shallot: Substitute 1/2 of a medium red onion, sweet onion, or yellow onion as needed or preferred.
- Sage: I like to use dried or crushed sage in the Instant Pot, then garnish with fresh sage on top, but you can use one or the other, no problem.
- White Wine: This is just for extra depth of flavor, but if you prefer not to cook with wine, just use extra broth or water in its place. You do want to keep the total amount of liquid consistent with the recipe instructions to ensure the risotto is the right texture.
- Recipe: Adapted from an old issue of Cooking Light.
This post was originally published in February 2019 and has been updated with new photos and helpful tips and tricks. The recipe is unchanged.