Lemon Asparagus Vegan Risotto

May 28, 2023

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 fantastic depth of favor thanks to lemon juice and fresh herbs. You won’t even miss the parmesan 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 never adds any cheese to make her risotto dairy-free, and the flavor is always fantastic.

I’ve been wanting to share a vegan risotto on the site for a long time, and this one is still my favorite recipes because it is light, so it’s perfect to serve in the Spring and Summer.

This risotto recipe is always a hit, and people always ask me the same thing: How did you get a gorgeous depth of flavor without butter and cheese?

The secret to a fantastic vegan asparagus risotto?

“The magic of lemons, great broth, and fresh herbs!”

Here’s what I put in this risotto:
  • Olive oil: Substitute with grapeseed oil or other vegetable oil.
  • Garlic: Of course!
  • Leek: Substitute with finely diced yellow onion.
  • Green Onions: You could omit this, but I love the color and flavor.
  • Celery: This adds a lovely burst of flavor.
  • Vegetable Broth: Read the notes below about broth.
  • Arborio Rice: Substitute with white quinoa.
  • Asparagus: Substitute with broccoli florets.
  • Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley: Don’t use curly parsley or dried parsley.
  • Fresh Mint: Resist the urge to reduce the mint, and never use dried mint.
  • Lemon Juice: Always use fresh lemon juice, not the stuff in the shelf-stable containers.
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper: I’ve kept the salt content low on this this recipe to account for different commercial broth and cheese brands. Add more salt and pepper, to taste. For an additional note of flavor, you could substitute the salt with Herbamare. (This is a proprietary blend of sea salt and herbs. I LOVE that stuff!)
  • Vegan Cheese: Read the notes below about vegan cheeses.
Use good quality broth for the tastiest risotto.

The key to making delicious creamy risotto is to use good quality broth. For the best color and flavor with this particular recipe, I recommend using light broth that is not too heavy on tomatoes and carrot, or your broth could turn your risotto a murky color, and overpower the light flavors of the lemon and herbs.

The flavor and quality of commercial broth varies dramatically. So, be discerning about the broth that you choose to use in all of your dishes.

I have been using Massel broth for over 40 years, and it’s still the tastiest commercial broth I’ve found anywhere in the world. The chicken-flavored broth (which is vegan) is really delicious in this risotto. If you’re not vegan, you could, of course, use high quality homemade chicken broth.

For the best texture with risotto, always warm your broth (and keep it warm) so that it doesn’t lower the temperature of the rice as you add it, and add broth so that your rice is covered lightly so that the rice swells and cooks evenly and doesn’t get gluggy. (And, so that your rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pot and burn.) The other tip is that the rice will continue cooking in a hot pot even after you take it off the heat. So, you are always best to remove the pot from the heat when the rice is al dente (with a tiny bit of bite to it).

The scoop on vegan cheese:

I’m not a huge fan of commercial shredded vegan cheese. The quality and flavor varies dramatically, and more often than not, it tastes pretty funky! Because it is impossible for me to know exactly what your vegan cheese tastes like, I recommend adding the cheese gradually at the end after you have added all of the other ingredients.

I tested this recipe with a variety of commercial vegan cheeses, and it is my humble opinion that when it comes to vegan shredded cheese, less is more, otherwise the flavor of the cheese can overpower the beautiful flavor of the lemon and asparagus.

If you don’t want to use shredded vegan cheese, you could also just add a couple of tablespoons of nutritional yeast, and then add more to taste.

I actually make this recipe without any cheese, and just put it on the table and let people add it according to their flavor preferences. If I’m serving this risotto to vegans and omnivores, I will place vegan shredded cheese, nutritional yeast, and shaved parmesan on the table, and let everybody choose their own adventure!

But, sometimes I forget the cheese, and most people say they don’t miss it!

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 6
Author Tess Masters


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


  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil, and sauté the leeks and garlic with pinch of 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, and pour in 2 cups of the vegetable broth. Add the rice and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and stir until well combined. You want the rice to be just covered with liquid. Stir regularly, every minute or so, and as the rice absorbs the broth (every few minutes or so), periodically add about 1 cup of warm vegetable broth so that the rice is just covered and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. 

  3. After about 20 minutes (depending on your pot and the heat of your stovetop), the rice should have doubled in size and be 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. Add the lemon juice, parsley, mint, black pepper, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and stir until well combined. Stir in the vegan cheese a little bit at a time until you get the flavor balance you like. (Read the notes in the blog post.) Add more lemon juice, parsley, mint, salt, and pepper, to taste.

  5. Serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

Vegetable Broth: Use light colored broth that is not heavy on tomato and carrot for the best color and flavor. If you're not vegan, substitute with high quality chicken broth. 

Arborio Rice: Substitute with quinoa. 

Asparagus: Substitute with 3 cups of finely chopped broccoli florets. 

Lemon Juice: Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor. Do not use shelf-stable lemon juice. 

Parsley: Use flat-leaf parsley for the best results. Do not use dried herbs. 

Mint: Do not use dried herbs. 

Vegan Cheese: Read the notes in the blog post about vegan cheeses. If you're not vegan, substitute with parmesan cheese.