One Pot Chicken and Orzo

One pot chicken thighs and orzo with onions, tomato, garlic. The chicken cooks on top of the orzo. Serve straight from the stove to keep it simple.

Skillet Chicken and Orzo
Elise Bauer

A few months ago my wonderful mother made what I thought was Spanish rice (a favorite around here, basically a rice pilaf with tomato) but instead of browning rice to start the pilaf, she browned orzo pasta.

Brilliant! It was so incredibly good. Silky and savory like our sopa seca de fideo angel hair dish, but with little rice-shaped orzo pasta. The browning of the orzo adds a toasty nutty flavor to the pasta.

So, I thought I would step the idea up a notch and make something akin to arroz con pollo, except with pasta instead of the arroz. It would be "Orzo con Pollo."

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Watch How to Make One Pot Chicken and Orzo

It's a winner! And the best part? Aside from it being absolutely can't-stop-eating delicious, is that it's really easy to make, all in one large skillet.

First you brown the chicken, then brown the orzo in the rendered fat, and then add some onions and garlic. Add the chicken back to the pasta, pour in some stock and crushed tomatoes, cover and cook until the pasta has absorbed the liquid.

You can do most of the prep while the chicken is browning, so the whole shebang takes maybe 35 minutes.

Skillet Chicken and Orzo
Elise Bauer

Reader Variations on Chicken and Orzo

We love how our readers take our recipes and tweak them to their personal tastes. These tweaks from the comments are fun ways to add even more flavor to this winning chicken dinner.

  • Add small florets of broccoli, frozen peas, or fresh spinach in the last 5 minutes to steam.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese just before serving.
  • Add some crushed red pepper flakes or chili flakes for a little heat.
  • If garlic is your thing, double the amount of garlic.
  • Throw some capers on top when you add the parsley.
  • Add a 4.5-ounce can of green chilies to the stock/tomato mixture.
  • Add a teaspoon of smoked paprika or Italian seasoning to the stock/tomato mixture.

More One-Pan Chicken Dishes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

One Pot Chicken and Orzo

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

To save time, while the chicken is browning, prep the onion, garlic, and parsley.

You can easily swap out the thighs for bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Depending on the size of the pieces you may want to cut them in half.

If you use boneless, skinless thighs or breasts do not brown them as long in the first step. They will not need as much cooking time as the bone-in, skin-on thighs.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning the chicken

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon butter

  • 2 cups (12 ounces or 340g) orzo pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock

  • 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes (including juices)

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. Prep and salt the chicken:

    Trim the chicken thighs of excess skin and fat. Sprinkle both sides with a little salt.

  2. Brown the chicken thighs:

    Heat olive oil and melt butter on medium high heat in a large skillet (large enough to fit all of the chicken pieces) to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, pat the chicken pieces dry on both sides with paper towels and place skin-side down in the pan. Let cook until the chicken has browned on one side, about 5 minutes.

    Then turn the chicken pieces over. Let cook until the chicken has browned on that side, about 4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan, set aside.

    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-1
    Elise Bauer
    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-2
    Elise Bauer
  3. Brown the orzo pasta, then add onions, garlic:

    Add the orzo pasta to the pan. Stir to coat and let the pasta brown. Once the orzo starts to brown, stir in the chopped onions.

    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-3
    Elise Bauer
    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-4
    Elise Bauer

    Reduce the heat to medium and let cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and cook a half minute more.

  4. Stir together the stock, tomatoes, salt, pepper:

    In a large measuring cup, stir together the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt.

  5. Add back the chicken, and pour stock mixture over orzo:

    Place the chicken pieces skin-side up, on top of the orzo.

    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-5
    Elise Bauer
    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-6
    Elise Bauer

    Pour the stock tomato mixture over the orzo. Increase heat to medium high and let the stock in the pan come to a full boil.

  6. Cover and cook:

    Lower the heat to the lowest heat you need to maintain a bare simmer. Cover and let cook until the orzo has completely absorbed the liquid and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.

    Depending on the size of the chicken pieces, it may take longer for the chicken to cook through. Cook the chicken until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken (without hitting the bone) reads 165°F.

    Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

    Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley to serve.

    skillet-chicken-orzo-method-7
    Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
661 Calories
35g Fat
29g Carbs
60g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 661
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 35g 45%
Saturated Fat 10g 52%
Cholesterol 295mg 98%
Sodium 941mg 41%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 60g
Vitamin C 6mg 29%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 862mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.