Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Risotto Recipe

Anyone who has ever enjoyed risotto knows that it's quite the decadent dish, providing a surprisingly abundant amount of flavor for something with white rice at its base. While plain cheesy risotto is delicious enough on its own, this autumn harvest pumpkin risotto, courtesy of recipe developer Jessica Case, takes things to a whole new, fall-forward level. "I love risotto and pumpkin! Those two ingredients together just make this dish divine and enjoyable to eat," Case raves. "This is a recipe I would make several times in the fall season."

While just about any risotto will feature arborio rice, white wine, and some sort of stock, this recipe gets some unique flavors thanks to the addition of pumpkin puree and bacon. You can also count on a dash of nutmeg to add some warmth, along with some fresh sage to give the risotto an herbaceous touch without making it too herby. "This dish must be on your list for a nice cozy fall evening," Case says, and something tells us that once you give it a try, it will indeed stay in your dinner rotation well into winter, too.

Gather the ingredients for this autumn harvest pumpkin risotto

There are many typical risotto suspects in this recipe, such as diced onion, butter, garlic, salt, pepper, arborio rice, dry white wine, vegetable stock, and Parmesan cheese. More unexpected players include thick-cut bacon, sage, nutmeg, and even some toasted hazelnuts for garnish.

Of course, we couldn't forget the pumpkin, and a bit of puree is enough to fall-ify this recipe and even give it that lovely orange hue. As Case says, "Pumpkin puree makes this dish extra delicious and it gives it such a nice creamy texture." If you aren't a fan of pumpkin but want to stay on the fall theme, she adds, "A great substitute for pumpkin would be butternut squash."

Heat up the stock and cook the bacon

A key to making risotto is slowly but steadily ladling warm stock into the rice, so you'll want to get said stock heating up before jumping into the other steps. Simply add the vegetable stock (or chicken stock or plain water) to a saucepan over low heat. Keep the stock warm, but make sure it doesn't boil.

Meanwhile, get the bacon going. Place a large pan over medium heat and lay out 4 strips of bacon, allowing them to cook for a few minutes on both sides. Once the bacon is nice and crisp, remove the strips from the heat and place them on a layer of paper towels to drain.

Prepare the garnishes

With the bacon out of the pan, go ahead and melt 1 tablespoon of butter in that same pan over medium-high heat. Add in the sage leaves and cook for just a minute or 2, avoiding burning or browning but achieving a nice level of crispiness, then remove them and set aside. Next, in the same pan, melt another tablespoon of butter and add the chopped hazelnuts, toasting them for 2-4 minutes. Once they're done, place them in a small bowl and set aside with the sage leaves — now your garnishes are ready to go for the finished dish. 

Begin building the risotto

Now we can jump into the actual risotto. Back in that same trusty pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add in the diced onion, garlic, salt, and pepper, then cook slowly for about 30 minutes, stirring often, until the onions soften and everything is nice and fragrant. 

Next, add the arborio rice and let it cook for about a minute, giving it a chance to toast. Add the wine and cook, stirring often, until nearly all the liquid has absorbed or evaporated. "Any dry white wine works," Case says, though she notes that a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are good options. 

Slowly add the stock and fall flavors

Add ½ cup of warm stock, the freshly chopped sage, and the nutmeg and gently stir the rice until all of the stock is absorbed. Then add in another ½ cup of stock, repeating this process of stirring until absorbed and adding more stock. Just don't make the common risotto mistake of adding too much stock at once — go ½ cup at a time and wait until the liquid is gone before adding more. This is the key to getting creamy, tender risotto. Once you've added all of the vegetable stock, stir in the pumpkin puree and Parmesan cheese. 

Garnish your autumn harvest pumpkin risotto

Chop up the cooled bacon and use it to garnish your pumpkin risotto along with the crispy sage leaves, chopped toasted nuts, and a little extra parmesan if you like. Then you're ready to enjoy this fall-forward dish, and if you're so inclined to enjoy it as part of a larger meal, Case has some suggestions: "You can pair this with crusty bread and a simple fall salad, or serve it as a side along with a roast chicken, steak, or as one of your Thanksgiving side dishes!"

Autumn Harvest Pumpkin Risotto Recipe
5 from 45 ratings
When all you want to eat is pumpkin everything, turn to this recipe for your rich, savory, bacon-and-sage-filled cravings.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pumpkin risotto with garnishes
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 10 whole fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • ½ cup dry roasted unsalted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth over low heat. Keep warm.
  2. In a large pan, cook the bacon over medium heat, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside.
  3. Prepare the garnishes: Using the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the whole sage leaves and cook for 1-2 minutes or until crispy. Remove and set aside.
  4. To the same pan, add 1 tablespoon butter and the hazelnuts. Toast for 2-4 minutes, then remove and set aside.
  5. Using the same pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and add in the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook slowly for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, golden brown, fragrant, and beginning to caramelize.
  6. Add the arborio rice to the pan of onions and cook, stirring frequently, until it becomes lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until almost completely evaporated.
  8. Add ½ cup warm vegetable stock, the minced fresh sage, and nutmeg. Stir until the stock is absorbed.
  9. Once the pan of rice looks dry, add another ½ cup stock and stir until absorbed. Repeat this process, adding the stock ½ cup at a time, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  10. Stir in the pumpkin puree and parmesan cheese until fully combined and creamy.
  11. Chop the crispy bacon and sprinkle over the risotto. Garnish each serving with fried sage leaves, toasted hazelnuts, and extra parmesan, if desired, and enjoy right away.
Calories per Serving 655
Total Fat 38.4 g
Saturated Fat 14.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 62.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 56.2 g
Dietary Fiber 7.5 g
Total Sugars 5.0 g
Sodium 717.5 mg
Protein 18.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe