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Instant Pot Tomato Risotto

This tomato risotto Instant Pot recipe is perfect for a light lunch or dinner. It requires very little effort, and can be made from pantry staples.

Instant Pot tomato risotto in a white bowl
Instant Pot Tomato Risotto

Why you’ll love this reipce

This is a light summer risotto, combining the Mediterranean flavors of tomato, basil and lemon.

It makes a perfect light dinner on its own or served with a side salad, but also works as a side dish for a main meal alongside grilled chicken or steak.

Cooking risotto in the Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) is so quick and easy these days I never make them any other way! Some of my favorites are: mushroom risotto, chicken and pumpkin risotto, and chicken and mushroom risotto.

What do you need?

One of the reasons I love this risotto is that most of the ingredients are pantry staples. This makes it a great recipe for those days when you find the fridge is bare.

Dried herbs can be used in place of fresh herbs, but try to use fresh basil if you can as it really will make a difference to the final flavor.

There are a few ingredients that are better if you have the fresh version on hand, but almost everything can be substituted if you really need to:

  • Brown onion – you can substitute onion flakes if you have no fresh onions. Use approximately 3 tablespoons in place of a medium fresh onion
  • Garlic cloves – you can used crushed garlic from a jar – use one and a half teaspoons
  • Butter – substitute for an equal amount of olive oil
  • Thyme – as always fresh is best for herbs, but if you don’t have any fresh thyme to hand then you can substitute dried thyme instead.
  • Canned cherry tomatoes – I have used cherry tomatoes for this recipe, though you could use a can of chopped tomatoes if you prefer or if that’s all you have to hand.
  • Parmesan cheese – this is harder to substitute, but you could use powdered Parmesan or even nutritional yeast, which should give a similar flavor, but the texture wont be the same as if you had used regular freshly grated Parmesan.
  • Baby spinach leaves – you could swap for frozen spinach, or canned spinach. Use half the amount in the recipe, and be sure to add it to the Instant Pot before pressure cooking.
  • Fresh basil – as with thyme, it is definitely better to use fresh basil in this risotto if you can, but if you don’t have any, then substitute dried basil
  • Basil pesto – pesto from a jar is fine to use if you don’t have fresh
  • Lemon juice – you can use bottled lemon juice, use 1 tbsp in place of 1/2 a lemon

Top risotto tip: Do not rinse the rice before cooking!
The starch in the rice is what creates the rich and creamy texture of risotto. When you rinse rice before cooking much of this gets removed

You can also add up to half a cup of chopped fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, but still use a can of tomatoes as the liquid is needed to give the risotto the correct texture.

By the way, if you are a big fan of cheese (like I am), then I would definitely recommend adding extra Parmesan, or stirring through some feta to make an extra cheesy tomato risotto!

Converting to a vegan risotto

This tomato risotto converts easily to a vegan risotto:

  1. Swap out the butter for olive oil (use the same quantity)
  2. Either leave out the Parmesan cheese, or substitute nutritional yeast or your favorite vegan cheese

FAQs & Tips

What is the best rice to use for risotto?

The best rice for risotto has a short to medium grain and a high starch content. Arborio rice (sometimes labelled ‘risotto rice’) is most often used, but there are other varieties that are excellent for risotto including Carnaroli rice and Vialone Nano.

Can you use regular rice for a risotto?

You can use any rice for a risotto, but regular long-grain rice will often not give a great texture as it does not have a high enough starch content.

Is risotto healthy?

Risottos can be very healthy, it really depends on what other ingredients you add. This tomato and basil risotto is quite healthy, but be careful of how much Parmesan cheese you add if you are counting calories.

Instant Pot tomato risotto in a white bowl

Instant Pot Tomato Risotto

4.5 from 36 votes
How to cook tomato risotto in an Instant Pot with (mostly) pantry staples.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Serves2 Servings


  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 brown onion ((finely diced))
  • 3 cloves garlic ((crushed))
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme ((fresh or dried))
  • 14 oz / 400 g cherry tomatoes (1 tin)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese ((grated))
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 10 leaves fresh basil ((roughly chopped))
  • 3 tablespoon basil pesto
  • ½ lemon (juice)
  • salt and pepper ((to taste))


Prepare the risotto

  • Set Instant Pot to ‘Sauté’.
  • Add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the onion and garlic and cook until fragrant (approx 2 minutes).
  • Add the rice and stir for 1 minute until coated by the oil in the pan (approx 1 minute).
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, thyme and water, and crumble in the stock cubes.
  • Stir well to combine, then allow it to come to the boil.

Pressure cook the risotto

  • Press ‘Cancel’ to end the Sauté program when the risotto has come to the boil.
  • Close and lock the Instant Pot lid. Ensure that the steam release handle valve is set to ‘Sealing’.
  • Press the ‘Pressure cook’ button, and set it to pressure cook for 5 minutes.
  • When the time is up, use the quick release option to open the Instant Pot (press ‘Cancel’ then carefully turn the steam release handle to the ‘Venting’ position). When the float valve has dropped, open the Instant Pot.


  • Stir through Parmesan, baby spinach leaves, basil pesto, fresh basil, lemon juice and butter, season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.


Calories: 514kcal  Carbohydrates: 52g  Protein: 15g  Fat: 29g  Saturated Fat: 9g  Polyunsaturated Fat: 18g  Cholesterol: 32mg  Sodium: 1293mg  Fiber: 6g  Sugar: 10g

Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.

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