This one pot ground beef orzo recipe comes together in just 30 minutes and is a creamy, comforting, and delicious meal for busy weeknights!
Obsessed with easy orzo recipes? Try my Italian Sausage Orzo, Lemon Chicken Orzo, and this Creamy Garlic Spinach Orzo.
Why you'll enjoy it
A quick, cozy, and hearty meal that the kids will eat too, and it's made all in one pot!? Yes please. Since I know you guys are very fond of ground beef, it was a natural fit to pair it with orzo and a homemade creamy tomato sauce. You can't really go wrong with beef and pasta in general, but this is one of my favorite ways to eat it.
This orzo and ground beef recipe is sort of like a quick risotto, to give you an idea of the texture. Of course, orzo is pasta and not rice, but I find it so much easier to make than risotto after a long workday when you don't have the energy to put in a ton of effort!
Ingredients you'll need
- Ground beef - I prefer at least 90% lean
- Onion and garlic - for a tasty aromatic base. Sweet/Vidalia onion is my go-to, but yellow works
- Red pepper flakes - it's optional, but they add a mellow, diffuse heat without being spicy. You can definitely leave them out (or add more).
- Italian seasoning - it comes in a single jar and has a blend of dried herbs
- Orzo - it's a small oval shaped pasta that you'll find in the pasta aisle
- Canned tomato sauce - the foundation for the tasty tomato sauce. For my U.K. and Australian readers, it's similar to passata.
- Beef broth - it adds a deep, rich dimension to the sauce
- Cream - heavy cream gives this sauce a luxurious creamy touch
- Worcestershire sauce - gives savory, umami flavor. Don't skip it!
- Parmesan cheese - to top it all off. Grating your own parmesan cheese is a game changer. It tastes and melts much better than the pre-grated kind. I use my handy Microplane to grate it.
- Spinach - for some contrast and freshness. You can leave it out if it's not your thing.
How to make orzo with ground beef
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Add the beef to a soup pot or Dutch oven and let it brown, undisturbed, for 5 minutes. Add in the onions, break up the beef, and continue cooking it for another 5 minutes. Drain any excess fat. I leave it in for flavor when using lean ground beef.
- Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and orzo, followed by the tomato sauce, beef broth, cream, and Worcestershire sauce. Once it starts to bubble, let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring fairly often. Turn down the heat as needed.
- Add in the parmesan and spinach and cover the pot for a few minutes. Season with salt & pepper as needed and enjoy!
Tips for success
- There's a chance that replacing the cream with something lower fat will lead to curdling due to the acidity of the tomatoes and the heat the dish is cooked at, so be aware of that if you make a substitution. It'll also be less rich, so I don't recommend it.
- As with any one pot pasta recipe, I recommend keeping an eye on it since stoves/cookware/etc. vary. If it seems like the liquid is getting too low and the orzo isn't cooked yet, you may want to turn the heat down and/or add a splash more liquid. If the cooking time has elapsed and there's a lot of liquid, I recommend taking it off the stove, covering the pot, and letting it sit for a few minutes (the orzo absorbs liquid quite quickly).
- I have not tested this recipe with rice. If you want to attempt it, you may need to adjust cooking time and liquid measurements.
What to serve with this orzo
- It's fairly rich, so I recommend enjoying smaller portions with a side salad. Try making a salad with mixed greens and topped with my Creamy Balsamic Dressing.
- A side of Garlic Bread is a classic choice as well.
- Any basic veggie side dish would work too! Try steamed vegetables or my Easy Stovetop Asparagus.
Leftovers and storage
- They will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container. Keep in mind that as time goes on, the orzo will soak up more liquid. You could revive it with a splash of cream when warming it up.
- Reheat over a low heat in a saucepan, or try microwaving in smaller increments.
- I wouldn't recommend freezing cooked pasta leftovers since the texture will get soft and weird.
More delicious ground beef recipes
Questions about this ground beef orzo recipe? Talk to me in the comments below!
Ground Beef Orzo with Tomato Cream Sauce
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup beef broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add the ground beef to a soup pot/Dutch oven and break it up a little bit with your spoon. Let it cook, without stirring, over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the onion to the pot and stir/break the beef up into small pieces. Let it cook for another 5 minutes or so. If there's a lot of excess fat (like if you didn't use lean beef), spoon some of it out. Otherwise, leave it in the pot.
- Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and orzo. Cook for about a minute.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, beef broth, cream, and Worcestershire sauce. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often (so the orzo doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot). You will likely need to turn the heat down a bit (to medium or even medium-low). It should gently bubble vs. boil (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 about 3-5 minutes or until it has thickened up to your liking. Season with salt & pepper as needed and serve immediately. See more troubleshooting tips in the blog post and notes below.
- Serves 4-6 depending on portion size/what else it's served with.
- Tomato sauce in North America is similar to passata in the U.K./Australia/etc.
- As with any one pot pasta dish, the liquid quantities work as tested in my kitchen, but pots/stoves/temperatures can vary, so if you feel like it needs more liquid, add another splash of cream or broth. If it seems too liquidy, let it sit for a bit longer, and it'll soak any excess liquid up within a few minutes.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
Can I use ground turkey instead of beef?
I made this tonight - only substitution was using half and half instead of heavy cream (it’s what I had on hand).
It is a tasty, but very rich/heavy dish. I will make again but will probably do 1.25c beef broth and .5c half and half to lighten it a bit more to meet our tastes.
I sautéed spinach on the side and added to my bowl, which was great. My green adverse kids and husband liked the dish with the spinach far on the side 🤣.
I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! Hahahaha "far on the side"... I like it.
What other stove top pan can you use besides a Dutch oven?
In the recipe I specify "in a soup pot/Dutch oven"... so any soup pot or pot you have will work fine as long as it's not super small. The one pictured is 5.5 quarts. Hope you enjoy the recipe!
Jill Hemmelgarn says
Can you use rice instead of orzo? And if so what kind what he best?
Hi! Orzo is pasta and so cooks faster than rice. I haven't tested with rice. If using rice, you'd likely have to add more liquid and keep a close eye on it to make sure it cooks through. This is a total guess, but Minute Rice could be an option if you really need to sub the orzo as it doesn't take long to cook vs. regular white rice, for example, but the dish is intended to make with pasta so I can't speak for what the results would be.
This has been one of my fave new recipes this year! Had to alter the measurements slightly for what we have in Australia but still turned out delicious! Thank you 🙂
Wonderful!! I'm so glad it's a new favorite for you, Jaime!
This is absolutely delicious!!! Definitely will be making this a lot.
I made this with full fat coconut milk! It was absolutely delicious! Going into my regular rotation! I suggest everyone try it as written. You won’t be disappointed!
So glad you liked it!
Delish. I only had 1/2 of cream. It super easy and my kids loved it!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
So glad your little ones enjoyed it, Leigh!!
Oh goodness! The heavy cream makes it decadent and oh so creamy. Very comforting but elegant at the same time. Delicious!
I'm so pleased you liked it, Noelle! 🙂
My family (including 2 teen boys) loved this meal and even had thirds! There were no leftovers.
Glad you guys liked it!
Can I substitute the oat milk for heavy cream? Planning on trying this recipe this week, just looking for a heavy cream alternative!
Oat milk tends to be watery and has a different flavor. If you're used to making these types of subs, you could give it a try, but it's definitely quite a bit different than heavy cream, so I can't confidently recommend it. I know Silk brand makes a dairy-free whipping cream... maybe that's something to try? In any case, I hope it works out and let me know if you try the oat milk and how it goes.
This dish is so delicious and way too easy. I didn't have the full cup of heavy cream and it still turned out good. I'm really enjoying your recipes. Thank you!
I'm so glad you liked it!!
Alexis Zimba-Kirby says
This was good and pretty simple to make. I used what I had on hand which meant chicken broth instead of beef and kale instead of spinach. A good, classic home-cooked meal perfect for week nights with kids.
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Happy your family enjoyed it, Alexis!
Another delicious recipe! My toddler loves every recipe we’ve tried from your archives, but I think this is his favorite so far. Imagine my joy at hearing my picky 2.5 year old say, “Yummy spinach!” Thank you!
Aww that makes me so happy!! 😀 Thanks for letting me know.
This recipe was delicious!
It was easy to make and didn’t take much time. I did need to add beef broth a few times as the sauce cooked down to give the orzo time to cook.
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Karla!! 🙂
This was great! I didn’t have any onions (forgot to get at the store) so I just put in a little extra onion powder and it was still very good. I also used Wagyu beef and it tasted great. I had to add probably 1/3 cup of beef broth as the liquid evaporated a bit before the orzo was quite cooked. This was very easy and it was mostly ingredients you have already!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
So glad it worked out, Dana! Thanks for trying the recipe 🙂
So delicious! I had to make without garlic or yellow onions. substituted a shallot and was delicious. This will be on rotation at our house!
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
So glad it worked out!!
This was really good! Love how simple it is as well. Definitely would make again!
This recipe was DELICIOUS! I will be making this again for sure. Might add some chopped up zucchini to it also. Great flavor and hearty. Hubby approved!
Fantastic!! Love the zucchini idea. Thanks for letting me know, Abby! 😀
Super easy and love that it was one pot! Warm and cozy meal!
Thank you so much, Dana!
This may be a really really dumb question but, do you think I can use jarred marinara sauce instead of pasta sauce? I only have one small can of pasta sauce that isn’t enough, and a large jar of marinara but I’m not sure how weird that would be and can’t go the store out of my sheer determination to stay home. Thoughts?
Not a dumb question! So, when you say "pasta sauce" do you mean subbing the "tomato sauce"? (Just so I am totally clear). If so, yes, marinara would work just fine.
So delicious! I never have heavy cream in the house but I made your creamy garlic pork chops(also delicious) this week and just so happened to have some cream leftover. So happy I made this recipe. It was simple and so comforting on this cold winter night. The whole family loved it and I even went back for more. Will definitely make this again.
I'm so glad that you loved this recipe and the garlic pork chops, Kathleen!! Thanks so much for coming back and writing me a review. 😀
I made this last night for dinner and it was as delicious as I knew it would be from reading the recipe. I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef, light cream for the heavy cream, and chicken broth for the beef broth. The turkey cooked a bit faster than the recipe called for. Loved how creamy/saucy it was. Everyone loved it!
We eat so well since I found you. 🙂
Yay!! Glad your tweaks worked and it was a hit. 🙂 Thanks for your review, Angela!
I just made this recipe for dinner tonight and it was delicious. It was also easy to make. This is the second recipe in a week from this website that I have made and more importantly thoroughly enjoyed. I will definitely make this recipe again.
Well that's great to hear!! 🙂 Thanks so much for leaving me a review, Christine!
Hi Natasha! I'm not sure I've ever found and cooked a recipe on the same day it was published, but did tonight and it was wonderful! We love comfort food type meals and this fit the bill. I have tried and loved a few of your recipes by now and I will be bookmarking this one as well 🙂
I'm so happy you gave it a try and liked it!! 🙂 Thanks so much for your review... it's especially appreciated on a brand new post!