Looking for an amazing orzo salad recipe? This lemon orzo pasta salad is dressed with a delicious lemon dill dressing, and loaded with fresh veggies and tender orzo. This lemon orzo salad is a wonderful summer side dish for any occasion!
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If you love a great pasta salad recipe, this lemon orzo pasta salad need to be at the top of your must-make list! This cold lemon orzo salad recipe is perfect as a summer side dish, served with all your favorites from the grill.
Dressed with a simple homemade lemon dill dressing, this lemon orzo pasta salad is also paired with fresh, crisp veggies and tender orzo pasta.
What do I need to make orzo pasta salad?
- Orzo pasta
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- Kalamata or black olives
- Artichoke hearts
- Red onion
- Fresh dill
- Lemons (2 for the dressing)
- Olive oil
- Dried oregano
- Salt and Pepper
For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe. Thanks!
How do I make orzo pasta salad?
The first step to making orzo salad is to make the dressing. This simple, homemade lemon dill dressing has minimal ingredients and comes together in just a few minutes.
To make this lemon dill dressing, whisk together olive oil, fresh lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons), garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside.
Next step is to cook the orzo pasta. I highly recommend cooking the pasta only to al dente. Al dente cook time is typically 1 minute less than the regular cook time. Be sure to reference the pasta box for exact al dente cook time.
Once done cooking, immediately drain the orzo and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. This will also prevent the pasta from sticking together and becoming soft or gummy after the salad is dressed.
Transfer the rinsed pasta to a bowl, and pour in half of your lemon dill dressing to coat the pasta. Place in the refrigerator to chill while you cut your veggies for the salad.
Ingredient Substitutions and Recommendations:
- Vegetables: In addition to the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, artichoke hearts and red onion, you could also add or substitute bell peppers (any color), green onions, fresh corn or even grilled vegetables, like squash, zucchini or eggplant.
- Dill: if you do not prefer dill, you could substitute chopped parsley.
- Cheese: should you want to add a crumble of cheese to the top of this orzo salad, a good option would be feta or goat cheese crumbles.
For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the recipe at the bottom of the post. Thanks!
While the orzo is chilling, now is the time to chop the vegetables. I found that the best vegetables that go well with the lemon flavors are grape tomatoes, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, red onions and more fresh parsley.
Frequently asked questions about making orzo and orzo pasta salad:
Orzo is a traditional pasta made from semolina, white or whole wheat flour. A whole wheat orzo would be the most healthy. A 2 oz. serving of orzo pasta is 200 calories.
Yes. You can definitely eat orzo pasta cold. It is great served cold in orzo pasta salad tossed with vegetables and a lemon dill dressing.
Even though orzo pasta is shaped like a grain of rice, orzo is actually made from semolina, white or whole wheat flour. Rice is a grain and grown on a plant.
When making an orzo pasta salad, orzo should be rinsed in cold water. This helps the pasta to stop cooking, preventing it from becoming sticky, soft or gummy in a pasta salad. When cooking orzo to be served hot with a sauce, orzo does NOT need to be rinsed.
Once the vegetables are chopped, they can be added to the chilled orzo. Toss together with the remaining lemon dill dressing.
You can serve the salad right away or chill for another 2 hours prior to serving. This will ensure all ingredients are cold and the dressing has a chance to incorporate with the rest of the vegetables.
Pro-Tip for Making Pasta Salad in Advance:
Making this (or any) salad a day in advance of an event, cookout, pot-luck or BBQ? I recommend following the recipe as directed, dress as normal and refrigerate. However, make additional dressing to dress the salad again just before serving. Often with pasta salads, the pasta will absorb much of the dressing/liquid once it has been refrigerated for more than a few hours.
Love summer salads? Check out some of our favorites here:
- Peaches and Cream Pretzel Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- Tomato Basil Mozzarella Salad
- Classic Macaroni Salad
- Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad
- Watermelon Cucumber Salad
- Strawberry Cheesecake Fluff Salad
- Healthy Broccoli Salad with Apples and Cherries
If you loved this pasta salad recipe, check out our other similar recipes:
What do I serve with orzo pasta salad?
Orzo pasta salad is fantastic with anything from the grill. We absolutely love this salad with my Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon (pictured above). Here are some other delicious proteins to serve with this orzo salad:
- Lemon Pepper Grilled Chicken
- Italian Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Steak Kabobs
- Brown Sugar Balsamic Grilled Chicken
- BBQ Grilled Chicken Drumsticks
- Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Apple Cider Glazed Pork Chops
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin Rub
- Air Fryer Turkey Burgers
- 10 oz. orzo pasta, cook only to al dente
- 1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 c. Kalamata olives, halved
- 1 c. artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
- 1 c. cucumber, thickly sliced and quartered
- 1/2 c. red onion, chopped
- 1/4 c. fresh dill, minced
Lemon Dill Dressing:
- 1/3 c. fresh lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
- 2 tsp. minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Begin by making the dressing: in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, dill, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, cook the orzo pasta to al dente only. This is typically 1-2 minutes less than regular cook time. Promptly drain pasta and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large mixing bowl. Dress with HALF of the lemon dill dressing. Stir well to coat. Refrigerate the dressed pasta while cutting the vegetables.
- Cut/prepare the tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, cucumber and red onion.
- Toss the chopped vegetables in with the chilled orzo and pour the reserved dressing over the top of all the ingredients. Toss again to coat.
- You can serve right away or refrigerate until ready to serve.
Leftover salad will keep for up to 5 days when refrigerated in an airtight container.
Making this salad a day in advance for an event? I recommend making the salad exactly according to the recipe directions. However, make an additional batch of dressing. The pasta will absorb much of the initial dressing once the salad has been refrigerated for more than 24 hours. Just before serving, dress the salad with the additional dressing to freshen the salad.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 201Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 157mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g