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Zucchini Risotto



Risotto with zucchini and topped with fresh herbs and Parmesan.
Photo by Travis Rainey, Food Styling by Lillian Chou

Zucchini can be a challenge to cook. It’s watery—and not in a refreshing way. It’s dense—but not sturdy like a carrot. It can be hard to properly brown or grill. But zucchini does have its positive attributes: It’s nutrient-dense, gorgeously green, and abundant at the height of summer. So instead of working against the inherently soggy nature of the summer squash, we are going to lean in and let zucchini be itself for once. Risotto, a dish that loves to stay hydrated, is the ideal place to put your bounty of summer zucchini to work.

Arborio rice is short, fat, and starchy, which is exactly what we need for a great risotto. The grains of rice cook slowly while still remaining al dente, swelling as they absorb ladle after ladle of flavorful broth. In return, they release all their starch into the pot for a creamy consistency. Ultimately, what we want is rice that’s cooked all the way through, but still a little chewy, suspended just so that when you scoop it onto a plate, it slowly spreads out. Grating the zucchini ahead of time means it’ll warm instantly as soon as it hits the pot, and adding it just before serving means there will still be a little texture and some vibrant green flecks swimming around in the risotto. Because arborio rice is just begging for any scrap of moisture, it’s ready to absorb the zucchini’s juices with intention and purpose.

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What you’ll need

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    1 hour 10 minutes

  • Yield

    4 servings


8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1½ cups arborio rice
2 cups dry white wine
1 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 medium zucchini (about 12 oz. total), grated on the large holes of a box grater
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Coarsely chopped mint (for serving)


  1. Step 1

    Heat 8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth in a medium saucepan over high until warm, 8–12 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt and taste broth; it should be on the verge of too salty. Add more salt if needed. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.

    Step 2

    Heat ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a small Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium. Add 1 medium shallot, finely chopped, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 1½ cups arborio rice and cook until each grain is coated in oil. Cook rice, stirring occasionally, until translucent around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups dry white wine and cook, stirring constantly, until almost completely absorbed, 5–7 minutes. Continue to cook, adding warm broth 2 ladlefuls (about 1 cup) at a time and stirring vigorously after each addition until completely absorbed before adding more, until rice is swollen and tender yet al dente (not chalky) and suspended in a thick, starchy liquid (it should be loose and creamy), 30–45 minutes. Start tasting after you have added about two thirds of the broth; you might reach the right consistency before you’ve added all of it. (Resist the urge to turn up the heat. This is a slow process that takes time.)

    Step 3

    Remove risotto from heat; add 1 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), and 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter and stir until melted. Add 2 medium zucchini (about 12 oz.), grated on the large holes of a box grater, and juice of 1 lemon. Taste and season with more salt if needed and freshly ground pepper.

    Step 4

    Ladle risotto into shallow bowls or onto plates; drizzle with oil and top with more Parmesan and pepper and some coarsely chopped mint.

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  • Easy to make with high payoff.

    • Samantha

    • Southeastern, MA

    • 6/15/2024

  • So bright and light - A perfect summer risotto!

    • Jason H.

    • Ontario, Canada

    • 6/4/2024

  • This was delicious. I added some fresh green beans and chopped sun-dried tomatoes before I added the zucchini - just because I had some. Delicious spring dinner.

    • EGK

    • Calgary, Alberta Canada

    • 6/5/2024

  • Can Zucchini be grilled?

    • New Cook

    • 6/5/2024

  • The lemon is the star of this risotto! Delicious!

    • Emily

    • Charlotte, Nc

    • 6/20/2024

  • Pain in the butt to make--adding the broth like this seems wholly unnecessary. There is another risotto recipe on epicurious, where you put the risotto in the oven for 16-18 minutes at 350. I've made risotto this way time and time again; this works better than the above method, is way less effort, and I get a more consistent result! Here is the epicurious link, for anyone else who may want to save themselves some hassle. Would make this recipe again, but definitely with the oven cooking method :)

    • Em P

    • Lancaster PA

    • 6/29/2024

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