This warm and cozy pumpkin bacon risotto is the perfect dinner. The cold fall and winter nights call for comfort food like this.
With pumpkin season approaching and the nights getting cold, what could be better than a seasonal pumpkin risotto? It makes a delicious main course or serve as a side dish with a pork chop or seared chicken breast.
You can make this super creamy risotto in 30 minutes, and it's packed with fall flavors like pumpkin and rosemary. A restaurant-quality meal at home!
What is Risotto?
Risotto is a traditional Northern Italian dish. It is made by simmering rice in broth or stock until tender. The rice is stirred often to release the starches, and once cooked; it is finished with butter and cheese. The starch, butter, and cheese result in a delightfully creamy textured risotto without adding cream.
How to cook Pumpkin Bacon Risotto
Full instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Heat the broth/stock in a small pan over low heat/
- In a large pan, heat olive oil and fry bacon until crispy.
- Remove the bacon leaving behind any oil.
- Cook onion in the bacon oil for 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Add cubed pumpkin to the pan and cook for 6-7 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add rice, stir to coat in the oil, and let it toast for 2 minutes.
- Add the wine and let it bubble and evaporate.
- Add the hot broth, a cup at a time, stirring very frequently.
- Cook for 15-18 minutes until the rice is tender but with some bite.
- Add butter and grated Parmesan cheese.
- Vigorously stir the risotto to incorporate the butter and cheese and break down the pumpkin.
What pumpkin to use in pumpkin risotto
Any pumpkin or squash will work for this recipe, except the giant jack-o-lantern pumpkins (they don't have much flavor!)
I like to use a sweet pumpkin or squash for this. When buying your pumpkin, look for those labeled as "sugar pumpkins" or "pie pumpkins." Or, for those not in the US, use a Butternut Squash/Butternut Pumpkin, Jarrahdale pumpkin, Crown Prince Pumpkin, or Queensland Blue Pumpkin.
The best rice for risotto?
Risotto is traditionally made with short-grain rice. The most common risotto rice is Arborio, and many larger grocery stores and gourmet shops will also stock Carnaroli.
Other risotto rice includes Vialone Nano and Maratelli, which are rarely found outside Italy.
Arborio will give you a great result, and I find it the most forgiving. You get a creamy risotto and don't have to stir it quite as hard as some other rice varieties.
What bacon to use for Pumpkin Bacon Risotto
The fat from the bacon is used for cooking the onion and flavoring the risotto; I suggest picking rasher bacon rather than the trimmed bacon rounds. Standard bacon at the grocery store is great for this dish.
I tend to avoid turkey bacon as it doesn't have much fat. However, if you use turkey bacon, you'll need to add a tablespoon of butter to the pan before you cook the onions.
You want to cook the bacon until it is crispy, but you don't want to burn it, so cook it over medium-high heat. This allows the fats to render off and the bacon to crisp up nicely. Once cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the crispy bacon but leave the oil in the pan. This oil is used for cooking the vegetables for the dish.
Place the cooked bacon on a sheet of kitchen towel to drain while you cook the dish.
Can you make risotto without wine?
Yes, you can. Although wine is traditionally added, you can leave it out and use extra broth/stock if you don't have alcohol in your diet.
If you include alcohol in your diet but want an alternative to wine, dry white vermouth is a great addition. As is brandy (although I use half the amount of brandy compared to wine)
Can you make risotto with long grain rice?
You can, but it isn't the same. Regular rice like long-grain white rice, jasmine rice, and basmati rice doesn't give you the same texture or creaminess you get from risotto rice. So you can use it, but it won't be the same or as good.
The recipe below is written for risotto rice. Using different rice will mean the water to rice ratio will be different, so you could end up with overcooked rice.
And once you have tried a homemade risotto, you'll want to make them again and again, so having a packet of arborio rice in the cupboard will be a good thing.
For other risottos to try:
If you make this Pumpkin Bacon Risotto, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Pumpkin Bacon Risotto Recipe
- 7 ½ cups vegetable stock - see note 1
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 strips thick cut bacon, sliced - see note 2
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 ½ cups diced pumpkin - see note 2
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped - see note 3
- 2 cups risotto rice - see note 4
- ½ cup white wine - see note 5
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
- Heat your broth in a small pan; once simmering, turn the heat to low, and keep it warm.
7 ½ cups vegetable broth/stock
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook over medium-high heat until crispy.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices of bacon, chopped
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the bacon, leaving the oil and any bacon grease behind.
- Add the chopped onions to the bacon grease and cook for 5 minutes until softened but not colored.
1 finely chopped onion
- Add the diced pumpkin and cook for 6-7 minutes until it has softened. Stir the pumpkin often, so it starts to break down slightly.
3½ cups/450g diced pumpkin
- Add the minced garlic and rosemary then cook until fragrant (about a minute)
2 minced cloves garlic
½ tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Add the rice, stir to coat in the oil, then cook for 2 minutes.
2 cups/400g risotto rice
- Add the wine and allow it to bubble and evaporate.
½ cup white wine
- Add enough broth to cover the rice and stir.
- Keep adding an extra 1 cup of broth at a time as the previous amount is absorbed. Stir frequently, especially towards the end of cooking. (see note 6)
- Once the rice is cooked, add the butter and parmesan. Then stir vigorously for 2 minutes.
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated parmesan
- Check the seasoning and serve with extra parmesan.
- You can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. See note 5 for more info on the amount of broth needed.
- You want to pick a bacon that has plenty of flavor and a good amount of fat. The fat is what makes the sauce, so don't go for turkey bacon or bacon eyes. Good old fashioned streaky bacon is best here.
- If you don't have fresh rosemary substitute it for 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary.
- Pick a sweet pumpkin or squash for this - Butternut Squash/Butternut Pumpkin, Jarrahdale Pumpkin, Fairytale Pumpkin, Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, and Pie Pumpkinare good choices. Cut the pumpkin into small diced. (½-1 inch in size/1.5-2.5cm in size)
- Use Arborio or Carnaroli rice; you can't sub in regular white rice.
- Use any white wine that you enjoy. You can sub in dry white vermouth if you prefer. Brandy also makes a great substitute but use only half the amount compared to wine. If you don't include alcohol in your diet, replace the wine with extra broth/stock.
- Depending on the heat under your pan, you may find you need a little more or slightly less broth than instructed. Once you have added 6 cups of broth, start to taste your risotto. When cooked, the rice should be tender with a chew to it, but no chalky inside. If the texture seems perfect, then the risotto is done; after all, it is your dinner.