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Creamy Parmesan Orzo

We love Creamy Parmesan Orzo! Something about biting into these soft and chewy orzo pasta, intermingling with that luscious creamy and rich Parmesan sauce, is just pure comfort.

This parmesan orzo recipe takes about 20 minutes to make on the stovetop using simple ingredients. It makes a wonderful side dish to your favorite protein or main dish…or just enjoy it by itself! It is that good!

Using a wooden spoon to scoop up creamy parmesan orzo from a skillet

One-Pot Parmesan Orzo

If this saucy, creamy orzo recipe looks somewhat familiar to you, it’s probably because it is very similar to my Chicken and Orzo recipe, but with a richer and creamier texture because of the half and half and parmesan added.

Similar to Chicken and Orzo, parmesan orzo is a one-pot orzo recipe where orzo is soft and chewy, and cooked al-dente in a flavorful and delicious broth.

Its texture is kinda like risotto, and it makes a comforting and delicious side dish to chicken, fish, steak or pork.

I’ve loved orzo the first time I’ve tried it – something about its gorgeous texture and how it perfectly catches the sauce and flavor in every bite.

I was determined to create a simple yet flavorful orzo pasta dish that is made in one pot for easy cleanup and serving, and one that you can whip together without much hassle…perfect for those busy evenings!

Parmesan and garlic is probably one of my favorite flavor combination (proof: Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta, Garlic Parmesan Asparagus, Garlic Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops, Garlic Parmesan Potatoes…I can go on, but you get the point!), and orzo in creamy garlic parmesan sauce is no exception.

Prepare to go “oh so good!” after every bite!

Scooping into a skillet of creamy parmesan orzo

Ingredients

Here are the ingredients you will need when making creamy parmesan orzo:

  • Salted Butter – butter adds amazing flavors to the overall dish. When using butter to saute orzo, you should do so quickly while being mindful of the cooking temperature – avoid burning butter.
  • Garlic – use fresh garlic! Avoid using garlic powder in this parmesan orzo recipe, it’s just not the same!
  • Orzo pasta – this is a rice shaped pasta. It makes a wonderful side dish or base of a dish very similar way to rice, but with a slightly different taste and texture.
  • Chicken broth – cooking the orzo in chicken broth gives the pasta a rich base and a nice depth of flavor for the end product
  • Half & half – this adds rich and creaminess to the pasta. If you like your parmesan orzo extra creamy, use heavy cream instead.
  • Parmesan – this hard Italian cheese has a wonderful flavor. The higher quality cheese you purchase, the better the dish will be. If you can find Parmigiano Reggiano that’s even better.
  • Salt & pepper – basic yet necessary seasonings to open up the flavors of the parmesan orzo.

How to make it

One of the best things about parmesan orzo is that it is so easy to make you can have it ready under 20 minutes!

Creamy parmesan orzo is cooked in a large heavy bottomed pan (pot or skillet works!) on the stove top – just make sure the pot or skillet is big enough to hold at least 6 cups of liquid!

First, bring pan to stovetop under medium heat, then add butter. Once butter is melted, add minced garlic and cook briefly until fragrant. Avoid burning garlic.

Add orzo pasta and saute for one minute.

Add chicken stock to skillet and bring to a boil.

Cooking dry orzo pasta in a skillet, then adding chicken stock to it

Once orzo comes to a boil, lower heat to low, then cover and let orzo cook for 11 minutes. Avoid opening the lid and taking peaks because we want to make sure orzo cook through!

Once orzo is done, remove lid, and stir. Orzo should have soaked up most of the liquid but it should still be fairly wet and not dry. Add more chicken stock if orzo is very dry.

Stir in half and half and parmesan cheese.

Adding half and half and parmesan cheese to orzo.

Give it a good stir…your parmesan orzo should be thick, creamy and slightly saucy at this point.

Lastly, and purely optional: garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

I highly recommend serving parmesan orzo immediately. When orzo sits for a while, it will absorb the liquids around it and dry up. I find that parmesan orzo taste best when it is slightly saucy and not overly dry…so serve and enjoy immediately!

A top down view of creamy orzo with a wooden spoon in the skillet

Storage and Reheating

Storage: store creamy parmesan orzo in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Reheating: The best way to reheat parmesan orzo is on the stovetop. Add a few teaspoons of water to orzo, and reheat in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat. Add more liquid as needed.

It can be reheated in microwave in a pinch. Add a few splashes of water before reheating and stir halfway through to incorporate water into the orzo. If water is not added, parmesan orzo will come out dry and not creamy.

Frequently Asked Questions

The orzo I cooked is too sticky. What did I do wrong?

The orzo might be overcooked which can cause it to be sticky. Ensure that you cook orzo until it’s al dente, which is about the 11 minute cook time suggested, meaning that it’s cooked through but still firm when bitten.

Can I use whole wheat orzo?

Yes, you can certainly use whole wheat orzo in this recipe. However, please note that it has a stronger flavor and it may require slightly more cooking time than white orzo. It is also higher in fiber, which makes it a healthier option.

What other ingredients can I add to this Parmesan Orzo?

Feel free to add in your favorite vegetables or proteins. Spinach, kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, peas, sausages, or rotisserie chicken/shredded cooked chicken are yummy add-ons!

Can I make Creamy Parmesan Orzo ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare it ahead of time but it really does taste best served fresh. It loses some of its creaminess when reheated. If you’re planning to make it in advance, undercook the orzo slightly. Reheat using the stovetop method above (not microwave) and add a few tablespoons of cream or milk when reheating to bring back the creaminess.

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More Side Dishes You Will Love!

A skillet filled with creamy parmesan orzo topped with parsley

Parmesan Orzo

This delicious 20-minute parmesan orzo recipe makes a great side to your favorite proteins. Orzo is soft and chewy and smothered in a thick, rich and creamy parmesan sauce.
4.50 from 2 votes
Print Pin
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 289kcal
Author: MinShien

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 16 oz orzo pasta
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup half & half
  • ½ cup parmesan grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp parsley chopped, optional

Instructions

  • Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Once melted, add minced garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Add orzo pasta and saute for one minute.
  • Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  • Stir and bring heat to low. Cover skillet and simmer for 11-12 minutes.
  • Remove lid. Orzo should have soaked up most of the liquid but it shouldn't be dry. If it is very dry, add more chicken stock and let it come to a boil. Stir in half and half and parmesan. Stir until they are well incorporated.
  • Optional: garnish with fresh parsley.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 289kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 862mg | Potassium: 180mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 193IU | Vitamin C: 0.5mg | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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4.50 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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