This lemon orzo salad recipe is a fresh, healthy, and colorful summer salad that's a breeze to make! It's ready in about 30 minutes.
Try this Easy Italian Pasta Salad for another quick summer salad recipe.
Why you'll crave it
I'm back with another recipe using everyone's favorite rice-shaped pasta! Orzo is extremely popular lately, so I'm thrilled to bring you even more recipes with it. You loved this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, so I've come up with this irresistible orzo salad with chicken and fresh vegetables and a quick lemon honey vinaigrette that will become your new summer favorite.
This bright lemon orzo pasta salad is easily customizable and lends itself to substitutions or additions. My mantra has always been that summer recipes like salads should be fuss-free. Who wants to be in the kitchen for hours when you can be outside on the patio with a glass of prosecco?
What you'll need
For the salad
- Orzo - you'll find this small pasta that looks like grains of rice in a box in the dry pasta aisle
- Cucumbers - I prefer using mini (Persian) cucumbers, but if you can't find them, half a regular English one works just fine
- Tomatoes - whichever variety of little tomatoes looks freshest at the grocery store is your best bet. Grape, cherry, whatever!
- Onion - red onion is the ideal kind for salads since it's less sharp than other varieties and packs a crunch
- Arugula - for some green goodness, but it's optional if you'd like this salad for meal prep
- Chicken - I just bought a rotisserie chicken for ease, but if you've got a leftover Roast Chicken, that's great too
- Parmesan - I can't resist giving this pasta salad a little bit of a cheesy dimension
- Basil - fresh basil perfectly complements and enhances all the flavors
For the dressing
- Lemon - we're using both freshly squeezed lemon juice and the zest for ultimate brightness. I like to use my Microplane to effortlessly zest it.
- Olive oil - to balance out the acidity and add body
- Honey - for a hint of sweetness
- Garlic - use even more if you're a big fan of garlic! I like to use this garlic press to mince it since you don't even need to peel the cloves.
- Salt & pepper - as with any pasta salad, it's important to be generous
Make ahead tip
- If you want to make this salad ahead of time or for meal prep, I suggest leaving out the arugula. That way, it'll last in the fridge a few days no problem. Just mix in the arugula when you're ready to enjoy it!
How to make lemon orzo salad
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Boil a salted pot of water, and cook the orzo al dente. Rinse with cool water, drain, and transfer the pasta to a large bowl.
- Prep and chop all the salad ingredients and add to the bowl.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a jar or small bowl and mix thoroughly. Toss the salad with the dressing, and enjoy!
Substitutions and variations
- I used a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, but you can definitely quickly cook some chicken if you have some. Try pan frying it with your favorite seasoning, and it'll be delicious.
- Need to make this vegetarian? Simply omit the chicken.
- Feel free to throw in any fresh herbs you may have in the garden!
- If you don't like arugula, try swapping it for spinach.
- I think that Kalamata olives and/or capers would go great in here if you're a fan.
Leftovers and storage
- As mentioned above, this orzo salad will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days no problem if you leave out the arugula.
- If this salad has been sitting out in the sun for any amount of time, I'd eat it right away or discard it for food safety reasons.
Are you an orzo fan? Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or if you've made this orzo salad. As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you've made one of my recipes. 🙂
Lemon Orzo Salad with Chicken
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 2 mini cucumbers (or 1/2 English cucumber) chopped
- 1 cup little tomatoes (grape/cherry/etc.) cut into quarters
- 2 tablespoons red onion chopped
- 2 cups (loosely packed) fresh arugula optional
- 2 cups cooked/rotisserie chicken
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil sliced thin
- 1.5 tablespoons lemon juice + zest of 1 lemon
- 2.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Boil a salted pot of water and cook the orzo al dente according to package directions. Once it's done, rinse it with cool water and let it drain thoroughly. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, prep all the salad ingredients and add them to the bowl. If you're not going to eat the salad right away, I suggest skipping the arugula.
- Add the dressing ingredients to a jar or small bowl, and whisk/shake until well combined.
- Toss the salad with the dressing. Add more lemon/oil if needed. I also add plenty of salt & pepper - there's a lot of pasta in here, so you need to salt it well so it doesn't taste bland.
- This recipe makes quite a lot of pasta salad. If served with nothing else, this could serve 4 adults. You can easily get 6+ servings out of this. If you know you're going to have leftovers, I suggest either leaving out the arugula or only tossing it with the portion of the salad you'll be eating right away. Without arugula, this salad will last in the fridge for a few days no problem.
- 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.