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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.

You may also like my Italian Sausage Orzo Soup or this Lemon Chicken Orzo.

one pot orzo with Italian sausage in a white bowl

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
ingredients for italian sausage orzo in prep bowls

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

  • I use my Microplane to grate the parmesan for this recipe.
  • This is the Le Creuset Dutch oven I use.
  • I recommend this melamine cooking spoon to save wear and tear on your cookware.

How to make Italian sausage orzo

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

frying sausage and onions in a soup pot and adding orzo and seasonings

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.

adding broth, cream, parmesan, and spinach to a pot of italian sausage orzo

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.

Pro tip

  • 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.
Italian sausage orzo in a yellow pot

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. 

What to serve with Italian sausage orzo

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.
creamy Italian sausage orzo in two white bowls

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.

one pot orzo with Italian sausage in a white bowl
4.96 from 231 votes

Italian Sausage Orzo

This one pot Italian sausage orzo recipe is easy, creamy, and comes together fast for a comforting and delicious weeknight dinner.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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

Calories: 535kcal, Carbohydrates: 23g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 41g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 110mg, Sodium: 1000mg, Potassium: 385mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1637IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 162mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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554 Comments

  1. Ari Anna says:

    Hi! Is one dry cup of orzo (~180g on my scale) really enough to make 6 servings? It seems low. Typically when I make a pasta dish for me and my partner, 180g of pasta is only 2 servings worth. Is this supposed to be a side dish? Or should I consider upping the amount of orzo used? I was thinking I’d try 250g but I don’t want the dry to liquid ratio to be too off.

    1. Ari Anna says:

      Thank you in advance!! Very excited to make this dish just want to make sure I have the right amounts of everything 🙂

    2. Natasha says:

      Hi Ari! I have never weighed it, so I’d really hate to tell you wrong and mess up the whole recipe. I usually use measuring cups that are 250 ml (I’m in Canada). I believe an American cup is 237 ml or 8 fluid ounces… but for most recipes that aren’t baked goods it’s close enough to use the Canada/US sizes interchangeably. Are your cups the same size? If they are and you’re weighing it after measuring to the 1 cup line, then yes, it’s correct. The 6 servings are simply an estimate so I can include nutritional info for readers, but yeah, portion sizes certainly vary depending on your appetite/what it’s served with etc. I would say that unless you eat a lot, this dish makes at least 4 portions. It’s quite rich with the cream and sausage. I just did a Google search and one result is telling me that 1 cup uncooked orzo = 227g… but I am not sure how accurate that is. I think if you’re in the 200g ballpark you will likely be fine with the recipe. Just keep an eye on it and add more liquid or cook it a little longer if needed. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

  2. Jen says:

    5 stars
    3 of my 4 VERY picky eaters asked for seconds! This is a definite keeper recipe!
    I did sub broccoli for the spinach because I was out of spinach but otherwise kept the recipe as written and it was fantastic!

    1. Natasha says:

      I love that!! 😀

  3. Jennifer says:

    So amazing and delicious! This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you 🙂

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome!!

  4. Jaime says:

    5 stars
    So amazing!!! We have made this so many times! Sometimes I look in the fridge and say, “Oh no!” Because I don’t have Parmesan. But hey I just use mozzarella and grated Parmesan- so delicious- thank you for this recipe that my entire family enjoys!!!

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome!! 🙂

  5. Susan says:

    Can leftovers be frozen?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! I don’t typically like how creamy sauces or pasta freeze (can separate and the pasta can change texture and puff up), but it never hurts to try if you happen to have a portion or two of leftovers you could test.

  6. Amy says:

    5 stars
    Picky toddler approved! He skipped right over the garlic bread and ate two servings! I used 2% milk instead of cream (because that’s what I had), half the cheese to lighten it up a bit more and added sliced cherry tomatoes. Definitely making it into the rotation. Thanks!

    1. Natasha says:

      That makes me so happy!!

  7. Julie Everson says:

    5 stars
    This was fantastic. Only wish I had doubled the recipe!

    1. Natasha says:

      Wonderful! Thank you! 🙂

  8. Diane Flowers says:

    5 stars
    This is so so good. We love it and have made it twice this week!! Thanks!

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re welcome!!

  9. Kate says:

    5 stars
    My fiance and I just made this and it was AMAZING! So creamy and delicious with so much flavor. Thank you! We then proceeded to go through your Instagram and reminisce about all the recipes of yours we’ve made that we LOVE! You’re so talented! Keep sharing all your yumminess! 🙂

    1. Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says:

      Aww we’re so happy to hear that, Kate! Thrilled you and your fiancé enjoy the recipes so much 🙂

  10. Heather says:

    5 stars
    So delicious! We’ve made this a few times already since finding the recipe. On to try some of the other one pot orzo recipes!

    1. Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says:

      Yay! So glad you liked it, Heather. Hoping you’ll enjoy the others too 🙂