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Orzo Risotto

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 581
orzo risotto made with chicken broth, shallot, garlic, white wine, salt, butter, cream, manchego cheese and pepper
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Decadent yet surprisingly simple, this rich orzo risotto is the perfect weeknight dinner for both kids and adults alike.

The Best Orzo Risotto

What we love best about traditional risotto is captured by our quick cooking friend, orzo! Silky, creamy goodness, steeped in flavor, topped with cheese and fresh cracked pepper…what more could you ask for? On the coldest days when you’re hoping for something cozy and filling, orzo risotto will be here to warm you up. Impressive and full of flavor, we’re shining a light on this easy orzo risotto recipe so you too can have a weeknight dinner ready in 30. You’ll be hooked from the first bite.

orzo, olive oil, chicken broth, shallot, garlic, white wine, salt, butter, cream, manchego cheese and pepper in bowls

Are Orzo and Risotto The Same?

Orzo vs. Risotto…we get it! It’s confusing. So, if you’re wondering if you can substitute orzo for risotto rice, or if orzo can be used for risotto, the answer is yes, BUT they are not the same thing, and neither is the cooking method! Orzo is a tiny, grain-shaped pasta made from wheat flour like semolina. Traditional risotto is a rice dish made from the slow absorption of liquid to create a creamy and thick sauce that envelopes each rice grain. For this orzo risotto recipe, we let chicken broth and wine gently absorb over the course of a quick simmer. This risotto with orzo makes for a comforting, elevated side dish in a pinch or can be used for a complete meal by tossing in some frozen peas or serving it alongside Wine Braised Short Ribs.

shallots, orzo and garlic being cooked in olive oil in a pot making orzo risotto

The Secret to How to Cook Orzo Like Risotto

The best thing about cooking orzo for risotto is that it is basically foolproof. Whereas risotto made with arborio can take over an hour to perfect with the need for constant attention, this simple recipe for orzo risotto takes about 30 minutes with little to no fuss. We have two secrets for the best orzo risotto:

  1. Toasting the orzo: after cooking the shallots and garlic, we toast the orzo until golden brown so that when the liquid is added in, it’ll hold its rice-like shape while still absorbing and releasing starch to create a creamy finish.

  2. Preheating the broth: by adding warm broth to the freshly toasted orzo, it’ll soak up all the flavor without becoming overcooked. Simply add in all the liquid at once and let it do its thing: no need to mix! At about 10-12 minutes, it’ll be just slightly undercooked and it’ll continue to cook after the liquid is absorbed. The final addition of heavy cream and butter keeps it smooth and velvety.

shallots, orzo, garlic, white wine and chicken broth in a pot making orzo risotto

What Do You Need For Orzo Risotto?

Although risotto might seem like a complicated dish, we promise that this orzo risotto recipe is simple enough that you may have all the ingredients at home! We use less than 10 ingredients (minus salt and pepper!) – a few aromatics, creamy salted butter, and your favorite, sharp, nutty cheese make this dish undeniably great:

  • Low-sodium chicken broth

  • Orzo

  • Olive oil

  • Shallot, finely minced

  • Garlic cloves, minced

  • Dry white wine

  • Salted butter

  • Heavy cream

  • Manchego cheese (or parm works well here, too for a orzo risotto parmesan)

  • Sea salt

  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Feel free to make it your own with the addition of herbs such as thyme or parsley! We also like to Dry-Sauté Mushrooms to place over the top or serve as a side to Instant Pot Chicken and Roasted Asparagus.

butter and heavy cream being stirred into cooked orzo to make orzo risotto

How to Make Orzo Risotto

In half the time and effort of classic risotto, make easy, creamy, cheesy orzo risotto:

  1. Preheat the broth! Slowly simmering your chicken or vegetable broth, when added to the orzo, allows it to cook faster and more evenly, so what you’re left with is perfectly al dente pasta.

  2. Sauté the aromatics! Garlic and shallots add an extra layer of savory flavor and bring out the subtle nuttiness of the orzo.

  3. Toast the orzo! For perfect orzo, don’t skip this step! Not only does toasting the orzo to a golden brown add color and flavor, but it prevents the orzo risotto from getting soggy or mushy!

  4. Simmer! Unlike traditional arborio rice, this risotto with orzo doesn’t need to be constantly watched or stirred. In a matter of 10-12 minutes, it’ll suck up all that delicious flavorful broth without all the extra care (or time!)

Finish it off! While the orzo risotto is still warm, add in the butter and heavy cream. It’ll start to come together to create a luxurious, rich sauce. Then, add in the cheese and mix just until melted. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper. Voila!

manchego cheese being added to cooked orzo with white wine and chicken broth for homemade orzo risotto

Tools You’ll Need for Creamy Orzo Risotto

Our Creamiest Pasta Recipes

When we want something comforting, we turn to pasta. It’s budget friendly, easy to fancy up, and always satisfies. Some of our favorite ways to enjoy:

orzo risotto made with chicken broth, shallot, garlic, white wine, salt, butter, cream, manchego cheese and pepper

Simple is Best!

Why spend hours in the kitchen, when you can spend 30 minutes with the same fantastic results? We’ve made this easy orzo risotto recipe for just that reason! Did you make it? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Orzo Risotto

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 581

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound orzo
  • ¾ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces manchego cheese, finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Heat the chicken broth in a small saucepan, over low heat until almost simmering.

  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. When the oil is glistening, add the shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and orzo and cook, stirring, until the pasta is a light golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

  4. Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated, about 1-2 minutes.

  5. Add the warmed broth along with the salt to the saucepan, increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.

  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is al-dente, about 10-12 minutes.

  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and heavy cream. Once the butter has melted, slowly add the manchego cheese along with the black pepper, stirring, until the cheese has melted, about 2-3 minutes.

  8. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Serve warm.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories581
  • Protein16 g
  • Carbohydrates59 g
  • Total Fat29 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol37 mg
  • sodium507 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Orzo Risotto

Questions & Reviews

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  • Amy

    This was incredible! I added rotisserie chicken and a big handful of chopped kale and boom, dinner done! This will definitely be a new go to for when I need something quick and easy for the fam.

    Thanks Amy! So happy you and the family loved it!