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Amazing no-stir butternut squash risotto with bacon and kale makes a perfect restaurant caliber one-dish dinner or hearty side dish. With smoky chunks of crisp bacon, roasted butternut squash and leafy green kale with creamy, cheesy rice, there’s nothing better. Go hands-free and sip on a glass of wine while it cooks!
Have you tried making risotto in the oven? It’s so, so good, and allows you to do other tasks while it cooks. This easy to make butternut squash risotto recipe is studded with tender cubes of squash, crisp smoky bacon bits and leafy kale greens.
While this risotto has all the comfort of a the usual stovetop-cooked one, you don’t feel like you’ve indulged in of a full-blown carb-fest after eating it.
To be honest, I will never turn down a bowl of the creamy, starchy goodness (enriched with butter, cheese and more butter) known as risotto.
But it’s not something that necessarily fits into regular rotation, if you know what I mean. I created this risotto so it didn’t feel so much like a huge indulgence, and more like a weeknight dinner option.
Instead, it has a nice balance of vegetables in the mix, and just a smidgen of super-tasty crisp chunks of porky bacon. Yum.
If you’re looking for a one-dish dinner that delivers a little bit of everything, I humbly offer this baked risotto as a contender.
Stovetop risotto can be a diva because she wants your undivided attention. And so do the people in your life big and small. And if you have furry friends in the house, them too.
Of course, we all know that anytime you lavish attention on anything and anyone, the payoff is usually good, right?
But in this case, “cheating” a little by letting the oven do the work is totally cool. It’s like delegating a task, only it’s a kitchen appliance punching the clock.
When it’s all said and done, you have a meal that feels elegant — restaurant worthy even – and yet so easy to make.
About the ingredients
- Arborio rice: Risotto is a classic Italian dish made with a special type of short-grain white rice.Traditionally, the rice is stirred in a pot with incremental amounts of hot broth.The starchy coating on the rice grains breaks down bit by bit. With each addition of liquid — along with the friction of stirring — the starch breaks down and forms a creamy texture.
- Butternut squash: Make this whole meal come together even faster if you use peeled and cubed squash. You can often find it in the produce section or freezer aisle of your grocery store.
- Kale: I love the deep green color and crinkled texture of lacinato kale, especially in a Tuscan kale salad. You can use any variety you like.
- Bacon: Use any thick-sliced unsmoked bacon or lightly smoked bacon.
- Parmesan cheese: This hard cheese is key! It’s full of umami flavor and Parmesan pairs beautifully with butternut squash.
- White wine: Use 1/4 cup dry white — pinot grigio is perfect.
- Vegetable broth: A low-sodium chicken broth will also work.
- Butter and olive oil
How to cook risotto in the oven
- Preheat your oven, and adjust the racks so that one is in the middle and one below it.
- Roast the butternut squash and bacon together on a sheet pan, while the rice cooks in an ovenproof skillet/saute pan — both at the same time.
- Once the squash is tender and browned on the edges and the bacon chunks are crisp and nicely rendered, the rice should be done too.
When is risotto done?
You’ll know it’s cooked through when the grains have an al dente texture in the middle when you taste it.
Unlike stovetop risotto that cooks until each addition of liquid is absorbed, you’ll see some broth in the pan when the rice is done, which is what you want.
Once everything gets stirred in to blend and the rice absorbs the stock it will be a perfect texture. Scoop the smoky bacon-flavored squash and the crisp bacon bits into the pan with the rice (leaving any excess fat behind) , stir in leafy kale and cheese, and it’s time to eat.
You might ask, what do you do with the extra time you’ve saved by not standing by the stove, stirring a pot?
I don’t know about you, but I use mine to open up a bottle of wine, pour myself a glass and clean up the cutting board. When it’s done, you can serve this right out of the pan, family-style because that’s how we roll 🙂
Arborio rice alternatives to make risotto
Authentic Italian arborio is a variety of short grain rice, naturally gluten-free. Other cultivars include carnaroli and vialone nano. They all have in common a plump, rounded grain and starchy coating.
Technically, you can make this oven risotto with other short grain, starchy white rices. Sometimes I use other types of short grain rice other than authentic Italian ones to make very fine risottos, including:
- California-grown arborio
- Paella rice, or Bomba rice
- Sushi rice
They’re all good choices to use to make risotto, so use whichever one you have. Just be sure not to rinse whatever rice when you make risotto — the starch coating is key to a creamy texture. Washing the rice eliminates the starch on the grains, which is really the magical part of risotto.
More winter squash recipes you will love:
- Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Butter
- Harissa Butternnut Squash Salad
- Creamy Delicata Squash Pasta with Greens
No-Stir Butternut Squash Risotto
- 1 2-pound (5.45 kg) (medium) butternut squash, peeled and seeds scooped out (or 4 cups store-bought prepared, diced butternut squash)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces (170 g) thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, white and light green section, halved lengthwise and sliced
- ¼ cup finely sliced shallot or onion
- 1 cup (190 g) arborio rice
- ¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
- 4 cups (1 l) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 small Parmesan cheese rind, optional
- 4-5 cups stemmed Lacinato Tuscan kale, de-stemmed and chopped
- ½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 (200C) degrees, with one oven rack in the center and one rack under it.
- Slice the squash into 1 1/2-inch chunks (if you’re not using already prepared squash). Arrange in one layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt and grind black pepper over to taste. Scatter the bacon over the squash.
- Place a large oven-proof saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, stir in the leek and shallot or onion. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook another minute, stirring to coat the grains with the oil.
- Pour in the wine and let it bubble for 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Add the stock, Parmesan rind (if you have one) and 1 teaspoon salt.
- Slide the sheet pan on the lower rack and the saute pan on the middle rack. Bake the rice and squash 30-35 minutes. To check if it's done, the rice should be very tender and not completely absorbed into the broth. The squash should be tender and the bacon rendered and deep brown.
- Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer the squash and bacon to the risotto pan, leaving the excess fat behind. Sprinkle the kale and cheese over, and gently stir, folding into the risotto until everything is evenly mixed.
- Serve right away while it’s hot!
Karen’s Notes and Tips
- Take this dish up a notch with this cheffy touch: Drizzle the risotto with good balsamic vinegar and a pinch of crushed red chili flakes before serving.
- To make this vegetarian, skip the bacon. Toss the squash with 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil along with the seasonings before roasting.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.