Extra-Creamy Vegan Risotto

published Nov 12, 2022
Vegan Risotto Recipe

A simple and flavorful risotto without the dairy.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 40 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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bowl of vegan risotto with fresh parsley garnish
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Risotto always feels like a special treat. Maybe it’s the ultra-creamy texture that makes it seem luxurious, or the fact that we mostly eat it in restaurants. Regardless of the reason, if you want to impress a guest this holiday season who doesn’t eat dairy, look no further than this vegan risotto. It’s super savory, just like the traditional cheesy version, and rich, too — without the heaviness of dairy.

A lot of people are intimidated by making risotto at home, but as long as you don’t mind babysitting the pot for 20 minutes, it’s actually quite a simple process. It’s also easy to incorporate into a bigger menu, if you want to work on several dishes at once; because risotto is a one-pot meal, it practically cooks itself (again, as long as you keep stirring!).

What Can I Use Instead of Parmesan in Risotto?

When making vegan risotto, the big question of course is how do you replace the Parmesan cheese? While there are vegan Parm substitutes sold in many supermarkets, many have a chalky texture.

The good news is that there’s a trio of simple plant-based ingredients that gets the job done spectacularly: miso, nutritional yeast, and lemon zest. Miso infuses the risotto with a savory funk, while the nutritional yeast lends the nuttiness of Parm. The lemon zest adds a bit of zing that you’d also typically get from the cheese.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

The Brilliance of Miso Broth

As contributing cross-tester and food writer Meghan Glass (by way of Naomi Pomeroy) was quick to point out, store-bought broth can be a hit or miss for risotto. Many brands of broth are too saturated in color, too salty, or have a strong vegetal aroma, all three of which can effectively ruin your delicate rice dish.

Miso broth (i.e., miso dissolved in boiling water) is a brilliant solution, if I do say so myself (*pats self on back*). It’s just salty enough, super savory, and gives the rice just the right amount of flavor. Plus, miso lasts forever in the fridge, and because a little goes a long way, one container will keep you covered for many, many rounds of risotto!

Tips for Making the Best Vegan Risotto

  • Use a heavy-bottomed pan. To prevent the rice from drying out and sticking to the bottom, use a Dutch oven or enamel high-sided pan, as well as a sturdy wooden spoon for stirring.
  • Don’t let the onion brown. The goal here is to sweat the onion and cook it gently just until translucent. If the onion takes on color, it will overpower the entire dish.
  • Don’t walk away for more than 1 minute. Yes, it really is necessary to stir the rice almost constantly (every minute or so).

How to Make This Risotto in Advance

If you’re making this for guests and want to get a head-start, you can cook the risotto about halfway through, and keep it covered on the stove for up to a few hours. Then right before serving, finish cooking with the remainder of the warm miso broth.

Vegan Risotto Recipe

A simple and flavorful risotto without the dairy.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6 cups

    water

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    white miso paste

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1 1/2 cups

    carnaroli, arborio, or vialone nano rice

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 3 tablespoons

    nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, finely dice 1 small yellow onion (about 2/3 cup).

  2. Add 2 tablespoons white miso and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the boiling water, and whisk until dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and keep at a very low simmer.

  3. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, high-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened and translucent with no browning, 5 to 9 minutes.

  4. Add 1 1/2 cups carnaroli rice and cook, stirring often, until the edges have turned translucent but the center is still opaque, about 2 minutes. You should also be able to smell the aroma of toasted rice. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine and simmer, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the wine is completely reduced and the pan is almost dry, 1 to 2 minutes.

  5. Add 2 ladles of the miso broth to the rice. Cook, stirring often, until the broth is almost absorbed, about 3 minutes. Incrementally add more of the broth one ladle at a time, stirring often. Wait until the liquid has been almost completely absorbed by the rice before adding another ladle. After about 15 minutes, begin tasting the rice to gauge how far it has cooked.

  6. Continue adding broth until the rice is al dente (still has a bit of chew), the broth is creamy, and the dish has the consistency of thick porridge, 20 to 30 minutes total (you might not use up all of the broth). If you run your spatula through the risotto, the risotto should flow slowly to fill in the space.

  7. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest of 1/2 medium lemon into a small bowl. Add 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

  8. When the risotto is ready, add the nutritional yeast mixture and stir until combined. Remove the pot from the heat. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.