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Lemon Basil Risotto

This Lemon Basil Risotto recipe is a versatile dish that can be used as a side or as a main course! It’s made with arborio rice, onion, and plenty of lemon, which creates a zingy, tangy, totally delicious flavor.

Lemon risotto in a bowl with a spoon and basil on a yellow background

Over the years, I’ve become quite accustomed to making risotto. Considering the fact that before I started cooking it I wasn’t sure what risotto even was, it’s safe to say that I’ve come a long way! 

Now, I whip up creamy broth-cooked risotto at every chance I get. Sometimes it’s Easy Mushroom or Pepper Gorgonzola, and other times it’s Low Carb Cauliflower. No matter the form, it always tastes great to me! 

This time, I’m mixing things up with a creamy, dreamy lemon basil risotto dish that’s sure to knock you off your feet. It’s made with lots of veggies and coated with a generous layer of parmesan. It’s basically mac ‘n’ cheese’s cool older brother! 

Lemon basil risotto is very filling, so a little bit goes a long way. It’s perfect for family dinner time or for when you have guests over. But no matter how it’s enjoyed, you’re going to love it. 

Lemon risotto in a bowl with basil on a yellow background

Here’s what you’ll need

This isn’t just your average risotto. It’s a delicious blend of creamy ingredients that pair together to offer incredible flavor with a zesty touch. It leaves you feeling oh-so-full, but in the best way possible. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Base: We’ll saute our base flavors – onion, garlic, and celery – in a bit of olive oil until soft and fragrant.
  • Arborio Rice: The star of the show, arborio (a.k.a. risotto) rice! This medium-grain rice has a lot of amylopectin starch, making it creamy when cooked.
  • White Wine: Wine works so well in many different types of dishes. This is one of them! It adds depth of flavor (though you can leave it out if you’re avoiding alcohol).
  • Vegetable Broth: The rice will be cooked in vegetable broth for extra oomph. Go for 4 cups of a low-sodium brand.
  • The Fats: This is risotto, friends, no need to count calories today. Parmesan cheese and butter take your risotto to the next level.
  • Flavors: You can’t have lemon risotto without the lemon! We will be using the juice and zest from ½ of a lemon, along with fresh chopped basil.
  • Salt and Pepper: Finally, add a dash of salt and pepper to taste! About ¼ tsp of each should work.
Lemon risotto in a bowl with a spoon and basil on a yellow background

How to make lemon risotto

Tangy, juicy, lemony risotto is made in 5 simple steps. Each one is easy but totally crucial to nailing your dish.

Step 1: Prepare the base
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add the onion, garlic, and celery, cooking until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.

Base vegetables for risotto in a pan

Step 2: Toast the rice
Add the dry rice and cook, stirring frequently. Do so for about 2 minutes, or until the rice is slightly opaque on the outside but uncooked on the inside.

Step 3: Add the wine
Add the wine to the pot and simmer until the wine has completely reduced. (If you’re avoiding alcohol, you can replace the wine with vegetable broth).

Adding wine to risotto

Step 4: Add the broth
Slowly add the vegetable broth to the pan, adding ½ of a cup at a time. Wait until the broth has almost completely absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Begin tasting the rice after 15 minutes or so. Once it is al dente (a little bit chewy), stop adding broth (you may not need the full amount). 

Step 5: Add the flavor
Stir in the parmesan, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit to your liking, adding more lemon juice and zest as needed. Serve immediately for optimal tastiness. 

Adding butter and cheese to a pan of risotto

How to store risotto

Risotto can be easily stored in an airtight container. Keep it in the fridge, and enjoy within 3-5 days. When reheating, I suggest doing so on the stove until it’s nice and warm. Then, top with fresh parmesan! 

Lemon risotto in a bowl with a spoon and basil on a yellow background

What to serve with risotto

Wondering what to serve alongside your tasty lemon basil risotto? Try one of these delicious sides! Each recipe is quick and easy to whip together and will pair quite well with your tangy risotto. 

Love risotto? Be sure to try this Mushroom Risotto, Gorgonzola Pepper Risotto, Butternut Squash Risotto, or this low carb Cauliflower Risotto!

Lemon risotto in a bowl with basil on a yellow background

Lemon Basil Risotto

This Lemon Basil Risotto recipe is rich, creamy, and zingy! Perfect as an easy and healthy side dish or delicious and filling vegetarian main course.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes, Pastas, Side Dishes
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: lemon basil risotto, lemon risotto
Diet: Vegetarian
Occasion: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day
Time: 30 minutes or less, 45 minutes or less
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 416kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
4.63 from 8 votes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
  • 1 medium white onion diced, about 1 cup
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 1 ¼ cup arborio rice 300 g
  • ¾ cup white wine 177 mL
  • 4 cups warm low-sodium vegetable broth 1 liter
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese 60 g
  • 2 Tbsp butter 28 g
  • ½ lemon* juice + zest
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste about ¼ tsp each

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Base: Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, and celery, cooking until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Toast Rice: Add dry rice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes, or until the rice is slightly opaque on the outside but uncooked on the inside.
  • Wine: Add wine to the pot and simmer until wine has completely reduced.
  • Broth: Slowly add the vegetable broth to the pan, adding ½ cup at a time. Wait until broth has almost completely absorbed before adding another ½ cup. Begin tasting the rice after 15 minutes or so. Once it is al dente (a little bit chewy), stop adding broth (you may not need the full amount).
  • Flavor: Stir in parmesan, butter, lemon zest and juice, and basil. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit your liking, adding more lemon juice/zest as needed. Serve immediately for optimal tastiness.

NOTES

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
  • *This recipe originally had 1 whole lemon, which many readers found to be too sour. We have retested and reduced it to ½ a lemon.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 436mg | Potassium: 208mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 350IU | Vitamin C: 51.2mg | Calcium: 160mg | Iron: 2.2mg
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Recipe Rating




  1. anouk says:

    Omg I love your pictures! They are awesome. We should theme our hot messes.. This one apparently was Italian 🙂5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Oooh YES! Next stop….Greek? 😀

  2. Jenna C says:

    Overall I enjoyed this dish and it was fairly easy to make. I’ve been hesitant to try cooking risotto for a while just because it can be a tedious process. With the exception of excluding celery because I personally don’t care for it, I followed the recipe exactly. I will note that I thought 1 lemon + zest was actually too much, and I used a fairly small lemon. Next time I make this, I’ll use 1/2 a lemon, if that. I also used Dark Horse Sauvignon Blanc for the wine, which also paired nicely while eating it 🙂4 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful review, Jenna! 😀

  3. Alice says:

    Too much lemon, and I love lemon! Also, we need more guidance on the amount of salt. Mine ended up too al dente even using all the broth.3 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, Alice! I’ve noted this one down as a recipe to retest 👍

  4. eileen says:

    Nummy!! I made this as directed for the most part, I had some celery gazpacho I used up which contained the first 3 ingredients and it turned a pretty light green, I did not add wine but added about a 1/4 cup white vinegar, stirred and cooked it about twice as long. I added spinach to the basil and I am in Heaven! Never knew risotto was so easy, just keep stirring. Will definitely make it to the letter gain soon!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      YUM! Those additions all sound delish! Happy we could make a risotto lover of you 😀

  5. Lisa says:

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! I found it because I was trying to find a use for lemon basil leaves from my garden. I made it exactly as here, including the lemon juice, but used 2 tbsp of lemon basil leaves in place of the zest (I still used the regular basil, too!). It was perfection!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Lisa! Enjoy! 😀

  6. Ginny says:

    My family loved this! I left out the white wine, used the zest from an entire lemon, plus juice from it. Near the end (I used close to 4 cups broth), I added some frozen early peas to brighten it up & it was delicious! This, apparently, ranks as the best as the best side dish ever, beating out my mom’s German recipe for fried potatoes which held its spot for almost 2 decades.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Sorry, Mom’s Potatoes! 😅 I’m so happy to hear this, Ginny! Sounds delish with peas added, I’ll have to try that next time!

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