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Lemon Orzo Spinach Salad

Bright, fresh, zesty Lemon Orzo Salad is the perfect dish to kick off the much anticipated Spring season!

Think chewy orzo pasta tossed with spinach and cherry tomatoes in a zesty, garlicky lemon dressing, sprinkled with as much parmesan as your heart can handle. My personal philosophy on parmesan is this: the more the better!

As the weather gets warmer, I’ll be eating this Lemon Orzo Salad for lunch, dinner and everything in between! JOIN ME!!!

Close up of orzo pasta tossed with spinach and cherry tomatoes, garnish with sliced lemons

There is something seriously simple yet satisfying about this Orzo Lemon Salad dish.

Perhaps it’s the zesty, tangy flavors that keeps you wanting more.

Others love it because it’s light and fresh….and who doesn’t want something light and fresh dishes during hot and humid summer months?

That gorgeous combination of lemon, garlic, parmesan with that chewy orzo pasta and veggies is unmatched, and also leaves me wanting more and more.

It’s the perfect side dish for picnics, cookouts, bbq’s or dinner on a Spring and summer weeknight. At the same time, it can also be served by itself as a light meal.

Another yummy option is to add some grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon to it to pack on the protein.

Last, but definitely not the least. It’s super easy to make! Ready in 20 minutes and perfect in every way.

Who is ready to take on this Lemony Orzo Salad business with me??

A bowl of Lemon Orzo Spinach Cherry Tomato Salad

Orzo Salad with Spinach Tomatoes and Lemons

I’m always looking for light and flavorful dishes for the Spring and Summer, and that is how this Lemon Orzo Salad recipe is birthed.


The ingredients list for this orzo pasta salad may be short, but don’t underestimate its yumminess:

  • Orzo pasta – this is a rice-shape pasta. You should be able to find them in the pasta aisle at most regular grocery store.
  • Cherry tomatoes – you can also use grape tomatoes, or even dice up regular large tomatoes. I do think cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes pack a lot more flavor!
  • Spinach – use fresh spinach. Avoid substituting with the frozen kind!
  • Lemon juice – highly recommend squeezing from fresh lemons. This Lemon & Lime squeezer makes squeezing lemon (or lime) juice so much easier!
  • Garlic cloves – avoid substituting with garlic powder.
  • Parmesan cheese – always buy a block and shred it yourself for the best taste. The ready-grated ones are simply not as good and will not bring as much flavors to this dish as the fresh ones!
  • Salt to taste – salt is use to open up the flavors! If Lemon Orzo Pasta is slightly lacking in flavor, feel free to add an extra pinch or two of salt.

You might find that I keep saying avoid substituting with garlic powder, grated parmesan cheese etc for this recipe.

This is because Lemon Orzo Salad is made with minimal ingredients, and to achieve the best flavor, fresh and good quality ingredients will make a difference in this dish!

How to make it

Start by boiling the orzo pasta using package instruction.

When pasta is boiling, juice lemons and bring lemon juice, minced garlic and a pinch of salt to a bowl or measuring cup. Stir well.

Lemon juice and garlic in a measuring cup

When pasta is done, strain water from pasta and then bring it to a big bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl: spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, and lemon juice mixture.

A bowl of pasta with cherry tomatoes and spinach, a bowl of shredded parmesan cheese, and a cup of lemon juice
Adding lemon juice to a bowl of spinach, cherry tomatoes and orzo

Give it a good stir to combine.

Then add parmesan cheese.

A bowl of orzo salad with grated parmesan cheese on top

If you are as big of a parmesan fan as I am, feel free to serve and then add more parmesan.

In fact, I sometimes eat this with a little thing of parmesan on the side and just keep adding parm to every bite.

Yes I love parmesan deeply with my whole dang heart. 🤍

And here’s the thing: this Lemony Orzo Salad can be served cold, room temperature, warm, etc.

It also keeps very well as leftovers! I like to make it ahead of time and grab them for lunch during the summers.

And yes, I totally add more parm to it when I eat the leftovers! 😉

And remember, buy parmesan in blocks! Not the grated, non-refrigerated kind. And be prepared to fall in love with it and then subsequently add to everything.

Tips and Tricks

A few quick tricks and you are so set to make this lemony pasta dream!

  • Once orzo pasta is drained, toss it in dressing and veggies immediately. If you are not able to do that, add a few drops of olive oil and stir pasta if it will be set aside for a while so that orzo don’t get stuck together. Avoid draining the pasta in cold water because that will remove starch from pasta and makes it harder for sauces and flavors to stay on pasta.
  • Once tossed together spinach will shrink in size.
  • Salt and parmesan will open up the flavors of the dish. Before serving, taste salad, and add some salt or parmesan to bring out the flavors if needed.
A bowl of lemony orzo pasta topped with parmesan and lemon slices
Lemon Orzo Salad with more parmesan on top!

Lemony chewy pasta with parm is my warm-weather diet. This recipe reminds me of this Lemon Garlic Parmesan Pasta and I feasted on that dish for months last summer.

I hope you enjoy this simple and quick Spring and Summer dish! 💛

More more more!

A few of my other favorites that are fresh, light and perfect for Spring and Summer!

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

A bowl of orzo tossed with spinach, tomatoes, with lemon wedges on top

Lemon Orzo Salad

A bright, fresh and healthy side dish or light main dish! Chewy orzo pasta combined with spinach and cherry tomatoes, tossed in a simple zesty garlicky lemon juice dressing, topped with parmesan cheese.
4.82 from 16 votes
Print Pin
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 328kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 6 oz orzo pasta
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • a few dashes salt


  • Boil orzo pasta in water according to package instruction. Drain water when done and remove from heat.
  • While orzo is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients – half cherry tomatoes, squeeze lemon juice from lemon, shred parmesan cheese etc.
  • In a small bowl, combine lemon juice with garlic and salt. Stir.
  • Bring drained orzo to a large bowl, then add cherry tomatoes, spinach, and lemon juice mixture. Stir to combined. Then add parmesan cheese. Continue to stir to combine.
  • Serve with more parmesan cheese if desired. Enjoy!


Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 618mg | Potassium: 364mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1362IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 474mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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4.82 from 16 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This is so yummy! I’m a big fan of lemon with orzo. So easy to make. I did end up adding olive oil. Really good warm. Waiting to see how it is cold but sure it won’t disappoint! Very versatile recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      So glad to hear, Tanya! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    This was delicious, easy and perfect. The only addition was fresh sweet basil. Loved it!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Basil sounds amazing in this!! Thanks for sharing!