Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo is a perfect side dish for dinner tonight! This tasty twist on mac and cheese will have you going back for seconds!

Garlic Parmesan Orzo Recipe

Mornin’ loves! (<– that feels like cheating, I’m totally writing this the night before!)

I’m going to attempt to keep things short and sweet today because I have a huge stack of books next to my bed that are calling my name. They’re also TRIPPING me every time I get out of bed. Jerks.

My book obsession is getting a bit out of hand as my TBR list increases almost daily. Right now I’m about halfway through What Alice Forgot and don’t want to put it down! I may start carving out designated binge-reading nights so I can catch up. Sleep? What’s that?

I don’t need no stinkin’ sleep!

Lies! I need all the sleep! And of course some cheesy pasta to dream about!

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo

This totally luscious one-pot garlic parmesan orzo pasta makes an all-star side dish. You may even want to go ahead and make it a main course!

I’m thinking a big piping hot bowl of  cheesy, garlicky orzo with a side of roasted broccoli or asparagus… maybe even a little side salad action to pack in extra veg… YES PLEASE!

This jazzed up cheesy pasta is ready to rock your plate. Print out the recipe card below and meet me in the kitchen!

Garlic Parmesan Orzo Recipe
4.96 from 22 votes

Garlic Parmesan Orzo

Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo is a perfect side dish for dinner tonight! This grown up twist on mac and cheese will have you going back for seconds.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Parmesan Orzo
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 272 kcal
Author Jenn Laughlin - Peas and Crayons


  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 large shallot* (1/4 cup minced)
  • 2 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach


  1. Melt butter in a large pan (grab one that's deep enough for your orzo + sauce) over medium-high heat and sauté your shallot and garlic until tender, adding the garlic towards the end to prevent burning. If extra butter is needed, feel free to add as desired.

  2. Add your milk, broth, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir with a whisk to deglaze the pan.
  3. With your burner set to medium (I had mine set to 6) add the orzo and stir. Set timer for 10 minutes. Once the orzo starts to really boil and bubble, reduce heat to low (2 worked great on my stove) and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the pasta is al-dente or your ideal softness, remove from heat. Sauce will be thin and thicken as it cools. Add your parmesan cheese and chopped spinach and fold into the orzo.
  5. Season to taste as desired, garnish with any additional cheese your heart desires and dig in while it's hot!

Recipe Notes

* No shallot? No problem! Finely minced white or yellow onion will totally work here.

Nutrition Facts below are estimated using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Garlic Parmesan Orzo
Amount Per Serving
Calories 272 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 21mg7%
Sodium 957mg42%
Potassium 294mg8%
Carbohydrates 35g12%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 1981IU40%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 321mg32%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you get a chance to try this tasty garlic parmesan orzo recipe, let me know! You can leave me a comment here (LOVE checking those daily!) or tag @PEASandCRAYONS on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creations. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!

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Creamy Garlic Parmesan Orzo is a perfect side dish for dinner tonight! This tasty twist on mac and cheese will have you going back for seconds! #onepot #onepan #orzo #pasta #garlic #parmesan #spinach #vegetarian

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Recipe Rating


  • Chris Kristiansen

    5 stars
    I made this and just did itty bitty tweaks to meet what I had on hand. I used dinosaur kale instead of spinach, and because I was serving it with a lovely pan-fried chicken, I added the butter/oil/chicken bit/spice leftovers into the orzo after it was cooked. My husband was recovering from CV and had just gained his appetite back. He absolutely raved about it, and I found myself thinking, “if I got this in a restaurant, I would have been impressed!” Thank you for the exceptional recipe! This is going to become a cheat day/comfort food staple in our home 🙂

  • Heidi

    Sadly, the sauce didn’t thicken 🙁 until it was cold. I had to drain a bit off so that we could have dinner. It is absolutely delicious. Will try again.

    • So glad you still enjoyed the recipe Heidi! It for sure thickens as it cools (like it’s super saucy when it’s piping hot) but should not have to be completely cold to thicken. I am happy to help troubleshoot if you’d like. What type of milk did you use? I’m wondering if maybe the lower fat milk options will not work here. I usually have a small container 2% or whole handy for recipe testing so that’s what I use when I make this dish.

  • Ashley Jo Harland

    I made this and it was fantastic!!! I made a few changes that I thought I’d share in case you were curious. I used two medium zucchini instead of spinach, five cloves of garlic instead of two, a half teaspoon of salt/pepper/garlic instead of a quarter, and I also added some sharp white cheddar in addition to the Parmesan as well as chopped flat leaf parsley and my husband and I went back for extra helpings and have been tanking through it! It’s so great and we loved the recipe! I just used what I had on hand a modified it bc were both obsessed with cheese and garlic 💚

  • Sandi

    5 stars
    This is so creamy and delicious. We all loved it.

  • Liz

    5 stars
    I love anything with garlic and this orzo hits the spot! So tasty! And a great option for picky eaters, too!

    • So glad you’re loving it, Liz. Thank you!

  • Kristyn Q

    4 stars
    Delicious and easy (my type of dish!).. I subbed the milk with chicken broth instead — approximately 2 cups od broth & 1/2c water additonally to help thin the liquid durinf cooking! Will definitely make again!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Kristyn!

  • Kirsten

    5 stars
    Delicious, simple, and fast! We just lucked into some beautiful garlic and garlic powder from a local garlic farmer so we hammered it to this pasta. Fantastic!

    Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  • Janice

    I’m so happy I came across your recipe! I made the orzo last night to serve with baked tilapia. I used purple kale instead of spinach and added a sautéed wild mushroom mixture along with extra fresh garlic. It was delicious and I’ll definitely make this again!

  • Kerri

    5 stars
    New family favorite. Thank you !!

  • Wendy

    Omg…so good. I was getting burned out on our regular side dishes and found this. Will definitely be making again and again. Thanks so much!

  • Katie

    5 stars
    Delicious! I made it with half and half and water since I did not have any vegetarian stock.

    I was going to make the creamy tomato orzo until I saw this recipe. I Love garlic!

    Thank you very much!

    • Woot Woot! So stoked the swaps worked great and that you enjoyed the garlicky orzo – thanks Katie!

  • Heather

    5 stars
    Made last night to accompany grilled steak. I didn’t have powdered garlic so I used fresh. It was a little (too?) garlicky but otherwise it was yummy. Meat loving hubby enjoyed it and will eat it again. Adding to my recipe list.

  • Renee Rose

    Can you substitute frozen spinach for fresh and if so how much?

    • Hi Renee! Of course! Since it varies a bit in flavor simply add it to taste. I’d start our with 1/4 cup or so and then increase as desired. I personally adore all spinach but I know some folks prefer to use less when using frozen – It’s totally up to you! xoxo

  • Neha

    This is soooo good! Great side dish…made it once and have been looking for the recipe again ever since! Thanks!

  • Alex

    5 stars
    Hey Jenn! This recipe was AWESOME. An adult KD recipe in disguise? Sign me up! As a super picky eater I can’t express how much I appreciate your stroke of genius. I’ve been looking for a fairly healthy side dish as an alternative to rice, and I feel I’ve hit the jackpot. My only regret is that I hadn’t thought to snap a pic for Instagram before my family and I demolished the dish. Cheers!

  • Louise

    5 stars
    Super easy and very tasty, definitely make again!

  • Lateefa

    What do you eat this with? Can I chop up some chicken breast and cook it in the orzo? I have never made it before!!

    • Chicken is a great pairing! Last time I made it we had it alongside a rotisserie chicken with roasted broccoli. Cooking the chicken in the orzo would throw off the liquid measurements a bit (which the orzo needs to cook) so I’m not sure how to advise on that change. Maybe cook the chicken via a favorite method instead?

  • michelle

    5 stars
    This recipe was absolutely delicious and not to mention very versatile. My daughter could not stop eating it. Thank you!!!!!! Wil be making it again and again!

  • Peter Nichol

    I made this to your recipe. The only change I made was I put in a chopped sweet red pepper .
    It made a lovely lunch with some smoked salmon. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Love the added red pepper!! Thanks Peter!

  • Louise

    Do you have the nutritional values for the wonderful recipe?

  • Louise

    5 stars
    Loved this ! I only had half cup orzo so i subbed in ditilli pasta. Increased salt and pepper and garlic powder to half tsp. Im sure it would have been just as good following the recipe exactly. I did use freshly grated parmesan as i was out of the Kraft parmesan and im sure it would have been only half cup . Yum!

  • Kassie

    Have you tried using almond milk instead of milk?

    • Hi Kassie! I haven’t but let me know if you get a chance to experiment! xo

    • Kirsten

      This is probably way too late to help Kassie but, in case anyone else is wondering the same…

      Almond milk is fine as a sub for milk in this! I never have milk on hand so I used almond milk. I find it’s generally a bit more watery than dairy milk so either add a touch less than the full cup or let it sit a bit longer to thicken up.

  • Julia

    5 stars
    So good! Will definitely make it again!

  • Stephanie

    5 stars
    Cut the recipe in half for two of us. So easy and delicious! Perfect side to go with our pork chops and tasted so much better than any boxed pasta. Thanks!

  • Ali

    Can you make ahead and reheat?

    • Hey Ali! You can! The only thing is, and this happens with most pasta dishes, is that the pasta soaks up the sauce in the fridge and the orzo gets extra fluffy and drier.
      I would maybe make some extra sauce to swirl in while you reheat, keep both the pasta and the sauce separate in the fridge and combine when reheating, or you can just stir in a little milk while reheating it and then adjust the seasoning to taste based on how much is added.

  • Dee

    5 stars
    This was DELICIOUS! I’m a vegetarian, so I followed the recipe. But for my husband, I marinaded chicken breast in garlic and herb marinade the night before, baked it and he cut it up and mixed it in the pasta. Thank you for sharing!

  • Melissa

    5 stars
    Delicious side dish made for a neighborhood party. Used green onions and doubled recipe. Took a while longer to cook, but I’ll be making this again!

    • Thank you Melissa – I’m so stoked it’s making repeat status! Woot!

  • Diana

    5 stars
    This is OUTRAGEOUS! My family loved this & it’s so simple!

  • Tamiya

    5 stars
    This was amazing! I used half milk half heavy cream.

    • Yay!! So glad you enjoyed it Tamiya!

  • Ramona

    5 stars
    This recipe is one that gets categorized as a ‘family favorite’! Made it for the firs time and we all LOVED it! I had some mushrooms that were lonely in the fridge, so I threw them in too! Turned out fantastic!

  • Stephenie

    I have no orzo in my pantry. Do you think a small pasta like ditalini might make an okay substitute?

    • They have a much longer cook time so I’d have to test it to know for sure but LMK if you get a change to experiment! xo

      • Ooh and you could also just make the pasta in a separate pot-o-water, strain, and add then it to the dish. This way it would 100% work since the longer cook time wouldn’t be a factor here! Hope this helps!

  • 5 stars
    Girl, you’re speaking my language with that orzo! There’s never enough garlic in the world for me! 🙂 YUM!

    • YES! Come over for dinner and we can garlic it up!

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