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risotto without cheese

My SO is off dairy. Can I make a risotto without the cheese? Anything I could substitute? No soy either. I'm sad, as it is asparagus season and my it is my favourite risotto ingredient.

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  1. Sure you can! You'd want to use a vegan (and non-soy) margarine, but there are plenty of dairy free recipes on the web. And you can incorporate asparagus of course.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pinehurst

      actually a nice lemony shrimp risotto would work well without the parm. I just can't picture my usual risotto being as lovely and rich without the parm.

      1. re: cleopatra999

        The stirring will give you nice creaminess. If you add (not so much to the shrimp, but to a veggie type) mushrooms, sea salt, black pepper, you won't miss the parm too much. And the lemon will give a nice gentle bright bite to the shrimp risotto.

    2. I make it all the time without dairy. Yeah, it can help add another dimension, but it's not aboslutely necessary.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mike0989

        +1...some risottos are actually better without the cheese.

      2. I make vegan rissotto (no cheese or meat stock) frequently. I'm used to it. The flavors of the vegetables really shine through without being covered by the cheese and I have come to prefer the less heavy dish. Lorna Sass has many recipes. Here's one: http://www.veganpeace.com/recipe_page...

        1. My favourite risotto doesn't have cheese.
          Posted this on the best risotto thread a while back.

          Has to be aubergine and roasted butternut squash.
          Baked the aubergine in a very hot oven until blackened and aubergine soft and smoky. Scooped out the flesh and added some olive oil. Stirred this in at the end of making a standard risotto with chicken stock. Topped with small cubes of butternut squash that were dusted with sea salt and dried oregano. Didn't add any cheese.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Paprikaboy

            This sounds delicious! I really like the idea of using the roasted eggplant to give a creamy texture.

          2. I haven't made this in a while but it's actually pretty good. I used to make it all the time when my son couldn't tolerate dairy.

            No Stir Risotto


            1. You might try cooked and chopped spinach, onion, and mushroom in your Risotto.

              Add a cup of dry Vermouth at the end of the cooking and stirring process. This a good, practical use for any Vermouth in the fridge getting close to six months or more old.

              This Risotto base is vegetable broth and olive oil ( no butter ). One technique we use is to create the vegetable broth using the hard ends of asparagus that are normally cut off and discarded. One can use thin or thick green, or white asparagus ends, and the stock will keep refrigerated for up to one week.

              Another broth uses carrot, onion, and celery as a stock base. Salt and pepper as you like.

              Excellent with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc, or even hot tea.

              1. Italians never put cheese in seafood risottos, so that's not at all strange. You can use extra virgin olive oil in place of butter, but of course, you won't be finishing with butter, either, if your SO can't have dairy. Caramelizing onions, and adding chopped fresh herbs at the end will help boost the flavor profile of a cheeseless risotto. You may even find you like it better!

                1. If the issue is lactose intolerance, you might still do fine with well-aged parmigiano reggiano, because the aging process breaks down the lactose into component elements, therefore effectively "pre-digesting" the lactose. (That's what creates the "crystals" in the cheese.)

                  I don't speak from experience (I'm not lactose-intolerant), nor with medical authority, but you might investigate this angle. Parm is a great cheese for finishing risotto.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Bada Bing

                    thanks everyone, lots of good ideas here.

                    It is more of an insensitivity, so he is eliminating for a period of time, which means all forms of dairy, including sheep or goat. Hopefully when he adds it back in everything will be okay. I don't want to give up cheese in cooking!!

                  2. I make it without cheese quite often... Infact I have made it with apple cider and butternut squash and it was fabulous..

                    1. Some vegetarians/vegans use nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese, it comes in flake form... is kind of nutty in flavour. Could be worth a try if you find you really miss it!

                      Or maybe you could just sprinkle a little grated cheese on top of your own risotto before serving?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ursy_ten

                        I have some nutritional yeast in the cupboard, I will test this out.

                        Yes, mine will definitely have the cheese added.

                      2. First trip abroad had recently discovered risotto and was chastised by a waiter in Rome after I requested cheese on my seafood risotto.

                        1. Never understood why people add cheese to any type of risotto.

                          Cheese ruins a perfectly good risotto made with duck stock and garnished with a gently poached egg.

                          14 Replies
                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  If I am going to be guilty of any type of excess, it might as well be self-confidence.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I'm right with you on that score. :-)

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              Huh? Are you saying that risotto shouldn't have any cheese?

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Do you like cheese grated on anything?

                                  1. re: Chinon00


                                    And full disclosure, I just don't like cheese -- except in cheesecake and on pizza.

                                    Not on burgers, not on pasta, not on rice, not by itself, not with meats, etc.

                                    But back to risotto. I just feel like there is this knee-jerk reaction to putting cheese on risotto because people have this notion that without cheese risotto will either not be good, not be creamy enough, or come out tasting vapid.

                                    Just not true. Maybe with American macaroni, but risotto has a wonderfully earthy and complex -- almost sweet -- taste on it's own. Give the rice a chance to shine before drowning it in some dairy product (cheese, cream, butter, etc.).

                                    It just baffles me when people pronounce, almost without basis, "Can't make good risotto without cheese ..."

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      But isn't your judgment on this a bit biased since you don't like grated cheese on anything?

                                      1. re: Chinon00

                                        When is judgment not biased?

                                        If your opinion that cheese is good with risotto isn't that judgment biased based on the fact that you like cheese?

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          I'm just saying your judgment would make more sense to me if you were to have said something like while I can appreciate grated cheese on some dishes, on risotto I think it masks or ruins the dish. But instead you've stated that you generally don't like grated cheese on anything. Basically you're the wrong person to ask when or when isn't cheese appropriate. We already know your answer. On the other hand I and others who do enjoy cheese generally and on risotto will also state we don't use it on seafood risotto and maybe some fruit risottos; and that if you don't wanna use cheese then it's of course perfectly acceptable for you.

                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                            Like you said ... hubris!

                                            I stand guilty as charged.

                              1. I rarely put cheese in risotto: if you stir it vigorously enough while cooking it it makes its own creamy sauce.

                                Asparagus and scallop risotto sounds good to me right now. Or asparagus and other seafood, or just plain asparagus and mushroom, or green onion. Or just substitute more asparagus for the cheese (I like asparagus!). I like to use a little dry vermouth as part of the liquid as it has an herbal flavor that highlights the veggies, IMHO.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tardigrade

                                  Asparagus is to you as Spam is to Monty Python, no? :)

                                2. For an asparagus risotto without cheese, I'd just make sure to use a good stock, some good olive oil, and maybe some nice fresh herbs and lemon zest/juice. I certainly wouldn't feel sorry for myself eating that and I love asparagus in risotto too!