Summer Corn Risotto

Spicy Sweet Corn Risotto (click through for recipe) We got a few lovely ears of corn in our CSA box last week, so I've been experimenting with corn lately. I love corn. It's a bright, happy, yellow color. Yes, colors have emotions. Oh, you think that's cheesy? Well… uh… you're right. Guys, I'm really cheesy.

Corn is also one of those weird vegetables that isn't really a vegetable; you just thought it was growing up, but it's actually a fruit. Much like tomatoes. But when you look at this plate of food, do you think "fruit salad?" I don't. But maybe I should. 

Sweet corn risottoWhatever the classification, when sweet corn is paired with creamy risotto and a little spicy kick from red pepper, the results are purely delicious. You can eat this alongside a salad, baked salmon, grilled shrimp, a steak, or your favorite vegetable side dish. It can be a main course or side dish, but we love risotto so much at my house that my husband and I mostly eat it as a main course. But that's just us. 

Fresh summer cornSummer Corn Risotto, serves two as a main course or four as a side dish.

1 cup arborio rice
2/3 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
3 cups seafood or vegetable stock (about 25 ounces)
1/2 white onion (about 1/4 cup once chopped)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 ear of corn
2 tablespoons butter or oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt + pepper to taste

Begin by preparing all your vegetables. Remove the kernels from the ear of corn, chop the onion, and mince the garlic. 

How to make risottoIn a small pot, combine the wine and vegetable stock. Simmer (over very low heat). Having these elements warm will help them to cook into the rice faster. This step is not essential, as I will sometimes cook risotto with just a bottle of wine and a container of stock nearby, splashing them in cold as I go. But I find that warming these two liquids does save me some time.

In the large saucepan, heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic just until they begin to soften and become very fragrant (1 to 2 minutes). Toss in the rice and cook for another 2 minutes until it begins to look translucent. Now begin adding the wine/stock mixture, half a cup at a time, stirring until it's mostly absorbed before adding more. Continue until the rice is cooked through. I usually taste a few grains of rice once I've used most of the wine/stock mixture to see if they are done. You may not need all of the liquid. This particular time I ended up not needing about 2 tablespoons of the liquid. Once the rice is nearly cooked through, toss in the corn, cayenne, and red pepper flakes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

The corn will still have some crunch to it, and I like this! But another option is to cook the corn in a separate pan before adding it to the risotto (with a little butter or oil). I did this on one of my first practice attempts and found that it felt too cooked and a bit too oily. Trey agreed. (Yes, my husband ends up the test guinea pig for whatever I'm developing for work. He's a good sport, though.)

Spicy Sweet Corn Risotto (click through for recipe)Even though corn is in season now where I live, I think this would also be a fantastic dish to make in the winter (maybe with frozen corn?), as it's just so comforting. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. 

  • I have been wanting to try making risotto for months now and this might just be the recipe that I actually attempt, looks delish!

  • I’ve been meaning to try a similar recipe from Food52 that uses the corn cobs to make the broth ( but the chilli pepper is a genius touch. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to get down to business!

  • I absolutely love how you show it served with simply tomatoes and salt! I love just a plain tomato slice, or a tomato sliced in fourths with olive oil, vinegar, and oregano mixture. Delicious! Definitely trying this out this week!

  • seafood stock! i bet that adds an interesting flavor. have you noticed a difference? great idea for eating up the tomatoes and corn we have coming out of our ears this time of year!

  • This really inspires me to tackle the risotto making task on my to do list! Looks delicious. You also have to love “the internets” for bring people out to pick out probably the least important thing about this article with the whole fruit debate. Thanks for sharing the recipe and I think that your writing on here feels so real and honest, I can really relate to it.

  • This looks DELICIOUS! We have been getting plenty of sweet corn in our CSA share each week, so I am definitely bookmarking this to make sometime this week!

  • I just made this. SO GOOD! Yum! Thanks for sharing


  • Nicole, I was also taken aback by Emma referring to corn as a fruit, so I did some research. There seems to be debate on whether corn is a vegetable, fruit, or grain. We eat it like a vegetable or grain, depending on when it is harvested and the variety. But, to a botanist, it is a fruit. That is, each kernel is a fruit. Botanists also classify wheat and other cereal grains as fruits too.

    A simple reading of your suggested source would have told you that. However, I also read up on more reliable webpages as Wikipedia isn’t what I would consider the best place to find accurate information all the time.

  • Risotto is a favorite of mine, especially in the summer and autumn months, when so many seasonal ingredients lend themselves to a good risotto. Butternut squash, asparagus, and peas are some of my other favorites!

    <3 dani

  • I LOVE the sound of corn risotto. I’ve been addicted to corn on the cob these past few weeks. This sounds like perfection..

  • I’ve recently gotten obsessed with corn so this us perfect! And wow you cut the tomato so perfectly!

  • See, I did study botany and agronomy in college and your source there made a very common mistake that has caused a lot of confusion. “Grains” are defined as the fruiting bodies from any plant in the grass family, and corn is categorized as a grass.

    So, you can see where many people might see the word fruit and think “oh it’s a fruit”, but it’s not. Especially if you are talking about a popcorn kernel (that’s a seed), baby corn, or a whole corn cob, you would be incorrect to refer to any of those as a fruit.

  • I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to come to my favorite blog and see so many vegan or vegan-friendly dishes. You guys are awesome!

  • Hi Nicole,

    I actually did do a little research before this post. According to a paper I read (published on the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Resources page) it said that corn was classified by botanist as a fruit (although it’s commonly referred to as a vegetable and grain). To be honest with you, I am by no means an expert. I am not a botanist or scientist of any kind so I certainly may be mistaken on this. And I greatly appreciate you mentioning another source for us to look at.

    Here’s a link to the article:


  • Do it! I have SO enjoyed the added variety to has forced me into this summer. Plus everything is just so delicious in season and fresh.


  • Thank you Emma for yet another original recipe!
    I have never thought of adding corn to my risottos. My favorite risotto recipes are with mushrooms or asparagus. Yumm! But I must definitely try your fruit risotto ^^

  • Mmmm I love food, but I like better what you said about colors having emotions.

    Yes they do.

    So if you think of it that way, the logical conclusion is that you’re eating happiness.
    I like that too.

  • Ok, so you’re right that corn isn’t technically a vegetable, but it definitely isn’t a fruit! It’s a grain, just like wheat, barley, and rice.

    P.S. – I’m pretty disappointed that you guys couldn’t even bother to do 10 seconds of research on wikipedia before you posted this.

  • Yuuum! I love tomatoes, that looks so delicious 🙂

  • That looks so delish, I really need to cook with corn more often!

  • My husband and I have been thinking about signing up for our local CSA. I love fresh sweet corn! This recipe sounds delish :).


  • I was just thinking I didn’t know enough recipes with fresh corn! Have to make sure we eat plenty of it before the season is up! This looks delicious.


  • This looks yum and totally healthy… i LOVE corn in any form.. gotta try this..


  • I love risotto and this looks fantastic! Also, those tomatoes look delicious! They look like real tomatoes.

  • Gorgeous photography. I love mixing corn & rice. Thanks for the recipe!

    Warm Regards,

  • Fruit salad – haha! I love you Emma 🙂 We adore risotto as well and it’s absolutely worthy of main dish status. Yum!

  • Really nice to see you add the vegan options as far as butter and seafood stock. I love that!

  • iI your second to last paragraph- second sentence- you said “But another option is to cook the rice…” I think you mean “…cook the corn…”

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