Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo — EASY, ready in 25 minutes, and feeds a crowd!! Juicy lemon chicken with orzo, fresh spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes make this a dinnertime WINNER! Great for parties, picnics, and potlucks!!
Easy Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo
This easy Greek lemon chicken is so flavorful and juicy. Combined with al dente orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh spinach, you’ve got yourself a perfect summery meal that’s ready in 25 minutes.
It also feeds a crowd so it’s perfect for picnics, potlucks, and parties. Put it on your Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and graduation party menu and you will have happy friends and family members.
I almost called this ‘Greek Lemon Chicken Pasta Salad’ since orzo is short-grain pasta after all, and since there are plenty of fresh vegetables. But since you can eat it warm or chilled, I kept ‘salad’ off the title. But in my mind, it’s a pasta salad perfect for this time of year, but I digress.
The orzo is perfectly al dente, the chicken is lemony and juicy, and the dish has so much flavor thanks to the lemon juice, lemon zest, Italian seasoning, oregano, garlic, and onions.
The feta cheese is so well-suited for this recipe. It pairs excellently with the lemon notes in this dish and even if you’re not the biggest feta fan, don’t skip it here. It really makes the finished dish taste even better.
The fresh spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes are a welcome addition that perfectly contrast the cooked pasta and chicken.
What’s in Greek Lemon Chicken with Orzo?
To make the chicken and lemon orzo, you’ll need:
- Orzo pasta
- Olive oil
- Sweet Vidalia onion
- Chicken breasts
- Italian seasoning
- Dried oregano
- Fresh spinach
- Cherry tomatoes
- Lemon juice and zest
- Feta cheese
- Salt and pepper
How to Make Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo
First, boil the orzo. While that’s going, sauté an onion with the chicken and seasoning it generously with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, oregano, and garlic. Don’t be afraid if the chicken looks almost over-seasoned in the pan.
After the chicken is done, and the orzo is done and drained, combine them. All the seasoning from the chicken mingles with the pound of orzo and all is well.
Next, add fresh spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to add sufficient salt and pepper since this dish is a zillion times better when properly seasoned and also because you have a boat load of food.
Add crumbled feta for a classic Greek touch. Finally, drizzle in additional olive oil, to taste. This enhances the flavor and it prevents the orzo from sticking as it cools.
Can I Add Other Veggies to This Orzo Recipe?
Since this is a ‘pasta salad,’ there are no rules in my book about what substitutions or additions you can make. Fresh basil, green onions, red bell peppers, zucchini, marinated artichokes, and olives are just a few additions that would be lovely.
I used English cucumbers and grape tomatoes, but if you have a garden full of regular cucumber (or zucchini) and regular tomatoes, go for it. This salad will help you enjoy the bounty of your garden.
Can I Omit the Chicken?
If you’d rather serve this as a plain lemon orzo pasta salad, you’re welcome to omit the chicken. However, if you’ll be enjoying this as a main dish I recommend adding in the chicken to bulk up the pasta salad.
Tips for Making Lemon Chicken and Orzo
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must in this recipe. And don’t skip the lemon zest, as it’s what gives this Greek lemon chicken orzo so much lemony flavor.
If you’re a real lemon fanatic, feel free to add extra lemon juice and zest to this recipe. Taste the orzo pasta salad and tweak it as you see fit.
If you add the feta when the chicken and orzo are still warm, the cheese will likely melt. If you want to retain visible crumbles, wait a bit until things have cooled down. Either way, the taste is the same, it’s just a visual consideration.
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- 1 pound orzo, cooked according to package directions and drained
- 3 tablespoons olive oil for pan + more for finished dish, as desired
- 1 medium sweet Vidalia onion, diced small
- 1.25 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 5 ounces fresh spinach (about 4 giant handfuls)
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced small
- 1 1/2 cups sliced cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, or to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
- 1+ teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- To a large pot, add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to pot; set aside.
- While orzo is cooking, to a large skillet add 3 tablespoons olive oil, onions, and cook for about 3 minutes; stir intermittently.
- Add the chicken, season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, oregano, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until cooked through; flip and stir frequently to ensure even cooking.
- Add the garlic, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
- Transfer the chicken, onions, and any cooking juices to the large pot with the drained orzo.
- Add the spinach (looks like a lot but it will wilt) and stir to incorporate. Stir for about 2 minutes, or until it begins to wilt.
- Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and stir well to incorporate.
- Add the feta and stir to combine. Tip – If you want the feta to remain more intact, don’t add it until the chicken and orzo have cooled down a bit, or it will melt, which is totally fine, you just won’t see the white crumbles.
- Taste, and as desired, add additional salt. I added an additional approximately 2 teaspoons because it’s a very large quantity of orzo, chicken, and vegetables.
- If desired, drizzle in additional olive oil. I recommend another approximately 2 tablespoons for both flavor and so that the orzo doesn’t stick as it cools. Serve immediately.
- Recipe can be served warm or chilled.
- Extra will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days and I froze the leftovers, noting that the texture of the vegetables does change upon thawing.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 977mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 31g
More Pasta Salad Ideas:
Chicken Orzo Salad — Juicy chicken tossed with orzo, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and a super flavorful lemon vinaigrette!! Easy, healthy, ready in 30 minutes, and a perfect way to use your garden fresh veggies!!
Skinny Italian Chicken Pasta Salad – EASY, ready in 30 minutes, feeds a crowd, and is on the SKINNY side!! Juicy chicken, fresh veggies, and the pasta are tossed in a light and tangy homemade Italian lemon vinaigrette!!
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! Guaranteed family FAVORITE!!
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!