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Treat your family to this indulgent Slow Cooker Risotto with Kale this week. It has the same creamy texture and rich comfort you love but without the need for constant attention. This delicious side dish is so simple to make you’ll want to make it for more than special occasions!

completed Slow Cooker Risotto with Kale plated on a white plate

Slow cooking is one of our favorite ways to make dinner as easy as possible. The first time you give this risotto a try, you’ll be hooked! With just a few ingredients and a little effort, you’ll have a creamy dish everyone will rave over. 

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Why You’ll Love This Risotto

  • No constant stirring. It’s no secret that traditional risotto is a lot of work. Instead of constant stirring, this slow cooker-style risotto requires a few stirs every 20 minutes. 
  • Versatile. Pair this creamy risotto with practically any side dish or main dish of choice. The options are endless.
  • No alcohol. If you prefer not to cook with wine, this is the risotto for you. No dry white wine is required. 
  • Budget-friendly. Rice is a staple ingredient in plant-based cooking and one of the most affordable options. Making risotto is the perfect way to bulk up any meal and make it both filling and delicious.

The Ingredients

ingredients for Slow Cooker Risotto with Kale measured out against a white surface
  • Arborio rice: If you want your slow cooker risotto to taste like the real thing, you must use Italian arborio rice. It’s higher in starch content compared to other types of rice and creates a unique, creamy texture. 
  • Oil: Quality extra-virgin olive oil is best. If you are oil-free, try this Chickpea Tandoori Risotto dish.
  • Water: Either water or your favorite vegetable broth will work. We found water mixed with Bouillon cubes to be more affordable, but use what you prefer or have on hand. If using broth, omit the Bouillon. 
  • Garlic: For the best infused garlic flavor, use minced garlic cloves. Garlic powder will work, but is much more subtle tasting and won’t be as flavorful.
  • Bouillon Cubes: Use your favorite vegan cubes or Bouillon paste and season with additional salt to taste, if needed.
  • Kale: Fresh or frozen leafy kale, spinach, collards, or mustard greens all work. If frozen, sauté until additional moisture evaporates.

Can I add vegetables or proteins to slow cooker risotto?

When adding vegetables and protein, it is best to cook them in a pan on the stovetop as opposed to in the slow cooker. This will help the add-ins develop better flavor and golden edges. 

The exception to this would be if your slow cooker has a sauté function. If that’s the case, sauté the veggies and proteins first before adding in the desired veggies or protein. If you are interested in a veggie risotto, try this Veggie Vegan Risotto made with fresh cut asparagus, mushrooms and peppers. 

Other additions you might like to add: 

  • Vegan parmesan cheese
  • Fresh asparagus cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green peas
  • Roasted red peppers 
  • Zucchini
  • Green beans

How to Make Slow Cooker Risotto

  • 1) Into the bowl of the slow cooker, add rice, olive oil, water, garlic, and vegetable or vegan chicken-flavored bouillon cubes. 
  • 2) Cook the rice mixture on high for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Season with additional salt to taste. 
  • 3) About 15 minutes before the rice dish is done, sauté the kale in a pan heated with oil until bright and wilted. 
  • 4) Serve the kale over the slow cooker risotto once ready.

Recipe FAQs

How does slow cooker risotto compare to stovetop risotto? 

There is no big difference between the texture of the end result when using either method. Both achieve a delicious creamy texture. Some find that stovetop risotto is slightly creamier due to the method of constant stirring which helps release the rice’s starches. The difference is slight, however, which makes the more hands off approach with a slow cooker appealing to many. 

How do I prevent the rice from becoming mushy in a slow cooker?

For the perfect risotto, use arborio rice, carefully measure the liquid and stir at least every 20 minutes. Each slow cooker is different so begin checking for doneness after 1 ½ hours. Promptly turn off heat once done to stop the cooking process.

Can I use other types of rice?

Arborio rice is preferred, but another short grain rice like Carnaroli rice or Vialone Nano rice will work. Do not use long-grain rice such as Basmati white rice or long-grain brown rice. Sushi rice is also not ideal – save it for Tofu Sushi. If you only have brown rice, make this Creamy Brown Rice Risotto instead.

Top Recipe Tips 

  • Don’t skip the oil. ​The extra-virgin olive oil plays an important role in adding creaminess and flavor to the risotto. If you prefer to cook without oil, make this Chickpea Tandoori Risotto dish instead.
  • Use the right rice! ​It really does make a difference. Long grain rice isn’t capable of creating the same creamy texture. 
  • Adjust the cooking time as needed. Depending on how hot your slow cooker gets, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Keep an eye on it and adjust the suggested time as needed.
completed Slow Cooker Risotto with Kale plated on a white plate

Serving Suggestions 

If you’re looking to make this slow cooker risotto recipe a complete meal, consider pairing with a crisp green salad or additional roasted vegetables such as Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Baby Bok Choy, Air Fryer Asparagus or Vegan Brussels Sprouts

You can’t go wrong with serving a Grilled Tofu Steak or Buttery Lemon Tofu as the main, either.

Storage Instructions

Let the risotto cool to room temperature, then store for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Freezing is not recommended – the creamy risotto becomes mushy upon defrosting. 

Reheat leftovers in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop over medium heat until warmed through. If the risotto has thickened and you want to make it creamier again, add a splash of vegetable broth or water before reheating.

More Slow Cooker Recipes 

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Slow Cooker Risotto with Kale

5 from 49 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Treat your family to this indulgent Slow Cooker Risotto with Kale this week. It has the same creamy texture and rich comfort you love but without the need for constant attention. This delicious side dish is so simple to make you'll want to make it for more than special occasions!

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups of arborio rice
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 3-4 cups of water
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cubes of vegetable or chicken-flavored (vegan) bouillon
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 bunch of kale (or any affordable greens – spinach, collards, mustard would work fine)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil

Instructions 

  • Add the rice, olive oil, water, garlic, bouillon to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Taste-test approximately 1 hour in and determine if you want to add more salt.
  • About 15 minutes before your rice is done, saute the kale in cooking oil until bright green and slightly wilted. Serve over the rice.

Notes

Good as a risotto base – white beans and mushrooms may be great additions! 
    • Don’t skip the oil. ​The extra-virgin olive oil plays an important role in adding creaminess and flavor to the risotto. If you prefer to cook without oil, make this Chickpea Tandoori Risotto dish instead.
    • Use the right rice! ​It really does make a difference. Long grain rice isn’t capable of creating the same creamy texture. 
    • Adjust the cooking time as needed. Depending on how hot your slow cooker gets, you may need to adjust the cooking time. Keep an eye on it and adjust the suggested time as needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 4gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gSodium: 82mgPotassium: 122mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 2165IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Marji Beach
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Method: Slow Cooker
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    If you can do it in a slow cooker – I’m interested. This risotto is so delicious and so perfect, and so easy!! We’ll be having it again!

  2. 5 stars
    I have a hard time making risotto so it is cooked well. It turned out perfect in the slow cooker by following your instructions. This recipe made for a satisfying and tasting dinner!

  3. 5 stars
    This is such a great idea and the results were great! Making risotto in a slow cooker is so easy and delicious. Thanks for the great recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    What a delicious risotto! I never thought of using kale in my risotto, and I loved the bitter flavor, it was the perfect compliment to the rice.

  5. 5 stars
    What a lovely, hearty and healthy recipe! I ended up using spinach instead of kale since that’s what I had in the fridge, but I followed the stovetop directions – and stirred often – and the result was delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    I never thought of putting kale with risotto, and this was the perfect combination. I really enjoyed this recipe.