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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.

lemon orzo salad in a white bowl

Why you’ll love it

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’s simple to make.

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 rice-shaped pasta 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 – use grape, cherry, or any little tomato variety
  • 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!

lemon orzo pasta salad with chicken in a glass prep bowl

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.

What to serve with orzo salad

  • It makes a fantastic lighter main course, so it’s perfect on its own or with a slice of crusty bread.
  • You can also leave out the chicken, and then it makes a perfect complement for seafood recipes such as my Easy Pan Seared Salmon Recipe or these Tequila Lime Shrimp.

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.
lemon orzo salad close-up

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 close-up
4.89 from 26 votes

Lemon Orzo Salad with Chicken

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.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 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.


Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 167mg, Potassium: 256mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 491IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 116mg, Iron: 1mg

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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  1. Sounds like a great recipe I will surely try it!
    Just a note -Much better to heavily salt the orzo water that is when you can actually season it versus salting heavily later -you’d be surprised by the difference in taste with pasta cooked with a small amount of salt and that cooked with a generous amount (if you tasted the water in the pan it should taste like the ocean) it is night and day and it’s not that it tastes salty it just brings out the flavor of the pasta itself.

    1. You bet. I am definitely big on seasoning the pasta water. Most people don’t salt it enough, so thus the note in the blog post. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    What a great salad. I seasoned my orzo with Parmesan, a little olive oil and added Kalamata olives. I found an herb lemon dressing since I was short on time and it was so good. Next time I’ll make the dressing. Thank you for sharing

  3. This salad is so delicious! For some reason, I had a hard time finding orzo in my area, but I finally did! I was a little skeptical about the dressing. Did not want sweet to overpower, and it did not! I added chopped up Kalamata olives! Yum!!

  4. 4 stars
    Really healthy salad for hot summer evenings. I used homegrown basil, arugula and tomatoes. I should have read reviews first. Definitely needs more dressing! I added Kalamata olives and dill. Better!

  5. 5 stars
    Fresh and delicious! Just wonderful. I followed the advice of some of the other reviewers and doubled the dressing recipe. *Chef’s kiss*

  6. OMG! I made this and I’m obsessed!! I went to Kroger to get the ingredients and it turns out that they actually had a lemon vinaigrette dressing that had all the ingredients for the dressing plus mustard. I used that in this recipe since I was short on time and it was delicious as well. I’m definitely making this again and it makes for a great meal prep

  7. 5 stars
    Ok – made this, and it was a hit! Here was my slightly altered version: green onions instead of red; add toasted pine nuts; add extra “squirt” of honey to cut the bitterness in the dressing; double dressing. EXCELLENT summer salad!