Our 23 Favorite Orzo Recipes for Speedy, Satisfying Dinners

We've got salad, soups, stews, and so much more.

April 29, 2021
Photo by Ty Mecham

Orzo is pasta pretending to be rice, and nobody is upset about it. It’s a perfect shape for "grain" salads that won’t glop or go stiff after a few hours in the sun. The spoonable shape makes it a natural addition to warm soups and stews too, and it takes on the flavor of meaty entrees like a champ. In the spirit of orzo appreciation, here are 23 wonderful ways to use it.


1. Grilled Zucchini Orzo

Don’t have a grill or grill pan? Roast or broil the vegetables here instead, especially the garlic. I’ve written a love letter to this recipe before, specifically the contrast created by the orzo-to-zucchini ratio and the wildcard ingredient of sesame oil.

2. Antipasto Orzo Pasta Salad

Besides the orzo and caramelized onions (worth it), most of the ingredients for this more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dish come in jars.

3. Orzo Salad With Scallions, Hazelnuts & Golden Raisins

A made-ahead masterpiece that yields a quart container’s worth of orzo salad for potlucks, picnics, and a work lunch you can enjoy between back-to-back meetings.

4. Lemon-Dill Orzo Pasta Salad With Cucumbers, Olives & Feta

This big-on-zing recipe serves a crowd, or a week’s worth of side dishes to be enjoyed with roasted salmon, seared tofu, and any other simple main.

5. Warm Orzo Salad with Beets & Greens

A friendly reminder to never toss the greens of your farmer’s market beets!

6. Favorite Fall Orzo Salad

I didn’t realize how much I appreciated those pre-cut cubes of butternut squash until I moved to a country that did not have them. So I beseech you, take advantage of them—this orzo salad with blue cheese and pepitas is a perfect way to do that.

7. Stuffed Peppers With Lamb, Orzo & Halloumi

Not technically a salad, but if you think of the peppers as a salad ingredient, then why not? A dinner party natural, the filling of this dish can be largely made ahead.

8. Tomato, Orzo & Chickpea Salad

This recipe calls for the tomatoes to marinate for three hours, but if you’d like to cut back active time, make it all in one go and let it sit until you’re ready to dig in (three hours later—it’s worth it!).

Soups & Stews

9. Desperation Minestrone Soup

Have a bunch of sad-looking vegetables in your fridge? Make Desperation Minestrone and add orzo to make it more filling.

10. Cold-Weather Soupe au Pistou

Like minestrone, but French—with French pesto!

11. Chicken Orzo Soup

Brussels Sprouts for Breakfast gave us that fantastic Grilled Zucchini Orzo recipe above, so you know you can trust her for all things orzo.

12. Avgolemono (Greek Lemon Soup)

Greek for "eggs and lemon," the soup's creamy texture does not come from cream, but from slowly tempering its titular ingredients. This might sound scary but it absolutely isn't; if you can whisk, you can temper.

13. Cabbage, Sausage & Orzo Soup With Parmesan

A huggable, stick-to-your-rib winter soup that comes together in about 30 minutes and freezes well for months.

14. Chickpea, Pumpkin & Sage Stew

A one-pan, two-step recipe that proves how nice it is to throw a handful of orzo into a soup and watch it play nicely with the other ingredients. You can swap out the canned pumpkin for tomatoes for something more summery, adding basil (instead of sage) at the very end.

15. Succotash Minestrone With Mustard Greens & Miso Pesto

Pro tip: Toast your orzo before adding it to your soup, like thirschfeld does in this recipe.


16. Chicken Thighs With Tomato, Orzo, Olives & Feta

If you got the impression orzo was just for soups and salads, this is one dinner that will disprove that notion. That wonderful tip to toast orzo before cooking shows up here too, so it may just be worth toasting an entire package’s worth in one go and saving yourself the step in future recipes.

17. Slow-Cooker White Wine Chicken With Orzo From Eleni Vonissakou

Orzo gets the Crock-Pot treatment in this Greek-inspired dish. The good news about using nicer white wine here is that you get to drink the rest!

18. One-Skillet Pasta With Tomatoes, White Beans & Marinated Mozzarella

This is orzo in lasagna’s clothing (and way less time consuming as a result).

19. Crispy Chicken With Lemon Orzo From Ina Garten

Don’t feel like chicken? Use tofu, or any other protein you can make crispy, and serve it atop this lemony orzo with bits of feta folded into it.

20. Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomato & Garlic

If you’ve got leftover orzo—or if you’re smart and made a big pot of it at the start of the week to eat alongside various dinners—this is a sweet and simple main to go with it.

21. "Greek" Lamb with Orzo

Winner of our "Your Best Cheap Feast" recipe contest and a fantastic excuse to eat a pound of orzo (not entirely on your own, but no judgment).

22. Chicken Sofrito With Orzo

Orzo takes a trip to Spain in this saffron- and pimentón-spiced dinner.

23. Tender Turkey Meatballs & Orzo With Whole-Lemon Vinaigrette

With or without the meatballs (but choose "with" because it’s got a nifty secret ingredient), this is a hearty orzo with olives, Parmesan, and your choice of greens that stands just as well on its own.

What's your favorite way to eat orzo? Let us know in the comments.

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Former Associate Editor at Food52; still enjoys + talks about food.