Instant Pot Risotto with Spring Vegetables & Dates | Vegetarian & Vegan
Spring Vegetable Risotto with Carrots, Peas, & Fresh Mint – Vegan & Vegetarian Instant Pot Risotto Recipe!
Risotto is an irresistibly delicious dish, but it’s gotten a bad reputation. It takes forever to cook, it’s a finnicky dish, it requires a lot of work, the list goes on. But, it doesn’t have to be that way, and this easy instant pot risotto recipe simplifies and speeds up the process. Now, you can whip up this healthy spring vegetable risotto even on a busy weeknight!
This has become one of my favorite vegan instant pot recipes, rich in complex carbs, fiber, and 9g of plant-based protein per serving. It’s creamy, comforting, and savory, but with the perfect balance of natural sweetness from the chopped dates. And, thanks to the carrots, peas, and fresh mint, this vegetable risotto is loaded with spring flair and bright, fresh flavor!
Honestly, I was surprised by how delicious pressure cooker risotto can be, considering it cooks in about half the time of traditional risotto recipes. And, you’re only monitoring and stirring the pot for about 10 minutes, rather than the entire time! Plus, you don’t need tons of different pots and pans—this one pot meal leaves you with just one dish to wash.
Easy, convenient, just as delicious, AND I’ve modified this instant pot risotto recipe to keep it lighter, more nutritious, and totally vegetarian and vegan friendly. Feel free to get creative with more of your favorite veggies, substitute the seasonings and herbs for whichever flavors you enjoy, or stir in some cheese at the end for added indulgence!
What is Risotto and What is it Made of?
Risotto is a creamy rice dish, originating from northern Italy and dating back to the 1800s. Traditionally, it’s cooked very slowly, giving the rice time to release its starches. Rather than simmering your rice in a big pot of water, risotto is made by adding just ½ cup of liquid at a time—typically white wine followed by hot broth or stock.
Slow cooking and constant stirring help to release those starches, making for a rich, smooth, and creamy dish like no other! No actual ‘cream’ is needed—although butter and parmesan traditionally add to the thick, creamy deliciousness. And, the process results in somewhat-al-dente rice grains, that are softer, chewier, and clumpier in texture.
For a crude comparison, risotto tastes sort of like an elegant whole-grain mac and cheese—except made with rice instead of pasta.
Is Risotto Rice or Pasta?
As I mentioned, risotto is a rice dish, not a pasta dish. In case you had any doubts, the name risotto comes from the Italian word riso, meaning “rice.” Although, if you’ve mistaken risotto for a pasta dish at first, you’re not alone! To many, the soft, creamy texture of risotto makes it seem like it could be made with small orzo noodles or the like…
But, traditional risotto is actually made with a short-grain rice, like Arborio rice—which is a starchier grain that sticks together when cooked. That added starch is the key to a risotto’s smooth, creamy indulgence! I used Arborio rice in making this instant pot risotto recipe, and it’s fairly easy to find in most grocery stores.
Or, you can also use carnaroli rice to make risotto, if you’re able to find it. (It’s sold at some specialty markets). It’s even starchier than Arborio rice and harder to overcook, which can result in a better texture, But, I haven’t personally tried carnaroli rice in this instant pot risotto recipe, so I’m not sure how it would work!
Now, although you can also make risotto with ‘regular’ rice—like long-grain white rice, basmati rice, or brown rice—your dish just won’t have the same rich, creamy texture. For a true risotto, stick with a short-grain rice like Arborio!
Is Risotto Gluten Free?
Since risotto is made from Arborio rice and not pasta, the grain itself is absolutely 100% gluten free. And, like other whole grains, it’s rich in wholesome nutrients like complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and even around 4-5g plant-based protein per serving! But, although the grain is gluten free, not all risotto dishes will be totally gluten free.
Other ingredients in a risotto may still contain gluten, like certain varieties of broth or other added ingredients featuring yeast extract. So, if you’re at a restaurant—especially if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance—definitely check to be sure that your risotto is certified gluten free!
Homemade risotto is your safest bet for a 100% gluten free risotto. But, to ensure that your instant pot risotto is totally gluten free, make sure to read the labels carefully on any broth or stock that you use. (If you’re living a gluten free lifestyle, you probably already know this!)
So, look for a certified gluten free variety, or be sure that there is no yeast extract, wheat, wheat starch, or wheat-containing ingredients listed on the label!
How to Make Risotto in the Instant Pot
To make risotto in the instant pot, I’ve taken the classically slow, involved cooking process and simplified it into just a few steps!
First, press the ‘saute’ button to heat your instant pot or pressure cooker and heat your cooking fat. I like the rich, nutty flavor that ghee brings to this instant pot risotto recipe, but you can use oil for a vegan option, butter, or whichever cooking fat you prefer really.
Once the ghee/butter has melted or your oil is warm, add the onions and chopped carrot and saute for 5-6 minutes until tender, stirring regularly.
Next, once your veggies are fragrant and tender, add minced garlic and Arborio rice and continue to cook for another minute. Remember, short-grain Arborio rice is what makes this instant pot risotto as a ‘risotto!’ Arborio rice’s shorter, starchier grains make for a smoother, creamier, stickier texture when cooked—which is what risotto is known for.
Or, you could also try out another short-grain rice, like carnaroli rice (if you’re able to find it). But, if you choose to use a ‘regular’ long-grain rice in this risotto recipe, you’ll be missing out on the the smooth, creamy texture of a true risotto!
Now you can begin adding your broth—just 1 cup to start, set aside the other 3 cups to use in a moment. This may seem silly, but letting the Arborio rice absorb just some of the broth initially will help those creamy starches begin to release.
(Plus, for this instant pot risotto recipe you only have to split up your broth into two rounds. A traditional risotto recipe would have you add your liquid ½ cup at a time, over the course of 8-10 rounds!)
Stir regularly as the mixture continues cooking for another 3 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the broth.
Then, add your remaining 3 cups of broth, along with your chopped dates, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once you give it a good stir, you’re ready to close up the lid and start cooking!
Make sure the lid on your instant pot is locked into place, and then set it to cook on the manual setting at high pressure for 10 minutes. After cooking, flip the quick release valve to let the steam release for another 10 minutes.
Finally, carefully remove the lid from your instant pot risotto and stir in lime zest, chopped mint, frozen peas, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Then, press ‘saute’ and continue to heat for another 3 minutes, until the peas are warmed through.
Now, after just half an hour or so, you’ve got a wholesome, satisfying dinner that’s ready to serve!
My Lightened-Up Instant Pot Risotto vs. Traditional
Full disclosure: this instant pot risotto recipe will definitely deviate from the traditional preparation. I’ve lightened up the classic recipe, made it vegan-friendly, and simplified the cooking process. Most importantly, this instant pot risotto requires just a fraction of the timeand effortto make!
My instant pot risotto features the same main ingredient—you’re just cooking Arborio rice in the instant pot rather than over the stove. But, I’ve lightened up and simplified the recipe by nixing the traditional white wine and instead used broth for all of my liquid. (Also, I’m just not a huge fan of cooking with wine!)
Although chicken broth/stock is the classic choice for risotto, you can make this instant pot risotto recipe with vegetable broth or whichever variety you like. I know many people are looking for easy vegan instant pot recipes and, if you’re not so concerned with keeping it ‘traditional,’ switching up the broth isn’t a huge deal!
Finally, I’ve left out the classic butter and parmesan cheese in this healthy risotto recipe. Again, this lightens up the dish and keeps it vegan and vegetarian friendly! But, if you’d like to up the luscious creaminess in your vegetable risotto, feel free to stir in about ½ cup parmesan and 1 Tbsp butter at the end of cooking with your mint and peas!
Healthy Instant Pot Meals for Spring (Vegan Options!)
Vegan Instant Pot Risotto with Spring Vegetables & Dates
Instant Pot Risotto
- 2 Tbsp ghee or oil
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup carrots, chopped
- 1½ cups Arborio rice, uncooked
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, separated into 1 cup & 3 cups
- ½ cup Sunsweet® pitted dates, chopped
- ½ tsp salt & ¼ tsp pepper
To Add After Cooking Finishes
- 1 tsp lime zest
- ¾ cup mint leaves, chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Press ‘sauté’ button to heat Instant Pot and add ghee (or oil), stirring until melted. Add onions and carrots and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until tender.
- Add garlic and Arborio rice and cook for another minute.
- Pour 1 cup broth into pot, stir, and continue to cook for 3 minutes, until broth has been absorbed by the rice.
- Add remaining 3 cups of broth, along with chopped dates, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Close Instant Pot with lid and cook on manual for 10 minutes. After cooking finishes, quick release the steam for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove lid—watch out for steam—and stir in lime zest, mint, frozen peas, and lemon juice. Heat another 3 minutes, until the peas are warmed through.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
- Yields 6 cups Instant Pot risotto, 4 servings total.
For More Easy Instant Pot Meals and One Pot Dinners:
Or, if you’ve got an instant pot steam rack, you might like some of my 2-in-1 pressure cooker recipes like: