Italian Chicken Orzo (One pot!)


Chicken Orzo bursting with Italian seasonings and vegges bathed in a creamy Parmesan tomato sauce.


This chicken and orzo recipe is on your table in just over 30 minutes and is made in one pot! Perfect for weeknight dinners or when you have guests coming over!

chicken orzo loaded with veggies in a gray bowl with a fork

Chicken Orzo Recipe

This Chicken Orzo recipe is one of those meals you crave long after your last bite.  Even though it is an easy one pot meal, it ranks right up there with my Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta, Italian Meatball Skillet, and Tortellini Al Forno, all of which require a few more steps.

Creamy Parmesan tomato-bathed orzo, juicy chicken, tender crisp vegetables and more freshly grated Parmesan.  I’m so in love.

And don’ t you just love it when you delectable cravings happen to be easy to make AND easy to clean up? That doesn’t happen often enough for me, except in the case of Slow Cooker Meals (I love you!), so I am extra giddy over this couldn’t-be-any-more-delicious Chicken Orzo recipe!

Italian chicken and orzo in a bowl with a fork sticking out.

Chicken and Orzo Ingredients

This Italian chicken dish comes together with minimal ingredients but delivers TONS of flavor. Here’s what you’ll need to make chicken and orzo:

  • Chicken: Needs to be chopped into bite-sized pieces.
  • Olive oil: Use a good quality olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Pesto: I used classic basil pesto, but any kind will work.
  • Veggies: Onions, carrots, zucchini, garlic, and bell pepper add flavor and texture to this dish.
  • Orzo: You’ll be adding uncooked orzo to this dish. Don’t worry, it’ll cook while the sauce simmers away.
  • Crushed tomatoes: Use plain crushed tomatoes. Don’t buy the kind with added herbs.
  • Chicken broth and chicken bouillon: Packs in lots of flavor. Use low-sodium chicken broth to control the amount of salt in the dish.
  • Herbs and spices: Oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper flavor this dish.
  • Parmesan cheese: Buy a block of Parm and grate it yourself for the best flavor.

What does Orzo Pasta taste like?

I have always loved the texture of orzo pasta. To me it tastes like creamy risotto when smothered in sauce, like in my Parmesan Meatballs and Orzo, and tastes more like a rice when not smothered in sauce, like in my Southwest Orzo Salad.  For this chicken orzo recipe, we want the risotto effect but without all the time or effort of traditional risotto, making it ideal for busy nights.

process shot showing how to make chicken and orzo in a skillet

How to make Chicken Orzo

I dressed up the orzo pasta by sauteing chicken, onion, carrots, zucchini and red bell peppers in a little pesto, then added orzo and a bath of seasoned crushed tomatoes and chicken broth.

After the orzo drinks up the heavenly flavors for just 8-12 minutes, you are left with a creamy tomato sauce that gets delishified with the addition of freshly grated Parmesan.  Always a good thing.

Hello, Italy.  Hello, no dishes. Hello, new favorite dinner!

process shot showing how to make chicken and orzo in a skillet

Tips for Making Chicken Orzo

  • You’re welcome to use your favorite veggies, such as mushrooms, asparagus, artichokes, zucchini, bell peppers, etc.
  • Only use freshly grated Parmesan as packaged cheeses do not melt very well.
  • If you omit the bouillon, increase salt to ½ teaspoon to compensate.

Recipe Variations to Try

  • Ground Italian sausage: you can swap the chicken for ground Italian Sausage. 
  • Shrimproasted shrimp or butter garlic shrimp would be fabulous.
  • Go vegetarian: omit the meat altogether and add tofu, chickpeas or white beans in its place.
  • Artichokes: are tender, slightly sweet and nutty and divine paired with tomatoes. Purchase artichoke hearts in water NOT marinated. The marinated ones often have an acrid taste.
overhead view of Italian chicken and orzo in a skillet

CAN I PREP Chicken and Orzo IN ADVANCE? 

You can make this one-pot chicken recipe 100% ahead of time and gently warm (see instructions) or prepare elements in advance so it can come together super quickly at dinner time. That being said, it already is a super quick meal!  If you know you are reheating, take extra care that your pasta is al dente.

To prep ahead:

  • Chicken: Slice and store in fridge.
  • Veggies:  Mince the garlic, chop the zucchini, onion, carrots, etc.
  • Cheese: Grate the Parmesan.

HOW TO STORE Chicken Orzo

This chicken and orzo pasta should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When properly stored, it is good for up to five days.

ONE POT Italian Chicken and Orzo (and veggies!) in a creamy Parmesan tomato sauce on your table in almost 30 minutes and all made in one pot!

HOW TO REHEAT Chicken Orzo

This chicken and orzo reheats well so you can enjoy leftovers for days!  Just be aware you always want to make sure your orzo is cooked al dente, especially if you are going to be reheating. 

  • Microwave:   Microwave for one minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until warmed through. You may need to add a splash of milk to add some creaminess back.
  • Stove:  For larger portions, reheat pasta on the stove.  You may need to add a splash of milk to thin the sauce as it will have thickened in the refrigerator. 

CAN I FREEZE Chicken and Orzo?

I don’t recommend freezing this pasta dish since it’s packed with so many veggies. I’m not sure the veggies would freeze and reheat well (they might become grainy or watery).

serving of chicken orzo in a green bowl with a fork.

What to Serve with Chicken and Orzo

This Italian chicken dish pairs nicely with so many sides and salads! Here are some ideas to get you started:

serving of chicken and orzo in a bowl. A spoon is sticking out from the side.

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

ONE POT Italian Chicken and Orzo (and veggies!) in a creamy Parmesan tomato sauce on your table in almost 30 minutes and all made in one pot!

Italian Chicken and Orzo

Orzo Pasta bursting with Italian Chicken and vegges bathed in a creamy Parmesan tomato sauce on your table in just over 30 minutes and all made in one pot! 
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts chopped into bite size (approx.1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pesto, divided
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup zucchini, quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon, optional*
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt *
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish (optional)

  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large NONSTICK pan over medium high heat until very hot. Toss chicken with 1 tablespoon pesto and add to pan along with onions, carrots and zucchini. Sauté for three minutes then add red bell pepper, orzo and garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons pesto, chicken broth, chicken bouillon and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 8-12 minutes, or until vegetables and orzo are tender, stirring every 5 minutes so the orzo doesn’t burn, covering pot after each stir.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with fresh Parmesan and parsley (optional).

Notes

*If you omit the bouillon, then increase salt to ½ teaspoon.

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Reader Interactions

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82 Comments

  1. Simonne says

    I made this dish for lunch today and all I can say is it’s delicious and was a hit at home. In fact it was so tasty I’ve had to have seconds lol!
    Thanks so much for sharing your recipes! I look forward to trying some more new recipes.

    • Jen says

      Hi Simonne, welcome to my site! I am so happy this was such a hit, yay! I hope you have fun exploring my site and hopefully find some more family favorites!

  2. Maria Microulis says

    Just made this recipe, exactly as written, it was delicious! My husband and I both enjoyed it immensely. Thank you for posting it for us to try! Definitely a keeper!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Maria, I am so happy it is a keeper and both of you enjoyed it! Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  3. Janet says

    I’d like to try this delicious looking dish this weekend! Just wondered – in the ingredient list it says “1 tspn. chicken bouillon – is that the dry powdered bouillon? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Janet! Yes, it is the dry powdered bouillon. Enjoy!

  4. Bonnie Starkes says

    I love this Italian chicken with tomatoes and orzo! I have doubled the recipe, froze some, and made it at leave a half dozen times since I found the recipe. My family loves it as well as my co-workers. Only thing I did different was leaving out the cheese at the end. I let people put it on themselves if they want it but its not my favorite. Thanks and would love to see more like this!!!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Bonnie, I am thrilled this is such a winner at your house and with your co-workers! That is good to know it freezes well too! When you say “more like this” – I am curious if you are wanting more chicken/orzo recipes or just more with this flavor profile? Thanks!

  5. kay says

    Cant wait to try this recipe, did you use basil pesto or tomato pesto?

    • Jen says

      great question! basil pesto 🙂

  6. Susan says

    Another one to add to the meal rotation! I didn’t add the bell pepper or onion because I do have some picky eaters in the house. But I think I could sneak some other veggies in the next time I make it. Thanks Jen!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Susan! I’m so happy this was another winner! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Aimee, that is awesome your SIS in law made it – I’m so happy it was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to comment! xo

  7. Debbie & Family says

    Good Lord, this is SO delicious! I just made it to quickly reheat for dinner tonight (after a long day and a rainy soccer game, no one wants to wait 30 minutes). I have to confess, it was so good that I ate an entire serving for lunch and I’m still anxious to eat more for dinner. The chicken was super tender and moist (maybe because i used some brined breast I had left over from another dinner), but regardless, this was a giant flavor bomb! Thank you so much! I was in a cooking rut, but now I’m going to see what other delights are part of this site. Great job!

    • Jen says

      That is awesome Debbie! I am thrilled you love it so much and it leaves you craving more 🙂 I hope you continue to find new recipes that make you excited about cooking!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Emily, so happy it was a hit with everyone! Thank you so much!

  8. Sarah says

    So good!!!!!!!! I crave this now! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Sarah! I’m thrilled its “crave worthy!”

  9. Nichole says

    Are we starting with uncooked chicken? Or cooked?

  10. Sarah says

    My husband and I LOVE this recipe!! It is a regular on our meal schedule. Thank you for the fantastic recipe!! It 110% delicious and easy!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Sarah! I am so pleased it is a family favorite!

  11. Ritu Dewan says

    Just finished making this. It’s got such well balanced flavor. So so good. Thank you for sharing your recipes. Oh yes. And an added bonus -the house smells divine. ❤️

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Ritu! Thanks for taking the time to comment, I’m so pleased you loved it so much!

  12. Tasha says

    I’m not sure if I’m not doin something right.. I’ve made a few times each time is delish.. mine just turns out a little more soupy than i’d like. Any tips? Maybe reducing my chicken stock amount? Thanks for the great recipes! Def a keeper!

    • Jen says

      Hi Tasha, yes, you can definitely reduce the chicken broth if it is still soupy – that should do the trick!

  13. Melody says

    Think pasta sauce will work instead of crushed tomatoes?

    • Jen says

      It should be fine – it will just make it more “saucy” 🙂

  14. Laurie Miller says

    Hi Jen! Can this be made a day ahead? I’m making it for dinner tomorrow night, but wondered if I couldn’t do it tonight and then re-heat when I get home from work.

    I’m so looking forward to it! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Laurie, it can definitely be made ahead of time, just make sure not to overcook the orzo because it will be reheated. Enjoy!

      • Laurie says

        Hi Jen, I made this tonight and it was so easy and sooooooo delicious! My husband and I are both taking leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Thank you so much! I’m now two for two with your recipes…I’m thinking that the Po’ Boy Shrimp pasta salad might be next!!

        • Jen says

          Welcome to my site Laurie! Yay for two for two! I’m so glad you loved this orzo pasta and I hope you continue to find new favorites. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  15. Molly Bollier says

    Excellent! A new favorite!

  16. Kelly says

    The flavors in the dish were amazing! My grocery was out of orzo, so I used Arborio rice. Because of this, I had to rearrange the order of ingredients a bit. I coated my chicken breasts in pesto and baked them in the oven. I sautéd all the veggies in oil with an added tablespoon of butter. I added a cup and a half of Arborio rice and fully coated it in the oil/butter. In a separate pot, I heated the tomatoes, pesto, 4 cups of broth (needed extra to plump that rice) and seasonings. Then I added the liquid to the rice/veggie mixture one ladle full at a time, waiting 2 minutes between each ladle to give the rice a chance to absorb the liquid. I diced my cooked chicken breasts and added it to the finished dish, along with the cheese. It was very yummy as a risotto dish, but preparation clearly wasn’t fast haha. Looking forward to making again once orzo is restocked!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your awesome comment Kelly and for sharing how you were able to make this with Arborio rice! It sounds delicious but hopefully, like you said, you can get your hands on orzo soon for the easier/quicker version!

  17. Rebecca says

    Hi! Cooking newbie here. I’d like to try this but with shrimp instead..since shrimp cools faster should I add it at a different point instead of at the beginning? Thank you!

    • Jen says

      Hi Rebecca, I would cook the shrimp separately first for the best flavor and then just add it back in at the very end. Enjoy!

  18. Jennifer Kieschnick says

    Made this recipe tonight! Made a few tweaks: used Italian sausage and ground beef instead of chicken — it’s what I had thawed out; added cubed butternut squash because it was on sale at the grocery store and sounded good; left out the tomatoes because I didn’t have the Italian kind, but the kind for chili; and I also omitted most of the seasoning on accident (I was doing too many things at once!) I just added salt, pepper, pesto, garlic, and the powdered bullion. It turned out great! My inlaws raise and process all their own beef and pork, so the quality is exceptional and the freshness is unmatched. Makes such a difference in the flavor!

    I’m so glad I found your website! Looks like you have lots of amazing recipes to try! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Welcome to my site Jennifer! I’m so happy you were able to make this Italian orzo your own – sausage and butternut squash sound amazing! I hope you have fun exploring my site and find many new favorites!

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