Orzo Pasta Salad

5 from 5 votes
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You’ll love this zesty orzo pasta salad as a summertime side dish! It’s easy to make with tender orzo, crunchy cukes, juicy tomatoes, and creamy feta tossed in a fresh, flavor-packed lemon vinaigrette.

If you love the bright summertime flavors in this lemony orzo salad, try this Caprese pasta salad and Mediterranean pasta salad.

Orzo pasta salad in a large bowl.

 

I think I’ve met my new favorite summer salad! This lemon orzo pasta salad is bursting with garden-fresh vegetables and crumbly feta, tossed with tender orzo pasta in a zesty homemade dressing. I made it last week and as delicious as it was, we had leftovers. Luckily, this orzo salad stays fresh in the fridge, and I nestled some grilled chicken overtop for lunch in the following days. The Mediterranean-style flavors are perfect for warmer weather, so I’ll definitely be making it again soon!

Why I Love This Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

  • Make it in minutes. An orzo pasta salad is quick to prepare and transports well, so it’s great as a last-minute side dish for potlucks, picnics, and barbecues. It’s also fast and easy to make for the family!
  • Fresh Mediterranean flavors. I make this orzo pasta salad with feta cheese, fresh herbs, and ripe summer veggies. The lemon vinaigrette is a slam dunk, with thyme, honey, and garlic.
  • Adaptable. Like most salad recipes, orzo pasta salad is easy to customize. I’m always adapting the vegetables and add-ins depending on what I have in the fridge.
Ingredients for orzo pasta salad.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here are some notes on the Mediterranean-inspired ingredients in this orzo pasta salad. As with any pasta salad, there’s plenty of room for improvisation, so go ahead and leave out or add in what you like! Scroll to the recipe card after the post for a printable ingredients list with recipe instructions.

  • Orzo – Despite its rice-like shape, orzo isn’t rice. It’s pasta! See below.
  • Tomatoes – I use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes for their sweetness. You could dice up larger tomatoes, like Roma tomatoes if that’s what you have.
  • Cucumbers – Try to buy seedless English cucumbers.
  • Parsley – You can also chop up another herb, like basil.
  • Onion – Thinly sliced red onion, or another mild onion variety.
  • Feta – I like crumbled feta cheese. Other good options are mozzarella pearls, shaved or shredded parmesan, goat cheese, or cubed cheddar.
  • Dressing – I dress this orzo salad with my homemade lemon vinaigrette (included in this recipe card). Feel free to use any dressing you’d like.

What Is Orzo?

Orzo is a type of semolina pasta popular in Mediterranean pasta dishes and salads. It’s small and narrow and looks a lot like large grains of rice even though it’s firmly in the pasta camp. I’ll often use it in chicken noodle soup, and it’s great as a stand-in for rice in recipes for avgolemono soup and rice pilaf. You’ll find dried orzo pasta in the same aisle as other short-cut pasta in the grocery store.

Orzo pasta salad in a large bowl resting on top of a black and white polka dot dishcloth.

How to Make Orzo Pasta Salad

To make this orzo pasta salad, first, you’ll cook the orzo. Once it’s ready, drain and rinse the pasta well under cold water. Don’t forget to rinse! This stops the cooking and washes away any starches. 

Next, take out a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing, and then combine it with the cooked orzo, veggies, and any add-ins, like herbs and feta cheese. Make sure to give the salad a good toss to coat. Finally, cover and refrigerate your orzo salad until you’re ready to serve.

Lemon vinaigrette being poured from a measuring cup over orzo pasta salad ingredients in a large glass bowl.

Easy Orzo Salad Dressing

This fresh lemon vinaigrette is choc full of bright flavor and needs simple ingredients. It’s easy to make by combining oil and vinegar with grated garlic, lemon juice, honey, thyme, Dijon, salt, and pepper. I like to do this in a jar with a lid and give the ingredients a good shake.

Overhead view of orzo pasta salad in a large bowl next to a serving spoon and a jar of dressing.

Tips and Variation Ideas

There are plenty of ways to customize this orzo pasta salad. I’ll sometimes zest the lemon before I squeeze it and add the zest to this salad for an even more punchy flavor. Or, I’ll change it up with one or more of these easy variation ideas:

  • Different dressing. Try another light dressing like the Italian vinaigrette from my Italian pasta salad or this easy Greek vinaigrette. Or make a creamy pasta salad with something like this cilantro lime dressing.
  • Veggies. Play with more vegetable add-ins like bell peppers, cooked broccoli, zucchini, green onions, and green peas.
  • Protein. Stir in cooked diced bacon or chicken, or add chopped salami, pancetta, or chorizo. 
  • More add-ins. Try adding olives, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini peppers, or roasted chickpeas.
Orzo pasta salad in a large bowl resting on top of a black and white polka dot dishcloth.

Serving Suggestions

This orzo pasta salad is a light, easy side dish that goes great with summer grilling. Serve it next to burgers, grilled steak, or juicy grilled chicken, and round out the meal with a side of green salad. It’s also a tasty side with sandwiches, like my turkey club sandwich, an open-faced chickpea “chicken” salad sandwich, or a chicken Caesar wrap

For lunch, I like to turn this orzo salad into a meal by adding a protein over top, like leftover cilantro lime chicken or sauteed shrimp.

Storing Leftovers

This orzo pasta salad will last up to 3-4 days in the fridge. I always find that the flavors get even better with time! This makes it a great make-ahead recipe for potlucks, parties, and cookouts.

More Pasta Salad Recipes

Orzo pasta salad in a large bowl resting on top of a black and white polka dot dishcloth, with a jar of dressing in the background.
5 from 5 votes

Orzo Pasta Salad

By Erin
This orzo pasta salad is an easy summer side dish with tender orzo, crunchy cucumber, ripe tomatoes, and crumbly feta tossed in a zesty lemon vinaigrette.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ cups dried orzo past
  • 1 ½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ Tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions 

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the orzo according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water to chill the pasta. 
  • Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a mason jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well for 30 seconds or until completely combined. Set aside until ready to use. 
  • Add the pasta to a large bowl and top with the tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and red onion. Pour over about half of the dressing and mix to combine. 
  • Top with feta cheese. 
  • Taste and add the rest of the dressing if desired. 
  • Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Notes

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 372mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Erin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Course: Side Dish Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 236
Keyword: orzo pasta salad, orzo salad, orzo salad recipe
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About Erin S

Welcome to Dinners, Dishes, & Desserts where my love of food meets my busy life. My name is Erin and I’m a casual home cook who loves to feed people. On this blog, you’ll find hundreds of quick and easy recipes made mostly from scratch. My days are spent in the kitchen, creating new recipes to share with family and friends.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made the Orzo Pasta Salad for a family barbecue, and it was a huge hit! The flavors were so fresh and vibrant, and the orzo added a nice texture. This will definitely be a staple for our summer gatherings!

  2. 5 stars
    The zesty lemon vinaigrette ties everything together, creating a refreshing and flavorful dish that’s easy to prepare and sure to impress.