This creamy garlic parmesan orzo is a mouthwatering, comforting meal that's also super easy to make. It's made with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, and you can have it on the table in just 20 minutes!
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Creamy, cheesy and garlicky are the three adjectives I love most when it comes to food. This creamy garlic parmesan orzo has it all, and it's one of my favorite things to cook when I want a tasty treat that comes together super fast.
I love this parmesan orzo on its own, but it's also an excellent side dish to serve with chicken, seafood or simply with your favorite roasted veggies.
I make this orzo dish with half and half (single cream) to keep things a bit lighter but trust me — the creaminess is there. The starch in the orzo is a natural thickener that makes the sauce thick without adding loads of heavy cream.
Why you'll love this garlic parmesan orzo
- Comfort food at its best — This orzo recipe, with its luxuriously rich garlic parmesan sauce, is like a warm hug for the soul.
- Super easy to make — The creamy orzo is a breeze to make with just a handful of ingredients.
- Versatile sidekick — Besides being scrumptious on its own, this recipe is also the perfect accompaniment for grilled chicken, seared salmon, or roasted vegetables.
What goes into cheesy orzo pasta
Olive oil + butter — A blend of olive oil and butter creates a perfect base for sautéing your shallots and garlic, providing flavor and richness.
Shallots — Shallots add a slightly sweet onion flavor to the dish. You can substitute them with a finely chopped yellow onion or a few green onions (scallions).
Garlic — The star of the show! Fresh garlic infuses your orzo with a bold, mouthwatering flavor.
Orzo — This rice-shaped pasta is what makes this dish so delightful! Orzo cooks quickly and absorbs the flavors of the sauce beautifully.
Vegetable broth — The orzo simmers in vegetable broth, which adds depth and flavor to the dish. You can use store-bought or homemade broth, but be sure to watch the sodium content to avoid over-salting your dish.
Half and half (single cream) — A cup of half and half (single cream) transforms this dish into a lusciously creamy one. For an even richer sauce, use heavy (double) cream.
Remember that traditional Parmesan cheese is not vegetarian due to the use of animal rennet, but some producers now use microbial or vegetable-based rennet, making it vegetarian-friendly.
How to make parmesan orzo
In a large skillet or pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted.
Add the chopped shallot and garlic to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
Pour the vegetable broth into the pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the orzo is tender and has absorbed most of the broth.
Pour the half and half (single cream) into the pan and stir to combine. Heat the mixture over low heat until it is hot but not boiling.
Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the top with a handful of fresh parsley for garnish.
Leftovers and storage
- If you have any leftovers, they will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat the creamy orzo gently in a saucepan over low heat. You might need to add a splash of milk or broth if it looks too thick.
- I don't recommend freezing this creamy parmesan orzo.
Recipe notes and tips
- To take your creamy garlic parmesan orzo to the next level, add some extra garnishes before serving. A sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, or thyme is great for adding a pop of flavor and color, while a drizzle of balsamic glaze can make the dish look more gourmet.
- The creaminess of this dish is entirely up to you! If you prefer a thicker and creamier texture, use less broth and more cream. If you prefer a lighter and more broth-based sauce, then add more broth and less cream.
- You can add other types of cheese instead of Parmesan. Asiago and pecorino romano are two great options.
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (20 g) butter
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
- 2 cups (300 g) orzo
- 2 ½ cups (600 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 cup (200 ml) half and half (single cream)
- ½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- A handful fresh parsley, to garnish
- In a large skillet or pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted.
- Add the chopped shallot and garlic to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the shallot is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the red chili flakes (if using) and orzo to the pan and stir to coat the orzo with the oil and butter.
- Pour the vegetable broth into the pan and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the orzo is tender and has absorbed most of the broth.
- Pour the half and half (single cream) into the pan and stir to combine. Heat the mixture over low heat until it is hot but not boiling.
- Stir in the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle the top with a handful of fresh parsley for garnish.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 589mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.