Lemon garlic orzo is the perfect side dish. Buttery, tender orzo is flavored with lots of garlic and freshly squeezed lemon juice for a bright and tasty pasta that is the perfect accompaniment to all kinds of dishes.
Orzo is one of my family’s all-time favorite pasta shapes. This rice-shaped pasta cooks up quickly and easily, and is a fun and flavorful addition to any meal. Orzo is perfect as a main dish, a pasta salad, or in soup.
Today, I’m sharing a delicious lemon orzo recipe that is a great side dish for all kinds of meats or fish dishes. Perfectly al dente orzo is toasted with butter and minced garlic, and then cooked in chicken broth for extra flavor. The cooked pasta is flavored with bright lemon and fresh parsley for a super easy side dish with tons of flavor. The best part? The whole thing comes together in under 20 minutes!
This would be the perfect accompaniment to lemon pepper tilapia, Italian lemon chicken, panko parmesan-crusted cod, or salmon with dill cream sauce. To keep it easy, serve it with rotisserie chicken, a side salad, and some crusty bread, and this simple side dish transforms into the main course.
You Will Love This
- This easy side dish pairs perfectly with all kinds of main dishes. Just add your choice of protein and veggies for a simple and delicious complete meal.
- Orzo takes under 20 minutes to cook, making this flavorful dish perfect for the busy weeknights.
- This tasty dish pairs classic flavors your whole family will love.
To make this recipe you need the following simple ingredients (full ingredients list with exact measurements is included in the recipe card below).
- Fresh Lemon: Make sure to use fresh lemon juice in this recipe. The lemon flavor is the star of the show, and you want it to be as bright and fresh as possible.
- Butter: The butter in this recipe gives the orzo a nice rich flavor. However, you can feel free to substitute olive oil if that’s what you have on hand.
- Fresh herbs: I added fresh parsley to this recipe for color. You could also try rosemary, thyme or fresh basil for a different flavor. You could also top the orzo with some fresh lemon zest or toasted pine nuts for a fancier presentation.
- Chicken broth: You could substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian option.
- Substitute 1/2 cup of the chicken broth in this recipe for half and half or heavy cream if you want a creamy lemon orzo. Just make sure to add the chicken broth first, allow it to absorb into the orzo, and then add the half and half and give it a few more minutes to simmer before serving.
- This recipe would be delicious with some added veggies. Try adding minced onion or bell peppers to the pan with the garlic and orzo, or stir in some fresh baby spinach right before serving.
- Stir in a handful of Parmesan cheese at the end of cooking with some fresh peas or cooked asparagus for a yummy lemon parmesan orzo that would be perfect for spring.
Step One: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and uncooked orzo pasta to the pan and toast for 1-2 minutes until the garlic turns golden brown and fragrant.
Step Two: Stir in the chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat and allow the orzo to simmer for 10-12 minutes until tender.
Step Three: Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste the orzo, and season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.
Let the orzo cool to room temperature before storing. Store leftover orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can eat leftovers cold like pasta salad, or reheat the orzo. To reheat, add a little sprinkle of water to the pasta and then reheat slowly in the microwave.
Lemon Garlic Orzo
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup orzo pasta
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and uncooked orzo pasta to the pan and toast for 1-2 minutes until the garlic turns golden brown and fragrant.
- Stir in the chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to low heat and allow the orzo to simmer for 10-12 minutes until tender.
- Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste the orzo, and season with additional salt and black pepper to taste.