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This creamy garlic spinach orzo is a comforting and easy to make side dish that comes together fast and will have everyone asking for seconds! It’s ready in 30 minutes.
Why you’ll love it
This creamy orzo is my new favorite side dish or meatless main. It’s loaded with garlic and fresh spinach, and it’s creamy like a risotto. The best part? It’s actually so much quicker and easier than making a risotto! One pot, no fuss, done and done in just half an hour.
I added some parmesan cheese to this orzo with spinach since pretty much any creamy recipe can be enhanced by parmesan cheese, amirite? Straight out of the Salt & Lavender playbook! One kind reader said that it’s the creamiest, most delicious orzo they’ve ever had.
What you’ll need
- Olive oil and butter – for sautéing
- Onions and garlic – tasty aromatics. I like sweet (Vidalia) onions.
- Italian seasoning – this tasty dried herb blend is a pantry staple!
- Orzo – this tiny rice-shaped pasta is one of my favorites
- Chicken broth – for savory depth of flavor. Use vegetable broth if desired.
- Heavy cream – it’s what makes the sauce silky and rich
- Parmesan – an extra cheesy quality to tie it all together
- Spinach – for a burst of freshness
- Since stovetops and cookware vary, adjust as needed when making any one pot orzo recipe!
- If you find there’s too much liquid, keep in mind that the orzo will absorb it as it releases starch. Cover it and wait. Conversely, if there’s not enough liquid and the pasta isn’t cooked yet, simply add in some more broth as needed.
How to make creamy garlic spinach orzo
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a soup pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic in the butter and oil until softened. Add the garlic, orzo, and Italian seasoning, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to lightly toast the orzo.
Stir in the broth and cream, and let it bubble gently, stirring every so often. Once reduced and the pasta is cooked, remove from the heat. Stir in the parmesan and spinach, cover, and let it wilt. Season with salt & pepper.
Can I use rice?
Since orzo is pasta, you’d have to do some testing because rice typically takes longer to cook. The liquid measurements will vary, and our kitchen hasn’t tried this one with rice.
Substitutions and variations
- I think a bit of lemon zest would be delicious in here for a pop of citrus flavor.
- If you don’t have any heavy cream, you could try half-and-half instead, but keep in mind the results won’t be as creamy.
- Stir in cooked chicken or shrimp at the end for some added protein.
- You can use frozen spinach if you thaw it and squeeze the water out really well, but fresh spinach is probably your best bet.
What to serve with creamy garlic orzo
- If you’re serving it as a side dish, pair it with my Easy Baked Chicken Thighs or a roast like my Easy Roast Chicken (Lemon & Herb), steak, or this Easy Baked Salmon. It’s such a versatile side dish!
- You can also serve it as a hearty meatless main. Serve alongside another veggie like my Easy Roasted Asparagus or Easy Roasted Cauliflower, or try a salad like this Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad to round out the meal.
Leftovers and storage
- Store leftover orzo for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat slowly over a low heat, and you may want to add another splash of broth or cream since orzo will soak it up over time.
- I don’t recommend freezing this one.
If you made this creamy spinach orzo recipe, please leave a star rating and review below! Ask me any questions. You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
Creamy Garlic Spinach Orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
- 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 the garlic, Italian seasoning, and orzo. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often (this infuses the orzo with more flavor and toasts it a bit).
- Stir in the chicken broth and cream. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often. You will likely need to turn the heat down a bit (to medium or even medium-low). You want it to gently bubble vs. furiously boil, and you don't want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked.
- Take the pot off the heat, stir in the parmesan and spinach, and cover the pot for 3-5 minutes or until it has thickened up to your liking. The orzo will absorb the liquid quickly, so if it still seems like there's too much liquid, just wait a little bit longer. Season with salt & pepper as needed.
- Orzo is pasta. If you want to make this with rice, you may have to adjust liquid measurements and cooking time (it would be a different recipe).
- Feel free to leave the spinach out if it’s not your thing or you don’t have any. I just add it for a bit of color and texture and to make it a bit more nutritious.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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