Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto

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The creamy taste of risotto without the work!

Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto

When I was a kid, I had a reputation for rejecting squash in all forms. Summer squash, zucchini, acorn, or butternut. You name it, I was not game. Over the years, my parents developed some creative tactics to get me to eat squash. Most of them, however, involved  smothering the vegetable in either cheese or sugar. Sure, it was somewhat effective. But it’s probably not the healthiest way to enjoy squash. My parents never went the the risotto route, unfortunately. However, I can guarantee that even as a child, I would have chowed down on this Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto. Basically, it’s the adult (and healthy) version of smothering your squash in cheese.

In fact, in a lot of ways, risotto is kind of like adult mac and cheese that you can serve at a fancy dinner party. This recipe uses non-fat parmesan cheese to keep things classy. And by classy I mean rich, flavorful, and also light. Yep, parmesan is something of a free pass for the health-conscious cheese lover. And stirred into this slow cooker butternut squash risotto, it provides all the rich cheesiness you (or your resident picky eater) crave with way less fat.

As usual, the slow cooker is a life saver in this recipe. Basically, this meal is a two step process. Put everything in the slow cooker, then stir in the parmesan for a cheesy finish. You can cook this dish on high for two to three hours, or on low for four to six if you want to have a little more free time to kill.

However, the slow cooker isn’t just there to make your life easier. The slow cooking process really helps this dish to fully absorb its rich flavors and seasoning. This recipe includes dried rubbed sage, garlic, and onion. The slow cooker allows these flavors to really soak into a dish, yielding a rich, full taste.

Whether you’re a squash lover or hater (or just live with one), this Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto should provide some common ground. The butternut squash brings some rich, hearty flavor for its fans, while the cheesy risotto will help distract less enthusiastic squash eaters.

Make this dish for a dinner party, home-cooked weekend meal, or use it to trick your kid into eating squash. (Or use it to trick yourself  into eating squash. Whatever you have to do!) Either way, it’s a creamy, cheesy crowd pleaser for even the pickiest of crowds.

If you like this Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto, definitely check out some of these other creative risotto recipes, including:

And if you’re really a butternut squash fan, be sure to check out some of these recipes as well:

Oh, and for beginners, here’s a quick tutorial on How to Cut and Peel a Butternut Squash. It’s easy, I promise.

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Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto

This risotto is made with delicious and healthy ingredients that both kids and adults will enjoy.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Yield 8 people
Serving Size 0.5 cup
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian


  • 1 cup arborio risotto rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups butternut squash cut into small cubes
  • 1 yellow onion small, diced small
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese non-fat, grated


  • Place all ingredients, except the butternut squash and parmesan, in the slow cooker. Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours. Add butternut squash the last hour and continue cooking just until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in the cheese and serve.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 69mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 5
Keywords Diabetic-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Kid-Friendly, Slow Cooker, Vegetarian

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Chef Nichole

Nichole has a culinary degree from Great Lakes Culinary Institute and has worked in the culinary industry for 10 years. She also has the knowledge to write recipes using the most nutritious, fresh, and balanced ingredients. Nichole enjoys creating healthy and tasty recipes anyone can prepare, no matter their cooking skill level.

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  1. Terrible. The “risotto” was a gummy, gluey, flavorless mess, while the butternut squash pieces were still hard and undercooked. One taste and it went into the garbage.

    1. Hi Dianna, I’m sorry to hear your risotto did not turn out! It’s likely the rice was cooked for too long and the squashes were cut too large and didn’t cook all the way though. It’s also very important to make sure you’re using arborio rice! If you’d rather try some of our rice recipes we have several options!

  2. Could this be made in the slow cooker the night before and rewarmed the next day or will the texture and consistency be effected by doing that? Would it help to leave out some of the broth and the cheese and add them after reheating?

    1. Hi Emily. I would recommend slightly under-cooking the risotto to help maintain the texture and consistency after reheating. I would also leave out some of the broth and cheese as you suggested and then adding it after reheating.

  3. I made this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I never knew that risotto could be so easy to make!

  4. I loved it! I took a gamble regarding the comments some people left and tried it on my husband and best friend. Which they are my two biggest food critics and they loved it! I subbed the Mozzarella for shredded goat cheese to make lactose free! Sooo delicious!

    1. Definitely! Try setting to Manual and cook on High for 5 minutes. Test for doneness and cook a few more minutes if needed.

  5. I dont understand this recipe. I have tried twice. Before I even add the squash the rice is overcooked. I am following the receipt exact. Today I put it on slow cook and at 3 hours was going to add squash and it was already gummy and overcooked and no liquid left! Your recipe says on slow 4-5 hours. So at 3 hours I should be able to add the squash according to your instructions. What happened?

    1. What type of rice are you using? This could be a big factor – for this recipe it’s important to use arborio rice!

  6. Not the best. By the time 3 hours was up and I added the butternut squash, the rice was already over cooked. The BN squash only needed 30 min on low to be done as well.

    1. Hi Nicole, for this recipe make sure you’re using arborio risotto rice, this will make a big difference. Also, the recipe states the rice should be cooked 2 to 3 hours on high, so 3 hours may have been too long for your cooker. Additionally, the squash is added for the last hour of cooking, not an additional hour. For next time, cook the rice for one hour and then add the squash and cook for one more hour. Hope this helps!

  7. Can I incorporate this into my batch cooking habit – eat two portions and freeze the rest in three double portions? Does it freeze successfully? I have frozen mushroom risotto in the past, and discovered that it only needs the addition of a splash of stock to bring it back to life when heating, so maybe that would apply here also?

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