Made with simple ingredients and secretly SO easy, this Pesto Risotto Recipe comes out ultra creamy, is full of fresh basil flavor, and even better than you get at the restaurant! Arborio rice is slowly cooked with warmed broth and then flavored with fresh basil pesto, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice at the end. It comes out perfect every time when you use this foolproof method!

A spoon is used to serve pesto risotto.

Creamy Basil Pesto Risotto Recipe

Lately, I have been on a MAJOR pesto kick. It started when we got an Aerogarden for Christmas. 

This led to me making WAY too many batches of this Basil Pesto and ultimately creating this Pesto Risotto, Pesto Salmon, and Creamy Pesto Chicken Gnocchi.

What always amazes me with risotto is that it’s actually really EASY not to mess it up. That is, as long as you have just a TAD bit of patience.

Unlike other rice recipes where you simply plop the water and rice in a pot and let the grains soak up the liquid all at the same time…

A risotto recipe requires a bit more attention. You must have a separate pot with warmed broth that you slowwwwwly add into the grains, bit by bit.

A few reasons this Pesto Risotto Recipe is the best:

  • The grains of rice get lightly toasted to add more flavor.
  • Warmed broth is incrementally added in, allowing the Arborio rice to cook slowly and ultimately get SUPER creamy.
  • Fresh basil pesto is mixed in for the most flavor. (You can use storebought to save time!)
  • A hint of zesty lemon juice counteracts the heaviness of the grains. Wait until the end to add this, though, as it can get bitter if it cooks too long!

If you love pesto, be sure to try this Shrimp Pesto Pasta, too.

Arborio rice, broth, basil, pesto, onion, and Parmesan cheese are the main ingredients for this dish.

Ingredients

  • Pesto. It’s much better to make fresh pesto at home as you can adjust how much oil you add. Most store-bought brands come with a lot of added oil (and not the best quality oil either!) But, you can always save time by using a jar from grocery stores.
  • Rice. Make sure to get arborio rice—this is what you need to make an authentic risotto recipe. It will turn not turn out with another variety.
  • Broth. Regular sodium chicken broth was used but vegetable or reduced sodium can be subbed. You may need to adjust the amount of salt added. Chicken stock can be subbed, as well, but it is a richer base. 
  • Parmesan cheese. Grab a higher quality of Parmesan cheese for the best results. Leave it out or grab a dairy-free variety for a vegan pesto risotto.
  • Toppings. Sprinkle some lemon zest, basil chiffonade, and toasted pine nuts on top of the risotto.
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

How to Make Risotto with Basil Pesto

Please see the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and more detailed instructions.

1. Warm the Broth

Pour the chicken broth into a pot over medium-high heat. When it’s almost boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and keep it warm.

It’s essential the broth is warm when you add it to the risotto.

If you have a pot with a pouring spout use it! It’s difficult to pour hot liquid into the rice.

2. Heat the Veggies and Rice

Add olive oil and onions to a large saucepan or a Dutch oven. Sauté the onion over medium heatAdd the garlic and continue cooking for another minute.

Reduce to medium-low heat and add the rice.

Arborio rice is added to the sautéed onion and garlic.

3. Stir in the Broth

As with any proper risotto recipe, it’s essential to add the broth SLOWLY. The cooking process is what makes risotto so creamy and smooth.

Stir in ½- to 1-cup warm broth at a time. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with a spatula or wooden spoon. Stir continuously until it is almost fully absorbed. Then, add another cup.

Continue this process until all of the broth is added. It should take you about 25 minutes.

Broth is slowly added to the risotto in a pot.

4. Add the Pesto and Serve

During the last couple of minutes of cooking, stir the homemade pesto, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper into the risotto.

Be sure to thoroughly mix everything together.

When it’s at your desired consistency, top with extra Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil, and lemon zest.

A wooden spoon stirs risotto on the stove top.

5. Make It a Full Meal

It’s easy to add some simple ingredients to make this flavorful risotto a main dish.

Stir in some roasted cherry tomatoes and serve it alongside chicken, like Chicken BryanCaprese Chicken, or Glazed Balsamic Chicken.

What is risotto made of?

Risotto is made with a special rice type, called Arborio. This short grain rice becomes creamy when cooked slowly with added broth. Risotto is often seasoned with herbs and spices or cheeses.

What is the secret to a good risotto?

The secret to a good risotto is patience and adding a warm broth. If you add broth too quickly, or it is too cold, you won’t end up with that irresistible creamy texture.

FAQs

How to store risotto? 

Keep risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days. Keep in mind this might be less with meat or seafood.

How do you reheat risotto? 

The best way to reheat risotto is back in a skillet on the stovetop. Add a little broth at a time over medium heat until your desired temperature and consistency is achieved.

Can I freeze risotto? 

Unfortunately, risotto does not freeze well.

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t sub. Be sure to use Arborio rice only! Otherwise, it won’t turn out.
  • Nice and warm. Heat the broth up before adding it to the risotto.
  • Take is slow. Only stir a little bit of the broth into the risotto at a time.
  • Make it complete. Some oven-roasted tomatoes and pan-seared chicken are the perfect finishing touches.
  • DIY. Making your own pesto and adding a squeeze of lemon at the end are my favorite ways to get fresh flavors in this best ever risotto.

More Easy Rice and Risotto Recipes

Rice is such a versatile and delicious ingredient. Get into this grain with more of these recipes:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 3 votes

Easy Pesto Risotto Recipe

Made with simple ingredients and secretly SO easy, this Pesto Risotto Recipe comes out ultra-creamy, is full of fresh basil flavor, and is even better than you get at the restaurant! Arborio rice is slowly cooked with warmed broth and then flavored with fresh basil pesto, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice at the end.
A spoon is used to serve pesto risotto.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Total 35 minutes
An image of an envelope sealed shut with the Evolving Table logo.

Email this recipe!

Enter your email and we’ll send it directly to you.

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups broth chicken or vegetable, regular sodium
  • 1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
  • 1 Tbsp. oil or butter
  • 1 small sweet onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • ½ cup basil pesto homemade or store-bought
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese grated, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Lemon zest optional
  • Fresh basil chiffonade, optional
  • Pine nuts toasted, optional

Instructions 

  • Warm the Broth: Place chicken broth in a pot and heat to almost a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low to keep warm.
    4 cups broth
  • Heat the Veggies and Rice: Sauté oil and onions in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and continue sautéing for another minute. Reduce heat to medium low and add rice. Stir for 1-2 minutes.
    1 Tbsp. oil, 1 small sweet onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
  • Stir in the Broth: Add ½-1 cup at a time of warmed broth. Stir continuously and add next amount once liquid is almost completely absorbed. Repeat this process over the course of 25 minutes.
  • Add the Pesto. During the last few minutes of cooking, mix in the basil pesto, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.
    ½ cup basil pesto, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp. lemon juice, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Serve the Risotto. Once all broth is added and the risotto is to your desired consistency, serve with additional Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, fresh basil and lemon zest. Enjoy!
    Lemon zest, Fresh basil, Pine nuts
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 3 votes

Video

Notes

Prep-Ahead Instructions:
Make the pesto a couple days in advance, just keep it in the fridge.
Storage Directions:
Keep leftover risotto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days. Freezing this dish is not recommended. To reheat, place it back in a skillet and add small amounts of broth until the desired temperature and consistency is reached.
Recipe Tips:
  • Don’t sub. Be sure to use Arborio rice only! Otherwise, it won’t turn out.
  • Nice and warm. Heat the broth up before adding it to the risotto.
  • Take is slow. Only stir a little bit of the broth into the risotto at a time.
  • Make it complete. Some oven-roasted tomatoes and pan-seared chicken are the perfect finishing touches.
  • DIY. Making your own pesto and adding a squeeze of lemon at the end are my favorite ways to get fresh flavors in this best ever risotto.

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 4mg, Sodium: 1047mg, Potassium: 70mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 785IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 91mg, Iron: 2mg

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

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

You May Also Like

Thanks for
Stopping By!

I’m London! Join me as we cook up nourishing meals for you and your loved ones and learn a few healthy cooking tips and tricks!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating