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Delicious Pumpkin Risotto Bites

There is no ingredient that shouts fall more than the flavor of pumpkin. For a fabulous seasonal appetizer that is always a hit, I’m sharing delicious Pumpkin Risotto Bites – the perfect appetizer for the fall holidays and Thanksgiving.

Do you like the flavor of pumpkin in the fall? Would you like an awesome appetizer that you can make ahead and tastes delicious? I have the tastiest little appetizer full of pumpkin flavor for you.

It’s almost pumpkin season. This fabulous pumpkin risotto appetizer is one that Sweet Shark always requests for a dinner party.

They are just so delicious and so pretty. You need to have them at your next party.  And, even better, they can be made ahead and frozen. I love that kind of recipe that makes entertaining easier.

I’ve been making this crispy little pumpkin risotto appetizer for years and it’s always on my fall party menu. And yes, you really can taste the pumpkin flavor.

What’s another great thing about this yummy appetizer? It’s just one bite. Your guests don’t need a fork to enjoy it.

Pumpkin Risotto Bites Ingredients

  • Arborio rice, the preferred rice for risotto, is an Italian short-grain rice.  
bowl of aborio rice
  • Chicken broth for making the risotto
  • White wine for the risotto (optional)
  • Pumpkin purée
  • Panko bread crumbs
panko bread crumbs in a bowl
  • Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream.
carton of creme fraiche

You can find all the ingredients at your grocery store. Why are these particular ingredients important to making Pumpkin Risotto Bites?

  • The high starch content of Arborio rice contributes to the creaminess of the risotto. You’ll notice a little white dot at the center of each grain of rice which becomes more prominent as the rice cooks.
  • Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for deep-fried foods. 
    The biggest difference between panko and standard breadcrumbs is that panko is made from bread without crusts. Panko is crustless bread that is coarsely ground into large, airy flakes to give fried foods a light, crunchy coating. The flakes tend to stay crispier longer than standard breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease.  It really does make a difference.
  • Crème fraîche (think French sour cream) has a fat content of about 30% and does not contain any added thickeners. It is thicker, has a richer flavor, and is less tangy than sour cream. I love the texture and the flavor.

NOTE: Don’t forget to measure out all your ingredients before you begin cooking – that’s called mise en place.

Making Risotto – The Technique

A few important things to remember when making risotto:

  1. Use a large Dutch oven to cook your risotto. My favorite Dutch ovens, without a doubt, are from Le Creuset. They hold heat, can go from stove top to oven, are easy to clean, and will last forever. Oh, and they come in pretty colors. This size is a great all-purpose one. I have it in red, but I love it in blue.
red Le Creuset Dutch oven on stove top

2. Place your broth in a small saucepan. It should be almost hot when you add it to the rice. I use a 1/2-cup ladle.

small saucepan with ladle on stove top

3. Add the broth in 1/2 cup increments to allow the rice to absorb the broth.

4. Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice starts to get soft, but not mushy, and creamy.  It should never be dry.

stirring rice in Dutch oven

5. Stir the risotto in a figure “8” with a wooden spoon.

stirring rice in Dutch oven

6. Taste the risotto for texture.  It should be al dente, to the tooth.

stirring rice with chicken broth in Dutch oven

NOTE: Making the risotto takes the longest amount of time, up to an hour. Adding and stirring the broth is the essential step that creates the creamy texture of risotto. This is a good time to turn on some music and have a glass of wine.

Making the Pumpkin Risotto

  1. Add the pumpkin puree to the finished risotto. Stir until it is thoroughly combined. You’ll notice how orange it turns.
  2. Spread the risotto/pumpkin mixture in a shallow Pyrex or half-sheet pan.
  3. Let cool the mixture cool. Lightly cover it with plastic wrap. Then place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight. MAKE-AHEAD MOMENT
pumpkin risotto mixture

Speaking of rimmed half-sheet pans. You cannot have enough of these kitchen workhorses. I think I have a dozen. I use one every day for roasting vegetables, heating up leftovers, and of course, baking. I use a half-sheet pan for this pumpkin risotto recipe because it is easy to spread it and it doesn’t take up space in the fridge.

Preparing the Pumpkin Risotto Bites

  1. Using a small spoon or small ice cream scoop, roll enough risotto/pumpkin mixture to make a small ball, about 1 inch in diameter. It’s like making small meatballs. Place on a half-sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Repeat until you have used up all the risotto/pumpkin mixture. Place the rimmed half-sheet pan in the fridge. MAKE-AHEAD MOMENT – you can quick freeze the risotto balls on the parchment-lined half-sheet.

TIP: Use food-safe gloves. They really help to keep your hands clean. If you have to stop during the process, you can just take them off without having to wash your hands.

Breading the Pumpkin Risotto Bites

  1. Use 2 pie plates  – 1 for the egg wash and 1 for the panko bread crumbs. Keep one hand dry to transfer the bites from one plate to the other.
bowls of egg wash, panko bread crumbs and pumpkin risotto balls

2. Place a risotto ball into the egg wash to coat. Let any excess egg wash fall back into the pie plate.
3. Roll the risotto balls in the panko bread crumbs, shaking off any excess. I like to add a little kosher salt to the panko for extra flavor.
4. Using a wet finger, gently press down on the ball to make it more like a disc.
5. Place the risotto balls back on the sheet pan and place them in the fridge until you are ready to fry. MAKE-AHEAD MOMENT

NOTE: You can quick-freeze them on a half-sheet pan after they are breaded. Once frozen, place in zip-lock baggies. You can take them out and let them thaw in the fridge while the oil is heating in the skillet.

pumpkin risotto bites in zip-loc bag

Cooking the Pumpkin Risotto Bites

  1. In a large shallow skillet (I use either my cast iron skillet or my All-Clad deep skillet.), add the oil and heat over medium.
  2. Line a sheet pan or plate with paper towels.
  3. Once the oil is hot, carefully place risotto balls in the skillet, being careful not to crowd the skillet.
  4. Fry on one side until brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon flip over and fry on the second side. When done, place the risotto balls on the paper towels
pumpkin risotto bites cooking in pan

5. Repeat until all the balls are cooked. They should be golden brown.

Another MAKE-AHEAD MOMENT: Allow the cooked risotto bites to cool completely, and then place them in the freezer. When completely frozen, place in a zip-lock baggie. When ready to serve, place them on a half-sheet pan and heat in a 300 F. oven.

TIP: Allow the risotto bites to cool before spooning on the crème fraîche or it will melt. See what I mean?

pumpkin risotto appetizer bites

Garnish the risotto pumpkin bites with thinly sliced green onion

pumpkin risotto bites on white plate

Cooking Essentials for Making Pumpkin Risotto Appetizers

Pumpkin Risotto Bites Recipe

pumpkin risotto bites on white plate

Pumpkin Risotto Bites

Tea Time Magazine
Delicious make-ahead bite-size appetizer with the flavor of pumpkin for fall flavor.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 24 bites



For the Risotto:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 – 4 cups good quality chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup grated Gruyére cheese
  • kosher salt to taste

For the Risotto Bites:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • ½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream for garnish
  • 24 thin slices green onion for garnish


For Making the Pumpkin Risotto:

  • In a medium Dutch oven over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped green onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the rice and cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until rice grains are transparent, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, heat the chicken broth until barely simmering.
  • Use the ladle to add ½-cup of warm broth to the rice, stirring until most of the broth is absorbed. Repeat. Each time the rice begins to look dry, add more broth in ½ cup amounts, stirring well. Allow each addition of broth to be absorbed. Continue using all the broth and stirring the rice until the rice is creamy and thick, about 45-60 minutes. Taste the risotto for doneness.
  • Add the pumpkin puree and Gruyère cheese to the risotto and stir until the cheese melts. Add kosher salt to taste.
  • Spread the pumpkin risotto mixture in a medium Pyrex dish or half-sheet pan, smoothing it with a rubber spatula. Set aside to cool. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight until cold.

Making the Pumpkin Risotto Bites

  • Use an ice cream scoop to scoop the risotto into 1 to 1½-inch balls. Set aside on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan. (You can refrigerate or quick-freeze the risotto balls at this point.)
  • Place the egg whites in one pie plate. Combine the panko crumbs, salt and pepper in another pie plate.
  • Dip the risotto bites first into the egg wash and then into the panko bread crumbs, coating all sides. Shake off excess panko. Place back on the half sheet.
  • Dip your finger in water and press into the top of the risotto balls to make more of a disk. (At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze the pumpkin risotto bites.)
  • In a large skillet, add oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 375˚F.
  • Fry the risotto bites, 3 to 4 at a time, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. (After frying, you can keep them warm in a 200˚F. oven until time to garnish and serve.)
  • Let the risotto bites cool. Top each with 1 teaspoon crème fraîche and a green onion slice. serve immediately.


This is a great appetizer because you can quick freeze the risotto bites at different stages of preparation.
Keyword make~ahead appetizer, pumpkin appetizer, pumpkin recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
pumpkin risotto bites on white plate

Want more pumpkin recipes? Try these:

I hope you love this appetizer. Because it is just one bite. Requires no silverware, so it’s perfect for a cocktail party  It’s delicious and always a big hit. Be sure to PIN it to make it for your next party.

pin for later graphic in blue
pumpkin risotto appetizer
signature with fall leaf

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  1. Carol-
    You are brilliant!
    These look scrumptious and I can’t wait to try!
    I love the fact that you can make a large batch and freeze the too!
    That will be perfect for pre-prepping parties!

    1. Michelle, well, I don’t know about being brilliant, but I know a great recipe when I make one.Thanks for your comments and visiting.

  2. What a unique dish! These look so fun!

    Thanks for linking up with The Alder Collective! Your post has been pinned to our group party board. We hope you’ll join us again tomorrow at 8 pm EST!

  3. Hi Carol, these look scrumptious and I’m pinning them to make them for my annual girlfriend Christmas gathering. Wanted to try some new recipes, it’s easy to get in a rut, and these will fit the bill perfectly. Thanks for sharing.