This mouthwatering lemon chicken with orzo, spinach and tomatoes is a simple and healthy skillet meal that you can make in only 20 minutes. Perfect for quick and easy dinners!
Chicken orzo pasta is a fantastic one pan weeknight dinner with Mediterranean flavors. It's so easy to make, easy to customize, and allows you to cook a homemade dinner from scratch with minimal dishes to clean.
The chicken is cooked first, then the orzo. This allows both ingredients to be cooked to perfection without making any compromises.
Why you'll love it
- Easy one pan meal
- Make it in only 20 minutes for a quick and easy weeknight dinner
- Stores really well, and perfect for meal prep
- Healthy dinner with protein, a starch and vegetables
- Easy to customize to suit your preferences
- Tastes fantastic
What is orzo?
Orzo is pasta that is shaped like rice. It's made with the same ingredients as other pasta types like spaghetti and penne, but is unique in that each individual piece is the size of a grain.
The size and shape of orzo makes it excellent to use in salads, casseroles and skillet meals. It can also be used instead of rice in many dishes.
Chicken breasts: Or boneless skinless chicken thighs. If you're using frozen chicken, you will have to defrost it beforehand.
Garlic, lemon, seasoning: Add flavor to the dish.
Spinach + tomatoes: Fresh in-season vegetables are best.
Orzo: Amazing short grain type of pasta.
Olive oil: You can also use vegetable oil or butter instead.
Parmesan: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds a cheesy texture. Omit to make it dairy free.
Chicken broth: Or vegetable stock, bone broth or beef stock. Alternatively, you can use water instead.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
One: Sauté sliced chicken in olive oil and seasoning on medium heat until the chicken is almost, or barely, cooked. Set the chicken to the side.
Two: Add diced garlic and orzo to the skillet. Sauté for about a minute.
Three: Add chicken stock. Allow the orzo to simmer on medium heat for about 7 minutes, or until it's soft. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Four: Add Parmesan, halved cherry tomatoes, washed spinach, lemon juice and the cooked chicken to the skillet. Stir to combine, and leave the dish to simmer for about a minute, or until the spinach has wilted. Make sure that the chicken has cooked through before you take the pan off the heat.
- Be careful not to cook the ingredients on a really high heat, or they might burn. Everything can be cooked on medium temperature.
- Stir the orzo occasionally to ensure that it cooks evenly.
- Season the dish to taste before you serve it.
- You can use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked through. Or, you can cut the thickest part of the chicken in half, and make sure that the meat is white throughout with no pink.
- Chicken is always more tender if you slice it against the grain.
- Make sure to defrost frozen chicken thoroughly before use to ensure an even cooking result.
- Top your lemon chicken orzo with freshly ground black pepper, additional Parmesan, crumbled feta cheese or freshly chopped basil for an extra burst of flavor.
This one skillet chicken dinner is best served as an entree. The dish is a complete meal in itself, but I often like to add one or two simple side dishes as accompaniments. Here are some of my favorite recipes to pair lemon orzo chicken with:
- Roasted Green Beans
- Tomato and Cucumber Salad
- Air Fryer Garlic Bread
- Olive Salad
- Air Fryer Kale Chips
- Easy Homemade Croutons
Gluten free: You can try to find gluten free orzo. Alternatively, you can replace the orzo with rice. Keep in mind that rice will take longer to cook, and you might need a little extra chicken stock.
Other vegetables: You can substitute the spinach and tomatoes with other vegetables, or add more veggies to the dish. Try adding artichoke hearts, olives, diced peppers, kale, diced eggplant or zucchini.
Vegetarian: You can replace the chicken with chickpeas, butter beans or a vegetarian chicken substitute. Make sure to omit the Parmesan, or use a vegetarian friendly brand of Parmesan.
Other seasoning: You can substitute the Italian seasoning with the herbs or spices of your choice. You can also add chopped fresh herbs to the finished dish. Try adding parsley, basil or a combination of dried spices.
Spicy: If you want to bring some spice to the dish, you can add some red pepper flakes when adding garlic and orzo.
This one skillet lemon chicken with orzo is perfect for meal prep. Store leftovers in a sealed container in a refrigerator for up to 3 days.
The dish can be served cold, almost as a chicken orzo salad, or you can reheat it on the stove or in a microwave.
As orzo tends to absorb any liquid in the dish, I recommend adding a splash of water when you reheat it.
Frequently asked questions
Lemon chicken pairs really well with salad, rice or pasta. I love to serve it with orzo, or any other kind of creamy pasta.
Absolutely! I recommend cooking them one at a time, and assemble in the end. This way, you can ensure that they both cook right.
Yes. You can make lemon chicken with either bottled or freshly squeezed lemon juice.
You might also like these recipes
- Chicken and Couscous Skillet
- Lemon Chicken Pasta
- Crockpot Lemon Chicken
- Instant Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Sausage and Cabbage Skillet
- Ground Beef and Cabbage Skillet
If you make this recipe, make sure to post a photo to Instagram with #hintofhealthy!
Lemon Chicken with Orzo
- Cast Iron Pan
- Slice the chicken breasts into b¼-inch thick pieces against the grain.
- Sauté sliced chicken in olive oil and seasoning on medium heat until the chicken is almost, or barely, cooked.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, and set it to the side.
- Add diced garlic and dry orzo to the skillet. Sauté for about a minute.
- Add chicken stock, and stir. Allow the orzo to simmer on medium heat for about 7 minutes, or until it's soft. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed. Stir occasionally to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Add Parmesan, halved cherry tomatoes, washed spinach, lemon juice and the cooked chicken to the skillet. Stir to combine, and leave the dish to simmer for about a minute, or until the spinach has wilted.
- Make sure that the chicken has cooked through before you take the pan off the heat.
- Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed, and serve.