Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on February 8, 2011

Thanks to you, I now have a huge craving for an old flame- Barney Butter. Just when I thought I had left him in the dust…!

Maybe a long distance relationship could work, afterall?

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Aside from Barney Butter and my mouth, there isn’t a better combination than caramelized onions and sautéed Cremini mushrooms. Before I taught myself how to cook, I would have told you there is no better combination than canned mushrooms and pizza sauce, but luckily, I have branched out a bit and discovered a love for things that do not come in a can.

[For the record, I will forever love canned mushrooms. I just can’t help myself!]

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Anyways, when I stumbled upon this Vegan Mushroom Risotto recipe over at The Kitchn, I had to compose myself until I could get to the grocery store for the ingredients. My heart was all a flutter and it filled my every thought. I even found myself obsessively glancing at the picture to make sure it looked as good as I remembered.

Yes, it surely does.

I bought some local Cremini mushrooms, fresh and perfect…

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It is a good day.

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It is not a good day for Eric because he will not touch a mushroom with a ten foot pole!  He really doesn’t know what he’s missing out on.

I married him despite this.

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To be honest, I’m pretty happy to have this dish all to myself. It is quite a bit of work to make and the fact that I got to enjoy it for a few meals was a nice reward. Sharing is overrated, anyways. If your partner does enjoy mushrooms though, this would be a fun meal to make together! And if you are like me, you will ask the man to do all the prep work that you loathe, like chopping onions and garlic.

I’m just nice like that I guess.

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Mushroom Risotto with Caramelized Onions

Thick, rich, and satisfying with a strong mushroom flavour and pop of sweetness from the caramelized onions. This is pure comfort food.

Adapted from: The Kitchn.

Yield: 2 (as main course), or 4 side servings


  • 3-4 yellow onions, divided
  • 1 tbsp + 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms (~455 grams), washed and sliced
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup uncooked pot barley (or grain of choice, like rice)* see note
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3.5 cups vegetable broth (I used full-sodium), *see note
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to garnish
  • 1 tbsp Earth balance or butter, to stir in (optional)



1. Chop 2 small yellow onions to make 2 cups worth. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook onion for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low for about 8 minutes. Reduce heat if necessary to avoid burning.

2. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add all the sliced cremini mushrooms to the skillet and let them cook for 5-10 minutes.

3. Add the rosemary sprig and seasonings to the skillet. Stir well. Cook for a couple minutes. Now add in the barley (or rice), balsamic vinegar, and vegetable broth gradually as it cooks. You may have to adjust the amount of liquid used depending on the type of grain used. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and stir every few minutes, reducing the heat when necessary to prevent it sticking to the bottom. Be careful because it will burn fast!

4. Meanwhile, make the caramelized onions. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Cut 1-2 yellow onions in half, and then slice them into thin half moons. Add them to the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a dark brown, for about 30 minutes. Watch closely. I burned some of mine because I got distracted by shiny objects. It happens.

5. When the risotto has finished cooking remove rosemary sprig and stir in a spoonful of Earth balance or butter if desired. Distribute into bowl and top each bowl with a spoonful of caramelized onions and freshly ground pepper. Serves 2-4.

Note: Make sure that you add the vegetable broth slowly as different grains will absorb different amounts of liquid. You don’t want too much liquid at the end!


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The changes I made to the original recipe are the following:

  • I used barley instead of white rice
  • I used 1 pound of Cremini mushrooms instead of 1/2 pound
  • I used 3 cloves garlic instead of 4
  • I used 3.5 cups liquid veggie broth instead of 2 cups (I had to adjust for the barley)
  • I omitted the white wine as I didn’t have any
  • I used 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar instead of 2
  • I cut the oil down
  • I did not use vegan cream cheese
  • I changed the procedure (the original recipe calls for baking in the oven!)


It still  turned out incredible despite the changes!

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I think next time I will try pearled barley because the pot barley seems to give me stomach pains (hard to digest with the outer husk!).

Make sure that you add the vegetable broth slowly as different grains will absorb different amounts of liquid. You will basically have to eyeball it as it cooks and add more liquid as needed. If you are using white rice, you might only need 2-2.5 cups of vegetable broth.

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Rinse the dirty lil buggers!

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Chop 2 small onions and 3 cloves garlic.

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Add in sliced mushrooms, and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

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Add in seasonings…salt, rosemary sprig, pepper.

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Now add in the 1 cup of grains and the vegetable broth…gradually.

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Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring often and adding more vegetable broth when necessary so it doesn’t burn. If it starts drying out, you need more liquid!

Meanwhile, make the caramelized onions…mmm.

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Watch the onions closely…I burned some of mine because I got distracted by shiny objects. It happens.

When the risotto is ready, stir a spoonful of Earth Balance (or butter) in and serve immediately.

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This recipe takes about 45 minutes of active prep work and another 20-25 minutes to cook. It is quite labourious, but if you make it with someone else it will go much faster!

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Top with lots of caramelized onions.

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When I took my first bite, I forgot about all the chopping and stirring and I said, Yup, it was all worth it.

It is thick, rich, and satisfying with a strong mushroom flavour and pop of sweetness from the caramelized onions. C-O-M-F-O-R-T-F-O-O-D.

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You should also check out the original recipe by The Kitchn’s Faith Durand– it was baked in the oven! I may have to try this next time, but since I didn’t use white rice I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I made it the traditional way on the stove top just to be safe. If you guys experiment with baking different grains let me know. I’m hoping a quicker cooking brown rice works too!

What food combinations do you LOVE to pair together?

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

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Gaura February 9, 2011 at 2:23 pm

mmm, I love mushrooms but sometimes they can not work in a dish (yeah, I’ve made some errors!!) I’ve always loved a good portobello mushroom burger (yay for being a vegetarian!) and Ive eaten some pretty exotic ones in this little chinese place in Sydney called Mama Fu, where they had a soup with all different shaped and sized shrooms! (probably Erics worst nightmare lol!)


Gaura February 9, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Favorite food combo = hot fresh spiced puris (indian puffed bread) with home made mango chutney or curd subji (yes, the couple of years I spent in India have rubbed off on my palate lol!)


Alex February 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Looks awsome…will defenitely try something similar. Dont soke the mushrooms…they hate that! :)


Clare @ Fitting It All In February 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Looks incredible! I’m always on the hunt for not cheesey risottos.
One of my favorite combos is sauteed garlic and onions! The perfect base for ANYTHING.


Vanonymous February 9, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Am I just missing it? Where does the balsamic vinegar come in? I ended up just pouring it in when I put the broth in. It came out delicious either way!


Angela (Oh She Glows) February 9, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Oops, forgot to add that in the directions. ;) I dont think it really matters, but I put it in with the broth.


Emily February 9, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Mmm! I love mushrooms! I basically add them to anything I can…pizza, pasta, sandwiches…probably risotto, in the future ;).


Hannah February 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Want to talk long distance? I have one jar of Barney Butter… because my friend in Alabama sent it to me here in Canberra, Australia. I’m too scared to open it because I can’t get more :(

Funnily enough, just yesterday I made a brown rice mushroom pilaf! In some ways very similar to this, though now I wish mine had caramelised onions :)


Sarah February 10, 2011 at 8:53 am

Hey Angela!
I love Risotto, but nobody can eat that much rice all the time – well, maybe if you’re italian ;-) I think barley is a great alternate and I’m definitely going to give this recipe a try. Maybe I’ll use some soy sauce instead of the vinegar, I’m addicted to it.
I’m a huge fan of your blog and I could spend all day reading through your stories and recipes, what I actually do. Thanks for sharing all of it.


Angela (Oh She Glows) February 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

thanks sarah!


Doc (The Healthy PhD) February 11, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Tried the recipe and looooooved it, so I gave you some bloggie love!


Angela (Oh She Glows) February 14, 2011 at 11:51 am



Jill February 14, 2011 at 12:15 am

Noms! Made it with leftover rice (just cooked mushrooms a bit longer and when they started to sweat added in the pre-cooked rice and let it soak up all the goodness) and it was FANTASTIC. Leftovers and laziness for the win!


Angela (Oh She Glows) February 14, 2011 at 11:51 am

haha nice!!!


Chanel June 26, 2012 at 3:26 am

I just made with and it is some real comfort food. Its raining here right now and it is the perfect dish to get all cuddly by the fireplace with. I used shitake(because I didnt have cremini) mushrooms and doubled the amount. I used half pearly barley and half japanese rice. Delish. Highly recommended


Eloïse January 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Eating my second plate right now! This is SO good! And I LOVE the caramelized onions…I used pearled barley and its amazing. It took more liquid and more time to cook but it is so worth it! I’m so glad I found your blog! I’m a new vegan and live with a meat eating boyfriend. I’ve tried recipes on your site 5 days in a row and they were all hits! He’s not complaining at all… He actually loved all I prepared from your site. Being vegan is so fun and easy with your recipes! Thanks again!


Donovan January 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Made this for lunch today and loved it! Made the pearled barley in my rice cooker using half water and half veg broth. With about 15 minutes left I sauteed the mushrooms and onions. Tossed it all in the pan briefly and enjoyed. Thank you for the idea. I am sure I will be eating this a lot and making some of my own variations.


Martha May 17, 2013 at 5:49 am

Have made this before and it was absolutely delicious! Am going to make it again tonight but was also thinking of using some dried mushrooms I have in my cupboard in this too, any chance you have any tips or ideas on using them? As always, loving your blog and finding constant inspiration here! With love from London x


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 17, 2013 at 8:06 am

Hi Martha, I’m sorry I don’t have much experience cooking with them, but I’m sure there are some wonderful videos on You Tube to help guide you. Good luck and let me know how it goes!


brighdereed May 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

This was a winner. I used wine and because I didn’t have garlic, I stirred through some nooch at the end and also some miso which gave it a spectacular flavour.


Stephanie January 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm

I have never liked risotto, but this was AMAZING! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe. I used brown rice for mine, and it took a good long while for it to soften, but it turned out great!


Sab May 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Hi Angela,
May I substitute the barely with millet? What do you think? Thanks!


Charlotte April 2, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Thank you so much for tons and tons of great yummy recipes !
I made this last night -with a few changes- and it was such a pleasure to eat !!! Definitely worth the wait… and I am having more today, because I can’t get over how delicious it was. The caramelized onions were the cherry on top. Loved it !!!


Gaye August 27, 2015 at 3:30 pm

This was wonderful! I had leftovers for lunch at work and gave some to my meat-loving friend, and she asked for the recipe!!


Cindy January 3, 2016 at 8:33 pm

Made this for dinner tonight >>> it was awesome!
thank you


Miranda April 24, 2016 at 12:44 am

It was delicious! I added 1/4 cup of cashew cream at the end (blended together cashews, water, nutritional yeast, salt, and garlic powder) for a little extra creaminess.


Angela Liddon April 26, 2016 at 2:57 pm

That sounds delish, Miranda! Thanks for sharing.


Annie Dragosh August 17, 2016 at 9:52 am

I made this last night using risotto and it was amazing. I started with 2 cups of broth and went from there and increased the mushrooms to a pound and a half. This was absolutely incredible and I’ll get several meals out of it as my daughter won’t touch it. Hahaha. More for me. Thank you, Angela! This was fantastic!


Angela Liddon August 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

So glad you enjoyed it Annie! Enjoy those leftovers. ;)


Sarah October 27, 2016 at 5:48 pm

About to make this!! It looks AMAZING.


Angela Liddon November 1, 2016 at 10:37 am

Hope you enjoyed it, Sarah!


Robin Morris May 22, 2017 at 8:47 am

I made this last night and it was phenomenal. This recipe gave me all the same flavors as French Onion Soup. I can guarantee it will be a keeper in my recipe box.
I added chopped scallion to the recipe (to get rid of leftover in my fridge). I added the white bottom scallion into the barley towards the end and serving the green scallion ontop when served. That made it ‘triple onion’ mushroom risotto, and added an extra layer of crunch and flavor, so I intend to keep that recipe addition for future preparations.
I am not a vegan, so I cooked a tuna steak to serve with this dish, and coated the tuna in an allpurpose no-salt seasoning that had onion powder & dried onions in it. That spice blend combo on protein was amazing paired with this dish, and I may try the same thing with steak or pork.


Liesbeth Vissers August 28, 2018 at 6:12 am

I’m planning on preparing this dish tonight. My sister-in-law is Italian and she makes a lovely risotto with chopped pumpkin. Add them right after browning the onions and mushrooms and before you add the rice. They will get tender when adding the broth, but will stay a bit crunchy in the middle for a lovely bite. And it adds to the creaminess of the dish.

Cheers form Holland!


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 4, 2018 at 9:08 am

Hey Liesbeth, wow that sounds wonderful! You have me craving this risotto now…thank you!


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