This one pot ground beef orzo recipe comes together in just 30 minutes and is a creamy, comforting, and delicious meal for busy weeknights!
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.
- Steamed vegetables would work too!
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.
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.