Read on to find out why you don’t need to stir brown rice risotto as much as white rice, and grab the recipe for this vegetarian Brown Rice Risotto with peas.

A side view of two bowls of brown rice risotto with peas and topped with white cheddar cheese

Why This Recipe Works

This brown rice risotto with peas is just right for this kind of wishy-washy flipping around section of spring. It is fresh and green and springy, but still a little warm and comforting for those of us who are still FREAKING out about the impending summer.

It is also vegetarian so it is great for Meatless Monday or for flexitarian or vegetarian diets. It is also creamy and comforting and kid friendly. Serve it with a classic Garden Salad, this bold Chopped Winter Salad or my favorite Napa Cabbage Caesar (a great locavore green to use this time of year.)

You could also serve this as a kid-friendly side dish with our Chicken Fingers or Fish Sticks.

Read on to see just how easy it is to make!

What is Short Grain Brown Rice

Short grain rice is a category of different rices varieties that are rounder, shorter and more starchy than long or medium grain rice. An example of short grain rice is Arborio. An example of long grain rice is Jasmine (my favorite!)

Classic risotto is made with short grain rice (typically arborio) because of that starchy quality. But for this recipe I use short grain brown rice, because it is more nutritious than white rice.

Brown rice still contains all of the parts of the rice grain. So that means the rice bran, and germ are still intact. It also means it is a whole grain. It is higher in vitamins and minerals.

An overhead view of two bowls of brown rice risotto on a black countertop with a tan linen napkin and two glasses of white wine

How To Make Brown Rice Risotto

  • Sauté Aromatics: First sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil. If you don’t have shallots, you can use a half of a minced onion instead. The flavors of the garlic and shallot really imbue the risotto with all over rich flavor.
  • Rissolé the Rice: As with rice pilaf, the next step is to add the dry rice to the saucepan with the oil. This is known as rissolé, which basically means to cook in oil. You don’t want to brown the rice or anything, you’ll just notice that it starts to become opaque in spots, so just keep an eye on it, and stir it often.
  • Add White Wine: This helps to deglaze any browned vegetables, and brings the temperature of the saucepan surface down so that the rice will not brown. The wine also acts as a flavor enhancement, try these wine brined grilled chicken and you’ll know I am not making this up! The acidity in the wine also helps to balance the salty tastes from the cheese.
  • Add Broth: You can use vegetable or chicken broth. If you have some in your freezer, you can also use homemade chicken broth. You’ll want to add a pinch or so of salt to compensate for the added sodium in purchased broth. I have noticed there are many different levels of quality broths, and I highly recommend trying different brands until you land on one you like. For vegetable broth I almost exclusively use Imagine No Chicken broth. (That’s an affiliate link.) It has the best cleanest flavor in my opinion.
  • Cover and Walk Away: Once the risotto comes up to a simmer, reduce the temperature so that it maintains a low simmer, cover and then let it cook. Remember brown rice takes about 40 minutes to cook, and that starch won’t come out until the bran is softened. So enjoy the 38 to 40 minutes of free time, and go throw a stick for the dog!
  • Make it Creamy: You’ll know it’s ready when the rice is tender (just taste a few grains if you’re not sure) and there is still some liquid left in the saucepan. The extra moisture is normal. Go ahead and take the brown rice risotto off the heat. Then add in shredded cheddar cheese (white or orange are both fine- just look for the sharpest available for the best flavor.) I also added in frozen and thawed sweet peas. You can also use kale, like in this kale brown rice risotto. Or spinach would be nice as well. 
  • Let it Rest: Once you stir in the cheese and veggies, cover the risotto again, and let it rest for 5 minutes. That’s when all of the extra moisture will be absorbed, and the texture of the risotto will tighten up.
A close-up of two bowls of Brown Rice Risotto

Do you Have To Stir Brown Rice Risotto?

The short answer is, nope. Spoons down! The long answer is that because the rice grains still have their protective bran layer around the outside of the starchy endosperm, you have to wait until the bran is softened to get at that starch. So there is no point in stirring until the very end. Keep in mind brown rice takes twice as long as white rice to cook and white rice doesn’t have bran coating the endosperm, so the starch dissolves out into the broth as it cooks.

One time that it is important to stir is during the risolet portion of the cooking. That’s at the very beginning of the process when you cook the rice in the oil to toast the outside of the rice and coat it in oil. Stirring the rice often during this process is important so the rice kernels don’t get too brown.

But once you add the broth in, spoons down folks! Go fold laundry or something. Save you arm! Once the rice is cooked, that’s when you really get that creamy texture. It won’t take much. I find just adding the peas and cheese into the pot and stirring well is all that’s needed. Then I just let it sit off the heat, covered, to absorb any extra moisture for about 5 minutes.

An overhead view of two bowls of brown rice risotto on a black countertop with a tan linen napkin and two hands grabbing a bowl

More Recipes and Risottos You Will Love

At Healthy Seasonal Recipes, we specialize in cooking with fresh veggies and creating weeknight meals. Sign up HERE to get more produce-forward dinner ideas for FREE! If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought! Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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A close-up of a bowl of Brown Rice Risotto

Brown Rice Risotto with Peas Recipe

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5 from 13 reviews


Vegetarian brown rice risotto with green peas, fresh dill and cheddar cheese.


Units Scale
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth, such as Imagine No Chicken
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley and dill
  • 6 ounces shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese, divided


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring often until softened and just beginning to brown, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook, stirring until the rice grains start to get translucent in spots, about 2 minutes.
  2. Stir in wine and cook, stirring often until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in broth, nutmeg, salt and pepper, increase heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer undisturbed until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 38 to 42 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in peas, herbs and 1 cup cheddar (4 oz.), cover and let sit 5 minutes off the heat. Stir a final time and serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and more freshly ground pepper.


Substitutions: You can use another vegetable instead of peas such as 4 ounces of chopped baby spinach or chopped and steamed broccoli. Instead of white wine, deglaze with 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar.

Tip: In step 2, make sure you do not cook the liquid completely away. You can press your spoon down into the rice mixture to see how much is left. It should be below the top of the rice, but not all the way to the skillet. You can also test a kernel or two of rice to see if it is tender.

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 38 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1 cup each
  • Calories: 318
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Carbohydrates: 37 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 10 g