This easy recipe for Lemon Chicken Orzo pasta is made in one skillet in less than 35 minutes! It’s the perfect weeknight meal for busy families.
Easy one pot pasta dinners are a lifesaver on busy weeknights. This lemon chicken orzo recipe is one of our favorite weeknight meals because everything cooks in one pan, including the orzo. Greens are added right to the pot with the asparagus to create a delicious hearty dinner for the entire family.
If you’re looking for an easy orzo recipe with chicken or love lemon chicken orzo soup, then this is the perfect meal for you! You will love this lemon chicken orzo pasta for many reasons.
- It’s a full meal that contains protein, carbs, and nutritious greens.
- The entire dish is made from start to finish in just 35 minutes or less.
- It uses orzo pasta which is a unique grain-shaped pasta that pairs well with chicken and lemon.
- Everything, including the orzo, is cooked in just one pot meaning fewer dishes to clean.
- You can easily adjust the flavor and veggies in this lemon chicken orzo pasta to suit your taste.
Ingredients You Need
- Olive Oil – Used to cook the chicken breast and to toast the orzo pasta in the skillet.
- Chicken Breast – This high-protein meat is the perfect complement to lemon and orzo pasta.
- Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper – Helps to season the chicken and the rest of the dish.
- Orzo Pasta – This grain-shaped pasta is the perfect fit for this meal.
- Garlic & Onion – Infuses the dish with fresh garlic and onion flavor.
- Chicken Broth – Adds flavor to the cooked pasta as well as nutrients. You will need 2 1/4 cups chicken stock, but if you need to substitute some of the stock with water, that works too.
- Asparagus – Adds beautiful green color and nutritious vegetables.
- Greens – Fresh greens also offer great nutrition to the dish. You can use spinach, kale, or your favorite green vegetable.
- Lemon Juice & Zest – Gives this lemon chicken orzo pasta its classic lemon flavor and a pop of fresh acidity.
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese – Adds a creamy and salty texture to the dish and makes a great garnish.
If you’re not familiar with orzo pasta, it’s simply pasta that is shaped in larger grain size. In fact, Orzo is the Italian word for barley which is where this pasta derives its name because it resembles the shape of a barley grain.
How to Make Lemon Orzo with Chicken
- Cook the chicken. Sauté the chicken with a few teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Once chicken is cooked through, remove it from the skillet to a plate.
- Cook the orzo and vegetables. Sauté the shallot in the pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Add the orzo and garlic and sauté for one minute. Add the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat and summer for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for 5 additional minutes.
- Stir in the spinach or greens. Add the spinach and cook for one minute or until the spinach is wilted. Remove the lid and cook uncovered until no excess liquid remains.
- Stir everything together. Add the cooked chicken back to the skillet with the lemon juice, lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.
- Prepping ahead. Prep and chop the onion and asparagus in advance to save time. You can also pre-cut the chicken. Prepping the ingredients in advance saves even more time on the night you cook this meal.
- Use a lemon zester to zest fresh lemon. The fresh lemon zest adds the most flavor to this lemon orzo with chicken dish. You can adjust and add more or less lemon zest, as desired.
- Use water in a pinch. If you don’t have chicken or vegetable stock, you can use water, but chicken stock or vegetable stock adds more flavor and nutrition to the dish.
- Chop chicken breasts into even sized pieces. This will ensure the chicken cooks evenly. Chicken is fully cooked at an internal temperature of 165F.
- Sautéing the orzo with the onion and oil helps create a great nutty flavor in the orzo pasta which compliments the rest of the flavors. Do not skip this step!
- Orzo Pasta Substitution: If you can’t find orzo pasta, you can use quick-cooking rice or your favorite small grain pasta. You may need to adjust the cooking time and the amount of liquid to create the same consistency.
- Use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, if desired.
- Use rotisserie chicken. You can use cooked rotisserie chicken to save time. Simply add it to the recipe when it says to add the cooked chicken back to the pasta.
- Add fresh herbs. Stir in some fresh basil or mint for a pop of fresh herb flavor.
- Change up the greens by using collard greens, beet greens, radish greens or even the leaves of carrot tops in place of the spinach or kale. Add more or less greens, as desired.
- Switch up the cheese. Change up the cheese by using mozzarella, pecorino romano or even fresh feta or goat cheese for a tangy and salty bite.
Using FROZEN VEGGIES: You can use frozen asparagus but you may need to adjust your cook time slightly to add one or two additional minutes onto the cook time after adding the asparagus. We do NOT recommend using frozen spinach in this lemon chicken orzo pasta because it retains too much water.
We love the combination of chicken and orzo in this recipe. The lemon adds the perfect amount of fresh flavor and the fresh greens and asparagus adds hearty nutrients. This lemon orzo with chicken recipe frequently receives rave reviews and you should try it too!
Lemon Chicken Orzo Pasta
- 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh asparagus cut into 1″ pieces
- 3 to 5 ounces spinach, or kale
- zest and juice from one lemon
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot add in the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the chicken is thoroughly cooked then remove it from the skillet onto a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet then add in the onion. Sauté for one minute or until the onion starts to soften.
- Add in the orzo and garlic and sauté for about a minute. Pour in the chicken broth, stir everything together and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes and then add the asparagus. Simmer covered for an additional 5 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook for one minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove the lid and if there is any excess liquid remaining continue to cook uncovered for another minute.
- Add the cooked chicken back into the skillet and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese until everything is combined. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!