Garlic Parmesan Orzo recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings

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This Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta recipe is a one-pot recipe for tender orzo tossed in a light and cheesy cream sauce. It’s simple to make and comes together in a total of 20 minutes!

overhead image of skillet of garlic parmesan orzo pasta with wooden spoon stuck in

Love orzo? Try this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, this Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Orzo recipe, One Pot Lemon Orzo pasta or one of The 10 Best Orzo Recipes!

This Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta recipe is a recipe you don’t want to miss!

Anything that has garlic and parmesan in it is bound to be good, right? Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken Stew, Garlic Parmesan Scalloped Potatoes, Pesto Parmesan Instant Pot Chicken Breast and Potatoes…Yeah. It’s a pretty killer combo.

Add pasta to the mix, especially orzo pasta, and you’ve pretty much reached the epitome of good food. 😉

It’s a decadent side dish or vegetarian entree that’s fancy enough to be served for a dinner party but also quick and easy enough that you can whip it up for a simple weeknight dinner.

Just one pot, a few simple ingredients, 20 minutes, and it’s ready to go!

Reader Review!

“This was so delicious. Easy to make too. This week become a staple in our house.” — Rebecca

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If you love simple pasta recipes, check out this Sun Dried Tomato Pasta and this Creamy Tomato Rigatoni Pasta, too! If you’re an orzo lover, or try this One Pan Tuscan Orzo with Chicken next.

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What is orzo pasta?

Orzo is a small, oval-shaped pasta that resembles grains of rice. It can be cooked either like a pasta (boiled and then drained) or it can be cooked in the same way rice would be cooked (simmered in liquid until it’s fully absorbed.)

This creamy orzo pasta recipe utilizes the second cooking method. The orzo is simmered in broth until the liquid is absorbed, then cream and cheese are incorporated to create a light cream sauce. This method results in a creamy consistency very similar to risotto as the starch from the pasta mixes with the liquid to create a thicker, creamier base for the sauce.

close up image of creamy orzo pasta in skillet with wooden spoon

Garlic Parmesan Orzo Recipe Ingredients

  • Chicken Broth: I usually use low sodium chicken broth. If you use regular chicken broth, you may want to adjust the amount of salt you add so it’s not too salty.
  • Dry Orzo Pasta: you can find orzo pasta at most grocery stores!
  • Garlic: use fresh garlic for the best flavor. Garlic powder just isn’t the same!
  • Salt and Black Pepper: thanks to the broth, garlic, and cheese, you don’t need much when it comes to seasonings. A simple duo of salt and black pepper is all you need!
  • Cream: any kind will work! Use heavy cream for a richer flavor. Light cream will be a bit thinner but will still be delicious.
  • Parmesan Cheese: freshly grated parmesan is the way to go. Pre-shredded cheeses contain an anti-caking agent which can cause a grainy texture.
  • Parsley: I love to use a sprinkle of fresh parsley to add freshness and add a pop of color.

The Best Way to Mince Garlic

My favorite way to make sure I always have fresh garlic on hand is to peel a whole whack of cloves, process them in the food processor just until minced, scoop them into 1 teaspoon balls and flash freeze.

Simply line a baking sheet with parchment paper and freeze the balls of minced garlic until firm (about 1-2 hours) then place in a large zip-top bag for up to 4 months!

Now you’ll have fresh garlic (minus the mincing!) whenever you need it.

ingredients needed for garlic parmesan orzo pasta

How to make this easy Orzo Pasta recipe

This orzo recipe is a quick and easy recipe that’s made in just one pot for super easy cleanup! Scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed instructions.

  1. Cook the pasta: In a skillet, combine broth, pasta, garlic, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Make sure to stir often!
  2. Finish and serve: Mix in cream, parmesan, and parsley then serve and enjoy!

Orzo Pasta FAQs

Is orzo pasta or rice?

While orzo is often mistaken for rice because of its small rice-like shape, it is in fact a pasta!

How is orzo different than pasta?

Orzo is simply a specific shape of pasta, although it differs from other cuts of pasta in the way that it is prepared.

Orzo can be cooked like pasta or it can be toasted in a dry pan before adding liquid to cook it. It can also be cooked using a similar method to risotto.

Can you use another pasta?

Yes! You can use any smaller pasta shape in this recipe and it should yield similar results. You can also substitute the orzo out for Arborio rice to get a similar consistency. Keep in mind the cook time will change, so make sure you cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, adding more liquid if necessary to cook the pasta.

Is orzo pasta healthier than rice?

The term “healthy” is relative these days, and what’s healthy for one person may not work for another. Orzo is a pasta and rice is a grain, so they bring different things to the table.

In a 140 gram serving, orzo has 316 calories and roughly 11 grams of protein.

In a 158 gram serving, long grain white rice has 205 calories but only 4 grams of protein.

How long will cooked orzo keep?

Cooked garlic parmesan orzo pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. To reheat, add a splash of broth or cream to thin and moisten and warm on the stove or in the microwave until fully warmed.

Can orzo recipes be frozen?

Yes! You can freeze this orzo pasta by packing it in an airtight container then storing it in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then warm on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of liquid to moisten.

close up image of garlic parmesan orzo pasta in grey bowl with spoon

Variations on this orzo recipe:

  • Add veggies. You can mix in any cooked veggies you like to give this pasta dinner a boost of nutrition. Try it with peas, tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, you name it.
  • Make it meaty. Fill out the meal by mixing in cooked chicken, sausage, or bacon.
  • Spice it up. If you like your pasta with a kick of heat, try adding in red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
  • Brighten it up. Add another layer of flavor with a splash of lemon juice.

Orzo Pasta Serving suggestions

This garlic parmesan orzo pasta makes a delicious vegetarian entree with a side of roasted vegetables or garlic bread.

It also makes the perfect side dish next to your favorite protein. Serve it with Slow Cooker Chicken Breast, baked tuscan chicken, or Instant Pot Whole Chicken!

More pasta recipes you’ll love

For more pasta inspiration, check out more of my easy pasta recipes. Here are a few of my favorites!

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Garlic Parmesan Orzo Recipe

4.99 from 311 votes
This Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta is a one-pot recipe for tender orzo tossed in a light and cheesy cream sauce. It's simple to make and comes together in a total of 20 minutes!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine American, canadian
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Servings 4 servings
Calories 279cal

Ingredients

  • cups low sodium chicken broth
  • cups dry orzo pasta (about 278 grams)
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • cup cream (any kind — heavy cream will give richer flavor, light cream will be a bit thinner)
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Combine broth, pasta, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium skillet.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring often (you can cover or leave uncovered). Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is cooked to your preference. (If you want to cook the pasta further but the liquid is gone, just add a splash more broth).
  • Stir in cream, Parmesan and parsley. Serve.

Notes

Storage:
Cooked garlic parmesan orzo pasta will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. To reheat, add a splash of broth or cream to thin and moisten and warm on the stove or in the microwave until fully warmed.
You can also freeze this orzo pasta by packing it in an airtight container then storing it in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen then warm on the stove or in the microwave with a splash of liquid to moisten.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 205grams | Calories: 279cal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 279mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 243IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords orzo pasta

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Kat says

    Was super easy, delish, and everyone loved it. Served with a green salad for a meatless meal. The only changes were that I didn’t have cream so I used a little bit of milk (but I honestly think it would have been fine without it), and added some lemon juice as another reader suggested.

  2. Brittany says

    This was a very easy and flavorful dish. I think I would have added a bit of lemon for a balance, but I would definitely make this again.

  3. Katie says

    A great base/starter recipe. Not sure if it would have enough flavor/umph on its own, but (as she recommended) I spiced it up with sausage, rough chopped spinach, and cherry tomatoes. Browned the sausage in a Dutch oven to start then cooked the orzo in the same pot with the drippings. I had to add more broth at the end because the orzo wasn’t anywhere near done when the 2.5 c had absorbed. Overall with those few additions I’ll enjoy these next lunches!

  4. Antony says

    Have you tried doubling the recipe yet? Want to make this but i have a family of 7! Lol. Going to have it as a side

  5. Jan says

    This is one of the best, if not the best, recipe I’ve ever found online. It is rich and savory with perfect texture. Thank you for solving my ongoing orzo dilemma!!

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Deb, if it is cooked you can just stir it in at the end. If it is uncooked I really don’t know because I have not tested it myself. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  6. Alexis says

    This was great! I will absolutely make again. The only addition I made was sautéing a shallot to add in. Thank you for another great recipe!

  7. Wendy Joan Howell says

    I have been on an animal fat free (pretty much cut out all red meat also). And made this but switched out the garlic and chicken broth with broth made with Better than Bullion roasted garlic. Used Whole Foods vegan parmesan and switched out Miyoko’s vegan liquid mozzarella for the cream. It came out soooo good. You can’t tell there isn’t actual cheese or cream in it.

  8. J.R. says

    I made this as a side for my salmon with Lemon Sauce.
    Made as written and added fresh spinach at the end and just let it wilt in with the orzo. Topped with roasted pine nuts. DELICIOUS!!!!!

  9. Emma says

    So good!! I just made this last night as a side for chicken – creamy and delicious! I pan fried more garlic, onion, celery and broccoli florets to add some more veggies that I added at the end – huge hit! We just ate the leftovers for lunch. New fam fave!

  10. Karen says

    So, so good! Simple and delicious. Made as written with coffee cream (18%) and it was rich and creamy. Served with your slow cooker chicken breasts to rave reviews from my company. Thank you for the recipes Ashley. Glad I found your site.

  11. Christine says

    Delicious! I didn’t have chicken broth so I used some white wine & water mixed instead, and skipped the cream. So good!

  12. Martha Gallant says

    Delicious, We made it with chicken and mushrooms added to the recipe! My family really enjoyed it. Thank You for sharing this versatile recipe.

    • Brandy Beatty says

      Susie, I found 10 Substitutes for cream and that is one of them.
      I used melted butter with milk and a little flour. Turned out great.

  13. Ian says

    My word that is such a versatile recipe Ashley. A great side dish or part of a main course. Do you have any hints about adding a more flavour to the recipe without overwhelming it? Have a happy Christmas and a lovely new year!

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Ian! I’ve only tested the recipe as written but you could likely add a protein to the pasta. Also a touch of oregano or basil could be added as well. Let me know how it turns out if you decide to experiment!

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