Orzo Rice

4.96 from 22 votes

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This Orzo Rice is the perfect rice side dish for any meal. It whips up just as fast as Rice-A-Roni but this version tastes so much better!

A bowl of orzo rice topped with chopped parsley
Featured with this Recipe
  1. What is Orzo?
  2. Ingredients in Orzo Rice Pilaf
  3. What to Add to Orzo Rice
  4. Orzo Rice Variations
  5. Dishes that Go With This Recipe
  6. Storing the Leftovers
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. More Rice Recipes to Try
  9. How to Make Orzo Rice
  10. Orzo Rice Recipe

This Orzo Rice, also known as rice pilaf with orzo, is the perfect side dish for just about any meal. It complements pretty much everything! Orzo Rice is a savory blend of orzo pasta’s unique, smooth texture and the delicate flavor of rice, and the best part is how effortless it is to make. Whether you’re hosting a big dinner or simply need a quick weeknight meal side dish, this Orzo Rice pilaf will be your go-to.

What is Orzo?

Orzo is a small, rice-shaped pasta that originated in Italy. It has a smooth and firm texture, giving it a nice al dente bite when cooked to perfection. Despite its appearance as a rice grain, orzo is made from durum wheat semolina, making it a type of pasta rather than a grain. The taste of orzo is mild and subtly nutty, similar to regular pasta but with a slightly more delicate flavor. Its unique shape and delightful texture make it a versatile ingredient that complements a wide range of dishes, from soups and salads to main courses.

When combined with rice, orzo brings a unique blend of flavors and textures to the dish. The mild and nutty taste of orzo complements the neutral flavor of rice, creating a delicious, well-balanced combination. The orzo infuses the dish with a slight chewiness and a touch of creaminess, enhancing the overall texture. This pairing is particularly popular in dishes like pilafs (such as this recipe), rice salads, or even soups where the orzo elevates the rice, making it even more enjoyable to savor.

Ingredients in Orzo Rice Pilaf

  • Butter
  • Orzo Pasta – orzo pasta is a little pasta shape that gets toasted and cooked with the rice
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Long-Grain White Rice
  • Black Pepper and Kosher Salt
  • Turmeric – the turmeric is more for color than flavor, you can leave it out if you don’t have it on hand.
  • Chicken Broth or Chicken Stock – you can also use vegetable broth or vegetable stock for a vegetarian side dish.
  • Fresh Parsley for garnish – optional
orzo, turmeric, butter, rice, garlic, onions, and chicken broth

What to Add to Orzo Rice

One of the things I like the best about this orzo rice dish is how incredibly versatile it is. With a few small changes, you can completely transform this dish. I like to add in veggies to the rice as it cooks. Just chop the vegetables up first. My favorite additions have been chopped red pepper, spinach, carrots, and/or peas. I have tried it all the different ways and love them all. Plus, it’s a great way to sneak in a couple of veggies. You can top orzo rice with parmesan cheese or toasted pine nuts for extra flavor!

A pot of orzo rice

Orzo Rice Variations

There are so many different ways to customize this Orzo Rice pilaf depending on what you are serving it with. Here are some more possibilities:

  1. Mediterranean Style: Add diced tomatoes, chopped Kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, and a sprinkle of dried oregano for a refreshing Mediterranean flavor.
  2. Lemon Herb Infusion: Stir in lemon zest, chopped fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, and chives, and a splash of lemon juice to brighten up the pilaf.
  3. Add Some Veggies: Mix in sautéed vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and onions for a colorful and nutritious twist.
  4. Nutty Textures: Incorporate toasted pine nuts or sliced almonds for a delightful crunch and a nutty aroma.
  5. Parmesan Cheese: Add grated Parmesan cheese and a pinch of garlic powder for a cheesy twist.
  6. Mexican Style: Stir in black beans, corn kernels, diced tomatoes with green chilies, and a dash of chili powder for a zesty and hearty pilaf.
  7. Spinach and Feta Fusion: Fold in wilted spinach leaves and crumbled feta cheese for a delicious combination of earthy flavors.
  8. Moroccan Spice: Use ground cumin, coriander, and cinnamon to infuse the pilaf with warm and aromatic Moroccan spices. You can even try adding some golden raisins and diced almonds to enhance the taste and texture.
  9. Pesto Pilaf: Mix in a generous amount of homemade or store-bought basil pesto for a burst of vibrant herbal and garlicky flavors.
  10. Spicy Cajun: Season the pilaf with Cajun seasoning (we like Tony Chachere’s) or spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and thyme for a bold and spicy kick.
a spoonful of orzo rice on a golden spoon

Dishes that Go With This Recipe

My very favorite entree to pair this orzo rice with is fish. On those nights when I just want to keep things simple and easy, I will cook up some seasoned fish with this rice dish and some steamed veggies and dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes. It is also fantastic with chicken, particularly this coconut curry grilled chicken, baked lemon chicken, or this grilled balsamic chicken.

Storing the Leftovers

To store orzo rice, make sure it has cooled down to room temperature after cooking. Transfer any leftovers to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you want to keep it for a longer period, you can freeze it in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag for up to 2-3 months. When ready to use the frozen orzo rice, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. To reheat, you can gently warm it in the microwave or on the stovetop in a non-stick pan with a splash of water or broth to prevent it from drying out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is orzo considered pasta or rice?

In short, Orzo is a type of pasta that is shaped like grains of rice.

Does orzo taste like normal pasta?

Yes, orzo tastes just like spaghetti noodles or any other type of pasta. However, because of the rice-like shape, it may seem to have a different texture than other pastas.

How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Read Next:35+ Quick and Easy To Follow Dinner Ideas Your Family Will Surely Love

More Rice Recipes to Try

How to Make Orzo Rice

A bowl of orzo rice topped with chopped parsley

Orzo Rice

4.96 from 22 votes
This Orzo Rice is the perfect rice side dish for any meal. Whips up just as fast as Rice-A-Roni but tastes so much better!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8




  • Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan/pot. Add orzo and cook until golden brown.
    Toasted orzo in a pot
  • Add onion and saute until onions become clear. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.
    toasted orzo with sauteed onions and garlic
  • Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
    A pot of orzo rice
  • Remove from heat and remove lid. Let stand for a few minutes then fluff with a fork and serve!
    A bowl of orzo rice topped with chopped parsley


  • My very favorite entree to pair this orzo rice with is fish. On those nights when I just want to keep things simple and easy, I will cook up some seasoned fish with this rice dish and some steamed veggies and dinner is ready in less than 30 minutes.
  • It is also fantastic with chicken, particularly this coconut curry grilled chicken, baked lemon chicken, or this grilled balsamic chicken.
  • The turmeric is more for color than flavor, you can leave it out if you don’t have it on hand.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 285kcalCarbohydrates: 48gProtein: 7gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 490mgPotassium: 221mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 185IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 29mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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  1. 4 stars
    I didn’t love making this recipe the first time. My orzo browned very quickly so my advice would be to make sure you have all your other ingredients ready to go before your start with the stovetop.
    I added dried parsley, frozen peas, and diced carrot and it came out tasting like a box of fried rice mix from the store. Oh, and there was an earthy deep flavor that I lightened by squeezing a lemon wedge in before the simmer. I had some sliced for ice tea so it was just a little and did the trick to correct my very browned butter and orzo flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! It was still as fast to make and even more delicious! No more rice-a-roni in this house 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious and so easy! I left out the onions because the hubs detests them…and it still came out great! I made it as is minus the onions and turmeric.

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! Easy! I stuck to the recipe but will add slivered almonds next time as one of your mentioned in one of the other comments. Diced carrots sound good, too.

  5. 5 stars
    Used washed jasmine rice. My whole family loved it. I will definitely be making this over and over again! I think adding toasted almonds on top would be a nice addition.

    1. 5 stars
      I didn’t use the orzo pasta and it was a perfect with a roasted eggplant and potato dish.
      Just needed a little more water otherwise delicious. Thank you 😊

  6. 5 stars
    Found this recipe a couple of years ago. We absolutely love it. I serve it with toasted almond slices and some freshly grated Parmesan. Delicious! I usually use Better than Bouillon chicken base with water instead of chicken broth. Thanks for this awesome recipe that is now a permanent part our dining experience!

    1. Thank you so much for this nice comment and for the 5-stars! We love Better than Bouillon too. That is a great substitution to make 🙂 So glad you liked this recipe!

  7. 5 stars
    The make sure you add the rice and cook in the butter mixture before you add the broth. This way your rice doesn’t stick together.

    I use used Saffron instead of Tumerac.

    And Powdered garlic was added at the same time the rice was.

    1. I haven’t personally tried it with brown rice, but I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t work. Let me know how it turns out!

  8. 5 stars
    a 3 quart sauce pan is “medium” in this case otherwise it will be a little overfull. I agree the garlic should be sautéed with the onions and orzo before adding chicken stock, I didn’t sauté the rice, sticking didn’t seem to be an issue but I believe I will try that next time.
    I have used near east packaged mixed for years while all the ingredients to make this were in my cupboard. Fresher is better!! It was delicious I may “tweek” a few things but will make it again soon.

    1. Thank you for sharing how you made this recipe a success! So glad you liked it! Let us know what tweaks you make and how they turn out!

  9. Lovely, doubled everything except butter. Remember to fry rice in mixture before you add broth. This will keep rice from getting sticky. Skipped turmeric. Added saffron.