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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84 Comments

  1. Anna says

    Is the chicken cooked BEFORE you add everything to the pan, or is it raw chicken that cooks with the veggies?

    • Jen says

      Hi Anna, the chicken is raw and you cook it with the onions, carrots and zucchini. Enjoy!

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