Lemon Asparagus Vegan Risotto

May 28, 2019

This vegan risotto with lemon and asparagus is rich and creamy, and has a fabulous zesty note from the lemon. You won’t miss the cheese.

Lemon Asparagus Vegan Risotto

This vegan risotto with lemon and asparagus is rich and creamy, and has a fabulous zesty note from the lemon. You won’t even miss the cheese.

I adapted this lemon and asparagus risotto from an amazing recipe my friend Olivia makes. Risotto is her signature dish, and it is always amazing. She hardly adds any cheese to her original recipe. So, it was almost completely vegan.

I’ve been wanting to share a vegan risotto on the site, and this one is still my favorite. So, here it is!

I had a dinner party with my mum and dad and my friends Geoffrey and Bernhard the other night, and everybody went nuts for this vegan risotto. G and B took home all of the leftovers. That’s always a good sign.

The secret to the awesome flavor?

Before dinner, Geoffrey leaned over me as I was cooking, and asked me, “How are you going to get a gorgeous depth of flavor without butter and cheese? I replied, “The magic of lemons!”

The lemon juice and zest give this vegan risotto an amazing tanginess, bite, and fresh flavor. The “tart at heart” in me says the zestier the better. But, not everybody likes things as sharp as I do. So, add the lemon juice and zest to taste to find the balance that what works for you.

Use good quality broth for the best results.

The key to an amazing risotto is to use great broth, warm it, and add it gradually as the rice swells so that the rice cooks evenly and doesn’t get gluggy. I often make my own homemade vegetable broth. I shared my favorite vegetable broth recipe in my first cookbook, The Blender Girl.

In terms of commercial broth, I have been using Massel broth for over 35 years, and it’s still the tastiest commercial broth I’ve found. The chicken-flavored vegan broth is really delicious in this risotto.

Vegan Cheese is not created equal.

I’ve added the vegan cheese. But, add it gradually to taste. The commercial shredded vegan cheese on the market varies so greatly in flavor that it’s impossible for me to know exactly what your cheese tastes like.

I tried this recipe with a variety of vegan cheeses on the market in the U.S, and I found that less cheese is better, so the flavor of the cheese doesn’t overpower the beautiful flavor of the lemon and asparagus.

You could also just add a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and then add more to taste.

Give this vegan risotto a try and let me know what you think.

Other Rice Dishes

Arroz Roji – Mexican Red Rice
Brown Rice Bowl with Curry Sauce
Wild Rice and Carrots
Lime Coconut Rice Pudding

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments!

Your feedback is really important to me, and it helps me decide which recipes to post next for you.


Vegan Lemon Asparagus Risotto

This vegan risotto with lemon and asparagus is rich and creamy, and has a fabulous zesty note from the lemon. You won't even miss the cheese. 

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 8
Author Tess Masters


  • 2 tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 1 1/2  cups finely chopped leeks (white part only)
  • 1 teaspoon  Celtic sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (about 4 ribs)
  • 16 cups vegetable broth
  • 6 cups arborio rice 
  • 6 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 bunches)
  • 1 cup vegan cheese,  plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil, and sauté the leeks and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt for about 5 minutes until soft. Add the green onions and celery, and sauté for a further 5 minute until just soft. 
  2. Reduce the heat to medium, pour in 3 cups of the vegetable broth, and add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Continue adding 1 cup of vegetable broth every 5 minutes or as needed so that the rice is just covered and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. 
  3. After about 20 minutes after the rice has doubled in size and is almost cooked stir in the asparagus. Continue to add vegetable broth as needed until the rice is just cooked through and is still slightly firm to the tooth.
  4. Stir through the lemon juice and zest, add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and then stir in the parsley and mint. Season with black pepper, and additional salt to taste. 

  5. Serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

Photo by Trent Lanz; styling by Alicia Buszczak