Creamy Vegan Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 52 votes

Creamy and delicious, this butternut squash orzo recipe is made stovetop risotto-style. Topped with crispy miso-mustard Brussels sprouts, it’s a flavourful, comforting, and easy plant-based dinner recipe

Up close shot of the butternut orzo with a pile of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts on top.
An overhead, up close shot of creamy butternut orzo in a shallow blue bowl.
A flat lay of the ingredients on a grey background.
Raw Brussels sprouts being tossed with miso and mustard mixture.

It’s been a few weeks, but me and this cozy dinner are here for you! I truly love the ease of any vegan orzo recipe, and I have definitely been seeking a bit more ease lately. My camera body died and the repair shop told me it would be 4-5 months(!) to get it repaired, so I had no choice but to replace it. Then, my ancient photo editing software and equally ancient computer couldn’t handle all the newness. Everything has been upgraded and now I just have to re-learn how to use it all haha. I always appreciate your patience and understanding!

This creamy butternut orzo recipe is perfect for the season of the CCC: Cozy Comfort Carbs. Orzo cooked risotto-style is weeknight dinner excellence, and you can spin it a bunch of different ways. With this version, we smooth it out with a butternut “cream” and top it with crispy roasted Brussels sprouts that get the miso-mustard-maple treatment–all done in under 1 hour too. I also have a more traditional vegan risotto recipe with mushrooms on the site.

What is orzo?

  • It’s a rice shaped pasta that cooks exactly like pasta. Most varieties of orzo that you’ll find on grocery shelves are wheat-based.
  • I like to use the basic orzo from Garofalo, but I know that folks have had success making this gluten-free with DeLallo’s GF orzo.
  • Orzo vs risotto? As I say above, orzo is pasta. Traditional risotto is based on arborio rice. As the arborio rice is stirred, it releases starch, resulting in a creamy texture.
  • Even though orzo is totally different from the arborio rice typically used in risotto, it can still be cooked in the same style! Orzo also releases starch as it is stirred and cooked through. I also have a traditional vegan butternut squash risotto if that’s what you’re looking for.


I’ve made versions of this creamy butternut orzo with a honey nut and a butternut squash, but I bet carrot or sweet potato purées would substitute quite well. You’re only limited by your imagination really. You could also stir in some cooked lentils or beans/chickpeas toward the end for extra protein if you like.

In terms of making a plant-based “cream”: I offer a note on doing it yourself and some recommendations for store bought too (I like nutpods or a rich oat milk). I use lots of spice in the form of chilli, smoked paprika, thyme, and garlic to contrast the mellow squash and orzo. Once you use your blender to make the dairy-free butternut “cream,” everything else happens on the stovetop in one pot.

I hope that you give this one a try! Thanks again for your patience as I get all the new systems sorted out. On top of the new gear, I’m also transitioning over to a new recipe display format here. Slowly but surely we are switching over from scrappy to slightly professional.

A tray of roasted Brussels sprouts, up close with moody lighting.
Adding squash to the cooking orzo.
The orzo and the Brussels sprouts, ready to plate
Up close shot of the butternut orzo with a pile of crispy roasted Brussels sprouts on top.

Creamy Vegan Orzo Risotto with Butternut Squash

Creamy and delicious, this butternut squash orzo recipe is made stovetop risotto-style. Topped with crispy miso-mustard Brussels sprouts, it’s a flavourful, comforting, and easy plant-based dinner recipe.
5 from 52 votes
An overhead shot of a creamy vegan orzo risotto with a slight orange hue. The orzo risotto is in a braiser-style pot and topped with crispy roasted brussels sprouts.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings 3 -4

Ingredients

BRUSSELS SPROUTS

  • tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon light miso
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons grainy or yellow mustard
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, halved
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

CREAMY BUTTERNUT ORZO

  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy creamer OR rich non-dairy milk (such as cashew or oat, see notes)
  • 1 cup puréed butternut squash OR cooked butternut squash cubes (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, fine dice (about ¼ cup diced shallot)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes, or to taste (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ lb (227 grams) orzo pasta
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Equipment

Notes

  • As with any recipe on my site that requires vegetable stock, I’d highly recommend making your own using my method here.
  • I like to cook a halved squash in the a 400 oven for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Then I scoop out all the flesh and use it in soups, baking, recipes like this,  etc! You could also use a heaped cup of roasted squash cubes.
  • This recipe may behave differently with a gluten-free orzo or other tiny pasta. Regular wheat-based pasta lets off a creamy starch. If you’re using GF pasta, I’d start with only 1 ½ cups of the vegetable stock and add more as it cooks if necessary. I have heard that DeLallo’s GF orzo is great!
  • Some vegan “parm” would be delicious to serve alongside this dish! I have a recipe here. Some toasted sliced almonds would be such a lovely touch on top of this dish As well! About 1/4 cup would do the job.
  • For a quick non-dairy “cream” to use here, blend 1/4 cup raw cashews with 1/3 cup water in a high speed blender until smooth. I also like unsweetened nutpods creamer or a rich oat milk if you’re looking for a store bought option.

Instructions

CRISPY MISO MUSTARD BRUSSELS SPROUTS

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, miso, maple syrup, and mustard until combined.
  • Place all of the Brussels sprouts on the lined baking sheet and pour the miso and mustard mixture over top. Season with salt and pepper and toss the sprouts to coat evenly in the mixture.
  • Slide the baking sheet into the oven. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 minutes or until tender and deep golden brown on the edges. Keep warm.

CREAMY BUTTERNUT ORZO

  • While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, make the creamy butternut orzo. First, make the butternut cream. In an upright blender, combine the non-dairy creamer, butternut squash, and nutritional yeast. Blend this mixture on high until completely smooth. Set aside.
  • Place a deep skillet or braiser-style pot over medium heat. Once it's hot, pour in the olive oil. Add the shallot to the pot and stir. Cook shallots until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, chili flakes (if using), and smoked paprika. Stir and cook until the garlic is quite fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the orzo pasta and stir to coat in the spices and shallots. Season the mixture liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Add the vegetable stock to the pot and stir. Bring the orzo to a boil and then simmer, uncovered, until orzo is soft, about 8 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot often. The orzo will want to stick to the bottom of the pot! Just keep stirring and adding more vegetable stock if necessary. You want to keep the consistency nice and fluid.
  • Once the orzo is soft and the mixture is starting to get creamy, add the butternut cream to the pot and stir to combine. Bring the orzo back up to a simmer. Add the lemon juice to the creamy butternut orzo and stir. Check the dish for seasoning and adjust if necessary (more salt, chili, lemon etc). Stir in the chopped parsley and top with the roasted Brussels sprouts. Serve immediately!
An overhead shot of creamy butternut orzo in a blue, shallow bowl.
28/10/2020 (Last Updated 15/11/2023)
Posted in: autumn, creamy, gluten free option, main course, nut free, pasta, refined sugar-free, roasted, salty, side dish, sweet, umami, vegan, winter

48 comments

Recipe Rating




  • Erin Losey

    5 stars
    I have made this several time and we love it! Definitely use the creamiest milk sub you can find and don’t skimp on the nutritional yeast. I’ve substituted broccoli for Brussels sprouts with success! Such a cozy recipe.

  • Claire

    5 stars
    This recipe is a keeper. I’ve used the butternut purée for other dishes because it’s so good – the ratio of cashew cream to butternut is perfect. It’s great for impressing people. I modify it slightly – I cook the Brussels just with olive oil for the first half and then add the miso-mustard glaze because the first time it burned when it was on the whole time – but the rest works perfectly as-is!

  • Marjolein

    5 stars
    Loved it! The miso burnt in the oven, don’t know why, but Brussels were saveble. Loved all of the recipes I tried form your website. Fun, healthy an original. Even my picky 3 year old ate some of it. Love from the Netherlands!

  • Eveline Meijering

    5 stars
    This was so delicious! Great combinations and so comforting on chilly days. Thank you for posting this Laura!

  • Kimberly Payne

    This looks amazing! Do you think it would work to use rice instead of orzo?

    • Laura

      Hi Kimberley,
      I don’t think you can directly substitute rice for the orzo here unfortunately. If it were me and I was approaching the recipe this way, I would make the butternut “cream” from the first step of this recipe first. Then I would look for a classic risotto recipe online that uses arborio rice and follow that, adding the same aromatics that we do here (garlic, thyme, chili flakes, and smoked paprika). Near the end of the risotto cooking process, I would stir in the butternut cream to give it the same flavour and feel that we have in the original recipe. Mind you, I haven’t tried this myself, so can’t guarantee that it would work. This is just how I would begin to approach a substitution like this.
      -L

  • Claire

    5 stars
    So so good. It feels very customizable – I’d use the glaze for the Brussels on anything and can easily see myself making just the orzo or just the sprouts if I’m feeling lazy or less hungry. I roasted the sprouts without the glaze initially so they could crisp up without burning the glaze and then baked with the glaze on just for a bit to get the raw flavor out.

  • Alix

    Hi could I leave out the milk?  For some reason I thought i had unsweetened milk but only sweetened thanks

    • Laura

      Hi Alix,
      You could leave it out and just substitute more vegetable stock. The recipe won’t be as creamy, but I think it will still be pretty good.
      -L

  • Amara June

    DELISH!! And very accommodating. Not looking to change anything but used what I had on hand. Substituted another small pasta in place of the orzo and cabbage steaks with the same marinade (+ 15-20 min cook time to crisp in my oven) since I have lots in storage still and the fam and I ATE IT UP.  Will be a return recipe for sure! Glad I froze the other half of the cooked squash as it will be a quick go-to next time!

  • Simmie

    Im trying this recipe now with a few substitutions based on what’s on hand. Purple and white cauliflower instead of the Brussels and my leftover squash soup instead of the butternut cream. Also adding a cup of cooked spelt berries or quinoa to the orzo once it’s done for more fibre as orzo is just pasta, right? I think it’ll work…will let you know and thanks for the inspo!

    • Laura

      Loving the sound of all of these additions, Simmie! Adding quinoa or spelt berries at the end shouldn’t be an issue at all. You might just want a little extra liquid to help with the texture at the end. Please let us know how it all works out :D
      -L

      • Simmie

        It was delicious although the cauliflower didn’t stay crispy as I made it ahead of time but the maple miso worked perfectly taste-wise.The half cup of quinoa was a nice addition both nutritionally and texturaly.I had a delicata and some kale so I also made a nice salad I found @willfrolicforfood (Harvest Moon Kale Caesar with Creamy Mustard Maple Dressing…This dinner was heavy on the maple but hey it’s fall and I’m Canadian!

  • K

    Hi Laura! This sounds so delicious! I can’t wait to try it. Just wondering — if I’m feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to roast squash, do you think canned pumpkin puree would work well? Thanks!

    • Laura

      I love this question! I think canned pumpkin would taste great and work well, although it does tend to be more dense than roasted squash, so you might want to go in with a bit more vegetable stock towards the end of the cooking process of the orzo. But that’s the only change really!
      -L

      • K

        Awesome, thank you! Definitely going to try it as written next week but glad to know there’s a sub for my lazier nights ☺️

  • Ashley

    5 stars
    So delicious! The perfect fall meal. The flavor of the sprouts complemented the risotto so well. Thank you! 

  • Caitlin

    5 stars
    Wow. This was a delicious dinner! LOVED the creamy butternut orzo. 

  • Brian

    Hi Laura! I was reading your note about roasting half a butternut squash for this but then I have the other half! So, I was thinking I could roast both halves if you think I could freeze the unused pulp until the next time I make this or something else that requires it??  Thanks!

    • Laura

      Hi Brian!
      You can definitely pre-roast the other half and freeze the cooked squash for up to 3 months. Squash freezes so well. Usually when I have a recipe that uses half of a squash, I’ll do this or I’ll peel and cube up the other half to have it on hand that week for roasting.
      -L

  • Izabela

    5 stars
    My husband would like to let you know that this is a restaurant-quality meal (or recipe, rather). It is superb every time! Thank you thank you!!!

  • Ryan

    This recipe looks delicious, also just wanted to say that I love your website design. It’s clean, easy to read and has great photography. Keep up the great work !!

  • Jasmine

    5 stars
    I LOVE this recipe.  I just started cooking about six months ago and this is a good recipe I have been able to follow along that is not too difficult.  It is a really original dish, nice to have something that is vegetarian and filling!

  • Nicole

    5 stars
    100% my favorite brussels sprouts (also hubby approved) :)

  • Karen

    5 stars
    Everyone loved this. Delish +
    Thank you!

  • Sarah

    I’ve made different variations of this throughout the fall and again tonight for my socially distant solo holiday meal. It’s great; thanks for sharing your recipes, they are all great. 

  • Megan

    5 stars
    This was SO good! I did need a little more veggie broth (more like 3 cups) but otherwise followed the recipe exactly and even added in more roasted butternut squash on top. Thanks for an awesome recipe!

  • Jacqui

    5 stars
    Turned out perfect! Made for thanksgiving.

  • Kate

    Hi there! I’m considering making this for my first plant-based Thanksgiving – so excited! I was wondering if I could use sage instead of thyme and if so, would the rest of the spices still work? I love sage and butternut squash, but will stick with thyme if you think it will work better and still give that nice Thanksgiving vibe. 

    • Laura

      Hi Kate!
      This recipe isn’t overly fussy in terms of flavour mixing. Sage would be delicious here! If you love sage and butternut squash together, I say go with it. The other flavours here are pretty flexible :)
      -L

  • Jessica

    5 stars
    I made this tonight for my picky in-laws and it was a hit! I’ve made a few of your recipes so far, and I really should make more of them. I find them the perfect level of involvement – not difficult at all, but definitely using some solid and interesting culinary techniques. I read a ton of recipe blogs and am a pretty avid home chef, and I have to say that your dishes are unique, particularly delicious, and feel genuinely healthy and hearty. I never would have thought them up on my own. This dish was spectacular, I’ll be adding it to my regular rotation of dinners. Thank you for your work in putting out delicious, free recipes!

  • Claire

    5 stars
    Just made this, it’s sooooo good! I might try saving the glaze for after the sprouts are cooked – they didn’t crisp up as nicely but still got kinda burned somehow? But the orzo was amazing and the glaze tasted delicious.

  • Smadar B

    5 stars
    SO. SO. GOOD. Thank you thank you thank you for your amazing recipes. I’m so happy I doubled the recipe and get to eat this again tomorrow.

  • Amanda

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it is incredible!! Super tasty and a great way to use up extra butternut squash. Will definitely be making this again.

  • Angie

    5 stars
    OMG – Laura! This was amazing. This was the first time I’ve had brussel sprouts and I’ve actually enjoyed it. This recipe was absolutely wonderful! I’m so excited for the leftovers for tomorrow. Thank you so so much. 
    P.S. The new website looks beautiful. 

  • Kim H

    Divine meal!  And those Brussels!  I’m uncomfortably full as I write this.  I could not stop eating this dish.  Thank you!  

  • Allison

    5 stars
    The marinade for the Brussels was simply divine! Totally addicting! I’m trying it on haricot verts tonight. Thanks for another delicious recipe!

  • Emily

    This is delicious!! I made it for dinner last night, and the sauce may be my new favorite. It’s perfectly creamy and pairs so well with the sprouts! 

  • Janell

    This was AMAZING! So creamy and delicious I also added roasted chopped butternut squash in addition to the butternut sauce – so filling and super easy to whip up!

  • Franklin

    This recipe really works very well and halves nicely. It really all comes together and is quite tasty. I’m going to try the left over miso/maple/mustard glaze on tempeh. 

  • Kerry

    Hi Laura… suggestions for people who don’t like sprouts (who are these people!?!?)… could you chop cabbage in larger pieces and give them the same treatment?  Or do you have a suggestion for another vegetable that would benefit in this recipe?  With thanks!

    • Laura

      I think chopped and roasted cabbage would be delicious here! Roasted broccoli would be another good option.
      -L

  • Caitlin

    Apologies if I missed it, how many does this serve? Thank you!! Can’t wait to make this one.

    • Laura

      Hi Caitlin!
      This recipe makes 3 hearty servings or 4 smaller servings.
      -L

  • Joanell

    I’ve been following your website for a few years now and have many favorites recipes from it. But this one tops them all! We are not Brussels sprouts lovers but I would make these all the time.
    And the creamy sauce was So. Good. Two of us ate the whole pot just now and I could have eaten more!
    Thanks for keeping it going. I’m a true fan.

    • Laura

      Joanell,I am so glad that you liked this recipe and that it was a success for you! This has been my favourite way to prepare brussels sprouts lately and I truly think I cold eat a whole pan of them myself when prepared like this ;)-L

  • Elizabeth

    So sorry for all of your technical problems!  This recipe looks so perfect for the chilly, rainy days we’re having here now.  I really appreciate the unique flavor combinations you bring to your recipes and I’m excited to try this one.  Thanks for all you do here!

    • Laura

      Thanks so much for this comment, Elizabeth! I so appreciate your support :)