Is Risotto Vegan or Vegetarian? (All You Need To Know)

Risotto is a traditional Italian dish.

Most risotto recipes include butter and cheese, but they’re not strictly necessary since the creaminess is created by the rice’s starch molecules.

You can easily have a vegan risotto, as long as you:

  • Find a specialized vegan restaurant;
  • Ask a restaurant to prepare you vegan risotto beforehand;
  • Make a vegan risotto recipe at home.

However, most risotto recipes call for parmesan, a hard, granular cheese produced from cow’s milk, so most risottos are not vegan. Also, the rice is usually cooked in chicken broth, so even though you can find recipes where the rice is cooked in vegetable broth, that’s not usually the case. 

How Is Risotto Made? 


Simply put, risotto is a combination of rice, broth, and aromatics.

For the risotto to have the perfect texture, you must warm up the broth ahead of time. If you don’t have the right temperature, not only will it take longer but it might cause the starches to seize up.

Here are the ingredients in most risottos:

  • chicken broth
  • olive oil
  • onions
  • arborio rice
  • cloves
  • white wine or water
  • Parmesan cheese
  • butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parsley

You could easily make this recipe vegan, but you would need to replace the chicken broth with *vegetable broth and remove the parmesan and butter.

Let not forget you can find vegan parmesan and butter quite easily nowadays. So you could either skip those ingredients or simply replace them with the respective vegan versions.

*Vegetable broth: There are different vegetable broth recipes. But for the sake of keeping it simple, you can make vegetable broth using the following ingredients: onions, celery, carrots, a potato, garlic, salt, and spices.

Here is a delicious, yet different vegetable broth recipe by The Minimalist Baker.

Can I Use Any Rice?

You can use any rice, but the result will be different. Long-grain varieties (white, basmati, or jasmine) usually stay separated when cooked. But short-grain varieties like arborio and carnaroli rice get chewier and clump together when cooked.

Arborio does the trick, but experts recommend carnaroli for a restaurant-worthy risotto. Since carnaroli is starchier than arborio, you get an even creamier risotto.

Read Next: Is Pasta Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

Parmesan Cheese Alternative

If you want to include parmesan cheese in your vegan risotto, you have to find an alternative. Amazon has a pretty popular parmesan alternative made from organic cashews.

vegan parmesan

Ingredients: Organic Cashews (Tree Nuts), Organic Nutritional Yeast, Organic Brown Rice Flour, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Hemp Seeds, Sea Salt.

You can add it to risotto like you would add regular Parmesan cheese.

This being said, if you find this parmesan alternative a bit too expensive, you can always create vegan parmesan at home. I’ve always been a fan of cheese but I can’t afford to always buy it, so I generally follow a vegan cheese recipe at home.

The Minimalist Baker has a wonderful parmesan recipe that only requires 4 ingredients. Plus, it should only take you 5 minutes to make.

You can save both money and time while enjoying a healthier parmesan alternative.

Read Next: 5 Vegan Cheeses That Melt Like Real Cheese

Vegan Risotto Recipes To Make At Home.

Would you love to gather your friends or family, and prepare them a wonderful vegan risotto? One that would make them join the green side? Yes?

Then let me show you some of the best vegan risotto recipes online.

vegan risotto by the minimalist baker

The recipe above is brought to you by the Minimalist Baker.

Ingredients: Vegetable Broth, Arborio Rice, White Wine, Vegan Parmesan Cheese, Water, Asparagus (or Brocollini) Stalks, Red Bell Peppers, Black Peppers, Sea Salt, Sliced Shallot, Sea Salt.

According to Minimalist Baker, making this recipe should take about 30 minutes. This is a healthier risotto without oil or butter, that replaces regular parmesan with vegan parmesan. It includes plenty of vegetables that cover the majority of your nutritional needs.

vegan mushroom risotto

Loving it Vegan also has an amazing vegan mushroom risotto recipe.

Ingredients: Vegetable Broth, Brown Mushrooms, Onion, Olive Oil, Arborio Rice, Vegan Butter, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Parmesan Cheese, and Parsley.

This is a creamy and rich vegan risotto recipe. I personally love mushrooms, so the light mushroom flavor that takes over my palate is very addicting.

Like the previous recipe, you can make this one in less than an hour.

vegan ris

My Darling Vegan has a vegan risotto recipe, but instead of using parmesan, the author decides to use ricotta cheese.

Ingredients: Vegetable Broth, Olive Oil, Onions, Garlic, Arborio Rice, White Wine, Lemon Juice, Chopped Asparagus, Frozen Peas, Vegan Butter, Vegan Ricotta Cheese, Salt, and Black Pepper.

Typically risotto does not have a solid protein source. So if you want to have more protein in your meal, you can always add frozen peas to go with your risotto.

With these three different recipes, you can easily impress your family and friends.

My family has a more traditional outlook on both life and food, so they can’t exactly conceive of eating food without meat or dairy. That’s why I usually want to get these recipes right so that I can slowly but surely shift their thinking.

Vegan food is also delicious, you just have to put in some effort.

Read Next: Is Marinara Sauce Vegan? (Here is Everything You Need To Know)


The risotto you find in restaurants is bound to contain cheese and animal-based butter.

So unless you specify your dietary needs in advance or choose a vegan restaurant (with a risotto recipe), it will be difficult to find any restaurant that makes vegan risotto. Especially if it’s a restaurant known for its risotto recipe.

However, it’s not the cheese or the butter that adds a creamy texture to the dish. It’s actually short-grain rice (arborio or carnaroli). Therefore, if you decide to make risotto at home, you certainly don’t need to include cheese or butter.

Though I do admit cheese makes the plate more enticing.

Fortunately for us vegans, we can find both cheese and butter alternatives in the supermarket, so making vegan risotto is actually easy. Thank you for reading this blog post, and let me know if you’ve ever had a delicious vegan risotto in the past!

Risotto FAQs

Is Risotto Gluten-Free?

Risotto is usually created with one of three forms of rice, namely arborio, carnaroli, or vialone nano rice, which means that the base of the risotto is gluten-free. However, some unusual recipes might call for other starches, including pasta, which is not a gluten-free ingredient. 

Does Risotto Have Dairy?

Unfortunately, Risotto usually contains parmesan cheese, so it does contain dairy. If you have a dairy allergy, then I’m afraid Risotto is not a type of dish you should eat, unless you eat it someplace where they can replace the dairy cheese with vegan cheese or another ingredient. 

Is Mushroom Risotto Vegan?

Mushroom risotto is similar to regular risotto because even though it contains mushrooms, the rice is typically cooked in chicken broth and it also includes parmesan cheese, so it’s not vegan-friendly.  

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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