This Parmesan Lemon Orzo Pasta is ready in just 25 minutes. This creamy, delicious one-pot recipe is great as a meal or served as a side dish.
This Parmesan Lemon Orzo Pasta is one of my easiest recipes. Not only that, but it’s seriously delicious! I’ve made it a main meal and a side for my breaded chicken cutlets, seared salmon, and garlic butter cod. Each time it was a big hit, even with the kids!JUMP TO RECIPE
Why This Recipe Works
- Garlic gives this simple sauce an extra depth of flavor.
- A mixture of milk & chicken stock offers creaminess without too making the dish too heavy.
- Lemon zest and juice add brightness.
- Parmesan cheese provides richness and an extra layer of flavor.
The best part of this simple dish is that it’s all cooked in one pan for minimum effort. The pasta develops incredible flavor as it absorbs all the goodness of each ingredient as it cooks.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Orzo – I use dried orzo pasta. You can use whole wheat, but the cooking time may be longer.
- Milk – Whole milk works best. You can use low-fat milk, but the color will look less creamy. You can also use all stock and omit the milk altogether.
- Stock – Chicken stock works really well, but if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, it can be replaced with vegetable stock
- Vegetables – I use baby spinach because of its quick-cooking time, but it can be easily replaced with chopped baby asparagus frozen peas, or corn.
- Cheese – Parmesan cheese melts easily into the sauce, but it can be replaced with pecorino Ramano, Asiago, or Grana Padano.
Step By Step Instructions
Preheat a large deep skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter, add the garlic and cook until aromatic (about 30 seconds).
Add the milk, and stir with a whisk to deglaze the pan.
Stir in the chicken stock, salt, pepper, and orzo. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer covered (occasionally stirring) for 8 minutes. Then add the spinach.
Stir in the spinach. If the mixture looks too dry, add more stock or cream to loosen, and allow to cook until the spinach is wilted and the orzo is al-dente.
Remove from heat. Mix in the cheese and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed before serving.
Serve immediately to avoid drying out the sauce.
Erren’s Top Tips & Variations
- The liquid quantities may vary depending on the heat of your stove, so keep an eye on it as it cooks. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add a little more stock or milk. If it seems too wet, let it sit for a bit longer, and the pasta will soak the excess liquid.
- Swap the spinach with baby asparagus, frozen peas, or corn. You can swap it for longer cooking vegetables, but they will need to be added sooner than the spinach.
- Omit the cream and swap it with extra stock for a more savory dish.
- Add some protein – Brown chicken or sausage meat before cooking the garlic for a whole new dish.
Storing Leftovers ❄
I don’t recommend using this recipe as a make-ahead or freezer dish. Freezing will change the consistency of the pasta, and making ahead will dry it out and bloat the pasta.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days, then reheat it on the stove with extra liquid to loosen until just heated.
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Let’s Make Parmesan Lemon Orzo Pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 cups milk or cream
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 oz orzo pasta about 1½ cups
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley chopped
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
- 8 oz fresh baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice about 1 lemon
- Preheat a large deep skillet over medium heat.
- Melt the butter, add the garlic and cook until aromatic (about 30 seconds).
- Add the milk, and stir with a whisk to deglaze the pan.
- Stir in the chicken stock, salt, pepper, and orzo.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer covered (occasionally stirring) for 8 minutes.
- Stir in the spinach and allow to cook until the spinach is wilted and the orzo is al-dente (about 7 more minutes). If it looks too dry, add more stock or milk to loosen.
- Remove from heat. The sauce may be a little thin but will thicken as it cools.
- Mix in the cheese and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt as needed before serving. Serve immediately to avoid drying out the sauce.
Tips + Notes
Erren’s Kitchen is written and produced for informational intentions only. We are not certified nutritionists, and the nutritional information found on this site has not been assessed or authorized by a nutritionist or the FDA. The nutritional information found in our recipes is offered as an estimate and should not be considered a guarantee or fact. The estimated data is provided as a courtesy and calculated through a third-party online nutritional calculator, spoonacular API. Although we do our best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered rough estimates. Many factors, such as brands or products purchased and the nutritional fluctuations that naturally occur in fresh produce, can alter the effectiveness of the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, various online calculators provide different results depending on their particular algorithms and nutrition fact sources. To obtain the most precise nutritional information in a provided recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the exact ingredients you are using when preparing the recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.