Lemon Risotto Recipe with Mascarpone Cheese

This is a totally luxurious Lemon Risotto recipe. This tangy, creamy risotto is swirled with with mascarpone cheese. Its bright flavor makes a perfect vegetarian main course or a delicious side dish.

Want even more ways to get your risotto? Be sure to try my Shrimp RisottoCaprese Tomato Risotto and Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese.

Here’s a stunner of a risotto recipe for you – creamy lemon risotto.


Tangy lemon mingles with the creaminess of the mascarpone cheese and a sprinkling of saffron – The colors are beautiful, the flavors are exciting and this dish comes together quickly and easily.

I recently attempted to make a gourmet (and expensive!) grilled cheese using white cheddar, mascarpone, ricotta and goat cheese. EPIC FAIL! The cheese was melting all over the place and was more on the plate than in the sandwich.

Also, I heated up some roasted red pepper and tomato soup that I picked up at Trader Joe’s. I ended up getting a bit busy, not paying attention to the stove, and burning that as well!

NOT my best night.

Anyway… I had leftover cheese for days so I decided to put the mascarpone to good use in this risotto. (I also made this Creamy Chicken Marsala with Mustard & Mascarpone, which you cannot miss either!)

Risotto in large dutch oven.

Mascarpone is an Italian soft cheese with a mild flavor. Because of this, it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is used in the traditional Italian dessert of tiramisu.

You’ll find it in grocery stores in the tubbed cheese department (near the feta and goat cheese). If you can’t find it, you can swap in cream cheese.

The broth used for the risotto is infused with lemon peels and a sprinkling of saffron. The saffron lends an extra flavor to the dish and contributes to the beautiful color. However, if you don’t have any on hand, feel free to leave it out. The dish will still be amazing!!!

Ingredients needed

  • Hot broth (vegetable broth or chicken stock, parmesan broth, or bone broth)
  • Lemon juice
  • Lemon peel – Peeled with a potato peeler. This is used to infuse the broth that “feeds” the risotto.
  • Lemon zest – Grated with a microplane or the small holes of a cheese grater.
  • Olive oil
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Arborio rice
  • Dry vermouth or white wine
  • Saffron
  • Mascarpone cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Basil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

How to make it

Begin by warming the broth with the lemon peels and saffron. This brings balance to rich, salty broths and ultimately brightens up the flavor in the risotto. 

To start making the risotto, heat some oil in a large pot and saute the shallot and garlic. Next, add the rice. Season and toast the grains for 1 minute.

Deglaze the pot with wine. Make sure to scrape the tasty brown bits stuck on the bottom!

Add some warm broth to the pot, occasionally stirring until the broth is absorbed. Repeat this step until the rice is creamy but still has a firm bite. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, mascarpone, and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, scoop some lemon risotto into each dish and garnish with fresh basil, if desired. Enjoy!

Add-In options

Feel free to add in extra veggies or protein to your lemon parmesan risotto. Here are some great options:

  • Peas: Add ⅔ cup of fresh or frozen peas at the end.
  • Chicken: Cube and saute some chicken chicken breasts. Then stir them into your cooked risotto.
  • Asparagus: Steam about 20 asparagus spears. Cut into 1-inch pieces then stir into the cooked risotto.
  • Mushrooms: Add 8 ounces of thinly sliced mushrooms with the shallots, then saute for a few minutes.
  • Prawns: Saute some shrimp, then add them to your cooked risotto.
  • Scallops: Sear scallops in olive oil and butter, then top your risotto with them.
Close up of creamy lemon risotto with fork.

How to store & reheat

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will last for up to three days. To reheat, add it to a pan with a bit of extra chicken broth and heat over medium heat.

What alcohol can you use in risotto?

  • You can use a dry white wine or white (dry) vermouth for this risotto recipe. I love to keep dry vermouth on hand and often use it in recipes where white wine is called for. It will keep in your cupboard and it’s generally more affordable than white wine.

What to serve with it

And let’s not forget the wine… Never an option in our house.

To pair with this totally indulgent Lemon Risotto, I chose a totally decadent wine – Bubbles. And not just one bottle, but two bottles – a Brut and Blanc De Noirs. I mean, why not? Sometimes it’s fun to open up a couple different bottles of wine with dinner to sample and taste, and to see what works best with your palate.

This Lemon Risotto would be the perfect dish to serve during the holiday season. Pair it with your sous vide Prime Rib at the Christmas table, or pop those bubbles and serve this risotto on New Years Eve. It would also be great for an at home date night, paired with some filet mignon or steak diane.

Wine pairings for lemon risotto

  • Chardonnay – Its butteriness and hints of citrus will pair very nicely.
  • Pinot Gris – Its acidity will cut through the richness of the dish and lend a brightening essence to the dish.
  • Bubbles (Champagne, Cava, Prosecco) – The effervescence mingles nicely with the rich, creamy flavors.
Two bowls of lemon risotto next to parmesan rind.

More risotto recipes

Did you try this lemon risotto?

If you loved this lemon mascarpone risotto, I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a ⭐️star review⭐️! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

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Risotto in large dutch oven.

Lemon Risotto with Mascarpone

Indulge in this luxurious Lemon Risotto with Mascarpone. Rich, creamy, and tangy – Its bright flavor makes a perfect vegetarian entrée or a delicious side dish.
4.95 from 18 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken broth)
  • 2 lemons (1 zested and juiced – 1 peeled with a potato peeler, yellow part only (for infusing the broth))
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots (chopped)
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 4 Tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • A few leaves of fresh basil (torn)


  • In a medium saucepan, heat the broth, saffron and lemon peels (the yellow part of a lemon peeled with a potato peeler) over medium-low heat. Cover and keep warm.
  • In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened. Add the rice and cook for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add about 2 cups of warm stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has absorbed. Add 2 more cups of stock, and continue cooking until absorbed again. Add 1 cup stock and the lemon zest, and cook until absorbed. Taste the rice to see if it's done. If needed, add additional broth and cook for a bit longer. It should have a bite to it, but be creamy in texture.
  • Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, mascarpone and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you have any citrus salts on hand – definitely use those!
  • Garnish with basil and additional grated parmesan.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 411mg | Potassium: 121mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 405IU | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 322mg | Iron: 3.5mg

This recipe was originally published in 2015. It was updated in 2022 to update the photographs and content. The recipe remains the same. 

35 thoughts on “Lemon Risotto Recipe with Mascarpone Cheese”

  1. Love this in the spring! Mascarpone is deceiving because it comes in containers with tiramisu all over it ha, but I love using it in savory preparations. 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I love risotto in the winter for some comfort, and love how this sound rich with cheesyness but has a little tang and citrus to brighten it up! I will definitely try this recipe out

  3. Erin, I am happy to know we all have kitchen blunders! Sorry it was an expensive mistake but look where it all landed you, with this tasty Lemon Mascarpone Risotto! I will be using this recipe for some cold weather comfort!

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely perfect side dish with roasted lamb! My guests were quite pleased with this dish. And, I was able to serve my lamb with a white wine (I know, gasp!), a beautiful Semillion, that complemented the richness of the lamb and the risotto. This one is a keeper for sure. Loving your recipes. Thanks!

  5. 4 stars
    Tasty, but way too lemony! Might be a good idea to have more specific measurements for variable sized ingredients like lemons. I had to make some extra risotto rice to add in and tone it down.

    Other than that, lovely!

      • I’m having a similar question: I can’t for the life of me figure out the distinction between ‘lemon zest’ and ‘lemon PEEL, yellow part only’. What does this amount to?!

        • Hi Sheralee – Sorry for the confusion. By lemon zest, I mean finely grated lemon zest (from the yellow of the peel). For the lemon peel, I use a potato peeler to peel off the yellow rind of the lemon and I use those rinds to infuse the broth. Hope that helps! – Erin

          • Aha! Okay. Does the ‘yellow rind’ include any of the pith? That would make it something like very large bits of lemon zest.

  6. 5 stars
    I love making risotto and making this partly today and finishing tomorrow. Making my stock and shredding chicken breast to stir through when finished tomorrow. I am using shallot, basil and lemon as you suggest and parm/mascarpone. Poaching the chicken in the stock. Tomorrow I will finish, sautéing mushrooms to stir through. Fresh thyme to complement the mushrooms.
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe.


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