Lemon And Habanero Risotto

It’s hard to label any dish using habanero as “subtle”, but it’s true, in a fashion, for this lemon and habanero risotto. The light, citrusy freshness from the lemon zest is delicious here, and it pairs so well with the white wine and grated cheese.

lemon and habanero risotto
Lemon and habanero risotto, plated and ready to serve

And while you can ramp up the heat by doubling-down on the amount of habanero used, we don’t recommend it (and we don’t say that often!) The habanero is already pushing the flavor far at its current amount. Any more and the citrus is overpowered completely, and you’ll lose a lot of the depth in this recipe.

Of course, feel free to lessen the amount of habanero pepper used here. You could opt for only a quarter of the fruit, or you could sub it out for a less hot chili (like a red jalapeño or cayenne.) Though, the habanero’s natural fruity sweetness pairs so well here, it’s a natural for this dish.

Other adaptations: Parmesan can be used to replace the cheddar. It’s a nice variation on the recipe, giving a slightly different flavor (and mouth feel) to the dish. And you could opt for vegetable stock instead of chicken stock to make the lemon and habanero risotto completely vegetarian.

This recipe reheats well, so it’s a good one for making in bulk and using as a light lunch throughout the week. Add some extra butter after reheating to bring back some of the richness to the meal.

See it being made:

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lemon and habanero risotto

Lemon and Habanero Risotto

A citrusy risotto, with a lot of depth and just enough habanero spiciness
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Meal
Servings 4 servings
Calories 563 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ habanero pepper seeds removed and minced
  • 1 cup short-grain rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest approximately the zest from two medium-sized lemons
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup butter


  • Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, then add the olive oil.
  • Add the chopped onion and garlic to the pan. Stir for 3 minutes until the onions are nearly translucent.
  • Add the habanero and the rice to the pan. Stir until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  • Stir in the wine, then cook for 2 minutes before adding the broth.
  • Gradually add the broth (a small amount at a time) over roughly 20 minutes, stirring occassionally. Every time the rice starts catching the bottom of the pan it is time to add more liquid.
  • Add the frozen peas and the lemon zest into the risotto. Stir to combine .Cook for 1-minute longer, then remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in the butter and cheese until the risotto turns glossy, then serve immediately.


Note: You can use parmesan cheese but the cheddar offers a milder flavor which will not overpower the subtle lemon. Of course, you can add the whole habanero if you want to bring on the heat.


Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 14gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 1145mgPotassium: 536mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 934IUVitamin C: 39mgCalcium: 264mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this?Mention @PepperScale or tag #PepperScale so we can see what you made!

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on June 9, 2024 to include new content.
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