This Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo is the perfect side dish. The broth, cheese and cream give it a risotto-like texture, making it a great side dish for chicken, shrimp or beef.
Orzo has fast become one of our favorite side dishes in our house. We simply LOVE the versatility orzo offers and one of our favorite Springtime recipes is our Lemon Orzo with Asparagus. That recipe has a very SPRING type feeling with some fresh asparagus and lemon.
But in the winter months I like to make this creamy side dish instead. It has garlic and Parmesan cheese and butter and cream. It’s just heaven!
What is Orzo Pasta?
Orzo is a little pasta that has a similar shape to rice and can be used in soups, stews, casseroles or a delicious side dish. It starts out small but plumps up as it cooks and becomes al dente.
It takes about the same amount of time to cook as regular pasta and lacks any flavor whatsoever, just like pasta. Because it is a blank canvas, this gives us the opportunity to impart LOTS of flavor of our own.
What’s in Garlic Parmesan Orzo?
- Orzo and low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- The sauce is made with butter, onions, garlic, Parmesan cheese, half and half and some fresh parsley.
How to Make Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo
This 15 minute side dish requires 2 pots. The orzo is sautéed in a little olive oil. This gives the orzo a little color and brings out a nutty flavor. More importantly, the oil coats the orzo preventing it from sticking together and becoming sticky. Be sure not to skip this step.
- Cook the orzo in chicken broth (or vegetable) or water. I prefer broth as the orzo absorbs some of that flavor as it cooks.
- As the orzo is cooking sauté the onions and garlic in butter over medium-high heat until soft. Then add the Parmesan cheese, half and half and spices.
- Marry the two together – give it a big stir and you are done!
Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
What can I add to this orzo recipe?
- Add asparagus, zucchini, red peppers, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms for a Vegetarian meal.
- Add grilled chicken, beef or shrimp for a complete meal.
LOOKING FOR MORE CREAMY PASTA RECIPES?
- Garlic and Herb Bowtie Pasta – made with bowties in a creamy Bechamel sauce
- If more orzo is what you’re looking for, try our Creamy Cheddar and Broccoli Orzo.
- We’re also thinking about our low carb readers with this Low Carb Creamy Cauliflower Gratin.
Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- 2 Cups Orzo
- 2 Cups Chicken or Vegetable stock, or water
- 4 Tablespoons Butter
- ¼ Cup Onion, diced very small
- 3 Garlic Cloves, pressed or minced
- ¾ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1 /3 Cup Half and Half
- 2–3 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley or Basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- ½ – 1 tsp. salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Olive Oil
TO MAKE THE ORZO:
- Begin by heating about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, let it warm up for about a minute. Add the orzo and lightly stir it around the pan so it toasts, this will give the orzo a nutty flavor. When the orzo starts to turn golden in color, add the broth or water starting with just ½ cup. Let the orzo absorb the liquid entirely, then add the rest. Give it a stir, bring to a quick boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and let it cook for 10-15 minutes.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
- Add the butter to a large saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s melted add the chopped onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Let that simmer for about 2-3 minutes until it softens. Add the half and half, cheese and parsley (or basil). Season again with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust.
- Add the creamy garlic sauce to the cooked orzo and stir. Serve warm.
What to Serve With This:
- The Best Grilled Chicken Ever!
- Seared Salmon in a Butter and Caper Sauce
- Creamy Lemon Chicken Piccata
Cal 325; Fat 18 gr; Carbs 32 gr; Protein 12 gr; Sodium 350 mg
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: side dish
This was amazing and so easy! I meal prepped it for lunch for work and everyone was so jealous because it smelled so good!
Totally a keeper – so easy to make and my kids loved it! I will be making this all the time. Thank you Deb
I can’t wait to make this after reading these reviews , I thought sauted scallops would be nice on top .
and they would be! LOL
Linda F. Hale
I made this to sit my Chicken Cordon Bleu on last night. It was perfect for what I needed. I am keeping this recipe as I think I can use it for a lot of different meals as a side dish. This recipe is EXCELLENT.
NOTE: I cute the recipe in half because there are only two of us. It cut in half just fine. I did use a tiny bit more half and half than it calls for to keep my sauce thin enough to stir into the pasta.
This turned out so great. I didn’t make any changes and it was perfect.
In the future I might add some spinach like some of the other reviews suggested, if I have it on hand. I ran across this recipe on Pinterest while looking for ways to cook orzo. I’m glad I did; it’s a keeper.
I had bought orzo to make a cold pasta salad when I came across this recipe because it’s 30 degrees in Illinois today and I wanted something warm. Holy cats! This is soooooo good! I did add a handful of spinach and a little more half and half to the recipe but otherwise followed to a tee!
it’s snowing here today in Michigan so I totally get it. Glad you liked the orzo Steph!
I’ve been making this for so long now, everyone loves this!
Normally I try a recipe first before making changes, but since I’m on a weird, post hiatial hernia surgery diet I had to adapt your delicious sounding recipe to be able to eat. Because I’m supposed to have soft “brothy” pasta I used an entire quart of broth and slightly overcooked the orzo . Also added a sous vide chicken breast that was chopped finely along with some wilted fresh chopped spinach. Didn’t have cream so I used whole milk ricotta. I still want to make it your way, just have to wait a few weeks.
It made a ton, I’ll probably have for lunch and dinner the next few days. Thanks for a great recipe. My tummy and taste buds are happy to have real food.
glad to hear you made the adjustments you needed and it worked for you!
One of the best sides I’ve ever made. I was unfamiliar with orzo. I never made it before. Now I cant stop making it. It was THAT GOOD.
My family loves this! It’s easy to make and they ask for it at least once a week. Delicious!!
This was so easy and delicious! I will be adding to our regular menu.
Just made this tonight as a side dish. It was very good!
Absolutely delicious! A staple in my home!!
Made this for Christmas dinner sooo good . Family loved it !!!
Terrific results! But a few challenges:
The 1:1 ratio of orzo to liquid surprised me (since rice is 1:2). And it turned out, for me, that 1:2 was closer (I kept adding). Perhaps ‘cos I was using gluten-free orzo (Delallo). That said, the toastiness was wonderful!
There didn’t seem to be enough sauce for the amount of orzo… I added more cream.. should have added broth as much as cream! Not that there was a downside in taste to this, but it made it *really* rich!
Other than that, just brilliant! A Keeper!
Do you have the nutrition information for this recipe? Thanks.
It was delicious! However i substituted the orzo for rice and it came out delicious. Only suggest more salt in the recipe as it had little taste. I also added half a lime and it made the flavor really pop.
Would this recipe be able to be made a day or two ahead and reheated for buffet. If so what adjustments should be made?
absolutely! I reheat it all the time. Just add a little milk to it and pop it in the microwave at 50% power for a few minutes stirring it in between.
I just made this for dinner this evening and it was delicious. I made it exactly as written, but added one Knorr cube to the water. My husband insists he hates pasta but he sure loved this! Thanks for a great recipe.
I’ve just finished making this as a side dish to chicken. Gotta say, it was very quick and easy to put together, and very tasty too. Even my husband enjoyed it and he doesnt care too much for pasta. Definitely a keeper.
I’ve just finished making this as a side dish. Gotta say it was very easy to put together, and is very yummy. Even my husband thought it was tasty and he doesn’t care too much for pasta.
So delicious and easy to make. I did add about 1 cup of frozen peas to add some color! Delicious!
Love the addition of peas!
Had really good flavor but mine wasn’t very creamy! Seemed like the sauce soaked right into the orzo. Definitely didn’t look as creamy as your picture. Added all the right amounts so wondering what I did wrong?
Just made this…simple and it tastes wonderful! ❤
Dick and Betsy
This recipe is simple and excellent. We made it to go with salmon and sautéed spinach for New Years dinner and it was perfect. We used 2% milk since we didn’t have cream, and it came out fine. If this serves four they must be big eaters… we had two big servings and still have plenty left… enough for four. This recipe is a keeper.
Can I use rice instead of Orzo? Thanks!
I’m not so sure I would recommend that Danielle
Yes, you can use rice! I thought from the pic that it was and liked the recipe. I have been cooking since I was in the first grade (1956) and always do a recipe my way. I liked it and am doing it for the two of us again tonight! Thank you Debi.
you’re welcome Julie!
How many servings does this recipe make?
This looks amazing. I am wondering if i could use cashew milk instead of the half and half, what are your thoughts?
I have never used cashew milk Kristina to be honest. Is it the same thickness of half and half? I’d go ahead and give it a try and please let us know if it worked for you. I’m sure there are other readers who would be interested as well. Good luck!
Great recipe and flavor, however mine came out a bit dry. I checked the recipe three times and did everything exactly right..but the sauce separated. So I added a little more half and half. Per haps the stock addition would be best. Thank you!
Whenever you have a separation of the cream it’s usually due to the cream being cold. Next time try heating the cream in the micro or bringing it to room temp before adding it. Also if you fear it will happen again, try taking the pan off the heat whenever adding cream to a hot skillet. I hope these tips help!
We really enjoyed the flavor of this dish but found it a bit oily. Next time I may not use oil when toasting the orzo and cut back on the butter a bit. In addition I may increase the stock a bit to balance it. Loved the flavor! Thanks!
thanks for your feedback Cindy! 🙂
For some reason I’m unable
To view the recipe
I’m really starting to get worried b/c a LOT of you are telling me recipes are missing but when I go to the page it’s right there. I’m not sure what it happening !!!
Is it necessary to use all organic ingredients…… I am not an “organic” person…….
Hi Roxanne, while I cannot force anyone to buy or cook with organic foods I would suggest that you research the chemicals and pesticides that are not only sprayed ON foods, but (more importantly IMO) we need to pay attention to what is IN the food. In other words if you consume dairy or meat HOW are the animals fed? Because what THEY eat YOU eat so if it’s full of GMOs or corn and the animals are confined in a factory farm we as consumers are eating that as well. I do not eat organic simply to follow a trend or half heartedly believe in it. I am fully committed to putting my money into smaller organic farms who treat their animals with respect and feed them well instead of factory farming where money is their only concern and motivation. Thanks for your comment. 🙂
I totally agree with you. Support the small farms and
ethical practices. Plus not only are organic foods wholesome
but it tastes better!
HOLY SMOKES ! are you kidding me, this is DELICIOUS. I thought it was going to be really creamy, which I didn’t want, but it wasn’t. it has the PERFECT amount. I will be making this all the time. It was so easy to make I looked like a professional …. lol