Pumpkin Bacon Baked Risotto

  • Servings : 6 Balls
  • Prep Time : 10m
  • Cook Time : 40m
  • Ready In : 50m

This is my first attempt at a risotto for Harry. It is much more textured than he usually likes, but we are getting there. The thing I love about this is you don’t have to slave over a hot stove, in fact you aren’t anywhere near the stove, because you use the oven. So simple.

Risotto Balls: Turn this simple risotto into finger food by rolling into small risotto balls. Choose free range no additive or sulphites where possible. For babies or young toddlers you can omit the bacon.

Nutrition note: many store-bought stocks contain gluten. Check food packaging and labels for gluten free varieties if required, or even better try making your own homemade version for added goodness.

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  • 2 tbs butter
  • ½ brown onion
  • 3 rashers of bacon, finely chopped
  • 200g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 cup Arborio rice
  • 4½ cups salt reduced chicken stock*
  • 2 cups butternut pumpkin, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup grated cheese
  • (Feel free to add some peas or more vegetables, a very flexible recipe)
  • Note: Store bought stock often contains gluten. Check for gluten free, if required.


Step 1

Preheat oven to 190°C -

Step 2

Melt butter in a frypan and sauté onion, bacon and mushrooms for a few minutes until fragrant -

Step 3

Combine all ingredients (except cheese) in a casserole dish -

Step 4

Bake, uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through -

Step 5

Stir through the cheese -

Step 6

Once the mixture is cool enough you can roll into teaspoon sized balls for your children to enjoy as finger food. -

Step 7

Tip: to freeze, freeze small portions of risotto mixture and roll into balls once reheated. -

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Recipe Comments

  1. posted by Anonymous on March 2, 2012

    This looks great, I cannot wait to try it!

    Mel and Poppi 🙂

  2. posted by Allie on March 2, 2012

    It is so good Mel, I couldn’t stop eating it 😉

  3. posted by Anonymous on April 12, 2012

    Hi Allie, I made this last night & gave to mase today for lunch. It was a hit… & I loved it too! I rolled into balls & froze so it is a handy lunch/ dinner. Except I made really big balls, should’ve made them small as I need to help him eat it…

    Next I would like to see some exotic singaporian dishes on the menu for our bubs :))

    Jade & mason xx

  4. posted by Jane n Mr 21 mths on January 29, 2013

    Hi, we made this last week and before I could roll into balls, my handy helper 21 month old had found a spoon and was tucking in!! I put cauliflower in too. Thanks, great recipe and fab site for recipes, cheers 🙂

    • posted by Allie on January 30, 2013

      Oh so exciting 🙂 Thanks for sharing Ax

  5. posted by Erin on March 12, 2013

    You know, I make this over and over. Its one of my go-to recipes now.
    I even got my gluten-free friend onto it and its her fave meal!
    So long as I actually follow the recipe, it never fails to delight.

    My lesson: The cheese is not optional. Don’t try & shortcut that step!

    • posted by Allie on March 13, 2013

      Fabulous! So what happens without the cheese? Not sticky enough? Ax

  6. posted by Christine on January 7, 2014

    I’m not a wiz in the kitchen, apologies for dumb question – are you cooking rice first?

    • posted by Allie on January 12, 2014

      Ask anything you like, Christine. No need to cook the rice first as it will absorb the liquid while in the oven – cheats risotto 😉 Ax

  7. posted by Alexandra on February 12, 2014

    Just a clear it up kinda question,, do we bake the risotto then roll into balls?? or roll into balls before baking?

    • posted by Allie on February 12, 2014

      Hi Alexandra, you bake the risotto, and once cool enough you can roll the mixture into balls. I hope that helps? Ax

  8. posted by Sarah on February 12, 2014

    Does the pumpkin need to be steamed first?

    • posted by Allie on February 12, 2014

      Hi Sarah, the pumpkin will cook in the broth so needs no steaming. Thanks, Allie

  9. posted by Jo on February 12, 2014

    I’m thinking about making these and freezing as balls then just drop one in the lunch box in the morning and by lunch time it should have defrosted – yum, yum

  10. posted by Toni on February 12, 2014

    Hi is the pumpkin important or could it be subbed by sweet potato or carrot as my kids are allergic

    • posted by Allie on February 12, 2014

      Hi Toni, very flexible for you to use whatever ingredients your kids love. Ax

  11. posted by shellie on February 13, 2014

    this is a fabulous idea. i have heaps of trouble with my grade 2 as he hates sandwiches.
    so they eat the risotto balls cold?

    • posted by Allie on February 13, 2014

      Hi Shellie, you can eat the balls fresh from the oven – just wait until they are cool enough to handle. Or, if you are freezing you can reheat the risotto in the microwave then roll into balls when they are warm. I hope your little one enjoys 🙂 Ax

  12. posted by Kris on February 18, 2014

    Hi Allie, just checked the pantry and my arborio rice is out of date:( Do you think I could use long grain or basmati rice instead. I understand the consistency will be different? Was wanting to gve this a go tonight,
    Cheers, Kris

  13. posted by Kathryn on May 29, 2014

    THANK YOU! This recipe is awesome. Easy, tasty & healthy.

  14. posted by Anna on May 31, 2014

    My son is allergic to milk and egg. Is there any substitute for the cheese?

    • posted by Jess on June 2, 2014

      Hi Anna, you could simply try omitting the cheese without substitution. Jx

  15. posted by Simone on June 18, 2014

    Do you think that this could be done in the slow cooker? My oven is on the blink and not coking very well at the moment so I’m trying to do as many as I can in the slow cooker 🙂

    • posted by Jess on June 20, 2014

      Hi Simone, I don’t actually have a slow cooker so am not familiar with how they work. Although I suspect that this would work perfectly in the slow cooker. If you find a similar risotto recipe to cook in the slow cooker you try and translate the method to use with our ingredients and recipe. I hope that helps, enjoy – Jx

  16. posted by Susan on July 4, 2014

    I made this on the weekend and it was a huge hit with my 18 month old and my husband! So easy once everything is cut up and made a wonderful change from having to constantly stir the risotto! Thanks for a great recipe.

  17. posted by Melanie on July 23, 2014

    I’m going to make this for baby, toddler and us! Could I add diced chicken? Would I just need to fry off first or cook it through before adding? Or best leave it out altogether and just add extra veg? Sorry for all questions thanks!

    • posted by Allie on July 30, 2014

      Yes you could! Either fry it off first and it will finish cooking in the oven or add smaller pieces raw and it should cook through 🙂 Enjoy Ax

  18. posted by Aly on August 14, 2014

    This sounds delicious!! For a vegetarian option, will omitting the bacon make a huge difference in taste?

    • posted by Allie on August 19, 2014

      It would be fine without the bacon. You could add other herbs and vegetables if you wanted. Ax

  19. posted by Nicola on August 19, 2014

    This recipe is perfect for my 17 month old who insists on using a spoon for everything. Also a hit with my husband. Another winner!

  20. posted by Cari-Anne Jones on September 22, 2014

    Is there any feed back re not adding the cheese ? As my son is allergic to dairy ?

    • posted by Allie on September 23, 2014

      Hi Cari-Anne, the cheese helps to bind these and add flavour. You could use a hearty homemade stock to help with flavour and add a few more veggies, they might not be quite as sticky but should still work just fine 🙂 Ax

  21. posted by larissa on December 29, 2014

    My DD 13mths has a rice intolerance but Im keen to continue giving grains, do you think this could work with either cous cous or quinoa?

  22. posted by Nanook on January 31, 2015

    This risotto worked well (easy to make, affordable- hooray!, good consistency, didn’t burn and was tasty!) however, it had no residual bacon or pumpkin flavour at all, and tasted strongly of mushrooms- basically it was like eating a mushroom risotto. my 18 month old wouldn’t eat it (and he normally loves rice). I probably chopped the mushrooms too fine (used a food processor as I’m a slow chopper by hand and had attention-wanting toddler hanging off my leg) but I think next time I will use 50-100g mushrooms. I think I’ll use less stock next time as well as I used the powdered stuff (it was all I had to hand) and it was a bit too much for my bland-loving progeny’s palate. Oh well, at least *I* enjoyed it!!!

  23. posted by Nanook on February 1, 2015

    Just had to come back and update on my earlier disappointment that the toddler wouldn’t eat it: today both he and my partner thought it was delicious! So there you go- fickle character! Another meal I can put in the freezer. Brilliant. Thank you

  24. posted by PA on February 2, 2015

    I made this yesterday with a few alterations. I didn’t have any bacon so i used chicken instead, I had a few sad veggies that needed to be used up, so I threw in some peas and finely chopped broccoli and carrot. I also didn’t have enough chicken stock so I subbed in 250 ml of veg stock. It was absolutely delicious. I had to stop myself gobbling it all up before Mr 13 months woke up for lunch… BTW I have never seen him shovel food into his mouth so quickly. Definitely on a winner with this one.
    I have frozen the left overs in little balls and will be defrosting as necessary. Cant wait to try different variations of this. Such a versatile, simple, budget friendly recipe. Will absolutely be adding this to the collection.
    Thank you for this little gem of a recipe…. 🙂

    • posted by Allie on February 5, 2015

      How wonderful 🙂 I make this all the time for my little ones too. Ax

  25. posted by Danielle on July 23, 2015

    Loved and devoured by my girl. So easy too, and easy to freeze and pull out when I can’t give her what we are having.

  26. posted by Melanie on August 9, 2015

    Do you need a lid on the casserole dish please?

    • posted by Allie on October 2, 2015

      Yes it needs to be tightly sealed. Ax

      • posted by Camilla on October 14, 2015

        In the recipe it mentions to cook the dish uncovered, just confirming if a lid is required. Looking forward to baking this one.

  27. posted by Melanie on August 16, 2015

    hi I don’t have oven at home can I cook in the stove top? Or I have microwave oven what do you think? thank

    • posted by Jess on August 19, 2015

      Yes, you can make this on the stove top. I haven’t made risotto in the microwave before but I’m sure that would work too. jx

  28. posted by Jo on May 22, 2016

    We love this recipe! I was wondering if I can substitute the bacon for anything else? I want to cook this for my extended family but my sister-in-law doesn’t eat bacon. Thanks in advance!

  29. posted by Alice on May 26, 2016

    Hi, I am little confused. The instructions say cook uncovered and yet in the notes it says covered. Over 50mins there is still way too much liquid in the dish.

  30. posted by Ellie on February 10, 2024

    This was one of my daughters favourite foods as a baby/toddler. She is now almost 11, and I’m still cooking it. We rarely roll in to balls anymore, but she loves to take the leftovers to school in her thermos. Definitely the best recipe I came across as a new Mum all those years ago. Pity Mr 4 won’t even sniff it, let alone taste it (or anything else for that matter)


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