Lemon Chicken Orzo

Lemon Chicken Orzo


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Sauté Aromatics:
    • Heat oil and butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the chopped onion for 3-4 minutes until soft.
    • Add minced garlic and Italian seasoning, cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Toast Orzo:
    • Add the uncooked orzo pasta to the pot and toast lightly, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.
  3. Simmer Orzo:
    • Pour in the chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a light boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Add Chicken:
    • Mix in the cooked shredded chicken, stirring until well combined.
  5. Incorporate Cream:
    • Remove the pot from heat and stir in the heavy cream until the sauce is creamy and well incorporated.
  6. Cheesy Spinach Addition:
    • Stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese until melted and smooth.
    • Add the fresh baby spinach to the pot and gently fold it into the orzo mixture until wilted.
  7. Season to Taste:
    • Season the Lemon Chicken Orzo with salt and pepper to taste, adjusting as needed.
  8. Serve:
    • Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs if desired.
    • Serve hot and enjoy!

Nutritional Information:

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: 616 kcal per serving

20 Popular Questions and Answers related to Lemon Chicken Orzo:

  1. Can I use other types of pasta instead of orzo?
    • Yes, you can substitute orzo with other small pasta shapes like penne or farfalle.
  2. Can I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth?
    • Yes, vegetable broth can be used as a substitute for chicken broth to make the dish vegetarian.
  3. Can I use leftover cooked chicken?
    • Absolutely! Leftover cooked chicken works perfectly in this recipe. Just shred it before adding it to the orzo.
  4. How can I make this dish gluten-free?
    • Use gluten-free orzo pasta and ensure all other ingredients are gluten-free, including the chicken broth and seasoning.
  5. Can I omit the heavy cream?
    • Yes, you can omit the heavy cream for a lighter version of the dish. Simply adjust the consistency with a little extra chicken broth if needed.
  6. How do I store leftovers?
    • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  7. Can I freeze Lemon Chicken Orzo?
    • It’s not recommended to freeze this dish as the cream sauce may separate upon thawing.
  8. Can I use frozen spinach instead of fresh?
    • Yes, you can use frozen spinach, but make sure to thaw and drain it well before adding it to the orzo.
  9. Is this dish suitable for meal prep?
    • Yes, Lemon Chicken Orzo is great for meal prep. Simply divide it into individual portions and store them in containers for easy grab-and-go lunches or dinners.
  10. Can I add other vegetables to the dish?
    • Absolutely! Feel free to add other vegetables like cherry tomatoes, diced bell peppers, or artichoke hearts for extra flavor and nutrition.
  11. Is this dish suitable for a crowd?
    • Yes, you can easily double or triple the recipe to feed a larger group.
  12. Can I use grated cheese instead of shredded Parmesan?
    • Yes, grated Parmesan cheese works just as well in this recipe.
  13. Can I make this dish dairy-free?
    • Yes, you can omit the Parmesan cheese and heavy cream for a dairy-free version. Consider using a dairy-free alternative for a creamy texture.
  14. Can I add lemon zest for extra flavor?
    • Yes, lemon zest can be added to the dish for an extra burst of lemon flavor.
  15. How do I prevent the orzo from sticking together?
    • Stir the orzo occasionally while simmering to prevent it from sticking together and to ensure even cooking.
  16. Can I use boneless chicken thighs instead of chicken breast?
    • Yes, boneless chicken thighs can be used instead of chicken breast for a juicier texture.
  17. Can I add wine to the sauce?
    • Yes, you can add white wine to deglaze the pan before adding the chicken broth for additional flavor.
  18. Can I make this dish spicy?
    • Yes, you can add red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños for a spicy kick.
  19. What can I serve with Lemon Chicken Orzo?
    • This dish pairs well with a side salad, garlic bread, or roasted vegetables.
  20. Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh?
    • Yes, you can use dried Italian seasoning instead of fresh thyme. Use about half the amount of dried herbs compared to fresh.

Certainly! Achieving the perfect Lemon Chicken Orzo involves attention to detail and some key techniques. Here are some secrets to help you:

  1. Quality Ingredients: Start with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Use fresh garlic, onions, and herbs for maximum flavor. Freshly squeezed lemon juice also enhances the dish’s brightness.
  2. Properly Cooked Orzo: Cook the orzo just until al dente. Overcooked orzo can become mushy and lose its texture. Follow package instructions and taste-test to ensure it’s cooked perfectly.
  3. Balanced Flavors: Achieve a balance of flavors by adjusting the amount of lemon juice, salt, and pepper to your taste. The lemon should be bright and zesty without overpowering the other ingredients.
  4. Creamy Texture: Achieve a creamy texture in the sauce by adding the heavy cream gradually and stirring constantly. This helps prevent curdling and ensures a smooth, velvety sauce.
  5. Consistent Seasoning: Season each component of the dish – the chicken, orzo, and sauce – with salt and pepper to ensure even flavor throughout.
  6. Properly Cooked Chicken: Cook the chicken until it’s fully cooked through but still tender and juicy. Overcooked chicken can become dry and tough. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  7. Sautéed Aromatics: Sauté the onions and garlic until they’re soft and fragrant. This creates a flavorful base for the dish and enhances the overall taste.
  8. Deglaze the Pan: Deglazing the pan with chicken broth after sautéing the aromatics helps loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, adding depth of flavor to the sauce.
  9. Fresh Spinach: Add fresh baby spinach at the end and gently fold it into the orzo until it’s just wilted. This adds color, texture, and freshness to the dish.
  10. Grated Parmesan: Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese for the best flavor and texture. It melts smoothly into the sauce, adding richness and depth.
  11. Resting Time: Let the dish sit for a few minutes after adding the Parmesan cheese and spinach. This allows the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken slightly.
  12. Garnish Wisely: Garnish the Lemon Chicken Orzo with additional lemon zest, chopped fresh herbs like parsley or basil, and a sprinkle of extra Parmesan cheese for an added burst of flavor and visual appeal.

By following these secrets, you’ll be able to achieve a perfectly balanced, flavorful Lemon Chicken Orzo that’s sure to impress!