How to Cook Orzo Perfectly Every Time

Consider this everything you need to know about the versatile, rice-shaped pasta. Plus, six scrumptious recipes to try.

Turkey orzo vegetables soup
Photo: Nata Vkusidey/Getty Images

At first glance, you might think orzo is a variety of rice, but it's actually a type of pasta typically made with semolina flour. Shaped like a grain of rice or barley (orzo translates to "barley" in Italian), it's a versatile ingredient that's worth keeping stocked in your pantry.

While it resembles rice, keep in mind that orzo is not gluten-free. Orzo is perfect for adding heft to soups, throwing together a quick pasta salad to serve alongside meat or fish, or riffing on risotto for an easy weeknight meal. Keep reading to learn how to cook orzo, and don't forget to discover several delicious orzo recipes to try!

What You'll Need


  • Orzo
  • Salt


How to Cook Orzo

If you know how to cook spaghetti, you know how to cook orzo. Like any pasta shape, orzo is a quick-cooking grain that'll help you get dinner on the table in no time. Follow the steps below and you'll have some orzo that can complete a meal within minutes.

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

  2. Add 1 cup of dried orzo to the boiling water. This will yield 4 servings of ½ cup each.

  3. Boil the orzo for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it has your preferred texture.

  4. Drain the orzo in a colander. Add cooked orzo to soups, pasta salads, and more.

Orzo Recipes

Now that you know how to cook orzo, use it in one of the easy orzo recipes below!

Orzo Tomato Salad

Orzo Tomato Salad Recipe
Jennifer Causey

Dressed up with Parmesan, cherry tomatoes, and a punchy vinaigrette, this orzo salad is worthy of center stage at your next picnic or barbecue. Pricey pine nuts are optional but delightful, especially when toasted until fragrant.

Lemony Fish with Orzotto

Lemony Fish and Orzotto
Antonis Achilleos

This is one of our favorite easy Easter dinner ideas. Sear fish fillets in a pan and serve them on a bed of orzotto, or orzo "risotto," for a light, comforting dinner. Scallions, peas, and lemon zest add brightness.

Orzo-Cucumber Salad

Orzo-Cucumber Salad
Raymond Hom

Best eaten chilled or at room temperature, this refreshing orzo salad makes for a fantastic summer meal. Cucumbers and herbs get folded into the salad, along with feta for a salty, creamy element.

Kale and White Bean Soup

Kale and White Bean Soup
Hans Gissinger

White beans and orzo make this healthy soup a complete meal. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the goodness.

Squash, Mushroom, and Kale Soup With Dill

Squash, Mushroom, and Kale Soup with Dill
Christopher Testani

This vegetarian-friendly soup is packed with hearty, colorful vegetables. Add the orzo directly to the broth to cook it through and complete the dish.

Chicken Piccata With Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts

Chicken Piccata With Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts
Greg DuPree

With tender orzo, a luscious, buttery sauce, and plenty of vegetables, this chicken dish is nourishing and perfect for a chilly night.

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