45 degree angle view of a large skillet with zucchini risotto with a wooden spoon dipped into it on a dark background with a striped napkin next to it.

Why I love this zucchini risotto recipe

Update: I’ve updated this recipe to be dairy free as of April 2018. I have written the original dairy-based alternatives in the recipe notes section for anyone who would like to make the original recipe. The original text from this post follows:

On the nights that my husband has a hockey game, he is usually gone by 4 or 5 p.m. which leaves me alone for dinner. I usually just make a peanut butter and jelly to bring with me to the game or I eat whatever leftovers we have in the fridge. Sometimes, I’m in the mood for something a little more substantial, and this is usually my go-to.

It’s a great way to use up that one last zucchini you have in the fridge. Plus, it can be a full meal for just one or two people. It’s also a great side dish for four. Since zucchini is plentiful this time of year, I thought now would be a good time to share tasty little dish.

Shallow gray bowl of zucchini risotto with a vintage fork on a dark background with a striped napkin next to it.

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Here’s what you’ll need to make it

Please don’t be intimidated by this dish. In fact, risotto is one of the simplest things to make. It’s so easy, I promise. I’ve made it so many times, I don’t need to use a recipe anymore.

It’s just a matter of taking your time and letting each liquid addition absorb before moving on. And, all that stirring releases the starches from the rice, making it unbelievably creamy.

Adapting this recipe to be dairy free was actually pretty simple. Since I usually start my risotto off with olive oil, rather than butter, I only had to remove the pecorino cheese from the recipe.

I swapped a tablespoon on nutritional yeast, an extra pinch of salt and about 1/4 cup of water for it.

Close up view of a large skillet with zucchini risotto with a wooden spoon dipped into it

How to make zucchini risotto

Sauté the onion. Heat a large skillet to medium high. Add the olive oil and onion. Sauté until the onion is soft, stirring as often as you need to prevent sticking.

Add the rice. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil. Let the rice cook until it absorbs any excess oil.

Add the liquids. Starting with the wine, add 1/2 cup of liquid at a time. For each addition, let the rice simmer and absorb all of it before adding the next 1/2 cup.

Stir in zucchini. While the rice cooks, shred the zucchini with a box grater. When all the broth has absorbed, add the zucchini to the pot and all it to cook. Liquids will come out of the zucchini, so let them get absorbed, too.

Season and serve. Before serving, stir in the nutritional yeast (you can also use vegan parmesan) and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, to taste.

FAQS and tips for making vegan risotto

Does risotto have dairy?

Typically risotto has parmesan or some type of grated cheese in it, and sometimes melted butter. But, you don’t need dairy to make a creamy risotto. The starches released while you’re cooking creates a beautifully creamy texture for vegan risotto.

Can you use vegetable stock risotto?

Yes. You can use vegetable stock in place of chicken for risotto. It’s a great way to make any risotto vegetarian or vegan.

Should you wash risotto rice?

You definitely don’t want to rinse risotto before cooking it. That would remove the starches, and make your risotto less creamy.

overhead view of vegan risotto in black skillet with wooden spoon stiring, placed on countertop with stripped hand towel on the side

More zucchini recipes:

This zucchini risotto would be a great side for:

top view of zucchini risotto in a medium white bowl with a fork, placed on a countertop next to a striped hand towel
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Zucchini Risotto

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Sides
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


This easy, zucchini risotto recipe has no cheese and is naturally gluten free (used GF broth). It’s a great summer side dish. Serve it with grilled chicken or shrimp for a healthy dinner, or have it on its own for a delicious vegan meal.


  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1/23/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 small zucchini, grated
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or 23 tablespoons vegan parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Sauté onion until translucent and add rice, allowing it to absorb any remaining oil.
  3. Pour the white wine into the pan and allow it to absorb.
  4. Add broth – a 1/2 cup at a time – allowing each addition be fully absorbed before adding the next, stirring frequently.
  5. Once broth is incorporated, stir in shredded zucchini. Allow any liquids from the zucchini to absorb into the rice.
  6. Stir in nutritional yeast and stir to incorporate.
  7. Before serving, season with salt & pepper, to taste.


*To make the original dairy-based version of this recipe, use 2 – 3 tablespoons grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 213
  • Sugar: 3.7 g
  • Sodium: 551.8 mg
  • Fat: 10.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 26.9 g
  • Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Protein: 2.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: dairy free, vegan, gluten free, egg free, vegetable, vegetarian, rice, risotto, zucchini

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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  1. Im so thankful for a new zucchini recipe! We always have so many in our garden and never know what to do with them all! Thanks!!

  2. Maybe a silly question, but I have only made risotto one other time. Do you precook the rice before adding to the recipe?

  3. Silly me! I mistakenly used long grain rice instead of arborio. It turned out to be very yummy anyway. Not quite as creamy as risotto, took more liquid and an additional 10 minutes to fully soften. But the end product was really good. I can’t wait to try this again as risotto, maybe add slivered almonds for some crunch