Chicken Orzo Salad
Chicken Orzo Salad — This chicken orzo salad comes together in under 30 minutes and is made with juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, a tangy lemon vinaigrette, and more!
Chicken Orzo Salad Recipe
In 7 years of blogging, I’ve never posted an orzo recipe until now. Better late than never and this one is so easy and packs in loads of texture and flavor. This chicken orzo salad is ready in under 30 minutes, makes enough to serve a crowd or for planned leftovers, can be served warm or chilled, and it’s a very flexible recipe based on the vegetables you have on hand.
Along with juicy chicken and tender orzo, I used cucumbers and tomatoes for texture along with green onions, parsley, and basil for flavor. Everything is tossed with a simple olive oil and lemon juice vinaigrette that adds a hint of lemon, which complements the chicken and vegetables perfectly.
Feel free to substitute with zucchini, red onions, mint, add garbanzo beans, add goat, blue, or feta cheese, add mushrooms or olives, or throw in some greens like spinach or arugula. It’s such a versatile recipe and you can use it to clean out your produce drawer or in the summer when your garden and the farmer’s markets are exploding with veggies.
What is Orzo?
Many people mistakenly think that orzo is a type of rice, but it’s actually a short pasta! It’s slightly chewy in texture and can be doctored up so many different ways. Because orzo is a kind of pasta, it’s not gluten-free, so if that’s something you’re concerned about make sure to buy a certified gluten-free orzo (I’m sure they exist!).
What’s in Chicken Orzo Salad?
For this chicken orzo pasta salad, you’ll need:
- Cooked orzo
- Olive oil
- Chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- Cherry tomatoes
- Green onions
- Fresh parsley and basil
- Lemon juice
- Apple cider vinegar
How to Make Orzo Salad
Cook the orzo according to package instructions, and cook the diced chicken in a little olive oil. While the chicken cooks, dice the veggies and add to a large mixing bowl along with the fresh herbs. Add the orzo and chicken to the bowl and toss to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon vinaigrette, then pour over the orzo pasta salad and toss to coat. This orzo salad recipe can be served warm, or you can cover it with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.
Can I Omit the Chicken?
Of course! If you don’t have chicken on hand or simply wish to leave it out, you don’t have to use it. If you don’t eat meat, chickpeas would be a good substitute for the chicken (just make sure to rinse and season them before mixing them into the orzo pasta salad).
Can I Make This Orzo Salad in Advance?
Yes, this orzo pasta salad will keep for up to five days in the fridge. Over time, the veggies will release some juices, but if you give everything a good stir before serving this pasta salad it’ll still taste delicious.
Tips for Making Chicken Orzo Salad
Just like you would with any pasta, make sure to salt the orzo cooking water. You want every layer of this orzo salad to be seasoned, otherwise the pasta and veggies will taste bland despite the refreshing lemon vinaigrette that’s drizzled over top.
As I already mentioned, this is a wonderful clean out the fridge meal. Feel free to use different veggies, herbs, and protein in this orzo salad recipe.
For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed lemon juice in the vinaigrette and not the bottled kind. You only need about one lemon for this recipe, and the fresh juice makes a huge difference!
- 12 ounces orzo, cooked according to package directions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- about 1.50 pounds thin-sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups English cucumbers, diced small
- 1 cup green onions, sliced into thin rounds (from about 4 to 5 green onions)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
- To a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, chicken, evenly season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and lightly golden browned. Stir and flip intermittently to ensure all sides cook evenly. I used thin-sliced chicken breasts which cook quickly. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken. Transfer the chicken and cooking juices to the bowl with the orzo.
- Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, parsley, basil, and stir to combine; set aside.
- To a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and whisk to combine. Taste vinaigrette and check for seasoning balance; add more salt, honey, lemon juice, etc. to taste.
- Evenly drizzle the vinaigrette over the orzo bowl, stir to coat evenly, and either serve immediately or cover with plasticwrap and refrigerate before serving.
Salad will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days noting the vegetables will release water as time passes; serve warm, chilled, or at room temp.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 480 Total Fat: 16g Saturated Fat: 3g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 12g Cholesterol: 96mg Sodium: 621mg Carbohydrates: 42g Fiber: 4g Sugar: 13g Protein: 41g
More Easy Pasta Salad Recipes:
Italian Chicken Pasta Salad — Easy, ready in 20 minutes, and healthy! Bursting with fresh flavors from juicy tomatoes, cucumber, basil, parmesan, and tender chicken tossed in a tangy lemon vinaigrette!
Smoky Chicken, Peppers, and Spinach Pasta Salad – Juicy chicken, crisp bell peppers and pasta with smoked paprika! Fast, easy, healthy and a hit with everyone! Great for picnics, potlucks, or easy weeknight dinners!
Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad – Big juicy chicken chunks and texture galore from the rainbow of crispy veggies! Fast, easy, fresh and healthy! Great for picnics, potlucks, and easy dinners!
BLT Pasta Salad — EASY, ready in 15 minutes, feeds a crowd, and PERFECT for potlucks and parties. Creamy ranch dressing perfectly coats the pasta and BACON.
Mandarin Orange Chicken Pasta Salad – EASY, ready in 30 minutes, and packed with Asian-inspired flavors!! Juicy sesame chicken, pasta, and lots of healthy vegetables!
Taco Pasta Salad – EASY, ready in 20 minutes, and loaded with great Mexican-inspired ingredients including corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, and more!
Garden Fresh Tortellini Pasta Salad — This pasta salad is the perfect way to take advantage of garden-fresh ingredients. It’s easy, ready in 15 minutes, there’s loads of flavor, and plenty of texture contrasts.