This lemon chicken orzo recipe is creamy, comforting, made in one pot (for fewer dishes!), and comes together in about 30 minutes.
My Creamy Garlic Spinach Orzo recipe gave me the idea for this one. It's similar in ingredients and technique, but I wanted something that would work as a main course. We use rotisserie chicken (or any cooked chicken if you happen to have some that needs to be used up) for a fast and fuss-free dinner. Fresh lemon juice brightens the whole dish.
This chicken and orzo recipe is similar to a risotto, but it's a bit easier to make. Instead of stirring in the liquid gradually, it's added all at the same time. You simply stir it fairly often until the pasta absorbs the liquid (this also prevents the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pot). The cooked chicken, spinach, and parmesan cheese are added in towards the end. The result? Tender chicken and a dreamy lemon cream sauce.
Recipe notes & tips:
- It may seem like there's a lot of liquid, but the orzo does a good job of absorbing it! If you find by the end of cooking that there's still too much, just wait a few minutes and the pasta will soak it up. If you find that it's too dry, simply add another splash or cream and/or chicken broth.
- You could throw in other chopped and cooked veggies towards the end (like when the chicken is added) if you happen to have some on hand.
- Don't like spinach? No problem. Leave it out.
- If you want an even more intense lemon flavor, include the zest of a lemon (add it along with the lemon juice). I use this lemon zester.
- Since this is a one pot meal, the liquid ratios really matter, so I would be careful subbing another variety of pasta (be prepared to add more liquid if needed).
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for something lower fat (e.g. half-and-half or milk). This recipe is cooked over a fairly high heat, plus the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice means there's a strong chance of curdling.
Can I use rice?
I haven't tested this recipe with rice. Orzo is pasta (that's shaped like rice), so I would stick to using it since the liquid ratios and cook time will likely be different (rice typically takes a bit longer to cook than pasta).
More creamy chicken recipes to try:
- Easy Creamy Lemon Chicken
- Lemon Chicken Gnocchi
- Creamy Chicken Lasagna Soup
- Lemon Pepper Chicken
- Creamy Chicken Florentine
Questions about this creamy lemon chicken orzo pasta recipe? Made it? Leave me a comment below!
Lemon Chicken Orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 2 cups cooked shredded/rotisserie chicken
- 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 little).
- Stir in the chicken broth, lemon juice, and cream. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often. You will probably need to turn the heat down a bit (to medium or even medium-low). It should gently bubble vs. furiously boil, and you don't want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked. See notes below for troubleshooting tips.
- Stir in the chicken.
- 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.
- Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat.
- I don't recommend subbing the cream. There's a good chance the sauce will curdle with something lower fat (due to the fairly high heat + citrus).
- If the pasta is soaking up the liquid too fast (like before the orzo is cooked), turn the heat down and/or add a splash more broth or cream. If there's too much liquid, cover the pot for longer than suggested in the recipe and the orzo will absorb it quickly.
- Orzo is pasta. If you want to make this with rice, you may have to adjust liquid measurements and cooking time (it's a different recipe that I have not tested).
- 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.