Orzo Salad


5 from 8 votes
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This orzo salad is made with fresh veggies and chickpeas all tossed in a zingy lemon vinaigrette. A healthy and refreshing pasta salad that will make everyone come back for seconds.

orzo salad.

If you love Mediterranean flavors, then you will absolutely enjoy this easy-to-make orzo pasta salad.

Cook the orzo, mix in some chopped veggies, add chickpeas for protein, mix in the delicious Greek-style marinade, and your healthy pasta salad is ready. 

Why this recipe works

  • Takes less than 10 minutes to make. Considering the fact that orzo takes around 8 minutes to cook and you can prep the remaining ingredients while it cooks, this salad can be made in under 10 minutes (just like our rice salad!). 
  • A versatile side dish. This orzo salad goes well with a variety of main dishes, including chicken, fish, and steak. If you are not feeling too hungry, you can even eat this salad as your main dish. 
  • Customizable. Not only can you add your favorite ingredients to this salad but you can also make it gluten-free by using gluten-free orzo and vegan by leaving out the feta cheese. 

Not all pasta salads are good. If you have tried pasta salads in the past and didn’t like them, we highly recommend you give this one a try as it will surely change your mind. 

What is orzo salad made of?

Both the salad base and the dressing use simple pantry-staple ingredients that you’ll likely have on hand. Here is what you’ll need: 

  • Orzo. Choose orzo made from whole-grain flour as it is a lot healthier than orzo made from white flour. 
  • Cucumber. Chopped cucumber for freshness and some crunch. 
  • Tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes cut in half. You can use other tomato varieties too but make sure they are not too watery. 
  • Chickpeas. Canned or freshly cooked. Using canned chickpeas is a lot easier as you only need to drain them. 
  • Onion. I prefer using red onion as it has a milder flavor. 
  • Feta cheese. To crumble into the salad. 
  • Parsley. Finely chopped. 
  • Pesto. Homemade or store-bought. To change things up, we like to use a sun dried tomato pesto. 

For the Greek dressing:

  • Olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is best for salad dressings. 
  • Lemon juice. To create a bright and citrusy flavor. 
  • Vinegar.  To balance out the flavors of the dressing. Red wine vinegar will work well for this recipe. 
  • Oregano. The perfect dried herb to use in this Mediterranean-style pasta salad. 
  • Salt. To taste. 

How to make orzo pasta salad

Considering the fact that orzo takes less than 10 minutes to cook, making this salad is not only easy but also quite quick. Ready to make some salad?

Step 1 – Cook the orzo

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the orzo until al dente. Then drain it and set it aside. 

how to cook orzo.

Step 2 – Make the dressing

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, and salt. Mix until fully combined. 

orzo salad dressing.

Step 3 – Combine all ingredients and serve

Stir pesto through the cooked orzo. Add the pasta to a large bowl and mix in the chickpeas, chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and crumbled feta cheese. Add the salad dressing, mix well, and serve.  

how to make orzo salad.

Flavor variations

To keep the Greek/Mediterranean inspiration, here are some ideas to change up the flavor, without sacrificing taste: 

  • Add olives. Green or Kalamata olives added to this salad will enhance its Mediterranean feel and will make the overall taste of the salad brighter and richer. 
  • Chop in some bell peppers. Adding chopped bell peppers to this salad will not only make it more colorful and vibrant but will add a good amount of vitamins too. 
  • Sprinkle with pine nuts. Toasted pine nuts will add a nice nutty flavor to the salad and some heart-healthy fats. 
  • Swap chickpeas for beans. Chickpeas are a great source of protein. But not everyone likes them. If you don’t like chickpeas in your food, use white beans instead. 

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Rinse the orzo. When making salads, rinse the orzo after cooking it. Rinsing removes the starchy layer from pasta and helps the sauce stick to it a lot better. 
  • Use freshly made pesto. If you have time, whip up your own pesto. The flavor of homemade pesto is always a lot brighter and lighter. 
  • Use Greek salad dressing. Store-bought Greek salad dressing will work well for this recipe in case you want to spend less time cooking. A Greek dressing is typically a combination of olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and oregano. 

Storage instructions

Store leftover orzo salad in the fridge in an airtight container. While this salad can be safely kept in the fridge for up to 4 days, it is best to eat it within 2 days while the veggies are fresh and crunchy. 

orzo pasta salad.

More salad recipes to try

Frequently asked questions

Is orzo pasta good for you?

No pasta is bad for you if consumed in moderation. But whole-grain pasta, including orzo, is a lot healthier. Whole-grain orzo is lower in calories, and higher in fiber, protein, and minerals. 

What do Italians call orzo pasta?

Italians call orzo risoni. The word risoni translates into ‘big rice’. With this said, orzo is an Italian word too and means barley. 

What do you eat orzo with?

Orzo is great in soups and salads. It can also be served alongside meatballs, chicken, salmon, and shrimp. Orzo is also good served with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and other vegetables. 

orzo salad recipe.

Orzo Salad

5 from 8 votes
This orzo salad is made with fresh veggies and chickpeas all tossed in a zingy lemon vinaigrette. A healthy and refreshing pasta salad that will make everyone come back for seconds.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 9 minutes


  • 8 ounces orzo dry weight
  • 1 small cucumber chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas drained
  • 1/4 small red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese crumbled
  • 1/3 cup parsley finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pesto

Greek dressing

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano


  • Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients until combined.
  • Mix the pesto through the cooked orzo. Add it to a large bowl, along with the remaining salad ingredients, and mix well. 
  • Add the dressing and mix everything together until combined.


STORAGE: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days. 


Serving: 1servingCalories: 268kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 7gFat: 15gSodium: 315mgPotassium: 194mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 516IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 83mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 25g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American, Greek
Author: Arman
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Recipe Rating


  1. This recipe is right up my ally. I love the use of cashews for an added bit of crunch. Also, I just so happen to have all these ingredients so I will for sure be making it.

  2. White truffle balsamic glace? Faaaaaancy. Here’s the part where I admit that I don’t think I’ve ever had truffle anything before… aside from the chocolate ones 😛 And I’d sell my sister for this. If I had one.

    1. Hahahahaha. SO fancy that it came from a bottle lol!

      You have sisters. Your mum just didn’t tell you 😉

  3. My favorite kind of salad is any pasta salad that features a cartoon character as the pasta shape. There is no way not to be happy while eating it 🙂

  4. Not only do you make delicious and healthy desserts, but you’re good at making real food. I’m impressed, Arman! lol I love incorporating orzo in salads, but I’ve never mixed it with sweet potatoes. Moreover, I’ve never marinated it either. That’s such a lovely idea – good job! P.S. What’s for dessert? 🙂

  5. So clever to think of putting sweet potato in there! Do australians call it kumara too? I always feel weird saying sweet potato when I grew up saying kumara!
    Ps Pesto is the besto! (Yes that is a Frinds references… Like 90% of the things I say 🙂 ).

  6. I love pesto and I love sweet potatoes, yet I never thought of pairing them in one dish. Thanks for the inspiration my friend!

  7. I’ve never had pesto before (the whole dairy shenanigans), but have been looking for a recipe that doesn’t include an amount of pine nuts that cost the equivalent of a small island off of Puerto Rico or some kind weird Amazonian herb. TO THE STORE!

  8. Psssh I’d sell my family for this…kidding (kinda)! This looks delicious. I always forget about orzo when I’m thinking about grains, time to stock up on a packet methinks! If I’m grilling, nothing goes down quite like potatoes- grilled, fried or in salad form….they gotta be present!

  9. This recipe has two of my favorite things, sweet potatoes and pesto, so I know that it has to taste amazing. I totally agree, coming up with a name for recipes can be daunting.

  10. Last week’s meals featured some crockpot pesto chicken. Next time I need to get my pesto fill, I can get it from this side dish. Boom!

  11. Can you occasionally (or all the time) tell us what you would have preferred to name your recipes? That way, you can be up to speed with SEO and we get to experience your humor! P.S. I LOVE COLAVITA OLIVE OIL. That is all.

    1. Hahahahaha thanks Jess. Will do.

      How good is it? It’s the only olive oil I’d eat by the spoon!

  12. Love this! Such a nice dish for the summer. Also, I’m a (never-recovering) pestoholic, so yes…I’m drooling! 🙂

  13. That looks and sounds incredible! I love that it’s vegan too! My fave salad is one that somebody else makes for me… 😉