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This lemon chicken orzo recipe is creamy, comforting, and made in one pot for fewer dishes! It comes together in just 30 minutes for a cozy meal.

Love chicken and lemon? Try my Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, Creamy Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, or this Lemon Chicken Gnocchi.

close-up of lemon chicken orzo in two white shallow bowls

Why you’ll love it

This chicken and orzo recipe is similar to a risotto, but it’s much easier to make. There’s no need to gradually stir in the liquid. It’s simply added in all at the same time. Pair with some cooked chicken, spinach, and parmesan, and the result is tender chicken and a dreamy lemon cream sauce!

My Creamy Garlic Spinach Orzo recipe gave me the idea for this chicken spinach orzo. It’s similar in ingredients and technique, but I wanted something that would work as a main course. Using rotisserie chicken makes for a fast and fuss-free dinner all in one pot.

What you’ll need

  • Olive oil and butter – for sautéing
  • Onion and garlic – I like to use sweet (Vidalia) ones. For the garlic, it’s easy to mince with a garlic press so your fingers don’t get sticky.
  • Italian seasoning – a go-to versatile and fragrant herb blend in a single jar
  • Orzo – you’ll find it in the dry pasta aisle
  • Chicken broth – for moisture and deeper savory flavor
  • Lemon – fresh lemon juice brightens the whole dish and adds a touch of acidity. If you want an even more intense lemon flavor, include the zest of a lemon. Add it along with the lemon juice.
  • Heavy cream – it adds a luxurious touch
  • Chicken – rotisserie or leftover Cooked Chicken makes this orzo recipe even easier
  • Parmesan – for a final cheesy touch. Always grate your own for max flavor and best texture.
  • Spinach – we’re using fresh baby spinach

Can I use rice?

Our kitchen hasn’t tested this recipe with rice. Orzo is pasta that happens to be shaped like rice, so I would stick to using it since the liquid ratios and cook time will likely be different. Rice typically takes longer to cook than pasta.

ingredients for lemon chicken orzo in prep bowls

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How to make lemon chicken orzo

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

toasting orzo and adding broth and cream to a soup pot

Sauté the onion in the butter and oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and orzo. Stirring often, toast the orzo for a couple of minutes. Pour in the broth, cream, and lemon juice. Let it bubble gently, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring every so often.

adding chicken, spinach, and parmesan to a soup pot with lemon chicken orzo

Once the liquid is absorbed, stir in the chicken. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan and spinach, and let it sit for a few more minutes to thicken up more. Season with salt & pepper.

Pro tip

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. 

closeup of a spoonful over lemon chicken orzo

Substitutions and variations

  • Don’t like spinach? No problem. Leave it out. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

What to serve with lemon chicken orzo

Leftovers and storage

  • You can store leftovers in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container, but definitely be aware that the orzo will soak up the sauce over time.
  • When reheating, use a saucepan over a low heat until warmed through. Add a splash of cream or broth if necessary.
  • I don’t recommend freezing the leftovers.
lemon chicken orzo in a shallow bowl with a golden fork

Questions about this creamy lemon chicken orzo pasta recipe? Made it? Please leave me a comment below! You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.

close-up of lemon chicken orzo in two white shallow bowls
4.93 from 154 votes

Lemon Chicken Orzo

This lemon chicken orzo recipe is creamy, comforting, and made in one pot for fewer dishes! It comes together in just 30 minutes for a cozy meal.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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 and blog post 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 616kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 30g, Fat: 40g, Saturated Fat: 21g, Cholesterol: 160mg, Sodium: 761mg, Potassium: 511mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 2593IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 223mg, Iron: 2mg

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

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

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361 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent! I also increased the lemon and spinach and added zest. I also used a gluten free orzo pasta (celiac family), it took a bit longer to cook and a bit more liquid. But, oh my, this was good and it reheats beautifully. Thank you!!!

  2. 5 stars
    Best meal I have fixed in a long time! Absolutely delicious! I did add fresh mushrooms that I needed to use. Will definitely fix this again and again. Thank you ♥️

  3. 5 stars
    I made this tonight using rotisserie chicken and it was so quick and delicious. We licked the pot!! Definitely adding it to the dinner rotation!

  4. 5 stars
    My first adventure into the world of Salt and Lavender and made me a fan! I now keep rotisserie chicken in my freezer just for this! The recipe alone is amazing, but I’ve increased the amount of lemon and spinach to my taste. CANT go wrong when you try this!

  5. 5 stars
    It was good and simple to make. I would’ve liked more lemon flavoring. Next time I make it I will add a little more lemon juice and perhaps some rind.
    Perfect to use leftover Costco chicken.

  6. 5 stars
    I have made this twice now, the first time with the spinach, and second time without spinach but added baby bella mushrooms. The mushroom and chicken version is my absolute FAVORITE. This dish is so creamy and so lemony and so delicious, I can’t think of what could make it better. I am currently on the hunt for what other kinds of veggies I can add in (mushrooms and chicken are always going to be included though.) Planning on making it tonight again. Oh, and it comes together so quick and easy.

    Ps. I’ve never had a problem with the cook times or any of the directions, it turned out perfectly each time so far.

  7. 4 stars
    Definitely needed more than ten minutes to cook the orzo and more liquid. I think i cooked it for about 20 added probably another cup or two of water and turned the heat up. It was really good though.