Orzo Salad

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This orzo salad with juicy pears, crunchy walnuts, and crumbles of bold gorgonzola cheese is packed with different flavors and textures for an easy and delicious light lunch or side. Drizzled with tangy balsamic dressing, the sweet-salty-nutty-zesty combination is seriously gold!

Don’t miss out on my other pasta salads, like this refreshing Apple and Celery Pasta Salad, or make this Spaghetti Salad for a fun twist on a classic. And for your next gathering, the Potluck Pasta Salad is a fave around here, combining a variety of flavors in one fantastic dish.

Overhead view of orzo salad with pears, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese in a bowl garnished with pear slices.


Last year, I brought this flavor-filled orzo salad to a Labor Day party, and it was such a hit! It was perfect for a late summer day, with toasted walnuts, a bit of soft cheese, a little sweet pear, orzo pasta, and a zesty vinaigrette. My friends and family couldn’t get enough of this. It’s like those transitional wardrobes that effortlessly take you from summer to fall—this salad does the same for your dining table!

Fresh enough for summer cookouts yet packed with hearty ingredients that are delicious year-round, this transitional pasta salad has become a staple in our family gatherings and potlucks.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe for Orzo Salad

  • Full of flavor. There are all sorts of yummy flavors and textures going on here. This salad has tender orzo pasta, crunchy nuts, soft, pungent cheese, and ripe, juicy pears. The sweet-salty and soft-crunchy contrast is to die for.
  • Easy to make. Boil the orzo, toast the walnuts, and whisk the dressing, and your salad ingredients are ready to go. Toss everything together and it’s on the table in minutes.
  • Make it your own. Not a fan of funky gorgonzola? Swap it out for your favorite mild cheese. No walnuts in the pantry? Toast pecans instead. You can even change out the orzo in this salad to another small pasta, or use grains instead. You’ll find loads of ways to serve it, too!
Orzo in a bowl and garnished with sliced pears, chopped nuts, and cheese.

What Is Orzo?

I’ll admit, whenever I’ve brought out orzo at gatherings, there’s at least one guest who thinks it’s rice! But, orzo isn’t rice. It’s actually a short-cut pasta that’s shaped a lot like rice. Even when orzo is gluten-free, it’s firmly part of the pasta family.

Orzo pasta is super versatile. I use it in chicken orzo soup, casseroles like my one-pot shrimp with orzo, salads, and more. Heck, I’ll even add it to a frittata. It fits into so many dishes, and it’s even great on its own. If you’ve never tried it, you’re going to love it.

Ingredients for orzo salad with pears, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Ingredients You’ll Need

The best part about this orzo salad is how it packs in so much satisfying flavor with so few ingredients. Check out my notes on what you’ll need below.

  • Orzo – You’ll find orzo next to its other family members in the pasta aisle. It’s short and narrow, shaped like large grains of rice. Another option is couscous, or actual grains, like pearl barley or farro, which would also be great in this recipe.
  • Pears – I like Anjou or Bosc pears in this salad. They’re both firm and good for slicing. Anjou pairs have a sweet citrusy taste, while Bosc pears are spicier. Use your favorite!
  • Walnuts – Toasting the walnuts in a skillet really brings out their flavor. You can also use pecans or almonds.
  • Gorgonzola Cheese – Gorgonzola is a type of tangy Italian blue cheese that gives this orzo salad a full-flavored, pungent kick (see below).
  • Dressing – All you need is good-quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper to make a fresh vinaigrette.

What Does Gorgonzola Cheese Taste Like?

You’ll usually find two kinds of gorgonzola in stores. There’s dolce, which is sweeter and creamy, and piccante, which is the firm, crumbly kind that I use in this recipe. Piccante gorgonzola has a sharper, saltier flavor. If you need to substitute it, I recommend French Roquefort or an English Stilton.

Of course, if blue cheese isn’t your thing, feel free to substitute the gorgonzola in this salad with goat cheese, feta, or shaved parmesan.

How to Make Orzo Salad

With your ingredients gathered, let’s make this orzo salad! You can count the steps on one hand, it’s that easy. Follow along below, and scroll down to the recipe card for printable instructions.

  1. Cook the orzo. First, you’ll boil the orzo al dente, then drain and rinse the cooked pasta under cold water.
  2. Toast the nuts. Meanwhile, toast the walnuts lightly over medium-high heat. Stir often so that they don’t burn. Take the nuts out of the pan as soon as they start to smell fragrant.
  3. Combine. Now, combine your orzo and toasted walnuts in a bowl. Add diced pears and gorgonzola cheese. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle it over the salad.
  4. Serve. Give your orzo salad a gentle toss, and enjoy! See below for tasty serving ideas.
Overhead view of orzo salad with pears, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese in a bowl garnished with pear slices, with a wooden spoon, surrounded by bowls of ingredients.

Tips & Variations

  • Don’t overcook the orzo. Cook the Orzo until it’s al-dente, about 9 minutes. Be careful that you don’t overcook the pasta, as it’ll become mushy. 
  • Rinse the pasta with cold water. Just like making a pasta salad, you’ll want to drain and then rinse the cooked orzo under cold water. One, it stops it from overcooking, and two, you want your pasta cool before you toss it with the other ingredients.
  • Use room-temperature cheese. Take the gorgonzola out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you need to use it. You’ll get the fullest flavor out of cheese that’s at room temperature.
  • Add-ins. Customize this orzo salad with more add-ins like dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, or different fruits. Apples would also be great in place of pears. 
  • More salad ideas. If you love the combination of flavors in this orzo salad recipe, you might also like this orzo salad with feta and pomegranate.

Serving Suggestions

As a side, I serve this orzo salad the same way I’d serve a pasta salad. It’s delicious next to cookout dishes like corn on the cob, turkey burgers, and grilled chicken skewers. It’s also great on its own as a light lunch. Or, turn your orzo salad into a meal by adding protein, like chicken or steak (steak slices taste SO good with the blue cheese!).

In the fall, the sweet and bold flavors in this orzo salad make it the perfect pairing with roast pork tenderloin, with more easy side dishes like garlic steamed broccoli.

A fork in orzo pasta tossed with chunks of pears and chopped nuts.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Leftovers will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge. After that, I found that the pears browned a little. Store this orzo salad in an airtight container. If you find that the orzo has dried out in the fridge, drizzle with olive oil before serving. 

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Orzo Salad Recipe

This orzo salad has juicy pear slices, crunchy walnuts, and bold gorgonzola cheese tossed with tangy balsamic dressing. The combination of flavors and textures is too good!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4


  • cups orzo
  • 1 whole pear,, Anjou or Bosc pears, cored and diced
  • ½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper,, to taste
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  • Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the Orzo and cook for about 9 minutes or until al dente. Drain and wash under cold water.
  • In the meantime, toast the chopped walnuts by tossing them in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the cooled orzo pasta, diced pears, toasted walnuts, and Gorgonzola.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the orzo mixture and toss lightly.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 201mg | Potassium: 277mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 1.9mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 1.2mg

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.

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  1. Jenny @ Savour the Senses says:

    This sounds so great. An awesome seasonal dish!