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Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

This Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto is creamy, flavorful and super easy. With hints of thyme, sage and nutmeg, it’s a perfect side dish, first course or meatless main dish for fall!

The best part? It’s pretty much totally hands-off, which means you won’t have to stand at the stove for 20 minutes constantly stirring and adding stock!

If you love risotto but maybe have been intimidated by or haven’t had much success at making this classic Italian dish at home (or even if you’re an ace at making it but wish it was a little bit easier), this recipe is a game-changer.

It’s so simple but so delicious that I’ll bet that if you didn’t tell anyone you made it in the Instant Pot, they’d never know!

The key to any risotto recipe is using arborio rice, an Italian short-grain rice that cooks up nice and creamy while still being al dente (meaning it’s just a little firm and chewy).

Traditionally, that creaminess is achieved by lots and lots of continual stirring after adding warm stock one ladleful at a time. You have to be patient and can’t rush things along.

BUT…when you use an Instant Pot, you pretty much set it, forget it and don’t worry about stirring at all. I don’t know how or why, but the risotto just magically gets creamy while it’s cooking!

Combine that rice with onions, garlic, tender chunks of sweet (and good-for-you) butternut squash, a hint of thyme, sage and nutmeg, and some butter and parmesan cheese, and you’ve got yourself one fabulous autumn risotto that’s sure to earn rave reviews.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s ready in just 30 minutes?!

butternut squash risotto in an Instant Pot with a wooden spoon

Ingredients you need:

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card below.

  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Onions
  • Arborio rice
  • Garlic
  • Chicken stock (I use a roasted chicken base + water)
  • Butternut squash
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried ground sage
  • Nutmeg
  • Parmesan cheese (get a wedge and grate it yourself if you can)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh sage (for garnish, optional)

Special Equipment Needed:

  • Instant Pot (6 or 8-quart; I used a 6-quart)

Note: The above video is just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full printable recipe with detailed instructions.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits:

  • Don’t substitute regular rice for the arborio rice; it’s what makes the risotto so creamy!
  • When properly cooked, the rice in risotto should be creamy but al dente (or firm to the bite). It should not be soft and/or mushy.
  • Use chicken stock that has really good flavor (I use a roasted chicken base mixed with water).
    • You can use vegetable stock instead; the flavor will just be a little different.
  • As written, the recipe has a background hint of thyme and sage that isn’t overwhelming. Feel free to adjust the amounts to suit your own tastes.
    • You can use fresh herbs if you’d rather (the general rule is to use 3 times the amount of fresh as dried). I prefer dried herbs in this recipe because I think you can taste them more.
  • I highly recommend getting a wedge of good parmesan cheese and grating it yourself (I used parmigiano-reggiano). It does make a difference.
    • Want it cheesier? Go ahead and add more!
  • Wine is a classic ingredient in risotto, but I prefer this butternut squash risotto without wine.
    • If you’d like to add some, use up to ½ cup of a dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc and add it after you have toasted the rice. Cook, stirring, until most of the wine has been absorbed and proceed with the recipe.
  • Need a bigger batch? Double the recipe ingredients but keep the cooking time the same.
  • You can roast butternut squash seeds just like you would pumpkin seeds for a delicious snack!
close-up of a bowl of Instant Pot butternut squash risotto

Make-Ahead, Leftovers and Freezing:

  • Make-Ahead: Not recommended. Any risotto, including this one, is at its creamy best when served immediately after cooking. The rice will continue to absorb any liquid and will dry out as it cools and while stored in the refrigerator, and it’s just not the same when you reheat it.
  • Leftovers: Once the risotto has cooled to room temperature, immediately store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days.
    • Reheat gently over low heat on the stove, covered, adding stock as needed and stirring to loosen it up.
    • A different but awesome way to use up the leftovers is for breakfast. Reheat the risotto and top it with a couple of fried eggs…SO GOOD!
  • Freezing: Not recommended. Not only would the risotto dry out in the freezer, but the butternut squash would likely become mushy as well.
close-up of a spoonful of Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto being taken out of the bowl

A wonderful choice throughout the fall season, this risotto would also be excellent served as a first course or side dish at Thanksgiving…which is only 2 short weeks away!

Or you could offer it as a meatless main dish option. Note that it’s not vegan, even if you use veggie stock, because of the butter and cheese (but I suppose you could use vegan butter and cheese, although I’ve never tried that myself).

I hope you try this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Instant Pot Recipes You Might Like…

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

butternut squash risotto in a white bowl garnished with parmesan cheese and fresh sage and a spoon on the side

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

This Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto is creamy, flavorful and super easy. With hints of thyme, sage and nutmeg, it's a perfect side dish, first course or meatless main dish for fall!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 cups (enough for 4 to 6 side-dish servings or 2 main-dish servings)
Estimated Calories: 329

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onions, about ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups chicken stock, I use roasted chicken base + water
  • 3 cups peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash, about ½-inch pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon dried ground sage
  • teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped sage, for garnish (optional)

Special Equipment

  • Instant Pot (6 or 8-quart; I used a 6-quart)

Instructions

  • Turn the Instant Pot on to the SAUTE (normal/medium) mode. Add the olive oil and one tablespoon of the butter.
  • When the butter has melted, add the onions; sauté, stirring often, just until they begin to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes (you don't want them to get brown).
  • Add the rice and garlic; sauté, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and the rice is very lightly toasted (it should start turning translucent at the edges while the center is still white; if it takes on a very pale and light golden color here and there, that is ok, but you don't want any more color than that).
  • Add the chicken stock, butternut squash, thyme, sage, and nutmeg; stir to combine. Press CANCEL to turn off the sauté mode.
  • Put the lid on the Instant Pot, turn the steam release valve to SEALING and cook at HIGH pressure for 6 minutes (it will take about 6 to 8 minutes for the pot to come up to pressure before the timer starts counting down).
  • When the cooking time has finished, quick-release the pressure.
  • Add the parmesan cheese and remaining tablespoon of butter; stir until combined. Add salt and black pepper to taste (depending on how salty your stock is, you may not need to add any salt).
  • If the risotto has a little more liquid than you'd like at this point, just let it sit in the pot with the lid off for about 5 to 10 minutes and it will thicken up.
  • Serve immediately. Top each serving with additional parmesan cheese and chopped fresh sage (if desired).

Notes

  • Don’t substitute regular rice for the arborio rice; it’s what makes the risotto creamy!
  • When properly cooked, the rice in risotto should be creamy but al dente (or firm to the bite). It should not be soft and/or mushy.
  • You can use vegetable stock instead; the flavor will just be a little different.
  • As written, the recipe has a background hint of thyme and sage that isn’t overwhelming. Feel free to adjust the amounts to suit your own tastes.
    • You can use fresh herbs if you’d rather (the general rule is to use 3 times the amount of fresh as dried). I use dried herbs because I can taste them more.
  • I highly recommend getting a wedge of good parmesan cheese (I used parmigiano reggiano) and grating it yourself. It really makes a difference.
    • Want it cheesier? Go ahead and add more!
  • Wine is a classic ingredient in risotto, but I prefer this butternut squash risotto without it.
    • If you’d like, you can add up to ½ cup of a dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc after you have toasted the rice. Cook, stirring, until most of the wine has been absorbed and proceed with the recipe.
  • Need a bigger batch? Double the recipe ingredients but keep the cooking time the same.
  • Estimated calories shown is based on 4 servings of about 1 cup each.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!

Recipe adapted from Instant Pot Recipe Collection Cookbook.

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