Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto

Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto
Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto

We love risotto and have made many recipes with a variety of proteins and preparations. However, most of these stick to the roots of the dish when it comes to flavor profiles, which is Italian cuisine. But this distinctive rice preparation is just too versatile and delicious to leave it entrenched in just one, albeit exceptional, cuisine. This Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto adds a fun southern and spicy American twist to risotto!

Southwestern Flavors

As an Italian American living in the south, we brought risotto to our neck of the woods with this Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto. And it is well worth trying! The spice level is quite mild, but the flavors are unmistakably from the southwest part of the United States. Here, chiles of some sort are commonplace in our foods and a little spice (or a lot of spice) permeates many dishes. We decided to spruce up the widely available and inexpensive jalapeño pepper by using it in a beautiful risotto. 

Our homemade Southwestern seasoning has a great mild-spicy flavor so give it a try. The recipe makes more than enough, but you’ll have extra seasoning that will last for 6 months or more in a sealed container to spice up any dish. This seasoning marinates the shrimp and adds a flavor enhancement to the risotto. You can certainly add a bit more (or less), depending on your preference, but the rice really does welcome the addition.

How Spicy is This Dish?

Jalapeno peppers have a great, semi-sweet and spicy pepper flavor that works well in a risotto. However, we need to point out that jalapeños have a variable spiciness range and can be disappointingly mild, even to the point of an Anaheim pepper or bell pepper! Or on the other hand, they can be quite spicy!

Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto
Southwestern seasoned shrimp and jalapeño risotto

Taste a little bit of the raw jalapeño and if it isn’t spicy enough for you, we certainly would suggest using serrano peppers instead (about half as many as the jalapeños in this recipe), as serranos are more predictable and always spicier than jalapeños.

The jalapeño flavor in this risotto recipe goes so well with the Southwestern spiced shrimp! It makes a great main course, or side dish!

What rice is best for risotto?

Risotto is so special because of the way the cooking process and rice starch result in a creamy risotto consistency without the addition of cream. This is because of the type of rice used. Do not use any old white rice! You will be highly disappointed.

Carnaroli is by far our favorite to use for risotto, but Vialone Nano, and Arborio rice work well for making risotto as well. Arborio is readily available in the US, but we go out of our way to find Carnaroli. It produces a creamier texture and has a better overall mouthfeel.

Looking for more risotto recipes?

We have several risotto recipes on the blog. Check out our Cherry Tomato Garlic Basil Risotto for a bright and vibrant risotto. If you love fish, our Dover Sole with Lemon Risotto is for you! And for fall, we absolutely love this Pumpkin Rosemary Risotto with Taleggio Cheese!

We also have more traditional risotto recipes in our cookbook Mangiamo, such as parmesan risotto and mushroom risotto, along with 60 delicious Italian recipes! If you are an Italian food and pasta lover, this cookbook needs to be in your life!


We hope that you enjoy this recipe for Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto! If you give it a try and like it, leave us a 5-star rating and comment below!

Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto
Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto

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Southwestern Shrimp and Jalapeño Risotto

Course: Dinner, SidesCuisine: Italian-Fusion, SouthwesternDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time




  • For the Shrimp
  • 1 lb. 1 large shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 2 Tbsp 2 Southwestern Seasoning – divided (see below)

  • 2 Tbsp 2 olive oil – divided

  • For the Risotto
  • 6 6 -8 cups diluted* seafood stock or vegetable stock

  • 1 1 Bay leaf

  • 2 cups 2 risotto rice (Carnaroli or arborio rice)

  • 4 Tbsp 4 unsalted butter – divided

  • ½ medium onion (about 75g) small dice

  • jalapeños** (about 125g) small dice
  • 1/3 cup 1/3 dry white wine

  • Zest of 1 lemon

  • 1 1 -2 Tbsp lemon juice

  • For the Southwestern Seasoning (makes about 1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp 3 Ancho chile powder

  • 2 Tbsp 2 Paprika (sweet)

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Cumin

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Coriander

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Black pepper

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Granulated onion

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Granulated garlic

  • 1 Tbsp 1 Kosher salt

  • 2 tsp 2 Oregano

  • 2 tsp 2 Cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 Mustard powder


  • Prepare the Shrimp
  • Reserve between 1 and three shrimp per serving for garnish, if desired. Cut the remaining shrimp into 3-5 pieces depending on their size and how large the pieces in the risotto you want. Put all the shrimp (cut and whole) in a bowl with the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the seasoning and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
  • Before the risotto is done, remove the whole shrimp from the bowl. Heat a skillet over medium heat and then add the remaining 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the whole shrimp and sauté gently until done. Depending on the size of your shrimp, this should take about 2 minutes per side. Keep the additional whole shrimp warm to place on top of your finished shrimp risotto.
  • Prepare the Risotto
  • In a saucepan, warm the vegetable stock with the bay leaf over low heat. Separately, in a large skillet over medium heat, add the rice to the dry pan. Gently toast for about 4 minutes. You will smell a difference but do not brown the rice. Remove to a bowl. In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons butter until melted. Add the chopped onion and jalapeño to the melted butter and sauté until the onion is translucent but does not brown.
  • Next, add back the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and cook, stirring often, until the wine is absorbed. Ladle in about a ½ cup stock at a time, stirring often. With the first addition of stock, add the other 1 Tbsp of Southwestern Seasoning. Once the stock is almost absorbed, add more stock, making sure the rice doesn’t stick or brown on the bottom. Continue this process for about 15 minutes then stir in the chopped shrimp.
  • After 18-20 minutes, taste the rice for doneness. It should be firm (al dente) but done, not mushy and not crunchy. You may not need all the stock. If you run out of hot stock, then you can use hot water. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and then add the lemon zest, juice, and add a pinch of salt if needed.
  • Serve and garnish with more jalapeños, green onion, or parsley.


  • You don’t want extremely strong stock in this recipe. Dilute full strength seafood stock with about 25% water.
  • You can substitute serrano peppers – which are spicier but also much more consistent in their heat than jalapeños.

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