Creamy Orzo With Rosemary Brown Butter is an easy orzo recipe that’s quick to make and tastes delicious. With just a handful of ingredients and under 30 minutes of cooking time, this dish is a breeze to make and is perfect as a side dish to pair with shrimp, chicken, or salmon. But let's be real, it's so delicious all on its own that you might just want to eat it as a main course! The combination of rich butter, fragrant rosemary, tangy lemon, and a sprinkling of sharp parmesan cheese makes this dish a standout that's sure to please even the pickiest eaters.
Anyone else feel like a chauffeur lately, carting their kids from activity to activity? Same. Our dinners have been on the later side the past couple of months with all of the sports practices and games and I’ve been on the hunt for fast, delicious, and healthy meals to make life a little easier. Enter, this lemony orzo pasta recipe that’s sure to be on heavy rotation in the coming months.
Why I Love This Easy Orzo Recipe
- It’s easy. It’s super easy to make - not a lot of ingredients and takes just 25 minutes, start to finish.
- One-pot dish. This buttery orzo needs only one pot for everything, making cleanup a breeze.
- It’s comforting and delicious. Even though it’s the beginning of spring here, we’re still experiencing some chilly weather (it snowed yesterday!). This creamy orzo with rosemary brown butter is the perfect dish to curl up with when the weather is blustery. That being said, it’s also got a nice taste of spring, with the bright citrus and herby flavors.
- It goes great with everything! Seriously. We had this lemony orzo pasta as a side with shrimp scampi, but I can imagine pairing it with a roasted chicken, baked chicken breast, steak, pork, salmon - you name it. It’s one of those versatile dishes that just rounds out a meal very well.
- It’s great on its own too. Don’t feel like making another dish? Use this as your main! Adding some veg, like asparagus or mushrooms to this parmesan orzo recipe would make a quick and easy vegetarian main dish.
- You can make it ahead of time! I made this dish earlier in the day and just reheated it while I whipped up the shrimp scampi and it reheated wonderfully.
- It’s Vegetarian! We’ve been trying to eat a little less meat in our family - this vegetarian orzo recipe is a delicious, filling option.
Ingredients For This Creamy Orzo
- Orzo pasta. If you’re unfamiliar with orzo, it’s a short, rice-shaped pasta. Not to be confused with rice (rice is rice, orzo is pasta), it’s made with semolina flour and contains a nice amount of protein and carbs, making it a great option for this healthy but hearty dish.
- Butter. Ah, browned butter. It makes everything better and gives the dish a slightly nutty flavor.
- Fresh rosemary. A star ingredient - the rosemary adds a fresh herby taste to this creamy orzo.
- Shallots and garlic. These give the orzo a sweet, mild, oniony taste and soft buttery flavor.
- Seasonings. Only three simple seasonings are needed here - salt, ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Chicken broth or stock and white wine. Cooking the orzo in chicken broth and white wine gives it an extra rich flavor vs. just boiling the orzo in water.
- Parmesan. Parmesan is added as a mix in, and as a finisher, giving this pasta a sharp, bold taste.
- Ricotta cheese. Just a dollop of ricotta cheese makes this orzo extra creamy. And, because ricotta has a fairly mild flavor, it doesn’t overpower the other strong ingredients here.
- Lemon. A touch of lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon adds such a great bright flavor to this lemon parmesan orzo.
I’m telling you - this lemon parmesan orzo recipe is absolutely perfect as written (I can’t wait to make it again!). But if you need to sub some things out because you don’t have them on hand or can’t find them, here are some options.
- Use a different pasta. I actually think this may be the easiest and least consequential substitution. The orzo works well here, but you could just as easily use another small pasta variety. Some substitutes for orzo are cavatelli, orecchiette, or even elbow macaroni. These would all do the trick without really sacrificing the flavor. More important is the quality of the pasta you buy, so focus on finding a good one and don’t worry so much about the shape.
- Change the herbs. Thyme would be a nice substitute for Rosemary here.
- Swap the ricotta. I know some people are not ricotta fans, and while you really can’t taste the ricotta in this dish, it would be fine to swap it with yogurt, creme fraiche (make your own!), or a splash of whole milk.
How To Make This Creamy Orzo With Rosemary And Brown Butter In Just 25 Minutes
It only takes 25 minutes to make this easy orzo recipe. Here’s how to do it.
- Start by browning the butter. This sounds intimidating, but it’s really just heating the butter on medium/low heat for a few minutes while the butter melts to a beautiful golden color that’s rich with nutty and caramelly flavors. The butter will foam a bit as it starts to heat up and you’ll know it's ready once the milk solids have separated and are resting on the bottom of the pan (they’ll be a light golden brown). Be careful to watch your butter closely during this step as the butter can burn quickly.
- Add the shallots, garlic, rosemary, and seasonings. Once the butter has browned, add the shallots and cook until soft. Then add the rosemary, garlic, freshly ground pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Toast, then boil the orzo. Add the orzo to the butter mixture and stir to ensure the orzo is coated with the browned butter. Toast the orzo for about 1 minute before adding the broth, wine, lemon zest, and salt. Watch the orzo and stir it occasionally. It should take about 15 minutes for the liquid to absorb. If the dish seems like it needs more water, add in an extra ¼ cup at a time.
- Add the cheese and lemon. Once the orzo is cooked, remove it from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, followed by the ricotta and a squeeze of lemon.
- Top it off! Finish the dish by sprinkling extra parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
- How do I know when the butter is browned? Watch the butter carefully as it browns. It will start sizzling and foaming in the pan, then turn to a beautiful brown color, and you’ll see the milk fats separate to the bottom and start to brown. This is when you know it’s done. Don’t let it go longer than this or it may burn.
- How do I store and reheat this dish? Creamy orzo with rosemary brown butter is easy to store! Just place the orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 2-4 minutes (depending on the quantity you have left!) When reheating, you may wish to add a little bit of water if the orzo has dried out in the fridge a bit.
- Can this orzo recipe be made ahead of time? Yes! This is a great dish to prepare ahead of time because it reheats really nicely. If you’re making this buttery orzo pasta ahead of time, just don’t sprinkle on the extra parmesan cheese until after you have reheated it.
- Where do I even find orzo in the grocery store? Orzo is widely available in most grocery stores, but it can be a bit tricky to find. Most of the time you should see it in the pasta aisle. But, sometimes it’s placed with the rice so if you’re having trouble, look both places. And, to complicate matters even more, it’s sometimes placed near the soup or broth since it’s often an ingredient used in soup recipes. When in doubt, ask your grocer to help!
What to serve with Creamy Orzo And Rosemary Brown Butter
There are so many options here! This pasta side dish works with almost any protein. Add if you’re serving it on your own, a simple green salad pairs nicely with it too. Here are a few ideas:
If you try this Creamy Orzo With Rosemary And Brown Butter, please let me know what you think in the comments! And don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @frontrangefed with a pic - you’ll make my day!
More Great Side Dishes
- Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
- Hot Honey Roasted Carrots
- Quick And Easy Polenta
- Roasted Garlic And Cauliflower Mash
- Tomato, Grain, Mint And Feta Salad
- Kale Salad With Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Butternut Squash
- Chickpea Stew With Orzo And Greens
Creamy Orzo With Rosemary Brown Butter
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sliced shallots (2- 3 shallots)
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2-3 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups orzo
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
- ½ cup ricotta
- squeeze of lemon
- Brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium Dutch oven or large pan over medium heat. Cook the butter, stirring it until the foam disappears and the milk solids start to turn golden brown (you’ll begin to see tiny brown specks in the butter). Continue stirring and cook until the butter begins to have a nutty aroma (about 3-4 minutes).
- Add the sliced shallots and stir until slightly softened about 3 minutes. Add the rosemary and garlic, the freshly ground pepper, and the red pepper flakes, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the orzo and toast it in the brown butter for 1 minute. Add the broth, wine, lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon of salt, cover the pan, and simmer over medium heat until the orzo is tender and the liquid has been mostly absorbed. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Remove the Dutch oven from heat and add the parmesan. Stir to combine and add a dollop of the ricotta (or yogurt or creme fraiche if using) squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
- Watch the butter carefully as it browns. It will start sizzling and foaming in the pan, then turn to a beautiful brown color, and you’ll see the milk fats separate to the bottom and start to brown. This is when you know it’s done. Don’t let it go longer than this or it may burn.
- Creamy orzo with rosemary brown butter is easy to store! Just place the orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave for 2-4 minutes (depending on the quantity you have left!) When reheating, you may wish to add a little bit of water if the orzo has dried out in the fridge a bit.
- This is a great dish to prepare ahead of time because it reheats really nicely. If you’re making this buttery orzo pasta ahead of time, just don’t sprinkle on the extra parmesan cheese until after you have reheated it.
- Orzo is widely available in most grocery stores, but it can be a bit tricky to find. Most of the time you should see it in the pasta aisle. But, sometimes it’s placed with the rice so if you’re having trouble, look both places. And, to complicate matters even more, it’s sometimes placed near the soup or broth since it’s often an ingredient used in soup recipes. When in doubt, ask your grocer to help!