This Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo is a quick and easy one-pot side dish that goes well with just about anything. It’s made with orzo pasta, fresh spinach, garlic, and Parmesan cheese and finished with a little splash of cream.
What is Orzo?
While orzo may be shaped to look like rice, it is actually a form of short-cut pasta that is traditionally made from white flour or semolina. You’ll often find it in soups, casseroles, salads or in side dishes like this Parmesan Garlic Orzo.
Orzo noodles are also confused as rice because it is cooked almost identically. Just like with rice, orzo can be added to soups to cook or simmered and fluffed… you can even make risotto with it!
We love enjoying this recipe with anything from a grilled chicken breast or pork tenderloin to a simple Teriyaki Glazed Salmon. Yum! If you're looking for more orzo recipes, be sure to try our Lemon Orzo or Orzo Soup.
Ingredients in Garlic Parmesan Orzo
- Butter - salted butter works great, but you can substitute unsalted if you want to watch your sodium intake.
- Garlic - freshly minced garlic adds great flavor.
- Chicken Broth - this gives the finished orzo so much more flavor than if you were to cook in water. If you want to make this vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable broth.
- Spinach - for the best flavor, use fresh spinach rather than frozen.
- Parmesan Cheese - freshly grated or shredded works best.
- Salt - we like sea salt.
- Orzo - you can find orzo pasta in the pasta section of most grocery stores.
- Heavy Cream - if you love your Garlic Parmesan Orzo extra creamy, add heavy cream after it has finished cooking. This is completely optional.
- Parsley - fresh chopped parsley adds a great fresh finishing flavor and a burst of color.
How to Make Orzo Garlic Parmesan
- Saute ingredients. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and melt. Once melted, add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is fragrant and lightly golden brown. Add the chicken broth, spinach, Parmesan cheese, salt, and orzo pasta, stir lightly, and cover with a lid.
- Simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook the pasta at a low simmer, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Cook the orzo until the cheese is melted, there is no more liquid and the pasta has cooked to al dente or about 8-9 minutes.
- Let sit. Remove from heat and stir in the cream (if desired), then cover with a lid for 2-3 more minutes. This will allow the pasta to soak up the rest of the liquid.
- Serve. To finish, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley and serve warm. Enjoy!
What Else Can I Add to Garlic Parmesan Orzo?
Orzo recipes are so versatile! This really can be just a starting point for you to add a whole array of different veggies, meats and seasoning. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Cherry tomatoes
- Parmesan Chicken
- Italian sausage
- Red pepper flakes
- Dried oregano
- Lemon zest
- Fresh basil or a dollop of Pesto
Leftover Garlic Parmesan Orzo can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can reheat either in the microwave or in a pot over medium low heat. If you do the stovetop method, it’s a good idea to add a splash of water, cream or broth before you reheat.
Garlic Parmesan Orzo Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter can substitute olive oil
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Garlic minced
- 2 ⅔ cups Chicken Broth
- 2 cups Spinach fresh, chopped into ½" slices
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese grated
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- 16 oz Orzo Pasta
- ¼ cup Heavy Cream optional
- 2 Tablespoons Parsley fresh chopped for garnish
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the butter and melt. Once melted, add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until garlic is fragrant and lightly golden brown. Add the chicken broth, spinach, Parmesan cheese, salt and orzo pasta, stir lightly and cover with a lid.
- Reduce heat to low and cook the pasta at a low simmer, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Cook the orzo until the cheese is melted, there is no more liquid and the pasta has cooked to al dente, or about 8-9 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cream (if desired), then cover with a lid for 2-3 more minutes. This will allow the pasta to soak up the rest of the liquid. To finish, top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley and serve warm. Enjoy!
More Easy Side Dishes
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Rice Pilaf
- Coconut Rice
- Gruyere Scalloped Potatoes
- Spanish Rice
- Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes
- Lemon Herb Rice
- Gruyere Scalloped Potatoes
- More Rice Recipes
- More Potato Recipes
- Veggie Recipes
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This Garlic Parmesan Orzo is a deliciously quick and easy side dish. It's made with orzo pasta, spinach, garlic, and Parmesan cheese and can be ready in just about 20 minutes.