45 minutes

Creamy Cajun Chicken Orzo

Creamy Cajun chicken orzo is a one-pot meal that packs a ton of flavor. Perfect for a busy weeknight, this simple recipe will make your whole family smile and ask for seconds.

This creamy Cajun orzo is one of my favorite weeknight meals. Chewy orzo pasta is mixed with tender bites of chicken in a creamy sauce spiced with Cajun seasoning. Dotted with red pepper and baby spinach for a pop of color, this meal is as pretty as it is delicious.

This recipe uses my new favorite spice drawer staple – Cajun seasoning. This store-bought blend combines garlic, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, black pepper, onion powder and paprika for a deliciously spicy seasoning that adds so much flavor to this dish. Paired with the creamy texture of the orzo and the rich nuttiness of Parmesan cheese, this one-pot pasta recipe is total comfort food. Serve this with a Caesar salad and sautéed broccoletti for a healthy dinner your whole family will love.

For more delicious pasta options, try this deconstructed skillet lasagna, shrimp rasta pasta, instant pot chicken and noodles, or healthy brown rice ramen stir fry. If you’re loving Cajun recipes, try this Cajun fried rice next!

A wooden spoon with a scoop of cajun chicken orzo, with a pot of orzo blurred in the background.

You Will Love This

  • Creamy chicken orzo cooks all together in one pot, for a simpler cooking process and fewer dishes!
  • Store-bought Cajun seasoning adds a great depth of flavor to this dish without the need to measure out all the individual spices.
  • This healthy Cajun chicken orzo packs tons of veggies and lean protein.

Ingredients

Ingredients for cajun chicken orzo on a marble background.

For this one pot Cajun chicken orzo, you will need the following ingredients (exact measurements in the recipe card below):

  • Olive oil
  • Chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • Spices, including kosher salt and store-bought Cajun seasoning: I used McCormick Gourmet Cajun Seasoning. You will want to add the Cajun seasoning and salt little by little as explained in the instructions below. Some seasoning blends already contain salt, so you may not need any. Some are also spicier than others, so you will want to adjust it to your taste.
  • Onion
  • Bell peppers: I used red bell pepper and yellow bell pepper, but orange or green bell pepper would also taste great. A mix of peppers gives this dish a nice pop of color.
  • Garlic cloves: You could substitute garlic powder.
  • Orzo pasta: Orzo is a type of small pasta shaped like grains of barley or rice. This pasta shape is perfect for one-pot meals, because it cooks so quickly. You can usually find orzo is the pasta aisle of the grocery store. It comes in a small box!
  • Chicken stock: Chicken broth or vegetable broth would also work well in this recipe.
  • Half and half: You could substitute heavy cream for a richer pasta dish.
  • Parmesan cheese: Fresh-grated Parmesan cheese will melt the best.
  • Baby spinach: A few handful of baby spinach makes this pasta oh so pretty.

Instructions

Step One: Prepare the ingredients. Dice the onion. Seed and dice the bell peppers. Mince the garlic. Grate the Parmesan cheese. Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.

Step Two: Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken is opaque on all sides. Stir in one tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

A large grey pot with pieces of chicken breasts cooked in cajun seasoning.

Step Three: Add the diced onion and pepper to the pan. Sauté for a few minutes, until the veggies are crisp-tender. Add the minced garlic and the orzo to the pan, and toast the orzo for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan with the toasted orzo.

A large grey pot with sautéed onion and pepper and toasted orzo.
A large pot with sautéed onion and pepper, toasted orzo and cajun chicken breast pieces on top.

Step Four: Add the chicken stock, and bring it to a low simmer. Reduce to medium heat, and let the orzo simmer uncovered until almost all of the chicken stock is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Stir it frequently so that it does not burn to the bottom of the pan.

A large pot with chicken and peppers in chicken broth.

Step Five: When almost all the chicken stock is absorbed, add the half-and-half. Cook another few minutes, stirring frequently, until almost all the half and half is absorbed and the orzo is cooked al dente. If the orzo is still not cooked enough, and the liquid is fully absorbed, add a little extra water or chicken stock as needed until the orzo is cooked as you like it.

A large pot with cooked orzo, chicken and peppers.

Step Six: Reduce to low heat, and stir in the fresh-grated Parmesan cheese until melted. Add the baby spinach, and stir until it is well incorporated into the creamy orzo. You can turn the heat off at this point – the residual heat of the pasta will finish wilting the spinach.

A large pot with cooked orzo, with a small pile of baby spinach on top, not yet cooked.

Step Seven: Taste the orzo and finish seasoning to taste. Add additional Cajun seasoning if desired (we usually add a couple more teaspoons). Add salt, if needed. Some Cajun seasoning blends already contain salt, so you may not need any. I added 1 teaspoon kosher salt to my orzo.

A pot of cajun chicken orzo on a marble background, with a stack of plates and a wooden spoon to the side.

Garnish with some fresh parsley for a beautiful and delicious meal!

Storage

Store leftover orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat individual portions, adding a small splash of water to the pasta before microwaving to keep it from drying out.

A pot of cajun chicken orzo on a marble background, with a stack of plates and a wooden spoon to the side.

Creamy Cajun Chicken Orzo

Creamy Cajun chicken orzo is a one-pot meal that packs a ton of flavor. Perfect for a busy weeknight, this simple recipe will make your whole family smile and ask for seconds.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 468 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1-2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning to taste
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 bell peppers diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups dried orzo pasta (one pound box)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 4 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prepare the ingredients. Dice the onion. Seed and dice the bell peppers. Mince the garlic. Grate the Parmesan cheese. Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.
  • Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the chicken is opaque on all sides. Stir in one tablespoon of Cajun seasoning, and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the diced onion and pepper to the pan. Sauté for a few minutes, until the veggies are crisp-tender. Add the minced garlic and the orzo to the pan, and toast the orzo for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan with the toasted orzo.
  • Add the chicken stock to the pan, and bring it to a low simmer. Reduce to medium heat, and let the orzo simmer uncovered until almost all of the chicken stock is absorbed (about 10 minutes). Stir it frequently so that it does not burn to the bottom of the pan.
  • When almost all the chicken stock is absorbed, add the half-and-half. Cook another few minutes, stirring frequently, until almost all the half and half is absorbed and the orzo is cooked al dente. If the orzo is still not cooked enough, and the liquid is fully absorbed, add a little extra water or chicken stock as needed until the orzo is cooked as you like it.
  • Reduce to low heat, and stir in the fresh-grated Parmesan cheese until melted. Add the baby spinach, and stir until it is well incorporated into the creamy orzo. You can turn the heat off at this point – the residual heat of the pasta will finish wilting the spinach.
  • Taste the orzo and finish seasoning to taste. Add additional Cajun seasoning if desired (we usually add a couple more teaspoons). Add salt, if needed. Some cajun seasoning blends already contain salt, so you may not need any. I added 1 teaspoon kosher salt to my orzo.
  • Garnish with some fresh parsley and serve!

Nutrition

Calories: 468kcalCarbohydrates: 49gProtein: 31gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 826mgPotassium: 825mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 3823IUVitamin C: 59mgCalcium: 190mgIron: 2mg
Keyword cajun chicken orzo, creamy orzo
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