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5 from 2 votes

While many people wonder if orzo is rice or pasta. It’s a tiny pasta that’s rice-shaped and made of durum wheat. It’s easy to make and is ready in minutes. Enjoy it in pasta salads, vegan parmesan orzo, or as a simple side dish. Like most pasta, it’s versatile!

Close up of cooked orzo in a white bowl.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Healthy choice: If you want pasta but want to keep it healthy, orzo is a great option. This whole-grain pasta contains 1 gram of fat, 41 grams of carbohydrates, and 7 grams of protein per serving.
  • Delicious: There are so many orzo recipes out there, and knowing how to cook orzo will ensure you nail them every time to enjoy those spectacular flavors. 
  • Light & refreshing: I make the most delicious orzo salad with roasted grape tomatoes, onions, zucchini, olives, and fresh basil. It is light, filling, and refreshing!

What Is Orzo?

Orzo is a small pasta that is thin and oval. In fact, most people call it rice-shaped pasta. However, in Italy, it’s a pastina, or little pasta, which is cute. In Italian cuisine, it is used in soups, but it can be used for grain bowls and in other situations where you’d like a tiny little pasta to prevail. 

Types Of Orzo

There aren’t too many types of orzo out there, though you will find gluten-free orzo, which is ideal if you have celiac or gluten sensitivity. Dried orzo varieties in rainbow colors can add a beautiful look to your meals. You’ll also find some made of durum wheat or wheat semolina flour, which is the same type of flour most other pasta are made from. 

Close up of cooked orzo in a white bowl.

Nutrition For Mental Health

This orzo is made from durum wheat semolina. Semolina is rich in thiamine, folate, and riboflavin. It is also a good source of iron. Low thiamine levels have been shown to be directly associated with increased depressive symptoms.


You’ll only need a few basic ingredients to know how to cook orzo with ease. Once you do it, you will become familiar with how to use this rice-shaped pasta and will start using it in everything!

Ingredients for how to cook orzo.
  • Orzo: Remember that your chosen orzo will need to be measured to the right ratio to water. In this recipe, it will be 1 cup of orzo. 
  • Water: Your water for making orzo needs to be 4 cups for every 1 cup of orzo. In this way, you’ll cook it perfectly. 
  • Salt: Just a little salt adds some flavor and helps prevent the orzo from sticking together in a big clump. 

Step-by-Step Instructions: How To Cook Orzo

In just minutes, you’ll have your orzo ready to serve. With only 3 steps, you’ll find this to be one of the easiest things you can make in your kitchen. I will say one of my favorite ways to cook orzo is on the stovetop because it’s quick and easy to do.

  1. Pour water and salt into a smaller Dutch oven or a saucepan and bring to a boil. (This takes 4-7 minutes, depending on the heat source and elevation.)
A person pouring water into a pot.
  1. Add one cup of orzo to the pot of salted water and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
A person pouring orzo into a pan on top of a stove.
  • Al dente: ~ 6-7 minutes of cooking time
  • Tender orzo: ~ 7-8 minutes of cooking time.
  1. Strain the water and use it as desired. (If you plan on baking the orzo or using it in a cold salad, rinse it thoroughly with cold water after straining it.)

Instant Pot Orzo Method

Cooking orzo in an instant pot is quick and easy to do.

  1. Add water, uncooked orzo, and salt to an Instant Pot.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes.
  3. Quick-release pressure.
While many people wonder if orzo is rice or pasta. It’s a tiny pasta that's rice-shaped and made of durum wheat. (Not your traditional pasta shape!) If you're wondering how to cook orzo, I’ll show you easy ways to get the cooking method down pat. In this way, you can make orzo pasta salads, vegan parmesan orzo, a simple side dish, or make it the base for your Italian cuisine when you want to enjoy something unique. This is a versatile pasta!

Orzo Serving Ideas

Not sure how to serve your orzo? While it is delicious with a little vegan butter, there are more things you can add to make it a gourmet experience. 

  • Fresh herbs: Add some fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, or sage. These fresh and aromatic herbs will add a new dimension to your orzo dishes. 
  • Spices: Throw in some minced garlic or pull out things from your spice rack. A shake of red pepper flakes or ground black pepper can really liven up this dish. 
  • Lemon zest: Orzo goes so beautifully with lemon flavors, so add a little lemon zest to it for that acidity to balance out your meal. 
  • Lemon juice: And while you’re zesting that lemon, go for it with the lemon juice. A squeeze of lemon is the perfect addition. 
  • Vegan parmesan cheese: Many orzo recipes call for parmesan cheese, though you can use vegan parmesan cheese to get the same deliciously cheesy and savory results. 
  • Cherry tomatoes: Add more color and nutrition with halved cherry tomatoes. If you combine all of these suggestions, you will have an incredible vegan meal with orzo!
  • Oil: Drizzling extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil over this simple orzo recipe is great when using it for a pasta salad or other easy side dish.
  • Vegan Meatballs: This Vegan Meatball Recipe is the perfect pairing for this simple orzo recipe. They’re packed with flavor, plant-based protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Easy Bruschetta: Pair this easy orzo recipe with this mouth-watering easy bruschetta recipe.
Bowl of cooked orzo with a metal spoon sticking out.

Cooked Orzo Storage Tips

Orzo stores really well, so if you have leftover orzo, don’t fret. There are some helpful tips below, though!

  • Refrigerate: Orzo needs to cool down first before storing it. Keep it in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 to 5 days.
  • Freeze: If you somehow made more orzo than you bargained for, it freezes just fine. You can use it for meal prep. The best way to freeze orzo is in a zippered freezer bag like a Stasher. You can keep this orzo pasta recipe in the freezer for 3 months.
  • Reheating: Use the stovetop to gently warm it up and back to life. You’ll want to add a little liquid at a time to get it to the right texture again. Some vegetable broth or water would work great here. 
White soup bowl of cooked orzo with a smaller bowl of uncooked orzo.


What is the ratio of orzo to water?

The orzo-to-water ratio is one cup of orzo to 4 cups of water. Keep this in mind for when you want to make bigger batches. 

How long should I boil orzo?

If you want your orzo to have an al dente texture, cook it for 6 to 7 minutes. For a more tender orzo, boil it for 7 to 8 minutes. 

How do you not overcook orzo?

Set a timer for 6 minutes after you put it into the boiling water. Then, check your orzo by sampling a grain. If you like the texture, great! But if not, keep watch for an additional minute and check again. Repeat until you like the texture, but no longer than 8 minutes, or you’ll wind up with mush.

Is orzo healthier than rice?

It depends on the rice. If it’s brown rice, brown rice is slightly healthier than orzo. But still, orzo is a healthy choice you can make for your meals. 

Is orzo healthier than pasta?

Orzo IS pasta. But since it is often made with whole grain flour, it is considered one of the healthiest pasta choices. 

Can I cook orzo in a rice cooker?

Yes, you can cook orzo in a rice cooker. However, I don’t recommend it. It’s easy to overcook it this way. Easy methods that I recommend for this oval-shaped pasta are on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker like an instant pot.

Close up of woman holding a spoon of freshly cooked orzo noodles.


A white plate with orzo in it.
5 from 2 votes

How To Cook Orzo

Yield 4 Servings
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Easy orzo pasta that’s ready in 10 minutes or less. Does it get better than that? Cooked orzo is great for pasta salad or can replace traditional spaghetti noodles in your favorite recipe.


  • 1 cup orzo
  • 4 cups of water
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt


  • Pour water and salt into a smaller Dutch oven or a sauté pan and bring to a boil. (This takes 4-7 minutes, depending on the source of heat and elevation.)
  • Add one cup of orzo to the pot of salted water and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.
    – Al dente: ~ 6-7 minutes of cook time
    – Tender orzo: ~ 7-8 minutes of cooking time.
  • Strain the water and use it as desired. (If you plan on baking the orzo or using it in a cold salad, rinse it thoroughly with cold water after straining it.)




Please read through the above blog post for full tips and tricks!


Calories: 190kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 1g, Sodium: 157mg, Potassium: 120mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Calcium: 7mg, Iron: 1mg

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