Our Favorite Easy Orzo Recipe: A Versatile Side Dish

Here’s a versatile side dish whose leftovers transform into an excellent lunch. What more can you really ask for from the world? (Or from a diminutive box of pasta, anyway.) Our favorite easy orzo recipe is boiled in very well salted water and simply tossed with good butter, lemon juice, grated pecorino and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

It works underneath or alongside a wide variety of meals, and we especially love it for soaking up dreamy sauces. Try it with our striped bass or roast chicken (minus the potatoes, though don’t let me stop ya really).


Warm leftovers gently in the microwave to take the chill off, then toss with chopped veggies and herbs and maybe some beans. So good.

Protips: How to Cook Orzo

When we say well salted water, we mean well salted water. Use about two tablespoons of salt to boil a pound of orzo. That way the water will flavor the dish from the inside out. This goes for all dried pasta recipes. It looks like a lot, but it really makes a difference.

This recipe serves about 3/4 cup of cooked orzo to each of eight people. It’s fine to halve it for a smaller crowd, but it also makes great leftovers. You can take the chill off leftovers with a short spin in the microwave and then toss with vegetables and maybe some canned white beans for a great quick lunch. Try halved cherry tomatoes, blanched asparagus cut into bite-sized pieces, and a handful of chopped fresh herbs like basil, parsley and chives.

Our Favorite Easy Orzo Recipe

This easy orzo recipe makes a simple side dish that works beautifully with a wide variety of meals. It's flavorful in its own right but also complements lots of other flavors.

Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serves 8


  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 3 tablespoons good salted butter (such as Kerrygold)
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Fill a medium pot halfway with water, add 2 tablespoons salt, and bring to a boil. Add orzo, give it one big stir, and then cook undisturbed to al dente according to package instructions. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain a boil or very brisk simmer without letting the pot overflow.
  2. Drain pasta, place back into pot, and toss with butter and lemon juice until butter is melted. Stir in pecorino and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and serve.  


We especially like topping this orzo recipe with saucy proteins, like striped bass and roast chicken (minus the potatoes).

Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving:

Calories:: 277 Total Fat:: 7.1g Carbohydrates:: 42.9g Fiber:: 1.8g Protein:: 9.7g