These orzo recipes will be ready much sooner than any rice dish. Ten minutes is all you’ll need for a perfect al dente bowl.
On the whole, orzo and rice are pretty similar in terms of nutrition and appearance, only orzo has almost double the amount of protein.
Of course, though orzo may look like rice, it’s actually a type of pasta, and as with any pasta, it’s best to look for whole-grain varieties and eat it in moderation.
But if you’re looking for something filling yet relatively light, these orzo dishes are sure to deliver.
Easy Orzo Pasta Recipes and Ideas
1. Roasted Eggplant & Tomato Orzo Pasta
Eggplant is known to be pretty mild, but since it’s full of has antioxidants like vitamins A and C, it’s worth adding to your diet.
Plus, it’s super absorbent, so when you toss it in a dressing made using olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt & black pepper, and red pepper flakes, it will soak up all that flavor in a snap.
I love the deep color of eggplant, which plays really well against the light color of the pasta and feta. And the tomatoes provide lovely pops of juicy acidity.
2. Greek Orzo Stuffed Red Peppers with Lemony Basil Tomatoes
Since orzo looks so much like rice, it’s pretty easy to take any of your favorite rice recipes and make the swap.
In this case, it’s stuffed, roasted peppers with oodles of lemon, tomatoes, and tangy kalamata olives.
3. Easy Parmesan Orzo Pasta
This Parmesan orzo dish is the perfect little side to serve with everything from chicken and fish to tofu.
I like to cook orzo in stock to boost the flavor, but since this will have a generous amount of cheese melted through, it should be fine in salted water.
Just remember that you need real, fresh Parmesan, not that powdered stinky stuff masquerading as cheese!
4. One-Pot Garlic Butter Shrimp and Orzo
One-pot meals are terrific for busy nights when you need something quick and tasty, just without the darn dishes.
Start by tossing the cleaned (and thawed) shrimp in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper.
I strayed from the recipe a little here because I chose to do this in the pot and sear the shrimp first, just for a minute or two to add some color.
Take them out of the pot and continue with the steps, toasting the orzo in garlic butter before adding chicken stock and cooking until tender.
Then, right at the end, add the shrimp for a couple of minutes until they’re warmed all the way through.
5. Mediterranean Orzo Salad
My favorite thing about Mediterranean food has to be the bold colors. One look and you’ll know it’s loaded with fresh ingredients.
But it’s also super flavorful, using all kinds of tasty veggies and additions, like olives, capers, and plenty of lemon.
6. Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo
As much as I love enchiladas, I don’t always have the time to make them. That’s why I love this simple slow cooker recipe!
Just toss diced tomatoes into your Crockpot with enchilada sauce, as many green chiles as you can handle, vegetable broth, corn, and black beans.
Cream cheese gets nestled on the top for that creamy texture, and then it just needs a few hours on high.
Once everything has melted and heated, add the orzo, stir well, and cook for another 15 or so minutes before serving.
If you want added protein, feel free to add in ground beef. You won’t even need to cook it! It will cook right in the pot.
7. Pan-Fried Basil Tomato Orzo
If you’ve never tried sun-dried tomato pesto before, know that it’s almost exactly the same as regular pesto.
Except, of course, it’s loaded with chewy sun-dried tomatoes.
Both are made using buttery pine nuts, basil, garlic, and olive oil, and both are great on everything from pizza to chicken.
In this recipe, you can either make your own or buy something from the store. You’ll add some extra tomatoes and basil before mixing through pesto and orzo.
8. Greek Baked Orzo
If you have leftover chicken or a can of chickpeas sitting lonely in the pantry, you must give this recipe a go.
This one-pot-wonder starts with onions, garlic, red pepper, kale, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
If you’re not a kale lover, go ahead and use spinach. However, I suggest you go for fresh, as the frozen kind usually has too much excess liquid.
9. Fresh Summer Orzo Salad
Pasta salads are fantastic no matter where you serve them. But I think this summer orzo salad would look incredible on your next BBQ table.
Imagine that charred corn and asparagus served with slow-cooked ribs or BBQ chicken.
Or, swap the lemon juice for lime, and serve this on your next Taco Tuesday!
10. Lemon Garlic Orzo with Asparagus
I made this last week and served it with roasted chicken.
The lemon and garlic dressing hit all the right spots, and I made sure to grill the asparagus until it charred.
The next day, I had it with some leftover salmon. Again, it was super delicious!
Currently, I have two steaks in the fridge ready for dinner, and I’ll bet this orzo and asparagus side would be perfect.
I’ll likely add tomatoes and maybe shallots, too.
11. Orange Orzo Salad with Almonds, Feta, and Olives
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of these recipes include lemon dressing.
I think that’s because most are intended to be yummy sides to your main course.
And, as I mentioned above, lemon dressing pairs well with almost everything.
But if you’re not a massive fan of lemon or just want something different, you’ll have to try this orange orzo salad.
The sweetness of the citrus is enhanced by the almonds and raisins but mellowed perfectly by the creamy feta.
12. Italian Orzo Tuna Salad
Other than the use of lemon, you may also notice that most of these orzo recipes are fresh and use dressing rather than creamy sauce.
Many pasta salads rely on mayo and sour cream, and they’re super delicious!
But since the orzo is so tiny, I think it works better with vinaigrettes and dressings.
What do you think? Would you rather this tuna dish had a creamy, mayo-filled dressing?
Trust me, the zesty mustard and olive oil blend keeps things incredibly moist and, better still, super light.
13. Three-Cheese Orzo Pasta
Orzo is often confused with arborio rice, the stuff you use to make risotto. And the truth is, the two are pretty similar.
For starters, both are best when you toast them in the pan with butter, then cook in stock so the grains can soak up as much flavor as possible.
Toasting the orzo helps to bring out a lovely, subtle nutty taste. Though not essential, I think you’ll definitely taste the difference.
14. Mediterranean Orzo Recipe with Zucchini and Chickpeas
Chickpeas are often used in vegan cooking to provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Not to mention, they’re super filling and versatile.
Combine that with protein-rich orzo, and you’ll have one tasty, healthy, and easy vegan dinner.
Of course, you could serve this as a side with the protein of your choice, too.
And if you need it gluten-free, there are plenty of gluten-free orzo boxes in the store.
15. Orzo Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Spinach, and Feta
I have a serious obsession with roasted red peppers, and I always make sure to stock up when I think I’m running low.
They’re so bright and flavorful and will make any dinner or side better with just one scoop.
For this recipe, you’ll also include spinach, basil, and green onions with a tangy dressing.
To serve, crumble some feta over the top and add pine nuts for crunch.
16. Kale, White Bean, and Orzo Soup
Soup comes in plenty of varieties, but it’s best to add pasta or rice to the mix when you want it to be a complete meal.
Otherwise, you’ll be hungry in an hour!
In this case, orzo mixes with buttery white beans and kale, as well as lots of vegetable stock. It’s vegan, healthy, and ready in just 30 minutes.
17. Lemony Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumber and Feta
Cucumber is jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. In addition, it’s low in calories, aids in digestion, and promotes better hydration.
When they’re in season, I like to buy a whole bunch and use them in everything. After all, they’re great with salad, sliced and pickled, or just as a cool snack.
In this orzo dish, try to dice the cucumber pretty small, that way, it doesn’t overpower the other ingredients.
18. Warm Orzo Salad with Beets & Greens
I know that beets can be a hard sell, and I get it. They have a very distinct earthy taste that some people just can’t get past.
But when you cook them properly and add the right, complimentary ingredients to the mix, they’re so scrumptious.
And let’s be honest, you can’t beet that color!
19. Cabbage Soup With Orzo Pasta
Cabbage soup is the perfect dish to make when you need to feed a crowd on a budget. After all, cabbage doesn’t cost a lot, but it goes pretty far.
Add to that its mild taste and slightly crunchy texture, and you could say it was made to be in a soup.
You’ll cook the cabbage with onions, corn, crushed tomatoes, green beans, vegetable broth, and lemon juice, then add the orzo right at the end.
20. Pumpkin Orzo
Do you hoard pumpkin puree, too, or do you have self-control? I just can’t help myself, especially over the holidays, when it’s always on sale.
Two for one? I’ll take ten for five, please!
But there are only so many pies you can make, right?
So, how about getting out of your comfort zone and trying this gorgeous and unique pumpkin orzo pasta dish?
Add coconut milk right at the end if you want this creamy (and cut back on the stock).
21. Pesto Orzo Salad With Roasted Vegetables & Chickpeas
Look at how vibrant this orzo salad is! It’s so full of fresh roasted veggies, you’ll want to dive in for seconds before you finish your first plate.
Feel free to use whatever veggies you prefer or have on hand, but try to make them colorful if possible.
Summer squash will be way brighter than zucchini, and you can never go wrong with bell peppers.
22. Orzo with Mushrooms, Scallions, and Parmesan
Remember when I said that orzo is often confused with rice, especially arborio and risotto? Well, this dish is proof.
Like risotto, you’ll start by toasting the orzo in a deep-sided frying pan, and then adding the stock (chicken or veggie).
The orzo will cook on a gentle heat, and though you don’t need to babysit it like you do risotto, you might need to add a little more stock if it soaks up all the liquid.
23. Vegan Lemon Chickpea Orzo
This soup needs just a dozen ingredients, starting with the holy trinity of soup: onion, carrots, and celery.
Next comes the garlic and thyme, followed by either chicken or vegetable stock.
Keep it vegan with veggie stock or go ahead and toss in a chicken breast or two.
If you add chicken, you’ll need to cook this for around 15 minutes before adding the rosemary, orzo, and chickpeas.
24. Creamy Tomato Orzo Soup
Tomato soup is easier to make at home than you think. Plus, you can adjust the taste to your liking when you make it yourself.
I don’t like it overly acidic, so I usually add sugar to mine. I also roast all the veggies before they hit the pot.
Forget the canned tomatoes.
Instead, get some big juicy Romas from the store and cut them into wedges.
Then, add them to a tray with onion and garlic and roast until everything is blistered and charred.
You can also add carrot and red peppers to bulk it out further.
25. Baked Orzo Stuffed Tomatoes
I think I prefer stuffed tomatoes to stuffed peppers. I’m not even sure why, but I think it’s about the juicy taste you get from thick, round tomatoes.
It keeps everything super moist.
Make sure to get big enough tomatoes that you can fit the orzo inside. Beefsteak tomatoes are ideal for this.
I like to add enough orzo to fill halfway, then put a thin slice of mozzarella in the middle. Then, fill the rest up and add more cheese to the top.
26. Pressure Cooker Lentil Orzo Soup
If you don’t have a pressure cooker (or Instant Pot), I really can’t recommend them enough.
There’s crazy versatile and will make weeknight dinners so much easier.
I’ve already got a whole list of recipes you can make, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Take this lentil soup, for example. Using the pressure cooker mode, you can cook it in about a third of the time.
And since you can sautée right in the pot, you don’t need to worry about extra dishes.
27. Simple Orzo Pilaf
Pilaf refers to a simple rice dish that you’ll often see in Indian and Asian cooking. The rice gets cooked in stock and spices, making it incredibly flavorful.
It also usually includes meat and vegetables, so this isn’t technically pilaf. Still, it’s a lovely orzo side dish and needs only six ingredients.
28. Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Can you resist rotisserie chicken fresh out of the oven? I know I can’t, which is why I usually end up with two.
But that just means I have plenty of leftovers for yummy recipes like this.
Start by par-boiling the orzo, that way, you don’t need to worry about it becoming mushy later on.
Drain and rinse it with cold water to stop it from cooking any further.
Next, make the soup with veggies, herbs, and stock.
Finally, you’ll add the orzo, lemon juice, zest, and chopped, cooked chicken right at the end, cooking it until everything is hot.
29. Easy Orzo Cacio e Pepe
Cacio e pepe quite literally translates to “cheese and pepper,” so it won’t come as a surprise to hear that you need freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.
They’re the stars of this dish, so please don’t use cheap cheese or table pepper!
The good news is that once the orzo is cooked, all you’ll need to do is drain it and then mix with grated cheese, butter, black pepper, and a little bit of the pasta water. How easy is that?
30. Creamy Corn and Basil Orzotto
This corn orzotto (orzo-risotto) is so bright and fresh, you won’t want to share.
It’s almost like a cross between sweet corn chowder and fresh orzo pasta salad. You’ll need shallots, white wine, orzo, and, of course, plenty of corn.
Add the broth in ladles, like you would when making risotto. Once everything is absorbed, you’ll stir in cheese, basil, and butter.
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