Orzo Rice Pilaf

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This easy Orzo Rice Pilaf is ready in just 30 minutes! Packed with flavors and easy to customize, it’s the ideal side dish for any main course. 

When you need a rice side dish that’s both effortless and full of flavor, this Orzo Rice Pilaf is the answer. Ready in about 30 minutes, the orzo rice recipe combines the comforting taste of buttery orzo and rice with a hint of fresh parsley and parmesan cheese. 

Whether you’re pairing it with a hearty chicken dish or just looking for a satisfying side, this homemade rice pilaf with orzo is one the family will love.

overhead view of orzo rice pilaf in a skillet

Ingredients

There are just a handful of ingredients in this easy rice pilaf recipe. A few things to note:

ingredients for orzo rice pilaf on a table
  • White rice. Choose a white long grain rice. Basmati rice or Jasmine rice are great options. 
  • Orzo pasta. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta. By toasting the orzo pasta in butter, it adds such a delicious nutty, buttery flavor to the easy side dish.
  • Parsley. You can substitute the dried parsley for fresh parsley. You’ll want to increase it to ¼ cup if using fresh.
  • Parmesan cheese. Use freshly grated parmesan cheese rather than the powdered kind that comes in the canister.

✨ See the recipe card for the full list of ingredients. ✨

How to Make Orzo Rice Pilaf

Make this Orzo Rice Pilaf recipe in 4 steps: 

collage of how to make orzo rice pilaf
  • In a skillet, melt the butter, then add in the onion and garlic over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Once the onion is just starting to soften (about 1 minute) add in the orzo. Stir and allow the orzo to toast. Stirring constantly cook for 2 more minutes or until the orzo begins to toast.
  • Add in the rinsed rice, chicken broth, parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the broth starts to boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low/simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the rice from the heat, add grated parmesan cheese, then allow the rice to sit, covered for 5 minutes.

Tips for the Best Results

Cooking the best rice pilaf is all about technique and timing. Use these tips to achieve the perfect side dish. 

  • First, don’t skip rinsing your rice. This simple step removes excess starch, preventing your pilaf from turning gloppy. 
  • When you’re cooking, remember: patience is key. Keep the simmer low and resist the urge to peek under the lid too often. Each time you lift the lid, steam escapes, and that’s crucial for cooking your rice evenly. 
  • Using a skillet with a heavy bottom helps in distributing the heat evenly, which means no more burnt bottoms or uncooked grains. 
  • And here’s a little secret for that signature nutty orzo flavor: toasting the orzo. It deepens the flavor profile, adding a delicious complexity to your pilaf. Don’t skip that step!
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Make it a Meal.

Simple rice pilaf with orzo is versatile enough to complement a variety of main dishes

Think of it alongside a roast chicken, grilled salmon, or even as a base for a steamed veggies. My favorite additions to rice pilaf are baked pork chops, a Caesar salad and garlic bread.

Recipe Variations

  • Want to add more veggies? Consider sautéing mushrooms or bell peppers with the onions. 
  • For those who like a bit more protein, tossing in some cooked chicken turns this side into a satisfying main meal
  • And if you’re a fan of fresh herbs, swapping dried parsley for fresh will give your pilaf a bright, herby lift. Fresh thyme gives it an earthy flavor. The different flavors of herbs shine through in this cooked rice orzo dish.
  • The parmesan cheese gives the rice pilaf an added depth of flavor. If you’re dairy free you can easily omit this from the recipe.
  • Chicken stock can be replaced with vegetable broth, bone broth, or any other broth or stock. It might change the flavor or the color slightly.

Storing Leftovers

Your Orzo Rice Pilaf keeps nicely in the fridge, making it a great option for meal prep on those busy weeknights. Just let the pilaf cool down to room temperature. Then store it in an airtight container, and it’ll be good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. 

To reheat, simply add a splash of water or a little chicken broth to bring back the pilaf’s original moisture when you warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop. 

Store in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to 2 months.

here’s a fun tip

You can give leftovers new life by sautéing them in a bit of olive oil until they’re crisped up golden brown for a delicious texture variation. This gives even morel nutty flavor. 

closeup of orzo rice pilaf in a skillet with a wooden spoon
closeup of orzo rice pilaf in a skillet with a wooden spoon

Orzo Rice Pilaf

5 from 1 vote
This easy Orzo Rice Pilaf is ready in just 30 minutes! Packed with flavors and easy to customize, it's the ideal side dish for any main course. 
Servings 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 medium small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1 cup white long grain rice rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese freshly grated

Instructions
 

  • In a heavy bottomed skillet, melt the butter, then add in the onion and garlic over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Once the onion is just starting to soften (about 1 minute) add in the orzo. Stir and allow the orzo to toast. Stirring constantly cook for 2 more minutes or until the orzo begins to toast.
  • Add in the rinsed rice, chicken broth, parsley, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cook over medium heat until the broth starts to boil. Cover and turn the heat down to low/simmer. Cook for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the rice from the heat, add grated parmesan cheese, then allow the rice to sit, covered for 5 minutes.

Notes

Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the recipe making 4 large servings, with 1 serving being ¼ of the rice. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 810mg | Potassium: 318mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 237IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 90mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Side Dish
Calories 383
Keyword easy side dish, rice side dish

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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