Damn Delicious

Parmesan and Spinach Orzo

This creamy orzo dish is a wonderful side or light main dish, and it’s sure to be a hit with the entire family!

Parmesan and Spinach Orzo - This creamy orzo dish is a wonderful side or light main dish, and it's sure to be a hit with the entire family!

Orzo is one of my favorite kind of pastas. It may be due to the fact that I grew up on Korean rice my entire childhood, so it’s really no surprise that I would love this pasta in rice-shaped form. And when you couple that with the amazing flavors of the salty Parmesan and fresh spinach in a light cream sauce, what’s not to love?

Now the great thing about this dish is how versatile it is, serving it as either a light main dish or a side dish. We served it alongside the pan roasted lemon chicken, although I may have had this orzo as a main dish instead. After all, when Parmesan and pasta is involved, I have no self control. I just kept telling myself that with the fresh spinach, this was really a salad.

Parmesan and Spinach Orzo

This creamy orzo dish is a wonderful side or light main dish, and it’s sure to be a hit with the entire family!

10 minutes20 minutes


  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan until melted, about 1 minute. Add orzo and gently toss to combine; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Life as a Strawberry.

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Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Servings Per Container 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 309.8 Calories from Fat 81.9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9.1g 14%
Saturated Fat 2.7g 14%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 16.0mg 5%
Sodium 231.7mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 42.3g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2.7g 11%
Sugars 8.9g
Protein 13.3g 27%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Fantastic taste. It’s a little saucier than I expected. Would adding more orzo be ok? 

  2. Rated 4 out of 5

    Oh gosh, this was so quick and easy and delicious. I love using orzo pasta and even the little one liked it! Would add a meat to top for some extra protein next time, maybe grilled chicken!

  3. That looks delicious!  One question.  I love the pink spatula in photo # 4.  Where can I buy one of those?

  4. Rated 5 out of 5

    This was great. I did not have flour or milk, and I only had frozen spinach. Tossed the spinach in as the onions and garlic finished. In place of the flour and milk, I retained some pasta water before draining and used that to help bind and melt the parm. Also tossed in some mushrooms and chicken. Overall really good and easy to make!

  5. This was great and easy to make!

  6. I made this and it was delicious! I even froze individual containers for my daughter who is away at school and it freezes well!. Thanks!

  7. Can you substitute frozen spinach for fresh?

  8. I just made this for my family, paired with your recipe for Baked Lemon Butter Tilapia. We absolutely LOVED the orzo! Fantastic recipe and comes together quickly. Thanks!

  9. Okay, I just made it…and it was damn delicious. It has occurred to me that the taste of the particular parmesan I use will dramatically change the taste–and that’s okay. I probably included more spinach than you intended (couldn’t see how that would be back except for the liquid, so I put in a smidge more flour), and used a combo of cream and Vitamin D milk; other than that, I made it as you directed, and it’s now a permanent keeper to my rotation. Yummy, fast and easy: what more could you ask?

  10. I would like to  take this to a friends house for my part of a trout dinner.  Does it reheat well? Thanks

  11. Made this tonight it was delicious,creamy,and cheesy. I had it as a side with spicy Italian sausage,umm magnifico. I needed to add about 1/2 cup of extra milk before serving as it thickened up a bit. My wife loved it!

  12. This recipe was just perfect. Love that it was so easy! It paired really well with grilled scallops!!! Soooooo good! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes! Can’t wait until your cookbook comes out!

  13. I made this tonight, but used chicken broth instead of milk and made it with rice. Absolutely delicious! My husband, who usually doesn’t eat rice and my SIL came back for seconds. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  14. This dish is amazing. I substituted spinach for kale because I couldn’t find any in the impromptu making of the dish. The kale tasted swell you just need to make sure you don’t get roots in it. It’s so delicious and creamy, fairly easy to make. Comes out thicker than picture in my opinion. Very nice

  15. One cup dried or cooked orzo 

    • Megan, the uncooked orzo is cooked in the very first step:

      In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.

  16. This was super easy and delicious.  I made it as a side with your wonderful shrimp scampi recipe.  This was great as a side for four people – we ate all of it!  🙂

  17. So…about 6 months ago my 3 year old daughter managed to sneak a box of orzo into my cart at the store. I broke down and made orzo for the first time tonight. Pretty tasty!

  18. Made this tonight, substituted boiling salted water for 50/50 water and stock…

    My wife thinks this is the best meal I have ever made, better than her favourite Vindaloo…

    Make sure to taste and season (salt, pepper, more parmasan) correctly at the end, as of tonight, this is now a regular dish for us…

    Thanks CHUNGAH

  19. Hi, this sounds delicious. Having a barbecue next weekend and wondering if this would be good served cold if I made it ahead of time? I have never made orzo before.

  20. Just made the recipe. It’s really creamy…maybe too creamy. I think if you’re not a huge cheese fan you might want to consider cutting the parmesean to 1/4 cup as opposed to 1/2 cup. Otherwise, great recipe!

  21. This was awesome!!! Loved it! Served with kielbasa, it was fantastic!
    Great recipe.


  22. YUM! I just served this for dinner with ham. It was easy to make & just delicious! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Happy 4th of July!

  23. I made this twice already, once at home and the other to bring to a friend’s BBQ! Best tasting recipe ever!!

  24. First of all- thank you for your great recipes! I’m always pleased with entrees I find on DamnDelicious, this one was no exception. That being said- possibly helpful comments for others…use a small onion. Even though we love onion, I used a large one and it took away from the yummy texture of the orzo. Also, next time I make this- and I will make it again- I will add a bit more liquid to make really creamy. I used 3 oz (half a bag of baby) spinach if that helps.
    Thanks again!

  25. This is so yummy. I made it with whole wheat gemelli, so yummy and cheesy! Greta blog by the way, coming here for yummy recipes

  26. I recently discovered your page and have become addicted. I’ve tried 2 recipes so far and am hooked! Everything is so delicious and your blogs are enticing and quirky. Thanks a lot for sharing your talent and hobby with the public!

  27. Hi. I just pinned this on Pinterest and it came up under low calorie recipes. I can’t find the nutritional info on this. Do you happen to have it? Making it tonight. Thanks.

    • Nutritional information is provided only for select and new recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, it is best that you use free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information.

  28. Should this be made with whole, 2%, or skim milk (If it even matters)?

  29. I made a huge pot of this and it came out so good! Can’t wait to eat this for lunch during the week.


  30. My oh my, this looks so tasty and comforting. Love your photography, too! And pasta + creamy + spinach? What’s not to love? Great recipe!

  31. My favorite flavors! Thanks for sharing!

  32. This was delicious! It tasted so rich and creamy. If I hadn’t made it myself I would have thought it was made with heavy cream, not milk. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  33. I made this last night with a seafood stuffed salmon and I ate two servings of the orzo and left half my salmon for lunch today. It was so good, next time I think I will have this as my main dish instead of a side.

  34. This was fabulous!!! I added slices of nature’s promise (from Giant grocery store) chicken,feta,spinach sausage links. I added 2, to the recipe listed. This was a great addition!! It would also be great with grilled shrimp mixed in…or as the blog says, as a side dish. Because of its richness, I will probably serve this as a side dish from now on, but if your belly can handle super creamy main dishes, this one’s for you!!

  35. Found this via Pinterest – very good and easy to make! Thank you.

  36. Lovely recipe. Just had it this p.m. with grilled chicken (yes, I grill all year long!). I used 1/2 a largish yellow onion. My preference for recipes is to state the amount of the dice. I felt that a large onion would be too much. Half was just right…just a little bit more than 1/2 cup diced.

    Also, I added the garlic after the onion became transulescent to prevent scorching.

    Thanks for sharing.

  37. I made this tonight. I used half and half instead of milk. It was delicious!

  38. This has become one of my go-to recipes. Great as a side dish, but I often use it as the base for a main dish and add a protein or other sautéed veggies. You are making me look good!

  39. I am so glad I have discovered your website! You have recipes that are fast, easy, and don’t involve busywork–and that taste amazing. Made 2 of your soups already and can’t wait to try this one tonight. Seriously, I am pregnant, working 40+ hours a week and it’s now a crispy 10 degrees where I live–cooking should be the last thing I want to do when I get home, but so far your recipes have been downright fun and easy to make! Thank you for being a weeknight lifesaver 🙂

  40. This was amazing! Made it last night – I was intending it as a side dish but it was so delicious it became the main course. Will definitely be making this again soon!

  41. I made this today and ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! It was amazing. I subbed in whole wheat orzo, skim milk and fat free parmesan and it was still super tasty. That’s saying something because I am super critical of subbing in healthier options (I like my cheese full fat, damn it!) but have recently been trying to eat better. This was a definite make again dish, even with the substitutions.

  42. Hello! This recipe looks delicious!! I can’t wait to make it. What would you recommend as a substitute for the milk? Do you think whole wheat flour will work in the recipe?

    • You can certainly substitute whole wheat flour but I cannot speak for how much this will change the overall taste/texture of the dish as further recipe testing is needed. It is always best to use the ingredients listed in the recipe to obtain the best results possible.

  43. Just made this for dinner, really good. I topped it with chopped up tomatoes mixed with salt. Even better. 🙂 thanks for the great recipe

  44. This is delicious! I do it with spaghetti and my children love it. A new family favorite, thank you!

  45. Hello, Chung-Ah,
    Loved your Parmesan and Spinach Orzo recipe! Thank you! Had some orzo in cupboard for long time and didn’t know what to do with it. Made a few alterations to your recipe (mostly out of necessity) and thought would share: substituted homemade chicken broth for milk, used frozen spinach (all I had), and added basil at the end to add flavor. Inhaling it now as I type, and can’t wait to make again! Thanks again.

  46. Just made this tonight and am eating it for dinner as my entree. It is just right, creamy yet light, and so yummy! Thank you!

  47. My husband and I really enjoyed this. I added about 1/2 a lb. spicy and sweet crumbled Italian Sausage and 1 tsp chili flakes. I didn’t bother with the olive oil since the sausage rendered enough liquid to brown the onions in. So good! I’ll be putting this meal into my rotation. Thanks again!

  48. I found this recipe this evening while making dinner, I had all the ingredients and decided to give it a try. Absolutely delicious with no changes to the recipe. It was my first time making Orzo but won’t be the last…this recipe was a big hit with the family! I used it as a side dish with poached scallops.

  49. Loved this! Made for a “meatless monday” meal… added roasted chickpeas to make it a full main dish.. it was wonderful! Great recipe

  50. Can you use a different type of pasta? Will it still turn out ok? Thanks!

  51. Tried this recipe last night and it was soooo good. It was super creamy and has lots of flavor. I really would like to put this in my fitness pal. Does anyone have the nutritional facts?

    • I too am looking for nutritional facts for MFP. May calculate on my own when I make this… will let you know if I figure it out.

  52. This was amazing! I didn’t even put my twist or it it was great as written. Thanks

  53. Thank you so much for this excellent recipe !

  54. I just saw this and had some spare orzo, so I decided to whip it together! It was delicious! I didn’t have spinach, so I sautéed some jalapeños with the onions and garlic. It made for a really nice flavor and a touch of green! This will be a perfect side dish in the future. Thank for the fast and tasty recipe!

  55. I love orzo! Such a great combo – I’ve made a recipe similar to this before using kale and it was equally as delicious!

  56. Just made this and it was great! Used skim milk and whole wheat flour. I also used about 2 1/2 cups of spinach (what I had on hand) and 1 1/2 cups of broccoli florets instead of onion (just emptying out the fridge and using what i had on hand). It was really really good, thanks for the recipe!

  57. This was great. I made it as a side dish for lemon garlic tilapia and it was a great great meal. Thanks for these amazing recipes!!

  58. Could you replace regular milk with Almond milk?

    • You can certainly use almond milk but please remember that by using a substitution, I cannot speak for how much this will change in the overall taste or texture of the dish. I recommend using the specified ingredients listed in the recipe whenever possible for optimal results.

  59. I don’t eat orzo often enough, but this is making me crave it bad! Creamy parmesan and spinach with pasta is always a winning combination.

  60. Pingback: Menu Mondays

  61. This looks fabulous, were about to go on holiday, so I’m gathering some special recipes to try while via-vaca, this will surly be on the list…thanks so much!

  62. We are orzo eaters for sure! My boys love that fun little pasta that looks like a form of rice, but is actually a teensy noodle 😉 The creamy parm and spinach is absolutely perfect for this. This post is making me hungry right now!

  63. This is classic!! a perfect dish for my son! Creamy Pasta is always best!!

  64. Oh wow this looks and sounds amazing. Never thought to make a creamy orzo dish 🙂

  65. I want a big bowl of that “salad” right now!

  66. I love orzo, this is comfort in a bowl!

  67. mmmmmm now THIS is an orzo recipe I can get into! Looooove!

  68. Love that due to the fresh spinach, you tell yourself this is a salad 😉 I like the way you think and I love this cheese-y bowl of soon to be happening orzo!

  69. This looks AMAZING!!! I make something very similar but I add in cherry tomatoes and basil… Which reminds me…I need to blog that! Thanks for the reminder! Love love your site and pics 🙂

  70. Oh yum I have some orzo that’s been looking for a purpose.

  71. This looks completely delicious! I will be trying this very so!

  72. Orzo is one of my favorite side dishes! And I just love the combo of spinach and Parmesan. So creamy!

  73. As I was reading, I was thinking that this would be a great main dish…I’m so glad you agree! This looks totally tasty and comforting. I am trying this tonight. Thank you!!

  74. I love orzo and your combination of spinach and Parmesan sounds so delicious!

  75. This looks so delicious!! I could totally devour this as a main course, sounds so yummy! Anything with pasta, spinach and cheese is soo up my alley. Pinned!

  76. I love orzo but almost never make it. And I love spinach dip of any kind. This looks so creamy and cheesy – like an orzo pasta meets spinach dip. I would love a bowl of this on a chilly night!