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Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon and Gouda

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
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Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon and Gouda

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I love a savory pumpkin dish and this pumpkin risotto is just out of this world. It’s rich and comforting and I could honestly devour the whole pan.

Pumpkin risotto is perfect because it’s an elegant meal that serves 4 and it’s finished in about 30 minutes. No slaving over a stove for hours and hours, but the finished product is still one you’ll be excited to eat.

What is Risotto?

Risotto is a northern Italian dish made with starchy short or medium-grain rice (oftentimes arborio or carnaroli) cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. Stirring the rice while it cooks releases the starches from the rice which yields its creamy consistency. It may sound labor-intensive but I promise it’s not!

What Kind of Rice is Used in Risotto?

Typically you will see arborio (short grain) or carnaroli (medium grain). Both are regional to northern Italy and work great. Really, any medium-grain rice will do. Did you know that arborio rice is grown here in the US in California, Arkansas, and Missouri?

Nearly 85% of the rice that we eat in the US is grown by US farmers! Each year, 18 billion pounds of rice are grown and harvested by local farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. I used the arborio rice from Rice Select, a company and brand committed to its mission of selling rice that is grown, milled, and packaged in the US.

what makes risotto so good?

Great risotto is 100% all about the texture. Risotto, when served, should spread slowly like lava. It’s not soupy, and it’s not sticky rice; It’s somewhere in the middle. That’s the best gauge for risotto success: the texture!

There’s probably an Italian grandmother rolling over in her grave, but I stand by my use of mascarpone cheese. It’s not strictly traditional, but it gives the best texture and creaminess to the risotto. Also, please use homemade broth or stock for this recipe. Here’s my quick instant pot recipe for chicken broth, it’ll change your life!

What tools do you need to make pumpkin risotto?

Risotto is so easy to make at home! Here are my favorite tools to make your cooking experience a breeze.

  1. A wide skillet with higher sides. Risotto is best made in a wide skillet or braiser, something that has a large diameter across with sides that are at least 2 inches high. I don’t recommend trying to make risotto in a pot.
  2. A good wooden spoon. Why do so many recipes call for a wooden spoon? Wood is non-reactive and it won’t change the flavor of your risotto.

That’s it! Those two tools are all you really need to make a great risotto!

Can you use canned pumpkin puree to make pumpkin risotto?

Absolutely! Just make sure that you are using canned pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling which contains sugar and pumpkin pie spices! I made a bunch of pumpkin puree at the beginning of the season and froze it. Here’s my recipe for making your own!

can you make pumpkin risotto vegetarian or vegan?

Vegetarian, yes! I personally have not made risotto vegan but there are lots of recipes out there for vegan risotto! To make this dish vegetarian, omit the bacon and use a mixture of butter and olive oil to fry the sage. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken and you’re in business! I’d love to hear if anyone makes this recipe vegan for my own curiosities!

How to make Pumpkin Risotto

  1. Render your bacon. The first step is to render the fat out of the bacon. Rendering basically means to melt the fat. You do this by adding the bacon to a wide skillet and cooking it over low heat. As the fat melts into the pan, the bacon gets crispy. Don’t rush this process as it’s so important. Once the bacon is crispy, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate.
  2. Fry your sage. Bring the heat up to medium and once the bacon fat is hot, add the sage leaves to the pan. Fry these for about 45-60 seconds until they’re dark in color. Transfer these to the paper towel-lined plate with the bacon and lower the heat.
  3. Cook the risotto. Add the shallots and give them a moment to cook in the bacon fat until they’re softened. Next, add the rice to the pan. Toast the rice in the bacon fat for a minute or two, then add in the pumpkin puree and wine and stir well. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, add the warmed chicken broth or stock (I keep mine in a pot simmering on the side), one or two ladlefuls at a time, stirring frequently. Once that broth has been absorbed, add another cup.
  4. Add the cheese. Once the rice has reached the desired doneness, turn off the heat. Then, you’ll stir in the butter, mascarpone, half of the crispy bacon, and gouda cheese. Stir until all the cheese and butter has melted. At this point, taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Ladle the risotto into bowls. It should have the texture of slow-moving lava and not be a stiff ball. Top with crispy bacon and fried sage, then dig in!

More Pumpkin Recipes to try

Pumpkin Baked Ziti
Stuffed Shells in Pumpkin Vodka Sauce
Pumpkin Creme Brûlée
Red Pumpkin Curry

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Main Dishes

Pumpkin Risotto with Bacon

Pumpkin risotto is the perfect elegant fall meal! It's also great as an alternative side dish recipe for Thanksgiving!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4 servings


  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon diced
  • 8-10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6-7 cups homemade chicken broth, simmering
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup freshly grated aged gouda
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat a wide skillet with high sides over low heat. Add the diced bacon and cook on the lowest heat setting, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is slightly crispy and quite a bit of the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Add the sage leaves to the bacon fat and fry for about 90 seconds, until darker in color and crispy. Transfer them to the same plate as the bacon.
  • Add the shallots to the skillet with the bacon fat and increase the heat to medium. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the shallots are softened. Add rice and stir to coat in the bacon fat so that all the grains are shiny. Toast rice for about 1 minute.
  • Add the white wine and pumpkin puree and stir into the rice. Bring to a simmer. Once the wine has been absorbed into the rice, add 1 cup of warm broth while consistently stirring. Once that broth has been absorbed, add another cup. A trick to tell when it's time to add more broth is if the bottom of the pan is exposed when you drag your spoon across the bottom. You will continue to add broth, 1 cup at a time, while stirring until it has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is just slightly al dente, about 20-22 minutes.
  • Once rice has reached desired doneness, turn off the heat. Stir in the butter, mascarpone, and gouda cheese and continue to stir until the cheese and butter are melted and evenly dispersed. Stir the crispy bacon bits into the risotto. At this point, taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Ladle the risotto into bowls. It should have the texture of slow moving lava. Top with the fried sage. Enjoy!

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  1. 5 stars
    This was so amazing! I’m not a big pumpkin fan, but combined with the bacon and fried sage, it was just creamy goodness. This is definitely a new fall favorite.