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This one pot Italian sausage orzo recipe is easy, creamy, and comes together fast for a comforting and delicious weeknight dinner.
Why you’ll love it
Orzo is one of my favorite pastas to cook. The way we’re preparing it here is fairly similar to a risotto, but it’s way simpler and easier than working with rice. We paired it with tasty Italian sausage, baby spinach, and a rich and creamy parmesan sauce.
This also happens to be a 30-minute one pot meal, which saves on clean-up and is handy when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen! The little ones will also enjoy this dinner, and it’s a hassle-free way to get meat, veggies, and hearty pasta in a single dish.
What you’ll need
- Sausage – I used mild Italian sausage. You can use ground sausage meat to save time vs. buying whole sausages.
- Onion – use any variety, but we prefer Vidalia (sweet) onion
- Garlic – if you’re a big fan of garlic, feel free to add in even more
- Red pepper flakes – they don’t make this dish spicy. It just adds a gentle warmth.
- Orzo – it’s a rice-shaped small variety of pasta. You’ll find it with all the other kinds of pasta at the grocery store
- Chicken broth – to add more savory flavor to the sauce
- Heavy cream – to make the sauce creamy and luxurious
- Parmesan – I always recommend grating your own parmesan cheese. It tastes and melts much better!
- Spinach – we love adding it for a pop of freshness, but you’re welcome to leave it out if you prefer
How to make Italian sausage orzo
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a soup pot, cook the crumbled sausage meat for 5 minutes, then add the onions and continue cooking for a few more minutes until browned. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and orzo, followed by the chicken broth and cream.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese and spinach, then cover for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted and the liquid has absorbed more.
- As with any one pot pasta dish, the liquid quantities work as tested on my stove, but pots/stoves/temperatures may vary from my kitchen to yours, so if you feel like it needs more liquid, add another splash of broth or cream. If it seems too wet, let it sit for a bit longer, and it’ll soak any excess liquid up in a few minutes.
Substitutions and variations
- Want to add some heat? Use spicy Italian sausage or double the crushed red pepper flakes.
- I wouldn’t recommend subbing the heavy cream for anything with a lower fat content. It won’t thicken up the same or be as rich and tasty and may even curdle.
- Try swapping half the chicken broth with dry white wine (e.g. sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, or chardonnay) for an elegant touch.
- Orzo is pasta, not rice, even though it looks very similar. If you want to sub the orzo for rice, you may need to adjust liquid measurements and timing since rice usually takes longer.
Leftovers and storage
- This orzo recipe will keep in the fridge for a few days, but keep in mind that it’s best when eaten fresh since the pasta will continue to absorb liquid.
- We don’t recommend freezing this one because of the dairy content, and cooked pasta can change texture when thawed.
- To reheat, simply warm it through in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring every so often.
If you made this Italian sausage orzo pasta recipe, leave a star rating and review below! As always, if you make one of my recipes, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
Italian Sausage Orzo
- 16 ounces Italian sausage see note
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional, or more to taste
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
- 2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add the sausage meat to a soup pot/Dutch oven. Over medium-high heat, cook it for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the onions and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so, until the sausage is nicely browned and the onions have softened.
- Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and orzo, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the chicken broth and cream. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often (or else the orzo may 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 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 notes below.
- For the sausage, you can use anything in the ballpark of 16 oz/1 lb. Here in Canada I buy a 500g pack of Johnsonville mild Italian sausages and take the meat out of the casings.
- 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 broth or cream. If it seems too wet, let it sit for a bit longer, and it’ll soak any excess liquid up within a few minutes.
- Orzo is pasta. If you want to make this with rice, you may have to adjust liquid measurements and cooking time (I have not tested this).
- Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat/what else it’s served with.
- 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.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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