Creamy orzo with garlic, parmesan, and no cream involved! This easy weeknight dinner leans on protein-rich Greek yogurt for a luxurious velvety quality and nice tang. Plus, this one-pan pasta is on your table in 30 minutes or less.

creamy orzo in a skillet.

This creamy orzo was inspired by the end of tomato season. As soon as August hits, it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day to enjoy the last juicy tomatoes of summer! To take full advantage, I made a fresh tomato sauce with sweet cherry tomatoes, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Orzo, cooked right in the sauce, soaks up all those delicious summery flavors. 

The creamy sauce and orzo’s rice-like shape makes this dish reminiscent of risotto, but without all the stirring and patience required. Though I love to make mushroom or farro risotto when I have some time to spare, this dinner creates the same creamy goodness in half the time. The best part is this creamy recipe has no cream in it! I use Greek yogurt to add a little protein and create a velvety texture with a slight tang. Such a simple add and it's so good.

I’ll be making this one pan wonder on repeat until summer is over. I’ll admit, though, that blistering the tomatoes in garlicky oil means you can get away with less than picture-perfect tomatoes. And the creamy, garlicky sauce is a sure hit for the whole family. 

Table of Contents
  1. Creamy Orzo Ingredients
  2. What is Orzo and What Does it Taste Like?
  3. How to Make Creamy Orzo
  4. What to Serve with Creamy Orzo
  5. Creamy Orzo with Garlic, Parmesan, and Blistered Tomatoes Recipe
ingredients for creamy orzo including orzo, greek yogurt, chicken broth, cheese, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and cherry tomatoes.

Creamy Orzo Ingredients

This creamy orzo recipe uses a handful of easy-to-find ingredients to make a flavorful, comforting weeknight dinner. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Extra virgin olive oil: The tomatoes stew in garlic and olive oil to create a rich, luxurious sauce. Any of the oils from our shop are delicious with this recipe, or use a high quality extra virgin olive oil of your choosing. 
  • Cherry tomatoes: Use the juiciest, ripest cherry tomatoes you can find.
  • Salt and Pepper: I'm keeping the seasonings simple so the the other ingredients can really shine. Just a little Kosher salt and black pepper to enhance the other flavors in this recipe. 
  • Garlic: A healthy amount of minced garlic gives this pasta its deeply savory flavor. Check out our guide on how to mince garlic for tips. 
  • Orzo: A short pasta that’s shaped like rice–you can learn more in our guide: All About Orzo. If you must substitute, use a short variety like small macaroni or ditalini. 
  • Greek yogurt: Makes a creamy, velvety sauce with an added layer of tangy complexity. 
  • Parmesan: Brings an irresistible, creamy umami flavor. You can substitute with Pecorino Romano if you’d like, it will be a bit tangier and saltier. 
  • Parsley: A final sprinkle of chopped parsley adds freshness. 
a close up of creamy orzo in a blue skillet.

What is Orzo and What Does it Taste Like?

Orzo is a type of pasta that’s shaped like a long grain of rice. That’s right: Orzo is not rice! It’s often confused for a grain because of its small shape, but it is a dough that’s rolled, cut, and dried just like any other pasta.

Orzo has a mild, neutral taste just like pasta. Its small size gives it a velvety mouthfeel and springy texture. While rice is soft and slightly sticky, orzo maintains the firmness of an al dente pasta. 

overhead photo of creamy orzo in a blue skillet.

How to Make Creamy Orzo

Creamy orzo doesn’t ask for much—the hardest part is mincing the garlic—see my tips for the easy way! From there, this pantry pasta recipe comes together in minutes. Here’s how you make it:

  • Blister the cherry tomatoes. In a medium saucepan, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add 5 cups of whole cherry tomatoes and 4 minced garlic cloves. Season with a big pinch of kosher salt and black pepper and stir to combine, coating the tomatoes in the garlicky oil. Cover the pan until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Reduce the tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to mash the softened tomatoes, pushing against the side of the pan until they burst. Let the mashed tomatoes cook, uncovered, until they have softened and let out a lot of juice, about 3 to 5 minutes.stewed cherry tomatoes in a blue skillet.
  • Cook the orzo. Stir in 2 cups of orzo. Cover everything with water or broth by about 1-inch. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Let the pasta and tomatoes cook over medium heat (uncovered), stirring occasionally to prevent scorching at the bottom.creamy orzo simmering in a blue skillet.
  • Temper the yogurt.  Before the orzo has absorbed the liquid, spoon some of the warm tomato-ey broth into a large measuring cup. Add the yogurt and whisk to combine, bringing the yogurt to room temperature.tempered greek yogurt in a white bowl with a spoon.
  • Combine. When the pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the juice, about 10 minutes, turn the heat off. Add the warmed yogurt and stir to combine.
  • Finish and serve. Stir in ¼ to ½ cup of grated parmesan and 1 cup of chopped parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking and serve. close up photo of creamy orzo in a blue skillet.

What to Serve with Creamy Orzo

In the summertime, I like to really lean-in to juicy tomato season and serve this creamy orzo with a fresh tomato salad. Marinated cherry tomato salad, tomato feta salad, and heirloom tomato salad with dukkah all come to mind. 

During the months when tomatoes aren’t at their prime, embrace the cheesy parmesan umami flavor. Take advantage of your free oven with roasted fennel with Parmigiano cheese, or serve with a crisp and refreshing lemon and parmesan lettuce salad or maroulosalata (Greek lettuce salad).

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Creamy Orzo with Garlic, Parmesan, and Blistered Tomatoes

Suzy Karadsheh
close up photo of creamy orzo in a blue skillet.
This creamy orzo keeps things light and fresh, with sweet cherry tomatoes stewed in garlicky olive oil until they burst to make a fresh tomato sauce. This easy recipe is a no-fuss vegetarian dinner that comes together in one pan and 30 minutes or less.
Prep – 5 minutes
Cook – 20 minutes
Total – 25 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian/Mediterranean
Serves – 4
Course:
Dinner, Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 5 cups cherry tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 cups dry orzo
  • Water or broth (3-4 cups)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup grated parmesan or pecorino Romano, or more to your liking
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions
 

  • Blister the cherry tomatoes. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tomatoes (whole) and garlic and season with a big pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Stir to combine, then cover the pan until the tomatoes are softened, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Stew the tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to mash the softened tomatoes. Let them cook, uncovered, until they have softened and let out a lot of juice, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Cook the orzo. Add the orzo and cover with water or broth by about 1 inch. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper and stir to combine. Let the pasta and tomatoes cook over medium heat (uncovered), stirring occasionally to prevent it from scorching at the bottom.
  • Temper the yogurt. Before the orzo has absorbed the liquid, spoon some of the warm tomato-ey broth into a large measuring cup. Add the yogurt and whisk to combine, bringing the yogurt to room temperature.
  • Combine. When the pasta is tender and has absorbed most of the juice, about 10 minutes, turn the heat off. Add the warmed yogurt and stir to combine.
  • Finish and serve. Stir in the cheese and fresh parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking and serve.

Video

Notes

  • Check out our guide on how to mince garlic for all my tips and tricks.
  • Make sure to whisk the yogurt and warm broth well before combining it with the hot pasta. If the yogurt is still cold from the fridge it may curdle.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 369kcalCarbohydrates: 53.4gProtein: 17.1gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 2.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.8gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 6.8mgSodium: 151mgPotassium: 702.9mgFiber: 3.7gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 2225.4IUVitamin C: 63.4mgCalcium: 188mgIron: 3.1mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

    1. Hi, Ally! I'm Summer and I work here at The Mediterranean Dish. You are correct Parmesan Cheese is traditionally made with rennet, an animal product, however, there are many vegetarian parmesan cheeses on the market now for those who prefer a plant-based lifestyle.

  1. This recipe sounds delicious. I do not like the taste of greek yogurt or sour cream. Is there anything else you can suggest for the creamy texture? Thanks.

    1. Hi, Karen. This is Kate, one of the team members here at The Mediterranean Dish. We have a milk allergy in my family, and one way we get a creamy texture for dishes like this is to blend either a can of cannellini beans or chickpeas with their juices and use that as a substitute for yogurt or cream. I've never tried it with this recipe, but I think it would work!

  2. Hi there! My BF absolutely refuses to eat yogurt, can a light sour cream be substituted? Otherwise I might just have to trick him, lol. Looks yummy!
    E

  3. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and it was easy to make, and so very good. Thanks for sharing another great recipe.

    1. 5 stars
      I'm sitting here, eating this for dinner right now! It's easy and delicious and I had all the ingredients I needed!

  4. 5 stars
    I made this last evening and I loved it! I put a little fresh basil in there instead of the fresh parsley, but that was the only thing I did differently. This is a fantastic way to use up an abundance of cherry tomatoes or ones that are a little past their prime. A keeper!

  5. 5 stars
    I loved this dish! I ended up adding some Kalamata olives and arugula...and I used fresh basil instead of parsley (because that was on hand). It was so good I had a second bowl and now need to go walk the dogs because I'm so full! Thank you!

  6. 5 stars
    Suzy- as promised, made this and it was delicious! A great blend of flavors..comfort food that is also healthy- thanks!

  7. 5 stars
    I can always count on the Mediterraneandish.com with dinner ideas! Suzy you have the best website and you make the most amazing food. This recipe did not disappoint! Love the ease of making and the impressive deliciousness. Definitely a go to keeper.

  8. 5 stars
    Making this tonight!!! Once agin you have knocked the ball out if the park! They are going to have start calling you slugger!

  9. Sounds delicious! But what kind of orzo do you use? The USDA lists 210 calories for 1/4 cup dry - that's 400 calories per serving of your recipe just from the orzo alone, and the nutritional value given for the recipe is 369 calories per serving. Perhaps your nutritional calculator is looking at cooked orzo rather than dry orzo? MyFitnessPal calculates 576 calories per serving using whole milk Fage yogurt and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Nonfat yogurt only lowers that by about 20 calories.

    1. Hi, Cheryl. Like most recipe websites, the nutritional information you see here is our best estimate using on online program that's based on entering the recipe's ingredient list. Various factors can change the nutritional information in any given recipe, and sometimes, different online calculators will provide you different results based on their own algorithm. This likely explains why the numbers you got from My Fitness Pall is different than what we present here.

    1. Hi, Rachel. Thanks for the feedback! We are definitely working on this. It is just taking us a bit of time to find a conversion tool that will work properly with all the recipes on the site.