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Learn How to Cook Orzo in a pinch for a versatile, quick side dish your family will love! My guide on cooking orzo is a complete reference for everything orzo, and even includes my recipe for cheesy orzo risotto, a delicious side dish you can have on your table in under 30 minutes!
Easy Orzo Pasta
Orzo is one of my favorite side dishes to make for my family, no matter what meal I'm serving. It's an easy side dish that readily takes on the flavor of whatever you serve it with, making it super versatile! I love serving orzo with a creamy sauce recipe alongside pork, chicken, and beef- it goes with everything.
Once you know how to cook orzo, it's easy to make the best orzo recipes right at home. My personal favorite is my cheesy orzo risotto, a recipe that's just like risotto made with rice, using orzo instead! Orzotto is a simple, delicious alternative to traditional risotto.
You can use orzo in everything from soups and salads to one-pot meals (like orzo paella) where all the flavors and spices of the dish cook right into the orzo. This is such a delicious and easy way to get dinner on the table in no time at all!
Orzo Pasta Ingredients
- Chicken flavored bouillon powder or chicken bouillon cubes
- Parmesan cheese
How to Cook Orzo
- Add water to a pot over high heat. Then add chicken bouillon. Once water is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and add orzo pasta.
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and your pasta is fully cooked. Add in butter and stir well.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese and mix to fully incorporate.
- Serve, and enjoy!
Orzo Recipe Tips
- Simply make the recipe and let it sit in the fridge for up to 2 days. Orzo is one of those ingredients where it sits, the better it tastes because it absorbs all of the flavors. This is the perfect method for an orzo pasta salad, which is typically served cold.
- If the recipe needs to be reheated, like my orzo risotto, simply reheat before ready to serve in a casserole dish in the oven at 200°F for 20 minutes.
Orzo Recipes FAQs
Orzo is a type of pasta traditionally made from semolina flour, which comes from durum wheat (generally containing a higher gluten content) and is golden in color. There are many types of orzo available for purchase, including gluten-free and whole-grain!
Rice and orzo look similar, but they are not the same thing. Orzo is a pasta shaped like rice, and when it is cooked it has the same texture as pasta. Orzo is very creamy in texture with a slightly buttery finish while traditional steamed rice will have a slight bite to it from the grainy texture.
Most types of orzo available for purchase are not gluten-free as they contain semolina flour, which contains high levels of gluten. However, there are many brands of gluten-free orzo you can buy instead. These can be found in-store or online. As always, be sure to check each ingredient before using them in a recipe for proper food allergy handling.
Always make sure you follow the correct cooking time for making orzo. Once cooked, orzo will have a softer, chewy texture. To help prevent sticking, add a dash of extra virgin olive oil to the pot of boiling water. Also, be sure to drain your orzo completely.
How Much Orzo Per Person
The serving size for orzo is similar to the amount you would serve for any traditional pasta. With orzo, I typically serve about ¼ cup of dry pasta (2 ounces) per person. Orzo is generally sold in 16 oz. pasta boxes, which is enough for serving 8 people. For a quick reference guide, follow this chart:
|Number of People||Amount of Dry Orzo Pasta Needed|
|1||¼ cup (2 ounces)|
|2||½ cup (4 ounces)|
|3||¾ cup (6 ounces)|
|4||1 cups (8 ounces)|
|5||1¼ cups (10 ounces)|
|6||1½ cups (12 ounces)|
|7||1¾ cups (14 ounces)|
|8||2 cups (16 ounces)|
|9||2¼ cups (18 ounces)|
|10||2½ cups (20 ounces)|
Orzo to Water Ratio
When making orzo, I typically follow a 2-to-1 ratio of water to pasta unless a recipe specifies otherwise. This means if I am cooking 1 cup of dry orzo pasta (enough for 4 people), I would use 2 cups of water. Here is a quick chart to follow as an example:
|Pasta Amount||Water Amount|
|¼ cup||½ cup water|
|½ cup||1 cup water|
|1 cup||2 cups water|
|1¼ cup||2½ cups water|
Here are a few tips I like to follow when cooking with orzo:
- Treat orzo like pasta, not rice. It is better to boil orzo than it is to steam it.
- Follow a 2 to 1 ratio of water to pasta when cooking orzo for best results. Ex. 2 cups of water is enough to cook 1 cup of dry orzo pasta.
- Assume you will need ¼ cup dry orzo pasta per every person at the table; so, 1 cup dry pasta is enough for serving 4 people, whereas the entire 16-ounce box will serve 8.
- Orzo can be enjoyed hot or cold, perfect for everything from comforting soups to fresh salads!
- Orzo is a great side dish to make ahead. The longer the orzo sits, the more flavors it absorbs.
Orzo Cooking Time
Orzo takes under 30 minutes to cook when using the proper water to pasta ratio (2 cups of water to 1 cup of orzo), which makes it a great choice for preparing ahead of time.
You can choose to either make the entire dish and let it sit before serving, or make only the orzo ahead of time and assemble the recipe the day of.
What to serve with Orzo Pasta
If I am making orzo on its own, I simply cook the orzo, toss in a little butter (usually a tablespoon), and season it with salt and pepper. This becomes a creamy, silky, and delicious side dish for so many different main courses! Here are a few meals I like to serve my orzo recipes with:
- Any type of grilled or pan-seared fish (especially swordfish, redfish, or salmon!)
- Pan Seared Pork Chops with dijon mustard sauce
- Sautéed vegetable hash
- Juicy New York strip steaks
- BBQ shrimp, pineapple, and kebabs
How to Store Orzo
Uncooked orzo pasta should always be stored in an airtight sealed container and in a cool, dry area of the kitchen. Always keep in mind the expiration date of uncooked pasta before using it in a recipe.
- Cooked orzo pasta is best for up to 5 days when covered and left in the refrigerator.
- If you want to freeze orzo after it has been cooked, it is best for up to 2 months. As always, make sure to label and date the outside of the container or freezer bag.
- To reheat the frozen orzo, let it thaw in the fridge overnight. For best results, gently reheat the orzo over low heat on the stove, stirring frequently. You can also reheat orzo in the microwave by placing the orzo in a microwave safe container and reheat using 10-15 second intervals until desired temperature is reached, stirring between each interval.
Easy Side Dishes
Try more of the best side dishes:
Try this side dish for the holidays, along with my other Best Side Dishes for Thanksgiving!
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Amazing Orzo Pasta
- 1 Large pot
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 16 ounces orzo pasta
- 6 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons chicken flavored bouillon or 4 chicken bouillon cubes
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese
- Add 6 cups water to a pot over high heat. Then, add 2 Tbsp. chicken bouillon (equal to 4 cubes). Once water is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and add 16 oz. orzo pasta.16 ounces orzo pasta, 2 Tablespoons chicken flavored bouillon or 4 chicken bouillon cubes, 6 cups water
- Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and your pasta is fully cooked. Then, add 6 Tablespoons butter and stir well to incorporate.TIP: When you first add the pasta, let it sit until it becomes soft. Then stir it to give it its creaminess.6 Tablespoons butter
- Stir in 1 cup Parmesan cheese.1 cup Parmesan cheese
- Fully mix through and top with fresh chopped parsley if desired. Serve, and enjoy!
- If you don’t have chicken bouillon, use 4 cups of chicken broth.
- Freshly grated parmesan works best for this recipe.
- This is an excellent dish to make ahead and reheat for when you're ready to serve!