This zucchini risotto recipe turns out creamy, comforting, indulgent, yet delicate in both taste and texture. Risotto perfection.Monica L. Helton

A bowl filled with zucchini risotto and a spoon resting inside.

Zucchini Risotto

4.75 / 4 votes
This creamy zucchini risotto manages to feel indulgent and virtuous all at once.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories548 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 15 minutes


For the vegetable broth

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium celery stalk
  • 1 handful flat-leaf Italian parsley stalks
  • 2 bay leaves

For the zucchini risotto

  • 2 medium (9 oz) zucchini
  • 4 zucchini blossoms (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 10 1/2 ounces risotto rice, such as carnaroli or Arborio
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as pinot gris or Chardonnay
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups vegetable broth (see recipe above)
  • 2 ounces grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Make the vegetable broth

  • Roughly chop the vegetables and toss them in a stockpot with the herbs and 12 cups (3 l) cold water. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain the broth. You’ll have more than what you need for this recipe. Pour 6 cups (1 1/2 l) broth back into the stockpot over low heat for the risotto and stash the rest in the fridge or freezer for future soups and stews and, naturally, risottos.

Make the risotto

  • Use a box grater or food processor to coarsely grate the zucchini. If using zucchini blossoms, roughly chop them.
  • In a wide, deep sauté pan or sauce pan over low heat, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion along with a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the rice to the pan and stir until the grains of rice are glistening and thoroughly coated, about 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and bring the heat up to medium. Let the wine simmer until almost completely absorbed, about 5 minutes. Then add just enough warm vegetable broth to cover the rice, about 1 ladleful or 3/4 cup. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally and adding a ladleful of broth at a time as the liquid reduces (about every 5 minutes). After 10 to 15 minutes, add the grated zucchini. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, and topping up with broth as needed for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until the rice is al dente. You’ll need to add a total of 4 1/2 to 6 cups broth to the risotto, depending on just how creamy you wish your risotto to be. With the last addition of broth, add the grated cheese, if using, and salt to taste. Add 1 tablespoon oil and stir until the risotto becomes creamy but still sorta soupy or, as the Italians say, loose. (Don’t worry. The risotto will become slightly thicker and stiffer as soon as it begins to cool on the plate.)
  • Remove the risotto from the heat. If using the zucchini blossoms, toss them in the pan and gently stir just until they wilt. Remove from the heat and immediately ladle the risotto immediately onto warm rimmed plates. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and, if desired, a little extra grated cheese. Serve right away. In fact, everyone should be seated at the table and waiting by the time you’re ladling risotto onto plates.
Acquacotta Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 548 kcalCarbohydrates: 77 gProtein: 13 gFat: 19 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 11 gCholesterol: 10 mgSodium: 1329 mgFiber: 6 gSugar: 11 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Emiko Davies. Photo © 2017 Lauren Bamford. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Very few meals are kinder to your soul than a gently flavored and delicious risotto. And this zucchini risotto is a perfect example. Ordinary ingredients and uncomplicated steps make it kind to the cook as well. Both the rice and the grated zucchini (I used the larger holes of my grater) were al dente in their unique individual ways. The vegetable broth was mild but remarkably had all the flavors and aromas of what went in. A risotto’s number one charm is its lusciously creamy consistency, which begins to go away even as you are eating it. Do warm your bowls before plating. A lovely dinner.

This zucchini risotto was an easy-to-follow recipe with a crowd-pleasing result that was especially satisfying on a very cold, snowy night. The risotto was warm, creamy, and, with the addition of a little extra Parmesan cheese at the end, really hit the spot. In terms of flavor, I needed to add a pinch of salt in addition to the cheese and olive oil because it was still a bit bland with a light zucchini flavor. Perhaps if made later in the year when zucchini blossoms are available the flavors would be more pronounced. Creamy and very satisfying. I used a pinot gris.

We really enjoyed this zucchini risotto. Even though it’s still winter and we weren’t able to use locally grown zucchini, the recipe worked very well. I’m looking forward to zucchini season in a few months when I’ll be able to pick zucchinis and zucchini flowers any time I want. This recipe will come in handy when we have so many zucchinis that we’re looking for ways to use them. The dish may need some salt. If you use the optional cheese, it may work fine, but a little salt may still be needed. I also like to squeeze some lemon juice into my risotto at the end as a flavor enhancer. I used Chardonnay and I added a total of 6 cups broth. At the end, the rice was somewhat firm, but the overall dish had a creaminess from the starches that had been released. It does firm up after it cools down a bit.

This zucchini risotto recipe produced a beautifully creamy risotto. The flavor of the zucchini wasn’t particularly noticeable, and I’d love to try it again when the flowers are available to see if that adds to the risotto. That aside, the risotto was very creamy and flavorful with the addition of the cheese and vegetable broth. I used Arborio rice and pinot grigio. After the zucchini was added, the zucchini seemed to give off quite a bit of liquid, so not a lot of broth was needed after that point.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I love zucchini but when it comes to growing this summer squash I love the zucchini blossom more. In fact, when I can find them, I seed the packets that have been selected for producing mostly male seeds for extra production of flowers. I can buy excellent zucchini in the summer but I can’t always get fresh and immaculate blossoms. When I do get zucchini, I watch them carefully so that I can pick them at the perfect stage. I once had one grow around the fence and into my neighbour’s yard and I’m still a bit freaked out about it. This week I had 2 perfect specimens. Right away, my foodie brain started churning… I was intent on making something very very special with my homegrown zucchini. Before I even had a chance to look for recipes, there it was, in my email, the Leite’s Culinaria newsletter sporting a plate of zucchini risotto! … with some zucchini blossoms thrown in for good measure! Bingo! I had to make it! The veggie broth sounded very good but I wanted instant gratification and I knew I had a carton veggie broth that I trusted enough for my special zucchini… Not long recipe, shortened, and on the table in 30 minutes. The tester reviews seemed to agree that a bit more salt was needed so after grating the zucchini, I sprinkled it with salt for 5 minutes then drained and squeezed out the liquid. We don’t usually have risotto as a main course but this one, coupled with the fact we were having a meatless Monday, was special enough to be the star at the table. Each bite had an al dente cluster of rice enveloped in creamy strands of slightly al dente zucchini and speckles of golden zucchini flowers. I did add a good sprinkle of Parmesan. The seasoning was perfect! Oh, and the tip on leaving it “soupy” was brilliant!

    1. Stunning, Ilda! Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us. I loved your story about the rogue zucchini; it is always terrifying when you find one that gigantic!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I used 2 zucchini and 1 yellow squash as I was feeding four very hungry people. I used my own chicken stock (5.5 cups). And when I added the veg I added a pinch of cayenne, because everything is delicious with a pinch of cayenne. The two-colored zucchinis made for a very pretty dish (since i didn’t have zucchini flowers) and we all ate our fill and were completely full. I was glad this was not salty (hubby needs to stay away from it), but just a pinch of nice kosher salt individually on an as needed basis suited us just fine. A nice pinot gris on the side rounded out the meal. The sometimes picky son declared this “boy food”, which is his highest rank of praise for a meal. He defines that as “something I would eat more of even when I was full because it was so good.” High praise indeed. I was so glad this recipe popped up on my google search when I put in zucchini + risotto. I am a huge fan of Leite’s cookbook about Portugese food. His weekday chicken with amped-up red pepper paste is on regular rotation every since I found that and I believe I reviewed that on here years and years ago. I was originally drawn to that cookbook “The New Portuguese Table” because my husband and I had returned from a “babymoon” trip to Portugal and I was trying to bring delicious recipes into our rotation to remind us that awesome time. That baby just turned 21 and it was so pleasant to talk about all of that at dinner last night and browse through this site and then pull out our Portuguese travel slides (yes, slides) to show on our screen. (Gotta digitalize all that when I can get to a place to do that post-Covid). Thanks, David!

    1. Thanks for sharing that experience with us, Crystal. It’s amazing how easily food memories can transport us to another time and place. We’re delighted that you’ve been enjoying David’s recipes, and that the zucchini risotto was such a hit with your family. We can’t wait to hear what you try next!