Cheesy Chicken Orzo

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Quick, delicious, and hearty Cheesy Chicken with Orzo is a meal that everyone loves. A simple recipe prepared with perfectly seared chicken and orzo pasta coated in a creamy and cheesy sauce. It’s ready in under 30 minutes and you’ll only need one pan to get it done! 

spooning out cheesy chicken and orzo from a dutch oven

Cheesy Chicken Orzo

This Cheesy Chicken Orzo is truly one of those dinners that the whole family enjoys. It’s a great, quick meal for those busy weeknights, with deliciously seasoned chicken and risotto-like orzo pasta all stirred through a cheesy sauce that you can’t resist. 

What I really like about this recipe is that it’s a complete dinner in just 30 minutes, AND you get your protein, your carbs, even your veggies, if you choose to throw in some spinach. Totally optional, but recommended. 

close up side shot of cheesy chicken orzo in a white pot

What is Orzo

Orzo is a pasta! It looks like rice, but it’s just tiny bland pasta, and it’s mostly used for texture rather than flavor, which is why it’s fun to play with this pasta. You can flavor it any way you like and you won’t mess it up! 

Is Orzo Healthy?

Orzo is a pasta commonly made with white flour, but for a healthier choice, use whole-wheat orzo which is packed with fiber and protein. 

HOWEVER, if you are trying to exercise some type of self-control-low-cal-portion-size-thingamajigger, then you might have to skip this recipe. But, you shouldn’t. You should just go into that kitchen and make it and eat it and love it. This is incredibly tasty, it will make everyone fight for the last bite!

sauteeing chicken pieces in a dutch oven

Ingredients

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Orzo Pasta
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Seasonings
  • Spinach, optional.

How To Make Cheesy Chicken Orzo

  1. We are going to start with cutting up some chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and sautè those pieces in a dutch oven. If you don’t have a dutch oven, use a large skillet. Remove cooked chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  2. Pour water in the same pot and bring to a boil; add the orzo and cook for 9 minutes. Drain and return orzo to the same pot. 
  3. Stir in the cheese, butter, and milk until completely incorporated. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
  4. Stir in the cooked chicken pieces. If using spinach, stir that in, too. 
  5. Serve!

overhead shot of a white dutch oven filled with orzo pasta and chicken

Tips for Making this Chicken and Orzo

  • To make this a one-pot meal, you’ll want to use a dutch oven or something similar to it because you need a pot that will fit enough water to boil the pasta. A 5-quart jumbo cooker is a great alternative.
  • I love adding some veggies to this meal, but if you aren’t up for it, you don’t have to include it. If you want to use something other than baby spinach, I think baby kale or precooked broccoli florets are a perfect addition.
  • When making the sauce, start with 1/2 cup milk, stir and see if it’s as creamy as you prefer it. If not, add more milk, a little bit at a time, until you reach desired consistency. Taste as you go along to make sure that it’s seasoned to your liking. 

How to Store Chicken and Orzo

  • This dish makes great leftovers that my husband likes to take to work the next day. Store your leftovers in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. 

close up shot of spooning out cheesy chicken orzo

More Orzo Recipes

ENJOY!

Tools Used in this Recipe

5 from 10 votes
close up side shot of cheesy chicken orzo in a white pot
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Cheesy Chicken Orzo

11 11 11
WW Freestyle: 8
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
A tasty dish made with chicken, cheddar cheese and orzo.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 486

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, optional
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, optional

Instructions 

  • Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or a 5-quart pan/skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Add chicken pieces to the skillet, season with thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat until done; about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove chicken from the pot and set aside.
  • Add about 3-quarts of water to the pot; set it over high heat and bring to a boil.
  • Stir in the orzo and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, or until orzo is tender.
  • Drain.
  • Put the orzo back in the pot and stir in the cheese, milk, butter, and mustard, if using. Continue to stir until smooth, creamy, and well combined. Add more milk if needed to reach desired creamy consistency.
  • Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
  • Stir in the spinach; stir for a minute, or until wilted.
  • Stir in the chicken.
  • Serve.
Nutrition Facts
Cheesy Chicken Orzo
Amount Per Serving
Calories 486 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 12g60%
Cholesterol 102mg34%
Sodium 366mg15%
Potassium 550mg16%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 2001IU40%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 265mg27%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keywords: chicken dinner, easy pasta dinner, orzo recipe

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This recipe was originally published on March 15, 2013. Post and Photos updated on October 9, 2020. 

48 Responses
  1. Shelley

    Just 30 minutes and only one pan?!? That’s a win, right off the top! I love that it’s not too heavy, with loads of full-fat cream or huge amounts of butter. And even better that it’s great for leftovers, too! Gotta love a family favorite that has a little leftover, just waiting for a yummy lunch the next day! 😉

  2. Margie

    My husband is a foodie and a great cook, I am not. Served this , doubled the cheese , green beans on the side. What a hit…no leftovers.

  3. Dawn

    I made this tonight and my husband loved it! I loved it! It is our new favorite dinner for sure. I made it as written but love how versatile it is. Different cheese some herbs and veggies and whammo! New dinner. Thanks so much for sharing this yummy recipe.

  4. Jennifer

    Thanks. I used a combination of shredded Parmesan and some chopped Gouda. I served sauteed on the side but combined it with the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. This is mighty cheesy and a big hit with my husband.

  5. Barbara

    This turned out well! My kids both ate it up–rich and creamy. They even ate the chicken, which is quite a feat. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Rachel

    I made this last night and it came out really good. It was perfect because I had all ingredients on hand and it was done in 20 minutes. My 15 month old went nuts over it. I thought it was a little bland even after I sauteed the chicken in seasoned salt, so I just added a bit more salt at the end and it came out perfect. Thanks!

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      YAY! I loooove it when my 16-month approves of the food I serve! Yay for Moms! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this dish!! Thank you!

  7. Sandi

    I cup or two of broccoli florets cooked for a minute or two and the end of the orzo time makes this healthy right? Even if you have to make a little more (twice as much?) sauce…right?

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      Hi Sandi!
      Yes, you can most definitely add some broccoli to this – great way to add a bit of “healthy” to it! 😀

  8. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    Sometimes the simple ingredients that are in the fridge make the best meals. This looks scrumptious Kate! And your pics look extra cheesy (no pun)!. The serves 4 but really 2 is very Nigella. And true.

  9. mjskit

    You had me a “Cheesy”! I’ve been craving Mac & Cheese for quite a while, but this looks like a healthier alternative with the satisfaction that I’m looking for. Great recipe!

  10. kirsten@FarmFreshFeasts

    Kate,
    I just got finished ranting in the other direction–a tiny bag of faro from Trader Joes which, when cooked, was waaaay more food than the “serves 3” the nutrition facts label stated.

    This orzo looks simply yummy.

    Thanks!

  11. Ana Helena Campbell

    You made this dish look so comforting, love to hold that bowl in my hands and have every bit of it. Great photos!

  12. Carol | a cup of mascarpone

    With all the rain and grey skies we’re expecting over the next few days, this recipe will make some darn good comfort food…for one!!! ;} Lovely, Kate!!!

  13. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Haha! It used to be serve 4 = serve 2, but my gosh, my kids started to eat a lot and sometimes I have to give up my share! This looks so good – love cheesy dish like this!

  14. Kim - Liv Life

    My son would positively adore this recipe… unfortunately his lactose intolerance wouldn’t. Looks like it will have to be my lunch!

    1. Megan Anderson

      Cabot brand cheese makes lactose free cheeses. It doesn’t say it on the front but if you look on the back it says it contains 0g of lactose!

  15. Laura Dembowski (@piesandplots)

    Looks incredible and really easy to make! It’s always a joke in my house that I assume I will get half the number of cookies a recipe calls for. I’d rather eat a big cookie or no cookie at all!

  16. Valerie

    How did you know I was craving something cheesy? This looks ah-mazing!

    Yeah, what is up with those serving sizes? My deepest moments of shame lie at the bottoms of empty ice cream pints. (4 servings – right. )

  17. Jean (Lemons & Anchovies)

    Love, love that top shot and of course, the bowl of orzo in it. Yeah, this would be a 2-serving kind of recipe for me, too! 🙂

  18. Patty

    Beautiful bowl of orzo-love the idea of a making a meal out of this -your photos are just mouth wateringly delicious looking 😉

  19. Ramona

    Lovely creamy orzo dish. Orzo pasta is a family favorite. It’s hard to photograph (I find)…. but you did it beautifully. 🙂

    1. Katerina Petrovska

      Thanks, sweetheart! I find that adding a few flakes of dried basil, and a sprinkle of peppercorns can make food look just a tad bit better. 🙂

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