Creamy Butternut Squash “Risotto” (Vegan + Whole30) – No Rice!

VeganGluten-FreePaleoSoy-FreeRefined Sugar-FreeEasyKid-FriendlyVegetarianEgg-FreeDairy Free

It’s fall, it’s dinner time, and you’re in the mood for comfort food. I’ve got just the recipe for you! Creamy Butternut Squash “Risotto” is a totally plant-based, grain-free recipe that’s filled with creamy texture and all the flavor you’re craving this season. We love it as a weeknight side dish but it is also special enough for your fall holiday table!

Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto

This Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto is incredibly comforting. It’s one of those dishes that just warms you up and makes you feel cared for! As a bonus? Most people wouldn’t guess it’s vegan because it’s SO creamy! People are always blown away by how delicious this recipe is and my kids GOBBLE it up, too. I love seeing them excited for a meal that I know is loaded up with veggies! It’s also super versatile: it’s an elegant side dish but also simple enough for a weeknight meal. Enjoy this fun and innovative way to prepare butternut squash this season!

Grain-Free Butternut Squash Risotto
Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto Ingredients

Ingredients in Butternut Squash Risotto

I do a little happy dance when I see an ingredient list made entirely of fresh produce! There’s something so satisfying about knowing that the dish I’m making is going to be satisfying and flavorful while also giving my body the nutrients it needs to feel best.

  • Butternut squash – Look for a small one, about 2 pounds. Butternut squash should feel heavy for their size and can be stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – You could also use vegan butter for flavor!
  • Yellow onion – Use about half of an onion finely diced. You could also do Caramelized Onions, which is one of my favorite ways to make savory recipes absolutely POP. Just plan ahead if you want caramelized onions since they take a while on the stovetop. They can be made ahead of time, too!
  • Salt and pepper – You can always adjust these to your preference. I always say to start with a little bit since you can add more, but not take it out!
  • Garlic clove – This recipe calls for one minced garlic clove, but you can increase if you want. If you LOVE garlic flavor, you can also use my recipe for How to Roast Garlic to add an even more intense, garlicky flavor.
  • Homemade Vegan Cashew Cream – I LOVE this recipe. It’s an absolute staple in my kitchen! This cream has a cashew base that adds the most luxurious, creamy texture to so many of my favorite recipes.
  • Optional garnishes – My favorites are vegan Parmesan cheese (I love VioLife brand!),  finely diced fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, or red pepper flakes if you like some heat. You could also save a spoonful of the cashew cream to drizzle over the top!
Butternut Squash Risotto

Plant-Based “Risotto”

You may have noticed that I put risotto in quotation marks. That’s because, well…we aren’t actually using rice! After I cut the butternut squash into cubes, I toss it in the food processor and pulse it until the butternut squash gets the texture of rice. This usually takes about 15 seconds, and what’s interesting is that as it cooks it absorbs the water like a rice or pasta, becoming soft and oh-so-satisfying! I love this little hack for a totally plant-based comfort food that feels totally indulgent.

All About Butternut Squash

I can’t stop cooking with butternut squash when it’s in season! It’s colorful, nutritious, and of course…it tastes amazing. Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium. It’s loaded with vitamins A and C and also contains phytochemicals (natural plant chemicals) that support vision, heart and gastrointestinal health.

Butternut Squash Risotto

How to Cut Butternut Squash

Butternut squash are big, awkwardly shaped, and have skin that needs to be peeled, so a lot of people are tempted buy frozen or pre-cut options. I don’t recommend buying pre-cut squash, though…I’ve found they get slimy so quickly! Freshly cut butternut squash is so much sweeter and has the best flavor. In a dish like this where it’s the main flavor, it makes a huge difference to chop it up yourself, and I promise it isn’t as hard as it seems! Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin in long strips. Cut the squash in half right above the rounded bulb-looking section. From there you can cut the rounded section in half, and you’ll see the seeds! Scoop those out, and your butternut squash is ready to be diced into 1-inch sections. Check out my Instagram Reel below where you can see me do this on video!

Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Risotto

Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash Risotto

I added my favorite Cashew Cream for extra plant-based protein and creamy texture. I almost always have a batch of this Cashew Cream in my refrigerator because it’s so versatile. Cashews are an excellent source of copper and a good source of magnesium, manganese, vitamin K, phosphorous and zinc.  This cream has a neutral flavor that lets the butternut squash shine! Learn more about How (and Why!) to Soak Cashews in this post.

Easy Vegan Risotto with Butternut Squash

This Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto is vegan, Whole30-approved, grain-free, paleo, gluten-free, soy-free, and VERY kid-friendly. What more could you ask for?! I hope you make it and love it, and if you do, please tag me on Instagram! I love seeing my recipes in your kitchen. You can also leave a review below, which I appreciate more than you know!

Vegan Risotto Recipe
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Gluten-Free Butternut Squash Risotto

Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto (Vegan + Paleo) – No Rice Needed!

  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Creamy Butternut Squash “Risotto” is plant-based, grain-free, and filled with creamy texture and all the flavor you’re craving this season.




  1. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin off the butternut squash.  Use a knife to cut off the ends of the squash.  Slice the bulb (thicker part) off and cut the bulb in half to expose the seeds.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and guts from the bulb leaving just the flesh behind.  Cut the butternut squash flesh into 1-inch chunks.  Repeat with the peeled shaft of the butternut squash as well (this is the longer thinner end of the squash).  A two pound squash should yield ~ 5 cups of chopped butternut squash cubes.
  2. Place 2.5 cups of chopped butternut squash in a 7-cup food processor and process for 15 seconds so it resembles rice.  Empty the rice out of the processor and set aside to rice the second batch of butternut squash cubes.  Process again for 15 seconds until the butternut squash resembles rice.
  3. Heat olive oil (or vegan butter if using) in a 12-inch non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper and sauté until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.  Add all of the riced butternut squash and one cup of water and stir well to combine.
  4. Sauté, stirring frequently, uncovered over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until the water is fully absorbed and the “rice” is soft.  Add a little more water if the “rice” needs more time to soften.
  5. Turn off your burner, add the cashew cream and stir well to combine.  Serve immediately while hot.  Garnish with vegan Parmesan cheese and/or parsley if desired.
  6. Store leftovers once fully cooled to room temperature in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.  Reheat on the stovetop and add more liquid to make it creamy if needed.


No-waste tip: save the butternut squash seeds and roast them!  Separate the seeds from the flesh in a bowl of water using your hands.  The seeds will float to the top.  Scoop them out with a ladle and allow them to fully dry before roasting.  I like to toss with avocado oil, maple sugar and salt.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Food Processor

Keywords: butternut squash risotto

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