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Shrimp Asparagus Risotto

4.9 stars (21 ratings)

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Creamy saffron-infused risotto that’s loaded with asparagus, tender shrimp, and nutty Parmesan cheese is a date-night-worthy dish everyone will rave about. I’m going to show you how to make this no-fail risotto that won’t have you standing over the stove! With less work and maximum flavor, this easy risotto recipe is a must-try!

A square image of a serving of shrimp asparagus risotto in a black bowl.

An Easy Risotto Recipe

Risotto gets such a bad rap! Known for being tricky, technical, and hard to get just right, a traditional risotto recipe requires you to stand over the pot and stir forever however long it takes for the liquid to be absorbed. We are talking arm cramps; heat; stiff back; not being able to do anything else. These are all a part of the traditional process of making risotto.

But not with this recipe! 

This recipe was created by accident. I was making risotto when I got distracted by a bottle of wine and a phone call with my best friend. I walked away from the pan only to rush back a little later, thinking the dish was ruined. 

To my surprise, it was perfect! Turns out that maintaining a low temperature with a snug-fitting lid allowed the liquid to absorb without evaporating completely. What was almost a burned dinner turned into my secret for a easy non-traditional risotto recipe.

I recreated what happened, polished up the recipe, and here it is – a delicious and easy Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto.

A labeled image of ingredients for shrimp asparagus risotto.

What You Need

A few fresh ingredients along with a few pantry staples are all you need to make this shrimp and asparagus risotto. I’ve added notes below on how to make a super easy homemade shrimp stock below the instructions, along with some extra information on a few of these ingredients.

  • Avocado oil – Or your favorite cooking oil (olive oil also works.)
  • Red onion – Finely diced.
  • Garlic – Fresh is best! Pre-chopped is better than dried.
  • Arborio rice – See my comments on arborio rice below.
  • White wine – Dry white wines work best. There are more comments below on cooking with wine.
  • Shrimp stock or vegetable broth – Use homemade (see below) or look for no-sodium added. Chicken broth or chicken stock will also work.
  • Saffron – A little goes a long way!
  • Fresh Asparagus – Washed, trimmed, and chopped.
  • Butter – Salted or unsalted is fine.
  • Old Bay seasoning – A tasty all-purpose seasoning perfect for seafood.
  • Shrimp – Look for medium or large shrimp, peeled and deveined.
  • Parmesan cheese – Finely grated.
  • Heavy cream – To finish the dish and give it a creamy texture.
  • Parsley – Fresh parsley adds a pop of color and freshness.

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  • 3 1/2 quart non-stick saute pan – with less stirring there is a higher likelihood that something may stick. A non-stick pan reduces that risk. (Not a fan of traditional non-stick? An enameled Dutch oven, 4 quarts or larger is the next best thing.)
  • Long handled wooden spoon or rubber spatula
  • Chopping board
  • Dry measuring cups and spoons
  • LIquid measuring cup

How To Make Shrimp & Asparagus Risotto

While the cooking process for this easy shrimp risotto recipe takes a little bit of time, the initial steps have you adding ingredients fairly quickly, so make sure you utilize mise en place and have everything ready to go before you start cooking. 

  • Prep all of your ingredients. Dice the onion. Mince garlic. Wash and chop the asparagus. Chop the parsley. Peel and devein the shrimp. Warm stock or broth with the saffron threads in a medium pot.
  • Build the foundation for your risoto. Heat oil in a 4-quart saute pan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions start to soften, then add the garlic. When you can smell the garlic, add rice. Cook the rice a few minutes to allow it to toast and absorb the oil in the pan. You will need to be stirring constantly during this step.
  • Gradually adding small amounts of liquid to cook the risotto. First add wine (if using), stir, and cover. Drop the meat to medium-low.  When the wine has been absorbed, add 1 cup of the stock. Stir and cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Add another cup of stock, and repeat the process until all the stock has been added. There should be no remaining broth.
  • Meanwhile, cook the shrimp. Melt the butter in a small skillet and season the shrimp with Old Bay. Add the shrimp and cook until they’re pink – flipping them once.
  • Finish the risotto. With the last liquid addition, add the parmesan cheese, heavy cream, asparagus, and parsley, but don’t stir! Cover the pan and cook until the asparagus starts to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir everything together and test the asparagus for doneness. If you like al-dente asparagus, 3 minutes should be enough time, but if you wish to have it cooked further cover the dish and check again in 2 minutes.
  • Add shrimp. The shrimp and butter can be mixed into the risotto or served on top, depending on your preference. Add both the shrimp and any remaining butter from the pan. Before serving the risotto, taste test and add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with remaining Parmesan and parsley. Serve and enjoy!

How To Make Shrimp Stock

Making homemade shrimp stock is super easy. The only two ingredients you need are the raw shrimp shells and water. If you are going to make homemade shrimp stock, clean the shrimp first so that the stock has time to simmer while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

An action shot of draining the shrimp stock.

After you peel the shrimp, rinse the shells then add them to a medium size pot along with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, drop the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. The shrimp shells will turn bright pink. Strain the shells from the liquid, retaining the liquid in a measuring cup with a pour spout or returning it to the pot to keep warm.

That’s it. It’s a very hands off process that turns this from an “asparagus risotto with shrimp recipe” into a genuine “shrimp and asparagus risotto recipe”.

How to Toast Rice

Toasting rice is a cheffy term that refers to cooking the rice in fat to help it release some starch and absorb some of the flavors. Plus, toasting the rice gives the dish a bit of a nutty flavor that’s oh-so-good. 

You simply add the rice to hot oil and constantly stir for a few minutes until it starts. 

Tips for Success

As with any homemade recipe, the ingredients you put into it will be reflected in the final results. Choose the best quality you can find and afford for best results. Here are a few of my most valuable tips for creating the most flavorful risotto at home.

  • Use Arborio Rice to make risotto. It’s a widely available short grain rice with a higher starch content that makes it ideal for risotto. Other kinds of rice (white, brown, basmati, jasmine) will not have the same result.
  • Do NOT rinse the rice. Arborio rice also has a higher starch content which, when combined with liquid, makes the rich creamy sauce. Rinsing the rice removes some of the starch and will make it more difficult to get the right results.
  • Buy deveined shrimp. Removing the veins is a laborious process that will make this recipe take a LOT more time and effort. The deveining process also cuts open the peel making them easier to peel at home (also called zipper-peel shrimp) If you aren’t planning to make shrimp stock, go ahead and buy peeled raw shrimp if you can find them.
  • Choose shrimp size based on personal choice. Large shrimp take less time and effort, but smaller shrimp allow for smaller chunks of shrimp flavor throughout the dish. The choice is up to you!
  • A note on Saffron: It is by weight the most expensive spice available. However, a little goes a VERY long way. Bulk buying in small amounts is the most cost effective way to purchase it. However, skipping the saffron is not going to ruin the dish. If you don’t know what you are missing, you aren’t missing anything.
A overhead image of a bowl of shrimp asparagus risotto with a glass of wine, a second serving, and a serving pan.

A Note About Cooking with Wine

There’s one rule to cooking with wine: if you don’t drink it, then don’t cook with it! This applies to the type of wine and to the overall use of wine.

Selecting A Wine

If you are a wine drinker and/or are okay with the use of alcohol in food remember that the flavors of the wine are there to add nuances of flavor to the dish.

  • Choose something you will enjoy drinking. Ideally, you’ll use a small amount in the risotto and serve the rest with the meal. You can choose a rich chardonnay, a minerally viognier, or crisp bright pinot grigio to go into this shrimp and asparagus risotto recipe.
  • You don’t need expensive wine. In fact, I would advise against cook with something I would consider expensive or special. Save that for the glass and use your Tuesday night wine for this dish.
  • DO NOT use something labeled cooking wine. They tends to be loaded with sodium and taste pretty terrible on their own. You are better off with vinegar than with cooking wine.

Selecting A Wine Substitute

If you avoid alcohol, don’t like wine, or don’t want to purchase a bottle just to make this dish, substitute the wine with an equal part of stock or water plus one of the following:

  • 1 tablespoon of citrus juice. Lemon juice is best with the flavors of this dish, but lime and navel orange would also work. Really sweet oranges like mandarins and tangerines may add too much sweetness.
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, and champagne vinegar are all great options. The wine related names in their labels are because they are made from those products, but the production of vinegar removes the alcohol from the end product. Plain white vinegar is too harsh for cooking (I use it for cleaning fruits and vegetables.)

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto Serving Suggestions

I like to serve this risotto topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and a bit of parsley. If you want to get fancy, consider adding a squeeze of lemon juice or a bit of lemon zest on top too.

Risotto is typically a one-dish meal and often comfort food at it’s best. You can serve it solo and follow it up with dessert, like this Lemon Creme Brulee or serve it as a starter course as a part of a larger meal.

A table setting with of a serving of shrimp asparagus risotto in a black bowl with a glass of white wine.

How To Store Leftover Risotto

Risotto is never as good as when it’s freshly made, but it’s still delicious leftover. Package any leftovers in an airtight container and pop them in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

To reheat risotto, add a touch more broth, stock, or even water and heat it gently in a skillet until it has heated through. The fridge will dry it out, but the extra liquid will help it become creamy again.

If you want to get creative with your risotto leftovers, try this recipe on using leftover risotto to make arancini – aka fried risotto balls.

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A square image of a serving of shrimp asparagus risotto in a black bowl.

Shrimp Asparagus Risotto

Shrimp Asparagus Risotto: pan seared shrimp and fresh asparagus in a creamy risotto. A non-traditional recipe with less stirring than a traditional risotto and all of the flavor.
4.9 stars (21 ratings)
prep: 20 minutes
cook: 1 hour
total: 1 hour 20 minutes
servings: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion (about 1 cup diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine*
  • 4 cups stock*
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 lb of asparagus – trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 pound medium or large shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (1 ounce finely grated)
  • 2 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions

  • Dice onion, mince garlic, trim and chop asparagus, finely chop parsley. Peel and devein shrimp.
  • Use shrimp shells to make shrimp stock or heat vegetable stock. Once hot, reduce heat to low to keep warm, then stir in saffron (See notes.)
  • Heat two tablespoons of avocado oil in a 4 quart saute pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Saute 2 – 3 minutes or until onions begin to soften. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute longer, until fragrant.
  • Add in rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes. Rice will absorb the oil and begin to brown. Add wine, stir, cover, and drop heat to medium low. Cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Stir, checking to see how much of the liquid remains. If there is still liquid to absorb, cover and let cook 2 more minutes before checking again. It's time to add more liquid when the bottom of the pan stays visible after stirring.
  • Add 1 cup of stock. Stir to combine, cover, and cook 2 – 3 minutes, stir, cover and let cook another 2 – 3 minutes. Once the liquid is fully absorbed and the bottom of the pan stays visible after stirring, repeat this step with the next cup of stock. Continue to repeat this step until all stock has been added.
  • After adding the last cup of stock and cooking for 2 minutes, add the parmesan, cream, asparagus, and parsley. Do not stir! Cover and drop heat to low. Cook 3 – 5 minutes, until asparagus begins to soften.
  • Meanwhile, cook the shrimp. Melt butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Season shrimp with Old Bay seasoning. When butter begins to foam add the shrimp in a single layer.
  • When the shrimp start to turn pink, flip them over, and cook 2 – 3 minutes more. Once finished, pour shrimp and any remaining butter into the risotto mixture.
  • Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with extra parmesan and parsley.

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Notes

In place of wine, substitute 1 additional cup of broth plus 1 tablespoon of citrus juice such as lemon or lime juice, or a light vinegar such as apple, champagne or white wine.
To make shrimp stock, place the shrimp shells into a medium stock pot and cover with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, drop heat to low, then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain out the shells and return the stock to the pan to keep warm over a low heat.
If using a premade stock, you will not need as much salt. Start with 1/4 tsp added to the onions and adjust at the end before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 645kcal

Nutrition information is automatically calculated and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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About Renee N Gardner

I'm the recipe developer, food photographer, and mastermind behind Renee Nicole's Kitchen, where I help create kitchen confidence to inspire home cooks to become home chefs. No fancy fads here, just high-quality, homemade recipes featuring seasonal ingredients.

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25 Comments on “Shrimp Asparagus Risotto”

  1. 5 stars
    You had me at risotto! Made this dish last night using your recipe and it came out amazing. The flavors with the shrimp and asparagus went so perfect together. Thanks for all these tips!

    Reply
  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made this with and without shrimp. Recipe is simple, delicious and you will repeat making it as a staple in your kitchen.

    Reply
  3. Oh my goodness I love a good risotto and shrimp and asparagus…oh my! Heavenly! Cant WAIT to try this! Thank you for the recipe!

    Reply
  4. I love risotto and don’t mind all the stirring because I love it so much! BUT…. I love even more that I can put the lid on and work on other things …. what a great tip!

    Reply

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