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.
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.
“I doubled the recipe with no problems. Made this for my vegetarian daughter and the rest of my family loved it too!” —Michelle
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. (Save money and make your own vegetable broth from scraps!)
- 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.
How much rice per person?
With risotto rice being the main dish here, you’ll want to be sure to use at least 1/3 cup of uncooked rice per person (or more if you’re hungry!) This recipe can easily be scaled up of down to suit how many you’re serving.
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.
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).
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. (Psssst: You can level up this risotto even more by replacing the butter with basil oil!)
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!
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.
- 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
- 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.
Tips & Tricks
- 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.