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Chicken/ Cream/ Hearty Dinners/ Pasta/ Summer Lovin'

Lemon Chicken Orzo

August 10, 2022 (Last Updated: July 16, 2023) by Chris Collins

This Lemon Chicken Orzo is vibrant, packed with flavour and all made in one pan!

This is one of those dinners that’ll make your regular rotations and never leave. Mainly because it’s so delicious, but also because it’s just so easy to make! Follow me…

close up shot of lemon chicken orzo served in white bowl garnished with fresh parsley

Chicken and Asparagus

Lemon orzo is great, but we’re going to serve it with a couple of additions, both of which take on lemon so beautifully. The asparagus is optional, but lemon chicken orzo is nothing without the chicken 😜

Prepping the Chicken

We’ll be using boneless skinless chicken breast. I like to slice the breasts right through the centre to make 4 even-sized breasts, just to ensure they cook through quicker and more evenly too. I also like to season with garlic & onion powder, salt & black pepper.

Cooking Order

If you want to keep things one-pan style, then fry the chicken & asparagus at the start. If you’d prefer them to be fresh out of the pan, then you can fry them in a separate pan as you cook the orzo.

Process shots: slice and season chicken then add to pan (photo 1), fry until lightly browned & cooked through the centre (photo 2), remove and add asparagus (photo 3), fry until softened then remove (photo 4).

4 step by step photos showing how to fry chicken and asparagus

Creamy Lemon Orzo

The great thing about the orzo is it’s cooked in the same pan as the sauce. Strictly speaking, you could cook the orzo separate from the sauce, but it won’t suck in all those gorgeous flavours. Plus, as the orzo cooks, it releases starch into the sauce, which helps create a gorgeous, silky texture.

How lemony is this recipe?

I’d say it’s more on the subtle side. When I first played about with this recipe I added the zest and juice of a lemon but found it slightly too sharp. As such, I find the zest of a lemon and half of its juice hits the sweet spot. Then I like to serve with a wedge of lemon if people want it more lemony. It’s much better to be on the side of caution; it’s more difficult to balance out too much lemon than it is to add more in!

Process shots: fry leek in butter (photo 1), fry garlic, lemon zest and thyme (photo 2), stir in uncooked orzo (photo 3), add chicken stock, lemon juice and cream (photo 4), stir and simmer until orzo is al dente (photo 5), stir in parmesan then stir in butter (photo 6).

6 step by step photos showing how to make creamy lemon orzo

Lemon Chicken Orzo FAQ

Can I use a different cut of chicken?

You could definitely use thighs if you’d prefer. You could even use bone-in thighs, you just obviously won’t be able to serve it sliced over the top of the orzo. You could also just add cooked rotisserie chicken and stir it through at the end.

Can I make this ahead of time?

This is best made fresh, but you could make the orzo ahead of time, then reheat it over low heat in a pan with a splash of milk, cream or stock to loosen up the sauce. Then just cook the chicken as you reheat orzo.

Can I substitute the cream?

I don’t recommend substituting the cream. Definitely make sure it’s heavy (US) or double (UK) cream. Anything thinner (i.e. half and half or milk) will likely curdle due to the acidity of the lemon.

overhead shot of chicken and lemon orzo served in white bowl on wooden surface

Serving Lemon Chicken Orzo

To serve, I like to add sliced chicken to individual portions, alongside the asparagus (if using), a good helping of fresh parsley and a lemon wedge each, for if people are wanting it more lemony.

For another delicious lemon pasta recipe check out my Easy Lemon Pasta!

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this lemon chicken orzo shall we?!

close up shot of lemon chicken orzo in white bowl with fresh parsley

How to make Lemon Chicken Orzo (Full Recipe & Video)

close up shot of lemon chicken orzo served in white bowl garnished with fresh parsley

Lemon Chicken Orzo

This Lemon Chicken Orzo is vibrant, packed with flavour and all made in one pan!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Dinner / Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Calories per serving: 864kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4

Equipment:

  • 1x Large Deep Cast Iron Skillet or Large Pot
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Large Plate and Foil (to keep chicken warm)
  • Jug (for stock)

Ingredients (check list):

Chicken

  • 2x 9oz/250g Chicken Breasts, brought close to room temp
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH: Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder (or more garlic powder)
  • Olive Oil, as needed

Lemon Orzo

  • 2 cups / 400g Uncooked Orzo
  • 3 1/2 cups / 875ml Chicken Stock (not piping hot!)
  • 1 cup / 250ml Heavy/Double Cream, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup / 40g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, finely diced (or sub 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 Lemon, zested, halved, then one half diced into quarters
  • 1 Leek, trimmed and finely diced (see notes)
  • 1 clove of Garlic, finely diced
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

To serve (optional)

  • 1lb / 500g Asparagus, woody stalks removed
  • finely diced Fresh Parsley

Instructions:

  • Slice the chicken breasts right through the centre to create 4 even-sized breasts. Coat in salt, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper.
  • Heat up around 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large deep cast iron skillet or pot. Add chicken and fry both sides until golden, with the centre piping hot and white all the way through. Remove and add to a side plate. Fry asparagus (if using) for a few mins with a good pinch of salt & pepper until they begin to soften. Add to plate with the chicken and tightly cover in foil to keep warm. Slice chicken just before needed.
  • Reduce heat to a medium and melt in 1 tbsp butter. Add the leek and fry until soft, then add in garlic, thyme & lemon zest and fry for another 1-2mins. Stir in orzo, then pour in chicken stock and the juice of half the lemon. Give it a stir, then stir in the cream and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Give it a good stir then bring it to a simmer. Keep the heat on low, stirring frequently until the orzo is cooked and the sauce has thickened to a risotto-style consistency. Stir in parmesan then stir in 1 more tbsp butter. Check for seasoning and adjust if desired. Stir in a splash of stock, water or cream if you over-reduce the sauce.
  • Serve individual portions with sliced chicken on top, alongside asparagus, a sprinkle of fresh parsley and a small lemon wedge each (if you want it more lemony).

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Leek - Ensure you trim off the dark green leaves (you can save these for stocks or soups; they're too tough to eat normally). Also, make sure you rinse the leek in cold water to remove any hidden dirt. If you don't have leek you can sub 2 large shallots or 1 medium white onion.
b) Stock/Cream - Important your cream is at room temp and your stock isn't piping hot or it'll curdle the cream. Also just make sure you're definitely using heavy (US) or double (UK) cream. Anything thinner (i.e. half and half or milk) will likely curdle due to the acidity of the lemon.
c) One Pot - If you'd prefer, you can cook the chicken alongside the orzo. This will leave you with hotter chicken when serving. If you'd prefer to do it all in the same pot just follow the recipe as instructed.
d) Make Ahead - Best made fresh, but you can make the orzo ahead of time, then warm over low heat in a pan with a splash of milk, cream or stock to loosen up the sauce. Fry chicken/asparagus as you reheat orzo.
e) Calories - Whole recipe divided by 4 without asparagus.

Your Private Notes:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Lemon Chicken Orzo
Amount Per Serving
Calories 864 Calories from Fat 361
% Daily Value*
Fat 40.1g62%
Saturated Fat 20.751g104%
Trans Fat 0.353g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.061g
Monounsaturated Fat 12.612g
Cholesterol 199mg66%
Sodium 649mg27%
Potassium 841mg24%
Carbohydrates 87.1g29%
Fiber 11.6g46%
Sugar 2.85g3%
Protein 40.88g82%
Vitamin A 1767IU35%
Vitamin C 8.5mg10%
Calcium 175mg18%
Iron 2.07mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Julie
    August 25, 2022 at 10:26 am

    5 stars
    OMG this was AMAZING!! I used the amount of lemon juice suggested, then served with a wedges each. I didn’t think it needed anymore lemon, but hubby added another squeeze. Great recipe thank you!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 25, 2022 at 10:32 am

      Great to hear you and hubby enjoyed the recipe, Julie! Thanks for the review 🙂 C.

    5 KNOCKOUT

    DINNERS

    YOU'LL NEVER STOP MAKING!

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