This easy pesto orzo recipe is a one pot meal with chicken, pasta, and so many incredible Italian flavors for a quick weeknight family dinner!
Try this Spicy Italian Sausage Gnocchi next.
This post is sponsored by DeLallo – thank you for supporting the brands that keep Salt & Lavender cooking! I only work with brands whose products I love. All opinions are my own.
Why you'll love it
Orzo pasta is definitely having a moment, and for good reason! It's much easier to work with than making a risotto, and it's now a staple in my pantry. This one pot orzo has chicken, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and beautiful fresh asparagus for an irresistible 30 minute meal that's impressive yet has effortless clean-up!
Our kitchen is obsessed with DeLallo's Italian products. They started as a small specialty shop outside of Pittsburgh in 1950, and they're still family owned today and have expanded to become a nationwide favorite with everything from pasta to bruschetta and tapenades to gift baskets. I'm thrilled to partner with DeLallo to bring you this delicious orzo recipe.
Ingredients for it
- Butter and olive oil - for sautéing
- Onion and garlic - our tasty aromatics. I like Vidalia (sweet) onion best, but yellow or white is fine
- Italian seasoning - it's an all-purpose blend of dried herbs including rosemary and thyme that comes in a single convenient jar
- Orzo - we're using DeLallo's orzo pasta. It's a delicious barley-shaped variety
- Broth - chicken broth adds depth of flavor
- Heavy cream - to add a luxurious touch
- Pesto - DeLallo Simply Pesto is a vibrant and versatile condiment that has the freshest basil, cheese, pine nuts, and garlic!
- Sun-dried tomatoes - I'm a big fan of DeLallo sun-dried tomatoes since they're perfectly sweet, chewy, and marinated in herbs for concentrated tomato flavor
- Asparagus - to add a pop of fresh spring flavor and brightness
- Chicken - we're using cooked chicken to make it extra easy. I used rotisserie.
- Parmesan - always grate your own parmesan from a block for freshness and texture
Did you know?
- The original DeLallo marketplace established by George and Madeline DeLallo still exists today in the industrial town of Jeannette, PA. It has a population under 10,000, so those are some lucky folks who get to shop there in person, but the rest of us can easily at DeLallo's website!
How to make pesto orzo
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, sauté the onion in the oil and butter. Add in the garlic, Italian seasoning, and orzo. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring often.
Stir in the chicken broth, cream, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and asparagus. Once bubbling gently, cook it uncovered for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every so often. Add in the cooked chicken.
Once the chicken is warmed through and the liquid ratio is as you'd like, remove from the heat, and stir in the parmesan cheese. Season with salt & pepper as needed and enjoy immediately!
- It may seem like there's quite a bit of liquid when you first add it in, but the orzo will absorb it. If the cooking time has elapsed and there's still too much liquid for your preference, simply wait a few minutes and the pasta will soak it up. If it's too dry, simply add another splash of cream and/or chicken broth.
Substitutions and variations
- Try swapping the asparagus for baby spinach. Add it in closer to the end of cooking, however, so it just wilts.
- If you want this to be more of a side dish, feel free to omit the chicken!
- Adding in some fresh herbs from the garden if you happen to have some would taste great.
Leftovers and storage
- This pesto orzo recipe will last in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days, but keep in mind the orzo will continue to soak up the sauce. You may want to add a splash of cream when reheating.
- Reheat over low heat in a covered saucepan or in 30-second intervals in the microwave.
- I don't recommend freezing this recipe. Cream and pasta don't hold up well in the freezer.
I hope you enjoy this pesto orzo as much as I do! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions, or tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 cup DeLallo Orzo Pasta uncooked
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/4 cup DeLallo Simply Pesto
- 1/3 cup DeLallo Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil drained & chopped
- 6 spears asparagus cut into quarters, see note
- 2 cups cooked chicken (try rotisserie) shredded/chopped
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 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.
- Stir in the chicken broth, cream, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and asparagus. Once it starts to bubble, continue cooking for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring fairly often. You will likely need to turn the heat down a bit (to medium or even medium-low). You want it to gently bubble vs. furiously boil, and you don't want the liquid to reduce too much before the pasta has cooked.
- Stir in the cooked chicken (let it warm through for a minute or so).
- Take the pot off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. Give it a taste, and if the pasta is firmer than you'd like or you want the sauce to be thicker/more absorbed, cover the pot and let it sit for a few minutes. If the sauce has reduced too much, add in a splash of cream. Season with salt & pepper as needed and enjoy immediately.
- If you're using very thin asparagus or you prefer it to be more crisp, add it in a few minutes later than suggested.
- Every stove and pot varies, so if you notice that the liquid has absorbed before the pasta has cooked, I recommend turning the heat down and adding a little more chicken broth and/or cream. If there's too much liquid, simply leave it a bit longer as the orzo will soak it up quickly.
- Orzo is pasta. If you want to make this with rice, you may have to adjust liquid measurements and cooking time.
- Serves 4-6 depending on how much people eat/what else it's served with.
Jessie Hanouw says
Where is the nutritional information listed ? Thanks.
I don't list it for sponsored posts as my nutrition database only pulls generic info, so I don't want to mislead since this uses DeLallo's products specifically - sorry!
This was delicious!! I will make it again - the family enjoyed it!!
We couldn’t find orzo so we went with a short pasta and I swore I saw kale (not spinach) as the add in so we had a short pasta + kale version. Flavor was perfect but I’ll do orzo and spinach next time 😂
I'm so glad it worked out lol. Thanks for letting me know!
Really delicious and so easy! We had leftovers that heated up just as delicious as the first time. I also used lactose free 2% milk and it was creamy and perfect still.
I'm so pleased it was a hit!! 😀
Deborah Blackburn says
Natasha you did it again!!!!!! This recipe is soooooo good. The flavors are so delicious! I will be making this over and over again! YUM!
Yay!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! 😀 Thanks for letting me know!
I have never left a comment without having prepared the recipe, but I wanted to say that we order the best blue cheese stuffed olives from DeLallo's (for my martinis!). They are fresh and vacuum packed to stay that way. Great sponsor! This dish looks simple with classic flavors. I will check back in after we have actually made this!
Ooh I love their olives but I haven't tried those! I feel lucky to be able to work with them. 🙂 Let me know if you end up trying this recipe!
Delicious! I’m obsessed with orzo. I’ve never thought to toast the orzo with the onion/garlic/spices before adding the liquids, but I’m super impressed with how it turned out. I’ll be making this again!
I'm so happy you liked it!!