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!
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.
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!
- Chicken Breasts
- Orzo Pasta
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Spinach, optional.
How To Make Cheesy Chicken Orzo
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir in the cheese, butter, and milk until completely incorporated. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly.
- Stir in the cooked chicken pieces. If using spinach, stir that in, too.
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.
More Orzo Recipes
- One Pot Chicken and Orzo with Spinach and Tomatoes
- Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe with Orzo
- Orzo with Frittata with Spinach and Feta
Tools Used in this Recipe
Cheesy Chicken Orzo
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
This recipe was originally published on March 15, 2013. Post and Photos updated on October 9, 2020.