This Easy One-Pot Orzo Is the Ultimate Mac and Cheese Upgrade

Call it magic.

By Suruchi Avasthi
one pot spring parmesan orzo

This time of year, Midwest weather is always a bit of a grab bag. One day the sun is shining and you can leave the house without your hat and scarf, and the next day it’s back below freezing. Despite craving the freshness of spring, all you can bring yourself to eat is a hot bowl of soup. But don’t worry, this creamy one pot parmesan orzo has you covered.

Think all the creamy and cheesy deliciousness of mac and cheese with the bright fresh flavors of spring produce, all made in on pot. This is my magic meal for nights when cooking feels like the last thing I want to do. It’s packed with flavor thanks to the selection of veggies and salty parmesan, but feels light and bright enough for the spring season when the craving for fresh produce begins to take over. So let’s talk about this parmesan orzo recipe…

one pot spring orzo

Ingredients for One Pot Parmesan Orzo

Leeks. Instead of an onion, I wanted to use the slightly sweeter darling of spring time, a leek. To prep, slice into thin pieces and wash thoroughly, as leeks are really good at hiding dirt between the leaves. And yes, you can use a shallot or onion if you need to substitute.

Orzo. Orzo is a type of pasta that is kind of shaped like a long grain of rice. It has the same bite and texture as a pasta, but I like it in this recipe to eat more like a pastina or risotto.

Vegetable broth. Instead of using water, use broth of your choice to add an extra layer of flavor.

Spring vegetables. This is where you can use what you have on hand, but as a nod to the spring season, wanted to stay around a theme of green veggies. I used shredded zucchini, peas, asparagus, and kale, but you could use any greens, chopped carrots, or broccoli.

Heavy cream. Just a splash will add some nice creaminess.

Parmesan. To give this the cheesy mac and cheese vibes, parmesan is our favorite.

spring one pot parmesan orzo
spring parmesan orzo

How to Make This Spring Parmesan Orzo

This recipe is a winner because it is a one pot recipe. Yes, everything gets done in one pot.

While you caramelize the leeks in the pot, toss in your dry orzo to get it a little toasty, and then add the shredded zucchini. I love hiding extra vegetables in my meals, and by shredding the zucchini, it becomes a similar size to the orzo so blends into the base of the recipe while fitting in an extra serving of vegetables. Then all you have to do is add the broth with the rest of the vegetables and boil to package directions so the orzo soaks up the broth and the veggies cook and become tender.

Once the orzo has cooked and the pot has thickened, add a splash of heavy cream and a generous helping of parmesan cheese. Stir it together and you are left with a thick and creamy mac and cheese/risotto like texture that is equally as cozy as it is delicious.

parmesan orzo

What to Serve With This Orzo Recipe

While this parmesan orzo is delicious on its own, to make it a full meal, serve with a fresh green salad or protein of choice. Personally to keep this vegetarian, I like to just make a soft boiled egg to serve over the top of my bowl, but you can also use chicken or fish.

Storing and Reheating Tips

Unlike long noodles that I don’t think heat up all that well, because of the small shape of the orzo and the creaminess of the dish, it reheats perfectly.

To store, just keep in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, add to a bowl and reheat in the microwave or on the stove with extra broth to thin out the texture. This makes for the easiest lunch box and office lunch because of how well it stays for a few days in the fridge. Your lunch time self will thank you.

spring parmesan orzo

Other Spring Recipes You’ll Love:

With all the fresh ingredients at your fingertips, spring is arguably one of the best times of year for inspired cooking. Make the most of the season with more of our favorite springtime recipes.

Lemony Spring Pasta Salad with Olives, Artichokes, and Bacon

Pink Radicchio Salad

Green Goddess Pasta Salad

Pluot Galette with Crème Fraiche

Scroll on for the recipe, and if you make this parmesan orzo, be sure to leave a rating and comment below.

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parmesan orzo

One Pot Parmesan Orzo

  • Author: Suruchi Avasthi
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This one-pot parmesan orzo is an easy vegetarian dinner for cozy weeknights.


Units Scale
  • 23 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced and cleaned
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 1 large zucchini, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 small bunch of kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan


  1. Add oil to a large stove top pot and bring to a medium heat.
  2. Add the leek with a big pinch of salt, pepper, and dried thyme. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the leek begins to soften and caramelize.
  3. Add the dry orzo to the pot and stir to combine, toasting for about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini and asparagus to the pot with the 4 cups of vegetable broth. Bring up to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook orzo according to package instructions until cooked through and has thickened.
  5. Add the peas and the kale in the last few minutes of cooking.
  6. Remove the pot from heat and add the cream and parmesan. Stir to combine until smooth and creamy. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh herbs if desired.
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Dinner

Keywords: orzo, parmesan, vegetarian

Comments (1)

  1. Kristen Poff says:

    I made with veggies on hand, broccoli and zucchini. Definitely used less veggies so ours was more like a soup. Great flavor and even better leftovers. I will make again.

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