Ever wondered how to cook orzo? Here are 3 easy methods for cooking orzo - so whatever you want to use it for, you'll get perfect orzo every time!
Have you ever cooked orzo? It's a perfect halfway point between rice and pasta, and it makes a really lovely change if you fancy something a bit different. It's not difficult at all, but if you've never done it before, you might be wondering how to cook orzo. Here are 3 easy ways to cook orzo, which all give slightly different results.
Different ways to cook orzo
This post details 3 different methods of cooking orzo:
- The pasta method, which produces orzo that's soft and fluffy, but fairly dry, without much flavour - just like any other cooked pasta. It's perfect for adding to a sauce!
- The risotto method, which produces orzo that's creamy and saucy, with more flavour. It can be served on its own, or with an additional sauce or mix-ins.
- The soup method, which produces a thick and tasty orzo soup.
All 3 methods are super easy, and don't take very long (only about 10 minutes to cook the orzo), so the method you choose will depend on what you're hoping to do with the orzo after it's been cooked.
If you want to jump straight to a cooking method, just click the method in the list above. But first, we'd better answer the obvious question...
What is orzo?
Orzo is a type of pasta. Its tiny, oval-shaped pieces make it look a lot like rice, especially before it's been cooked. Because of this, orzo is also sometimes known as 'risoni'.
It can be used in all sorts of different ways. You can use orzo in any pasta recipe, in place of any other shape of pasta. However, because it's so much smaller than most other shapes of pasta, it's also often added to soups and casseroles, to make them more filling, with a more interesting texture.
Being small makes orzo really quick to cook - usually no more than 10 minutes, or even quicker if you like it al dente. Here are 3 different ways to cook orzo!
How to cook orzo
Method 1: How to cook orzo like pasta
This first method involves cooking the orzo in exactly the same way you'd cook any other shape of pasta:
- Add some orzo to a pan, and add a generous amount of of water - enough to cover the orzo by at least an inch or two. Here I used 150g (~ ¾ cup) of orzo, and it made enough to feed two people (though I'd add a bit extra if you're particularly hungry!).
- Bring the water to a gentle boil, and cook for around 8-10 minutes, or until the orzo is cooked to your liking.
- Drain the orzo in a colander, and add your choice of sauce.
This method of cooking orzo produces orzo that's just like any other type of cooked pasta. It doesn't have a huge amount of flavour on its own, so it's the perfect base for your favourite pesto or tomato sauce. You can stir through some roasted veggies, grated cheese, or whatever else you fancy.
Method 2: How to cook orzo like risotto
The second way to cook orzo is to use it more like rice, and make an orzo risotto! The method is pretty much exactly how to make a risotto - except it's much quicker than using rice!
- Add the orzo to a frying pan with some oil and melted butter. Cook it over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until it's slightly golden brown.
- Add some vegetable stock - about twice the volume as the amount of orzo. I used about ¾ cup of orzo, so added about 1 ½ cups of stock (approximately 150g of orzo and 400ml stock).
- Bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for around 8-10 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the orzo. You'll need to stir the orzo regularly, especially towards the end, to prevent it from sticking.
This method of cooking orzo gives an end result that's nice and creamy, with plenty of flavour from the vegetable stock and butter. You don't need to add any additional sauce if you don't want to, but it's great with a few extras mixed through, for flavour and interest. I like to add:
- chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- finely chopped spinach
- fresh parsley or basil
- crumbled feta cheese
Simple, and delicious.
Method 3: How to cook orzo in soup
If you don't want to cook your orzo on its own, it's brilliant for throwing into any sort of brothy soup or casserole. The orzo will cook right there in the soup, soaking up the soup's flavour, and helping to thicken the soup too.
- Cook your soup as normal. Make sure it's not too thick and creamy - orzo cooks best in a fairly thin, brothy soup.
- Add a handful of orzo for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. The exact quantity you need will depend on what else you've put in the soup, and how orzo-heavy you want it to be. Approx. 50g (~ ¼ cup) of orzo per person is a good starting place for soup.
- Allow the orzo to simmer in the soup, until it's cooked to your liking.
Orzo makes a great addition to soup, as it bulks it out, and makes it really filling and comforting. It also brings a really lovely texture to the soup.
It works best in brothy, vegetable-based soups (you could use it in this mushroom stroganoff soup, for example), rather than anything thick and creamy.
If your vegetable soup's looking a bit thin and boring, adding a handful of orzo for the last 10 minutes is a great way to liven it up, as well as helping to thicken it!
And there you have it! 3 different methods for cooking orzo - so whatever you plan to do with it, you'll have a method here that will work for you.
Is orzo gluten-free?
No, regular orzo is not gluten-free. Just like normal pasta, it's usually made from durum wheat. However, there are gluten-free orzo products available - here's one on Amazon US*, for example.
How long to cook orzo
Orzo generally takes between 7 and 12 minutes to cook, depending on your cooking method, and how soft you like it. If you prefer al dente pasta, cook the orzo for less time. If you like it softer, cook it a little longer.
How much orzo per person?
A good starting point is around 75g (~ ⅓ cup) of dried orzo per person. It expands a fair bit as it cooks.
If you have a particularly big appetite, you can cook a little more. Or, if you're serving your orzo in soup, or as a side dish to an already hearty meal, cook a little less.
So, what do you think? Have I inspired you to give orzo a try?
How to Cook Orzo
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- 150 g (~ ¾ cup) orzo
If using Method 2:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 400 ml (~ 1 ½ cups) vegetable stock
If using Method 3:
- 1 batch brothy vegetable soup
Method 1: Cooking orzo like pasta
- Add the orzo to a pan, along with plenty of water (enough to generously cover the orzo). Bring to a gentle boil, and cook for around 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooked to your liking.
- Drain away the excess water, and serve with your choice of sauce.
Method 2: Cooking orzo like risotto
- Add the oil and butter to a frying pan, and place over a medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the orzo, and toast it for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly, until it begins to turn golden brown.
- Add the vegetable stock, and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for around 8-10 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is cooked to your liking. You'll need to stir regularly to stop the orzo from sticking, especially for the last few minutes.
Method 3: Cooking orzo in soup
- Cook a brothy soup as normal. Add a handful of orzo for the final 8-10 minutes of cooking time, and stir regularly as the orzo cooks.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.