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This cheesy chicken broccoli orzo recipe is a one pot wonder that’s easy and fast! This weeknight meal has pasta, rotisserie chicken, cheddar cheese, and plenty of broccoli.
Why you’ll love it
This chicken orzo with cheddar checks all the boxes. It’s made all in one pot and is a meal-in-one with pasta, protein, and a veggie. Picky eaters and kids will love it because broccoli and cheddar are such a classic and delicious duo! (Hello, Cheese Sauce for Broccoli).
I was inspired by my Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice recipe for this one. I figured I had to adapt it for pasta since people adore orzo. This creamy orzo is a 30-minute meal that’s designed for busy weeknights, and it uses one of my favorite time savers, rotisserie chicken.
What you’ll need
- Olive oil and butter – for sautéing
- Onion and garlic – I like using sweet (Vidalia) onions
- Broccoli – for an easy way to get your greens
- Italian seasoning – this handy blend of dried herbs comes in one jar
- Orzo – you’ll find this rice-shaped pasta in the pasta aisle
- Chicken broth – the base of the sauce
- Heavy cream – to make it rich and delicious!
- Worcestershire sauce – for even more savory flavor
- Chicken – we’ve got rotisserie for convenience
- Cheddar – sharp cheddar will produce the best flavor for this recipe. I recommend grating your own from a block so it melts in more easily.
- As with any one pot recipe, stoves and pots can vary. Orzo soaks up the liquid fast, so add more if needed, and if there’s too much liquid, simply cook it a little longer or let it sit with the lid on for a few minutes.
- The onion will lightly brown with the suggested cook times and temperature, and this is a good thing — it adds more flavor!
- Be sure to add enough salt to this recipe!
How to make cheesy chicken broccoli orzo
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Sauté the onions in the oil and butter for a few minutes. Add in the broccoli, and cook for another couple of minutes while stirring. Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, and orzo and cook until fragrant.
Pour in the broth, cream, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the liquid has reduced. Stir in the chicken, then remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar until melted. Season generously with salt & pepper.
Substitutions and variations
- This recipe is pretty kid-friendly as written, but you could add in 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes if you want to kick it up a notch.
- You could make this without the broccoli and use spinach instead. I would add in the spinach at the same time as the chicken.
- As always, use caution when subbing the liquids, e.g. something lower fat for the cream, as it may take longer for the sauce to thicken up.
What to serve with cheesy chicken orzo
Leftovers and storage
- Store leftovers for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat slowly over a low heat. Add another splash of cream or chicken broth since the orzo will soak it up.
- I don’t recommend freezing cooked pasta or dairy-based sauces.
If you made this broccoli cheddar orzo with chicken, please leave a star rating and review below! Ask me any questions not answered above. Tag me on Instagram if you made it!
Cheesy Chicken Broccoli Orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 cups broccoli cut into bite-size florets
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups cooked shredded/rotisserie chicken
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add the oil, butter, and onion to a pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the broccoli and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, and orzo, and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add in the chicken broth, cream, and Worcestershire sauce. Once it just starts to boil, reduce the heat (to medium or even medium-low) and continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often. It should gently (but steadily) bubble vs. furiously boil, and you don't want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked.
- Stir in the chicken.
- Take the pot off the heat, stir in the cheddar until it's completely melted in, and season with salt & pepper (I am fairly generous with the salt). If needed, cover the pot and let it sit for a few minutes to let the sauce thicken.
- Troubleshooting tip: if the pasta is soaking up the liquid too fast (like before the orzo is cooked), turn the heat down and/or add a splash more broth or cream. If there’s too much liquid, cover the pot for a few minutes before serving and the orzo will absorb it quickly.
- The broccoli gets quite soft in this recipe as long as the florets are cut small. If you prefer it to be slightly firmer (but still tender-crisp), skip the 2 minutes of cooking in step 2. You could even add it in partway through step 4 if you prefer crisp broccoli. You may want to sauté the onion for a tad longer (until lightly browned) if you go this route.
- Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat and what else it’s served with.
- Orzo is pasta. If you want to make this with rice, I recommend trying my similar Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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