Vegan Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus

Whip up a healthy dinner – this vegan risotto with lemon and asparagus is flavorful and easy to make.
Vegan Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus | #vegan

Last week I learned how to make asparagus risotto. I have made risotto before, but I was never quite sure I was doing it correctly. Watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks helped, but not as much as seeing Chef Aaron from Harmons Grocery making it and then trying it out for myself. This is my version – Vegan Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus. 

Vegan Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus | #vegan

Typically at the end of the long, slow cooking time, butter and cheese is added to give the risotto an extra creamy, rich texture. That adds a lot of flavor too. I knew I could probably make up for that by adding in other non-dairy ingredients when I was making this. I’ve included a few notes in the recipe below because I separated the risotto into half, and tried two different things. I’m still not quite sure which I liked the best. Basically I swapped the butter for extra virgin coconut oil, added some unsweetened almond milk, and a little nutritional yeast. I only did that to one half in case I took it in the completely wrong direction. Luckily it worked!

Vegan Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus | #vegan

I am addicted to lemon in and on everything. I added finely grated lemon zest, a bay leaf, and lots of garlic while the vegan risotto cooked. I used a really full-flavored vegetable stock as well. It definitely wasn’t lacking in flavor when I was finished with it. The thing I learned from Chef Aaron, too, was to add the asparagus at the very end of cooking time. I sliced one bunch into small rounds so they barely cooked in the latent heat when I took the vegan risotto off the stove. Each bite had tender-crunchy sweet asparagus with the bright lemony rice. It was SO good.

If making risotto intimidates you like it did me, there is a fantastic step-by-step risotto tutorial on It’s definitely worth checking out. It takes that scary “am I doing it right?” factor out of the equation.

p.s. I also included directions in the note section for turning my vegan risotto into a more traditional risotto with butter and cheese.

Other springtime risotto recipes worth checking out:
Risotto with Shrimp and Asparagus from The Perfect Pantry
Pea and Lemon Risotto from Baked Bree
Summer Lemon Vegetable Risotto from Eats Well With Others
Vegan Mushroom Kale Risotto from With Food and Love
Spring Mushroom Risotto with Leeks and Peas from Tasty Yummies
Beet Risotto (with goat cheese!) from Healthy.Delicious.
Roasted Red Pepper Risotto with Spinach from Bev Cooks
Onion, Leek and Parm Risotto from Naturally Ella
Fava Bean and Fennel Risotto with Sautéed Radicchio from The Vintage Mixer
Spicy Coconut Risotto with Lime Shrimp from Foxes Love Lemons (dairy-free)


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Vegan Asparagus Risotto

A creamy, lemony dairy-free asparagus risotto that is healthy and perfect for spring.

  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


Units Scale
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) arborio rice
  • 3/4 to 1 cup white wine
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 89 cups unsalted or low sodium vegetable broth or stock
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Pour broth or stock into a pan and bring just to a simmer.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 30-60 seconds until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
  3. Next add the rice. Cook, stirring constantly for about a minute then add the wine. Stir and cook while the wine absorbs into the rice. Add the bay leaf, lemon zest and juice.
  4. Ladle about 1 cup of broth into the pan. Cook, stirring constantly and letting the liquid be completely absorbed. The heat should be on medium to medium-low. Not too hot that it burns on the bottom. You want to cook it slowly so the starch from the rice is released and it turns creamy.
  5. Add another cup of hot stock and keep cooking and stirring. Repeat until rice is creamy and cooked through. It should not be mushy or crunchy, but al dente (to the tooth).
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the asparagus. Season well with salt and black pepper. Serve hot. Garnish with extra lemon zest, if desired.


-The recipe is great as written, but if you want to add a creamy, cheesy factor to it, I tried adding extra virgin coconut oil, a little unsweetened almond milk, and nutritional yeast to some of the risotto. It was amazing how well that worked! It had a rich mouth feel and it tasted really good. It did have a very light coconut flavor, but not enough to be off-putting. If you go that route, add 1 Tablespoon solid coconut oil, and stir it in over low-heat. I added the almond milk after that and cooked for a few more minutes, then added a spoonful of nutritional yeast. All of that is after I added in the asparagus.
-Al dente means the rice is not crunchy or mushy. It’s right in the middle. If you do decide to add the optional ingredients listed above, start adding them in when the rice is still a little undercooked so the extra cooking time doesn’t make the rice mushy.
-If you’re not dairy-free and want to make a more traditional risotto, add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter and 1/2-3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano right before you add the asparagus.

  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Category: Main Dish, Gluten-Free, Vegan
  • Cuisine: Italian

Vegan Risotto with Lemon and Asparagus | #vegan


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  1. Your asparagus risotto is beautiful!! Oh how I wish it would be spring sooner so I could try it out! I love that it doesn’t have cream or butter…so many people mistakenly think you need to add those to risotto to make it creamy but it’s just not so!

  2. Delicious! My daughter and I made this last night for supper. As delicious as it was, or rather IS (because there are LOTS of leftovers–must remember to at least halve the recipe next time)…I am of the opinion that risotto is the invention of a cook who was looking for a way to occupy a helpful guest. It took two of us taking turns stirring for nearly an hour as the broth was gradually added to the arborio rice and other ingredients.

    Okey dokey…the tofu is draining…almost time to assemble ingredients for tonight’s dinner, the Red Cabbage Bowl! :-) Thanks for the inspiration–I have Spring Fever and needed some new ideas to motivate me, and to add some healthful variety to our meals, now that soups, stews, and casseroles can be left behind for a while!

    1. Beverly, thank you so much for your lovely comment! It made me so happy to think of you and your daughter making risotto together. And you’re right – it does make a bunch! I’ve never thought about risotto in that way before, but you could be right! I like thinking of it that way because it sounds like something I would do. :) I hope your dinner was fabulous!

  3. Beautiful food photography. Thank you for the recipe – it looks delicious, and what a great way to make the best of spring and summer vegetables!

  4. I made this last night and I won’t be making regular risotto again. This tastes amazing, just as if I added a ton of butter and cheese. The only down part is it disappeared in about 5 minutes and I don’t get to have any left overs.

  5. Literally eating this RIGHT NOW. It is delicious, creamy and fresh tasting! My only two cents is that you should definitely use real drinking wine, not cooking wine like I did. Wayyy too salty. Also, make sure the ‘spoon’ lid on your pepper container is closed. Oops!!! Haha

  6. I would say that I’m the sole dissenter here but I made this for a vegan potluck and the reviews were very mixed. I made the recipe exactly as called for and found it was way too lemony. Since this is a long standing group of serious foodie vegans I decided to bring a small container of this risotto and then I “doctored” up the rest. To me it was really lacking in nuances and variety. I soaked some dried porcini mushrooms in water and added dried apricots, a touch of truffle oil, and sauteed chili peppers. Then I added some fresh English peas and topped it with some candied pecans I had made a while back.
    Only one person (out of twelve of us) liked the lemon risotto as per the recipe. The reviews were mixed for the “doctored” version. The consensus was that the lemon was still overwhelming.

    1. Hi Karen! I appreciate your comment and all the feedback. You know, I’m a fan of lemon, so I tend to go heavy on it – my husband complains about that sometimes! Your additions are very interesting. I’m curious how it tasted with that combination of ingredients. I do want to say that this is supposed to be a very simple recipe – I was making a vegan version of a recipe I learned from a professional chef. I didn’t want to add anything to take away from the flavors of the lemon and asparagus. That’s what I was going for. I do appreciate the feedback though. I’m sorry it was a miss for you.

  7. Hi Lindsey! Would love to let you know I cooked your risotto recipe today! I went in with a bit of hesitation due to my lack of cooking knowledge & skills but with a trust that it will be alright. I cooked it at my partners house for our dinner. His friends were here and let me just say that they enjoyed the overwhelming citrus aroma that the dish put out. I continued to follow your easy instructions & invited them to try it out as I chugged the rest of the wine :p no im kidding. We all really enjoyed it! It was delicious! I also added some portobello mushrooms. Thank you for sharing with us. I look forward to trying out more of your recipes.

  8. I made this the other night, I can’t say it was a hit, the lemon was overwhelming. I know risotto isn’t easy perhaps to learn, so I will work with it again.

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