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Dairy Free Chicken and Vegetable Risotto

Chicken and Vegetable Risotto. Cozy, comfy, and creamy without even a hint of dairy. One of my favorite meals for sick days or new mamas. (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) 

 A close up view of Gluten Free Dairy Free Chicken Vegetable Risotto

Originally posted October 2013. Re-tested, photographed, and updated Aug 2018.

We’re in the middle of monsoon season here in the desert, which means more (read: any) cloudy days than usual. Whenever there are clouds in the sky, I get craving some cozy comfort food, and this Chicken Vegetable Risotto is one of our family favorites.

It’s the the meal I make when someone’s sick or when it’s cold (or cloudy) outside. It’s also great for new moms and friends who need a meal for dinner. It’s a great alternative to chicken soup. It’s simple, cozy, and comforting.

I’ve got a few tips and tricks that make this faster and easier (and more dairy free–ha!) than traditional risotto, with all the luxurious creaminess you’re used to.

Two bowls of Chicken Vegetable Risotto with spoons.

Risotto is one of those things that conjures images of elegance and soft lighting and close-your-eyes goodness. Usually, that comes from a hefty dose of Parmesan, a pat of butter, and a splash of cream. When we went dairy free, I’d assumed risotto was just one of those things I’d remember fondly. Not so, my friends. Not so. While certainly you could finish this with a handful of parmesan or a splash of cream, this is flavorful and delicious just as it is. No fancy restaurant needed. In fact, pajamas and blankets are more than welcome.

The flavor gets better with time, and it reheats like a dream. Here’s how to get the most out of this recipe…

A serving of gluten free dairy free chicken vegetable risotto

Notes on this Chicken & Vegetable Risotto

Why do you add the broth all at once? In traditional risotto recipes, you add the broth about 1/2 cup at a time, slowly stirring the entire time until the risotto is creamy and the grains of rice have softened. BUT. Tyler Florence posted on his Instagram feed how he’s started making risotto by stirring the rice and all the liquid at once, rather than adding 1/2c of broth at a time to the rice. It’s SO much simpler, a little faster (about 15 minutes faster!), and the same (if not better) creamy results! It’s totally changed my life.

Let’s Talk Broth. I’ve made this MANY times in the last five years. I’ve tried it with chicken broth, vegetable broth, and beef broth and really enjoyed all of them. Use what you like and what you have! Good-quality broth is divine. If you’re out of broth but have a good quality bouillon (I like Better Than Bouillon Organic Beef, Veggie, or Chicken Base) that works great, too. I know the bouillon isn’t all-natural or nutritionally perfect. (I know!) But sometimes, you need speed or something helpful in a pinch. I find it at Sprouts or Target for around $5, though sometimes even my Costco carries it.

More Veggies. You can absolutely add more veggies to this if you like. One of my favorite additions is a few handfuls of whatever greens I have in the house (usually spinach). I stir the greens in right at the end, and the residual heat from the risotto wilts the leaves and helps them blend right in. Other yummy add-in are carrots or mushrooms, which I add right at the beginning with the onion and bell pepper.

Notes for Kids & Picky Eaters. Some kids have texture issues with different veggies (mine do!). You can help off-set this by grating (or even pureeing) your onion instead of dicing it. The grated onion will blend in a LOT better texturally with the arborio rice. Also, if your kids eat carrots, they may find it easier to eat the bell peppers if you stick to orange peppers. For some reason, they don’t seem as “scary” as the brighter reds and yellows. Or, you can swap in carrots in place of the peppers for a slightly different flavor.

Vegetarian or Vegan? You can still make this! Omit the chicken and up the veggies (add 1 cup diced carrots and 1 cup minced mushrooms) in with the bell pepper and onion and use vegetable broth.

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A Bowl of Gluten Free Dairy Free Chicken Vegetable Risotto with a spoon dipped in.

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A Bowl of Gluten Free Dairy Free Chicken Vegetable Risotto with a spoon dipped in.

Chicken & Vegetable Risotto (gf, df)


  • Author: One Lovely Life, adapted from Sweet C's Designs
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: about 8 servings 1x

Description

This easy dairy free chicken vegetable risotto is a family favorite! It’s cozy and comforting, but not a lot of fuss. Feel free to use your favorite kind of broth here–veggie, chicken, and beef broth all work! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 heaping cup)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (about 11 1/2 cups. I prefer to use a mix of colors–use what you like!)
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (more, if needed)
  • 8 cups broth* (or 8c water + 23 Tbsp bouillon*)
  • 12 c. cooked cubed or shredded chicken
  • 3/41 cup frozen peas (don’t thaw)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste.

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 3-4 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and saute until just translucent. Add rice and stir to coat well, adding a little extra oil if necessary. Toast the rice slightly over medium heat, then add chicken and all 8c of beef broth.
  2. Stir frequently over the next 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is tender and creamy. It’s okay to walk away during the first 10-15 minutes, but you’ll want to stay close during the last 10 or so minutes. Add additional broth or water if necessary.
  3. When the risotto is creamy and tender, stir in frozen peas and green onions. Salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

*Gluten & Dairy Free Notes: Many commercial broths and bouillons contain gluten and/or dairy. Be VERY careful when reading your labels. I like Better Than Bouillon Organic Beef Base (only the organic kind is gluten free). Imagine and Pacific Natural brands are also safe. As always, read your labels to be sure!

Why do you add the broth all at once? In traditional risotto recipes, you add the broth about 1/2 cup at a time, slowly stirring the entire time until the risotto is creamy and the grains of rice have softened. BUT. Tyler Florence posted on his Instagram feed how he’s started making risotto by stirring the rice and all the liquid at once, rather than adding 1/2c of broth at a time to the rice. It’s SO much simpler, a little faster (about 15 minutes faster!), and the same (if not better) creamy results!

Let’s Talk Broth. I’ve made this MANY times in the last five years. I’ve tried it with chicken broth, vegetable broth, and beef broth and really enjoyed all of them. Use what you like and what you have! Good-quality broth is divine. If you’re out of broth but have a good quality bouillon (I like Better Than Bouillon Organic Beef, Veggie, or Chicken Base) that works great, too. I know the bouillon isn’t all-natural or nutritionally perfect. (I know!) But sometimes, you need speed or something helpful in a pinch.

More Veggies. You can absolutely add more veggies to this if you like. One of my favorite additions is a few handfuls of whatever greens I have in the house (usually spinach). I stir the greens in right at the end, and the residual heat from the risotto wilts the leaves and helps them blend right in. Other yummy add-in are carrots or mushrooms, which I add right at the beginning with the onion and bell pepper.

Notes for Kids & Picky Eaters. Some kids have texture issues with different veggies (mine do!). You can help off-set this by grating (or even pureeing) your onion instead of dicing it. The grated onion will blend in a LOT better texturally with the arborio rice. Also, if your kids eat carrots, they may find it easier to eat the bell peppers if you stick to orange peppers. For some reason, they don’t seem as “scary” as the brighter reds and yellows. Or, you can swap in carrots in place of the peppers for a slightly different flavor.

Vegetarian or Vegan? You can still make this! Omit the chicken and up the veggies (add 1 cup diced carrots and 1 cup minced mushrooms) in with the bell pepper and onion and use vegetable broth.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: main dish, chicken, rice
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Homestyle

Keywords: risotto, dairy free risotto, chicken vegetable risotto, chicken risotto, vegetable risotto, gluten free risotto, risotto recipe

A close up view of Gluten Free Dairy Free Chicken Vegetable Risotto

20 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting this! It looks delicious. I am a fan of Risotto. I love the idea of adding broth all at once. I can’t wait to try it. By the way, I appreciate that you provide a link to the original recipe when you adapt one. Sometimes there is interesting information in those recipes, too. Hope everyone is well soon!

  2. This looks delightful! My daughter who just turned 2 is allergic to milk. I have been struggling to find dairy free recipes for things I used to love cooking. Thank you for this one! Also so glad for the tip about dairy in some broths. It’s crazy all the hidden places dairy is.

  3. I haven’t made risotto is a long time, but this sounds yummy and even my dairy free child could enjoy it…Yay! We also had the death cold here…it turned into borderline pnemonia with one child, a double ear infection with another, stayed a cold with a third, and skipped the fourth – though it did not skip mom and dad…I am printing this for the next time illness hits, or Sunday dinner since it is cold and this sounds wonderful 🙂

    1. I just wanted to come back to this recipe and tell you how amazing this was! I used beef and chicken broth and added some carrots to the mix…so yummy! I ate leftovers for lunch…thanks for the awesome recipes!

  4. I think I have all these ingredients so might try it tonight! I am loving the idea of adding the broth all at once!

    1. It’s a game changer! So much lower maintenance–and that’s exactly what I need, since I’m usually helping kids with homework and chopping veggies for salad and don’t have 100% attention to give to the risotto. (ha!)

    1. Haley – Sort of? In a pinch, I’d say yes, but other types of rice won’t hold up the same with that much cooking and stirring, so they’ll break down and can turn mushy pretty easily. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend it unless it’s your only choice. If that won’t bother you texturally, then you could probably go for it! You may want to start with more like 6-7 cups of liquid instead of 8 if you go that route.

  5. This was VERY easy! It was a little bit bland for our family, but I did use chicken stock instead of beef (my beef wasn’t GF). I’m not sure if this played that much of a role in it, by I added fresh Parmesan cheese to my kids and hubby’s (since they don’t have to be Dairy Free, luck them!). They all liked it! Next time, I’ll add some garlic and more seasoning, but overall it was great!!

  6. I have a vegetarian friend visiting. Could I make this without the chicken or add it at the end after taking out a serving?

    1. Yes! That’ll work like a charm 🙂 And you’ll want to use a good-quality veggie broth in place of the chicken or beef broth. (We like Imagine Organic brand–the flavor is so good!)

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