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Pumpkin Risotto Appetizer 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 Pumpkin Risotto Appetizer Bites.

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 perfect appetizer for you.

It’s pumpkin season. I promised in my post, How to Decorate Your Table for a Fall Party, that I would share the recipe for this fabulous pumpkin risotto appetizer. 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.

This Pumpkin Risotto Appetizer is Sweet Shark’s favorite. 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.

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  • First, Arborio rice, the preferred rice for risotto, is an Italian short-grain rice.  Its high starch content contributes to the creaminess of risotto. You’ll notice a little white dot at the center of each grain of rice which becomes more prominent as the rice cooks.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe
  • Chicken broth for making the risotto
  • White wine
  • Pumpkin purée
  • Second, panko bread crumbs. 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.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe
  • And, finally, Crème fraîche is similar to sour cream (think French sour cream) but 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.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe

You can find all the ingredients at your grocery store.


Make the Risotto ~ a few important things to remember when making risotto:

  1.  Use a large Dutch oven to cook your risotto in. 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’m showing it in red because that’s what I have.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe
  1. Your broth should be almost hot when you add it to the rice.
  2. Add the broth in 1/2 cups increments to allow the rice to absorb the broth. I use a 1/2 cup ladle.
  3. Stir the risotto in a figure “8”.
  4. Keep adding broth and stirring until the rice starts to get soft, but not mushy, and creamy.  It should never be dry.
  5. Taste the risotto for texture.  It should be al dente, to the tooth.
  6. Add the pumpkin puree to the finished risotto and spread in a shallow Pyrex or half sheet pan. You’ll notice how orange it turns. Speaking of rimmed half sheet pans. You cannot have enough of these kitchen workhorses. I think I have a dozen. I use one everyday for roasting vegetables, heating up leftovers, and of course, baking. I use a half sheet pan for this pumpkin risotto recipe because it doesn’t take up space in the fridge.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipePumpkin risotto appetizer recipe
  1. Let cool and then place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.  MAKE~AHEAD MOMENT
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe


  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.
  2. Repeat until you have used up all the risotto/pumpkin mixture. Place on a rimmed half sheet pan and place in the fridge. MAKE~AHEAD MOMENT 


  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.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe

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.
4. Using a wet finger, gently press down on the ball to make them 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 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 appetizer recipe


  1. In a large shallow 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. 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
  4. Repeat until all the balls are cooked. They should be golden brown.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe

Another MAKE~AHEAD MOMENT: Allow the cooked risotto bites to cool completely, and then place in the freezer. When completely frozen, place in a zip~lock baggie.

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

Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe


Pumpkin Risotto Appetizer Bites

Delicious make~ahead pibte~size appetizer with the flavor of pumpkin for fall flavor.
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: make~ahead appetizer, pumpkin appetizer, pumpkin recipes
Servings: 24 bites
Author: Tea Time Magazine


  • medium Dutch oven
  • large stirring spoon
  • ½ cup ladle
  • rectangle Pyrex dish
  • large skillet
  • rubber spatula
  • meauring spoons and cups


For the Risotto:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion plus 24 thin slices for garnish
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 ½ cups good quality chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup grated Gruyére cheese

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 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, stirring frequently, until rice grains are transparent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, heat the chicken broth until barely simmering.
  • Use the ladle to add 1/2~cup of warm broth to the rice, stirring until most of the broth is absorbed. Each time the rice begins to look dry, add more broth in 1/2 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 30-45 minutes.
  • Add the pumpkin puree and Gruyère cheese to the risotto and stir until the cheese melts.
  • Spread the pumpkin risotto mixture in a medium Pyrex dish, 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 ~ined 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. Dust off excess panko. Place back on the half sheet.
  • At this point, you can 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. 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.)
  • Le the risotto bites cool. Tip each with 1 teaspoon crème fraîche and a green onion slice. serve immediately.
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe

I hope you love this appetizer.  It’s delicious and always a big hit. Be sure to PIN it to make for your next event.

Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe
Pumpkin risotto appetizer recipe

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  1. 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.


  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!

    1. Thanks for your comment. I love this appetizer. Always a hit. Can make ahead and freeze. How awesome is that for entertaining.

  3. 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.

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