Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

Looking for an Instant Pot butternut squash recipe? This Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto is a delicious fall risotto topped with freshly grated Parmesan, crispy pancetta and sage. Just five minutes in the pressure cooker yields soft butternut squash and perfectly cooked risotto with almost no stirring needed.  

Overhead view of two bowls of butternut squash risotto made in the instant pot topped with pancetta and fried sage

Are we feeling fall yet, friends? It’s 58 and overcast in Bend this week and I am 100% okay with it. I’ve already pulled out my sweaters, bought up all of the pumpkins in front of Trader Joe’s, and made this incredible butternut squash risotto in my Instant Pot.

I’ve had it three times already — and the kids have too — thus the hubs only got a very tiny bowl to “taste test” the other day. #sorrynotsorry

Wanna know my favorite things about this meal?

 Besides the taste, duh. 

Kids love it (it’s even great for littles) and it’s literally the easiest, no-mess, 35-minute dinner ever. Give it just five minutes at high pressure and the butternut squash practically melts into your perfectly cooked risotto. No oven-roasting required.

Not only that, the pancetta, squash and rice all cook in the same pot making cleanup a breeze, especially after everyone’s scraped their bowls clean.

Ingredients in Butternut Squash Risotto

  • Arborio rice: The starchy taste and texture of arborio rice makes it ideal for risotto because it blends well with other flavors. If you substitute regular long-grain rice, cooking time might be shorter. 
  • Butternut squash: Butternut squash gives this dish a sweet, nutty taste and even creamier texture. To save on prep time, buy peeled and chopped squash, available at most grocery stores. 
  • Shallots: Shallots are a type of onion with a milder flavor and an essence of garlic. If you can’t find shallots, half of a small sweet, yellow or white onion can be substituted.
  • Pancetta: Pancetta is Italian bacon. You can usually get it at a butcher shop, the deli counter of specialty grocery stores, or with other packaged, cured meats like salami, prosciutto etc.  The taste and chewy texture of true pancetta works best with this dish but you can substitute finely chopped American bacon in a pinch. 
  • Sage: Sage gives off an earthiness that brings together and enhances the flavor of the pancetta and squash. Don’t leave it out!
  • Chicken or vegetable broth: This recipe calls for standard chicken broth. You can substitute reduced-sodium broth however, you may need to increase the salt and/or Parmesan cheese to taste. A 4:1 broth-to-rice ratio yields a silky, soft Instant Pot risotto. For a chewier risotto, try reducing the liquid and/or cooking time slightly.  
  • Parmesan cheese: If time allows, I recommend using freshly grated Parmesan cheese. You can use fresh, store-bought grated cheese though I do not recommend using grated cheese from a canister since they it typically contains anti-caking ingredients which will change the texture of the risotto.
  • Dry white wine: Completely optional but adds good flavor if you have some on hand.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil coats the pan when cooking the pancetta. The remaining oil/fat that remains will help the rice retain its shape and prevent it from getting overly mushy.

How to Make Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

The first thing you want to do is crisp up your pancetta and sage using the Instant Pot’s sauté function. To avoid burning the sage, add it to the pot just as the pancetta is finishing. Give everything a few quick stirs and, after 45-60 seconds, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pancetta and sage to a small bowl. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of fat.

With the Instant Pot still set to sauté, add the shallots and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until tender. Add the garlic and rice, and stir well to coat. Doing this will help the rice retain its shape and prevent it from getting overly mushy. Add the butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the rice are translucent and rice is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.

Turn off the pressure cooker’s sauté function and add the white wine (if using), scraping the bottom to remove any brown bits and stuck rice. Continue to stir until most of the wine has evaporated or been absorbed.

Add the broth, cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.

Immediately release the pressure using a QUICK release and remove the insert to prevent overcooking.

To finish the dish, stir in the Parmesan cheese, spoon into bowls and top each with crispy pancetta. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan or finishing salt, if desired.

What to Serve with Butternut Squash Risotto

This butternut squash risotto can be a hearty main, or a striking side.

If serving this butternut squash risotto as a main dish, pair it with roasted vegetables or hearty winter greens, like this kale and Brussels sprout salad.

If you’re making risotto as a side dish, serve it alongside a meaty main like this easy cast iron roast chicken, juicy pork tenderloin, or flaky baked fish, along with some crisp sautéed green beans or sheet pan roasted veggies.

More Instant Pot Recipes

Some of our other Instant Pot recipes you might enjoy: 

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Recipe

Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto

With the Instant Pot, this butternut squash risotto requires minimal stirring and is ready in 40 minutes. Gluten-free & easily vegetarian.

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    35 minutes
  • Makes:
    46 servings 1x
  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    35 minutes
  • Makes:
    46 servings 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed (see notes)
    • 3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
    • 2 shallots, minced (see notes)
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
    • 1 cup arborio rice (see notes)
    • 12 ounces peeled butternut squash, chopped into ½-inch chunks (from a small ~1-pound squash)
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
    • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
    • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (see notes)

    Instructions

    1. Cook the pancetta and sage. Set the pressure cooker to SAUTE — NORMAL (medium) and heat the olive oil. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until edges are browned and crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chopped sage and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl and set aside. Spoon off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot. 
      Sweat the shallots. Add the shallots and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are fragrant and beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
    2. Toast the rice and add the butternut squash. Add the garlic, rice and stir well to coat. Add the butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the rice are translucent and rice is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
    3. Deglaze the pot. Turn off the pressure cooker’s sauté function and add the white wine (or a little more broth or water), scraping the bottom to remove any brown bits and stuck rice. Continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated or been absorbed.
    4. Cook the risotto. Add the broth, cover and set the cooker to PRESSURE COOK — HIGH for 5 minutes. When the rice is done cooking, immediately release the pressure using a QUICK release. Carefully remove the lid and, using oven mitts, remove the insert from the cooker to prevent overcooking. Stir to incorporate the liquid that has risen to the top.
    5. Add the finishing touches. Stir in the Parmesan. Portion and top each bowl with crispy pancetta. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan if desired.

    Notes

    FAVORITE EQUIPMENT

    INGREDIENT NOTES

    • Arborio rice: Arborio rice yields the best taste and texture for risotto. Regular white rice could likely be substituted but the risotto will have a different texture and cooking time might be a minute or so shorter. 
    • Shallots: Shallots are recommended but half of a small, sweet, yellow or white onion can be substituted.
    • Pancetta: Pancetta is Italian bacon and can usually be found at butcher shops, the deli counter of specialty grocery stores, or occasionally with other packaged, cured meats like salami, prosciutto etc. The taste and texture of pancetta works best here but finely chopped American bacon can be substituted.
    • Parmesan cheese: The cheese is best when freshly grated, however fresh, store-bought grated cheese can be substituted. I do not recommend using grated cheese from a canister since this type of cheese contains anti-caking ingredients that will change the texture of the risotto.
    • For a vegetarian Instant Pot butternut squash risotto, use vegetable broth and omit the pancetta.

    INGREDIENT PREP

    • Peel and chop your butternut squash; chop the pancetta (if not already cubed; up to 7 days in advance); chop/mince sage, shallot and garlic (up to 1 day ahead)
    • Grate the Parmesan cheese
    • Measure the rice

    STORING TIPS

    Risotto is best just out of the Instant Pot but it reheats pretty well. Leftovers will keep in airtight food storage containers for up to 5 days. Store pancetta and risotto separately. Reheat both either in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a tablespoon or two of water to thin the risotto if needed.

    FREEZING RISOTTO

    I’ve never tried freezing risotto but given the nature of this dish, I’d recommend refrigerating leftovers instead of freezing. 

    NUTRITION NOTES

    Recipe nutrition includes the crispy pancetta, sage; optional white wine was omitted.

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
    • Calories: 476
    • Sugar: 2 g
    • Sodium: 795 mg
    • Fat: 22 g
    • Saturated Fat: 9 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 13 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 47 g
    • Fiber: 5 g
    • Protein: 18 g
    • Cholesterol: 42 mg

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    If you make this Instant Pot Butternut Squash Risotto please leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating using the comment section below. This helps other busy parents and families discover and enjoy this recipe as well.

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    Closeup overhead photo of a bowl of instant pot butternut squash risotto with a spoon that's been partially eaten

    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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    Recipe rating

    • Just made this and it was great! I subbed turkey bacon for the pancetta, and increased the olive oil to 2 tablespoons to make up for the bacon fat 🙂 It was a little soupy when I opened it after the pressure cooking, but when I mashed the squash and stirred it in, the consistency was perfect. I will omit the salt next time, since the vegetable stock was pretty salty for my taste. For the leftovers, I threw in some frozen vegetables and kale and reheated for lunch.

    • It felt like we were eating a restaurant quality meal. My husband and I loved it but my kids were not fans. Definitely will make it again.

    • I love this recipe but I’ve had a problem with amount of broth. I died it down to 3 1/2 cups bc I used the 1/2 cup of wine (and let that fully dissolve) but it still came out way too soupy. Is the 4 cup recommendation a mistype or am I doing something wrong?

      • Hi McKenzie! I’m so happy you love this recipe. Sorry to hear the liquid ratio doesn’t seem quite right, but thanks for the feedback! I’ve made this risotto several times and 4 cups of broth creates the perfect consistency for us. We do live at a slightly higher elevation (3,500 feet) but I don’t think that would impact much since liquids don’t really evaporate when cooking with an Instant Pot. A couple of thoughts: 1) make sure to let the wine fully evaporate/absorb before adding the broth, and 2) the risotto may be a bit soupy before adding the parmesan cheese, but it should thicken once the cheese is stirred in and as it cools before serving. Again, I appreciate your feedback. I’m adding this onto our meal plan for next week and will report back if I do end up making any changes to the liquid! 🙂