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Before making this Brown Rice Risotto, I’d always taken shortcuts when making risotto. My favorite trick (which I still like) is to start with leftover, cooked brown rice and add enough simmering broth to make it creamy. I’ve also made oven risotto with good results. But I decided that it was time to see if making it in the traditional way – adding one ladleful of liquid at a time – is really worth the effort.

It is.

I made this risotto on a lazy Sunday afternoon, excited to dress up spring’s first asparagus spears and tender leeks in creamy rice and lots of melty Gruyère cheese. While it bubbled away on the stove I took stock of life, breathed a little deeper, and made some Banana Oatmeal Cookies for the coming week. It almost felt like a meditation.

Cheesy Brown Rice Risotto in a stainless steel pan

Recipe Options

  • If you can’t find leeks at the grocery store, use 2 or 3 finely chopped large shallots or one medium yellow onion.
  • For an alcohol free version, use chicken broth or vegetable broth instead.
  • Brown arborio rice is a great swap in for short grain rice if your grocery store happens to carry it.

Even if you’ve resisted the traditional risotto process like me, I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. And when leeks are at their peak, don’t forget about this incredible Potato Leek Soup. And with peak asparagus, everyone loves this Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve this risotto as a side dish for simple main dishes like Pan-Fried Lamb Chops, Slow Roasted Salmon, or Grilled Chicken Thighs.

Cheesy Brown Rice Risotto with Leeks and Asparagus

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 455
Servings: 6 people
It’s true that making risotto takes a little while, but it’s not difficult and the creamy results are worth the effort!


  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound asparagus trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 large leeks trimmed and cut in half lengthwise and then into thin half circles
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken stock heated to a simmer
  • 3 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • finely chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • grated parmesan cheese for garnish


  • Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add asparagus; cook and stir until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan.
  • To the same saucepan add remaining tablespoon of butter, leeks and salt; cook and stir until leeks are tender, 5-6 minutes.
  • Add rice to leeks; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes, until rice is very shiny. Raise to medium-high heat and add wine. Bring to boil, stirring until wine is nearly absorbed.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and begin to add simmering stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring often until liquid is nearly absorbed before adding the next. Stir risotto often during this process to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
  • Continue to cook the risotto, adding a ladleful or two at a time for 30 to 35 minutes, until the rice is nearly tender but still a bit firm in the middle.
  • Stir in asparagus and a bit more stock. When stock has absorbed, stir in cheese and a little more stock so that the risotto is creamy (neither runny nor stiff). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese if you like; serve.


Calories: 455kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 766mg | Potassium: 622mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1323IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 210mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. ellizabeth says:

    Will this recipe work in the rice cooker? Can I use white rice or basmati instead of brown?

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Elizabeth – I wish I could be of more help, but I haven’t tested this recipe with white or basmati rice in a rice cooker.

  2. Beeta Hashempour says:

    Your risotto looks sooo heavenly, Marissa! I love that you took pleasure in making this dish and used it as an opportunity to slow down and relax. So many people regard risotto-making with misery. I’m sure the love and peace you put into the risotto came through each bite – it certainly looks like it did! The combination with the gruyere, and the fact that you used brown rice is superb! Makes a girl feel a little more wholesome eating brown rice risotto… 😉

    1. Marissa says:

      A girl’s gotta feel wholesome once in a while, right? 😉 xoxo

  3. Natalie Jarnstedt says:

    Whenever we have Chinese take-out, there’s always so much brown rice left over. I have been making risottos with cooked rice for ages – so much quicker and just as delicious as the old way (I wouldn’t even consider it now). The idea of using asparagus & leeks is fantastic, two of my favorites! I always have sliced leeks in the freezer, to grab a handful whenever needed. This risotto was delicious; I made it vegan, substituting for the cheese and chicken stock, and added some roasted walnuts!

    1. Marissa says:

      Hi Natalie. 🙂 Love the addition of roasted walnuts for crunch…yum!

  4. KevinIsCooking says:

    Oh my, just look at all the goodness here. Spring is here, and so are peas, asparagus and leeks! This looks like one creamy and tasty risotto. I’ve never tried it with brown rice, and while I realize risotto is more of a technique than a dish, I have always used arborio. This sounds delish Marissa!

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks, Kevin! Isn’t spring the best…you’ve mentioned some of my favorites and I’ll add artichokes too! Keith teases me that I’d eat one every. single. day. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how nicely short grain brown rice stands in for the traditional arborio – gives a nice, nutty bite!