Roasted Acorn Squash Risotto

Acorn squash risotto recipe that is vegan and gluten free
A delicious acorn squash risotto that is vegan and gluten-free.

 Stir it Up, Little Darling

Looking for a perfect fall side dish? Or a vegetarian knock-your-socks-off bowl of creamy goodness? Risotto might fit the bill. This is one of my all-time recipe favorites. In fact, it was the first dish I turned to eight years ago when I discovered I had to live gluten-free.

Way back then (insert hazy slow-mo flashback) I would add freshly grated Parmesan to the cooked risotto. Shaved Reggiano, to be exact. But these casein-free dairy-free days I enjoy this risotto strictly vegan. No cheese. And guess what? I don't feel deprived. Seriously. The flavors hold their own without the whole moo cow cheesy thing.

In fact, this risotto is so creamy-good and comforting I only think one thing as I taste bite after velvety bite: How could anything so simple taste so unbelievably good? Well, that, and, Who the heck needs cheese or butter, anyway?

The trick to a tasty risotto- with its signature texture- is to stir it during cooking. No cheating in a rice cooker. No covering it and setting it on low heat, praying to the Risotto Gods, hoping it will produce a tender-yet-firm-enough bite boiling away in it's sad, ignored little pot. You need to tend these pearly grains. Coax them. Sweet talk them. It's all about foreplay.

Risotto needs attention to bloom properly.

So that means a commitment on your part. But it's only a twenty-two minute commitment. You can handle that, right?

I guarantee, it's worth it.

Risotto is my favorite comfort food.

Roasted Acorn Squash Risotto Recipe

Recipe posted November 2008.

This autumn-into-winter flavored rice dish is an elegant vegetarian offering that is gluten-free and dairy-free. Make a vegan happy this holiday season. Serve this. Score some points.


1 medium acorn squash, halved, seeded
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups light tasting vegetable broth (dilute with water if it's too onion-y)
1 small onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free mild curry powder
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 1/2 cups raw short grain Arborio rice
1 cup white wine (optional; replace with broth if alcohol-free)
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

Options for garnish:

Chopped toasted pecans, slivered almonds or pine nuts
Chopped fresh parsley, if desired
Chopped fresh cranberries (shown)


First- roast the acorn squash.

Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Roast the acorn squash by placing the two halves cut side up in a baking dish; add about two inches of hot water into the bottom of the dish. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

Meanwhile- start your risotto.

Heat the broth in a separate sauce pan, and keep it warm.

In a heavy medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium heat, and sauté the onion and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the curry, nutmeg, and uncooked Arborio rice and stir well, until the rice is coated. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes.

Add the wine and stir for a minute or two.

Pour in 1 cup of the hot broth, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently for 7-8 minutes.

When most of the liquid is absorbed, add the remaining cups of broth 1 cup at a time, stirring and simmering until each cup of liquid is absorbed before adding the next one. (The whole process should take about 20-25 minutes; 22 minutes is my goal for al dente; if you cook risotto too long it may get gummy.)

When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and using a spoon scoop out pieces and add them into the risotto- I like to do this along with the last cup of broth. Stir to combine.

When the final cup of liquid is absorbed cover and set aside for a few moments before serving. Risotto likes to rest a bit.

Warm up four serving bowls. Spoon the risotto into the bowls, and garnish with some chopped toasted pecans, pine nuts or chopped fresh cranberries.

Serves 4.

Recipe Source:

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More risotto goodness from food blogs:

Kiss me and Tell Me You Love Me Risotto from Mrs. GF
Where's My Spinach Risotto? from The Crispy Cook
Seven Herb Risotto from Book of Yum
Gina's Weight Watcher's Recipes: Butternut Squash Risotto

xox Karina


  1. I was *just* thinking about this -- and we picked up an acorn squash at the market the other day. Can't wait!

  2. Must be the mood today . . . risotto, that is.

    Not five minutes ago, ordering my groceries online, I put some arborio rice and dried porcini into my trolley, and found something called 'Parmazano' in a tin -- an imitation parmesan cheese. New to me, but I'll try it. Yes, I'd like the real thing, too (some lovely Parmgiano Reggiano from Emilia-Romagna), but since that's not in the cards for me, I'm hoping this might make a suitable substitute. I'll know tomorrow night.

    As an Italian, I vote with the authentic topping -- toasted pine nuts. Just cook them dry, in a non-stick skillet. Mmmm . . . Tomorrow night is so long to wait.

  3. Hello!!

    I *just* stumbled on your blog's just WONDERFUL!!!

    My amazing husband just found out he has a gluten allergy and I've been in search of gluten-free recipes since! :)

    Thanks for making such an awesome blog!!!

    P.S. I hope you don't mind but I'm going to post a link on my blog. Thanks ;)

  4. Yay!! This looks awesome!

    I'm a newcomer to your blog, but I have to say, I tred your recipe for pumpkin pie and it turned out really really well. In fact, I made another pie yesterday! I can't wait to try this recipe.


  5. yum, yum, yummy.

    I made a 'tropical' rice pudding the other night with arborio rice, coconut milk and pineapple (as well as regular milk, honey, ground ginger and cinnamon). I'm waaaaay to fixated on sweet things.

  6. Karina-
    Thanks for your inspiring, beautiful recipes - and patience for our questions!

  7. Your acorn squash Risotto looks wonderful! And I completely agree that it takes a lot of love to get the best out of the foods we eat:) I look forward to trying this one out to impress my veggie and vegan friends!

  8. Just in the nick of time. I have two acorn squashes waiting to be coaxed into playing nicely with some Arborio rice. I also have a new nutmeg grinder. Thanks for filling in the blanks. This does look divine. I'm glad you've decided to share your lovely creation with the rest of us. Thank you!

  9. Oh, I wish I had some right now! This looks gorgeous. And the cranberries on top? Such a great idea.

  10. i don't know what i enjoy more...your delightful thoughts before the recipes...or the recipes themselves!!??

    thank you for being such an inspiration...i often tell others about your blog: she makes you want to be gluten free...

    you have a gift; i am glad you choose to share it!

  11. Really stunning photos of this dish, and it sound wonderful! Would you believe I haven't had acorn squash. I recently bought buttercup to try for the first time and loved it; acorn is on the list!

  12. oh this looks lovely.
    I will have to try this very soon.
    Just the kind of thing that I've been tasting for.

  13. jbuckeye09:51

    Honestly--I think you should be nominated for some sort of humanitarian award. You've made my life normal again AND turned me into a good cook and baker, and I'm sure you have impacted many Celiac patients' lives in the same way. The risotto looks wonderful--can't wait to try it. Thanks again.

  14. I've never made risotto before. I've had 2 bags of arborio rice in my refrigerator for weeks now, in anticipation of one day attempting risotto...maybe I should finally give it a try! Your recipe sounds delicious. I know my vegetarian hubby will love it.

  15. Risotto foreplay, love it! Thanks for the link to my spinach risotto recipe. I hope others will enjoy it as much as my family does.

  16. We made this last night and it was great. I started looking through the other recipes and mad the Jalapeno Lime Hummus today. I am sure we will be trying a lot more so thanks for such a great site!

  17. Andrea10:59

    Karina, I made your recipe yesterday and used toasted pine nuts. Scrumptious. I've always loved risotto foreplay. Congrats on your blog's anniversary.

  18. I served this dish for the first time at our family gathering on Christmas day. The basic recipe was good, but I think it definitely needed the toasted almonds and dried cranberries for some dimension. It was also my first time to use curry and to make risotto! Yum! Thank you!

  19. moonwatcher16:24

    Hi Karina,

    I made this last week and it was fabulous! Thank you. I didn't have an organic acorn squash available at this time of year in the wilds of Idaho, so I used another squash I had and it was fine. And plumped up some dried cranberries. And used only a teensy bit of olive oil, because I am low low fat. But it was still wonderful. And so fun to watch the transformation occur as I stirred! I will definitely make this again. . .and again.



  20. judie21:57

    Hi Karina; this is on my grocery list. It looks fabulous.

    I had Hodgkin's Lymphoma, many years ago. I didn't know there was a link with gluten intolerance and lymphoma.Where can I find out more about it.?

  21. Hi Judie- Check my Links page (linked in the top navigation bar) for various links to medical articles and web information. The good news is- after going gluten-free for five years or so our elevated risk for lymphoma drops back to normal.


  22. This was amazing Karina thank you sooo much! I can't believe I actually just made a yummy want seconds dinner!! Your instructions were perfect. I got nervous but stuck to your plan and it was awesome. This will now be one of the go to favorites.

  23. Carin07:02

    Hi Karina,

    I'm a long-time reader. You've saved my GF neck more than once with your wonderful recipes!

    Can you tell me if this risotto can be made ahead? I'd love to make this for Thanksgiving but would like to make it the day before. I think Thanksgiving Day will be too nuts for the foreplay!

    Thanks so much for your fantastic website. I recommend it to every gluten free person I meet.


  24. I love risotto - especially those made with a winter squash or pumpkin! The squash makes the risotto so extra-creamy-delicious!

  25. I just found out my child has a gluten allergy... Been looking for some recipes to cook at home and I'm very excited to have found this blog! Thanks so much.

  26. Anonymous14:58

    this looks GREAT! Can't wait to try it. Do you think I could make this a day before and heat it up?

  27. As for making it ahead... Well. You could, I suppose. I've enjoyed this as leftovers the next day. It's a bit sticky, but still tasty. So I'm wondering if you could slightly under-cook it (just till al dente, when it's still firm), then scoop it into a casserole dish for baking in the oven the next day?

    Might be worth a trial run.


  28. Oh this looks scrumptious. I cannot wait to make this. Thank you

  29. This recipe inspired me to roast my first squash recently. Delicious! I knew Hubs would like it, but I was surprised when he loved it. I've got the rest of the roasted squash in my freezer to make this again. Very soon.

  30. Perfect timing for the holidays! I will be making this delicious recipe!

  31. Anonymous14:39

    Delicious! Started using a co-op recently and we had several squash that I was not sure what to do with...after reading your recipe, I roasted them all and froze the extra. Glad I did -- this will be a family favorite from now on. I bet my daughter is the only 'under 1' at daycare enjoying butternut squash risotto today! :)

  32. Absolutely delicious Karina! Both boys loved it and 3 of us had it for lunch again today. I can have cheese but it was nice to have it without I thought. I did mine with carrots, celery, mushrooms and tomatoes just because that was what I had on hand and it was dreamy. Nice thought about pine nuts on top, I'll try that.

  33. This looks fabulous. I have three squash sitting on my counter just waiting to be turned into risotto soon.

    As we get close to Thanksgiving, I also wanted to tell you how thankful I am for you, Karina. You have such a gift, and your recipes have really made my family's lives so much better. I have your sweet potato and black bean enchiladas in the oven right now, and I think I make one of your recipes at least every other day.

    With three kids who can't have gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, or tomatoes, I can't tell you how much I appreciate that I can make almost every one of the recipes you post. THANK YOU for choosing to share your talents with all of us.

  34. Carin15:43

    Just wanted to report back that my family loved this but it was indeed kind of gummy the next day. I heated it in the microwave and loved it but would not recommend making it ahead if having company.

    Thanks for another great recipe!

  35. Thanks for reporting back- I suspected it might be gummy.

    If you have leftovers, try stirring in a little hot broth into the warmed up risotto.


  36. Anonymous23:47

    I had Thanksgiving dinner with a gluten-free, casein-free, egg-free, nut-free (etc) friend. I was a bit nervous that we would feel deprived by all the things we could not have. Not so! I made a version of this risotto as stuffing for your maple roasted acorn squash (because I could not find gluten free, egg-free bread that was not potentially nut contaminated). It was delicious! Thank you so much for this blog. It has been a never-ending source of fabulous recipes!

  37. Looking forward to try this recipe, my wife and I love risotto!

  38. Anonymous11:26

    Is there a connection between Type II diabetes and gluten sensitivity or intolerence? After doing everything possible to control blood sugars with no success I went to a holistic doctor who diagnosed gluten sensitivity -- after one week of eating gluten-free my fasting sugar dropped significantly and now after one month test in the normal range!!!
    My family has been ravaged with the disease and I'm so grateful there is a answer (at least for me) -- in all my research and study the past 10 years this connection never came to the forefront.

    Thanks for your wonderful recipes - my transition to eating gluten-free has been eased by your recipes.

  39. Anon- there is a lot of discussion regarding the connection. Google it and you'll find links to studies and opinions.

    Be well!


  40. This was soooo delicious! Thank you.