Best Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe

Best Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe

Last Updated on by Adrienne


What is Orzo?

Orzo is delicious!

Especially when made with this great recipe for a tangy red wine vinegar and a good quality olive oil for the base for the vinaigrette. Then the traditional recipe are meal prepped and mixed into the pasta base.

Main ingredients are:

  • red onion
  • green onion
  • cherry tomatoes
  • kalamata olives
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil.

There are variations. Other cooks might add:

  • red pepper (red bell pepper)
  • bell peppers
  • green onions
  • garbanzo beans
  • fresh lemon juice
  • artichoke hearts
  • english cucumber

(Feta cheese is goat cheese – if you don’t like the flavor, or it’s not available in your grocery stores, there are substitutions – see below)

You might hear it called Greek Orzo salad or Mediterranean Orzo salad.

orzo pasta salad recipe

Orzo Pasta Salad


  • 1 pound orzo pasta cooked according to package directions
  • 1 12 -16 oz container cherry or grape tomatoes halved
  • 8 - 10 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 can can sliced black olives
  • 1 bunch green onions sliced, white and green parts
  • 1 ½ cups of your favorite vinaigrette homemade preferably


  • Prepare pasta according to package directions, removing the pasta from the heat about one minute before directions say. Remove ½ cup pasta water for later use, if necessary.
  • Drain pasta in a strainer and give a quick rinse under the cool water to mostly stop the cooking process. Put warm pasta in a large bowl for mixing. Alternate pouring ¼ cup dressing over warm pasta, stir, add another ¼ cup, stir, until the pasta is coated to your taste.
  • Add prepped onions, tomatoes and olives and use your hands or a big spoon to gently mix all the vegetables through the pasta. Check for moisture – do you want any extra dressing? Add it now while pasta is a little warm.
  • Chill the pasta for about 30 minutes then stir in crumbled feta. Because it has been slightly chilled, the cheese won’t melt. If you have longer to chill, great! You can add cheese right before it’s served.
  • Before serving or packaging for delivery, give it a good stir and taste. Need dressing? Salt? Add in SMALL amounts and test after each addition.


Zucchini and Yellow Squash

How Do I Serve Orzo Salad?

It is typically served at room temperature, although you can have it chilled if you prefer. Just run the pasta under cold water before you add the dressing and vegetables – that will stop the cooking process and cut down on your chilling time in the fridge.

Seriously, according to Wikipedia – Orzo, also known as risoni, is a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like a large grain of rice. Orzo is traditionally made from white flour, but it can also be made of whole grain.

The Italian word orzo means barley.

The name orzo is common for this pasta shape in North America, and, oddly enough, less common in Italy.

Orzo is a great pasta that can take on the flavors of olive oil, lime or lemon zest and herbs.

Orzo Pasta Good For You?

Although pasta is low fat, it is often eaten only in small portions in a meal plan because of the carbs. It is great served in a large bowl as a perfect side dish.

Is Orzo Noodles or Rice?

Orzo is pasta. The noodles look similar to rice, and is in a color like some rice grains, but it is a pasta.

Is this Orzo Pasta Salad good for the Mediterranean Diet?

It’s often used in Mediterranean diet recipes like Italian and Greek cuisine. All the flavors of Greece are in this orzo salad: salty feta cheese, Kalamata olives, and of course, powerhouse herbs like mint and dill!

Can You Use Substitute the Cheese in this Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe?

Typically, this Greek Orzo Pasta Salad dish uses feta cheese, but if you want, you could use cubed or grated mozzarella or shaved parmesan cheese.

This is a great addition to grilled meats and fresh veggies in warm weather.

Orzo is a delicious pasta perfect for pasta salads, side dishes, or as a base for an entree, like a pilaf-ish foundation for something from the grill. Or something with gravy from the slow cooker or InstantPot.

Think serving platter of orzo topped with chicken or fish and grilled veggies on the side, all those grilled delights dripping their natural juices onto the pasta while resting. Big Yum.

Its shape makes it an easy-to-eat pasta … no twirling.

Check out what these experts say about twirling pasta…)

Need Tips for Making Orzo?

  • Do not over-or undercook pasta
  • Use plenty of boiling water
  • Put dressing on pasta while it is still a little warm – the flavor will absorb into the pasta

Why Homemade Vinaigrette?

Well, vinaigrette is just basically a mix of 2/3 oil to 1/3 acid. It can be canola oil and lemon juice, avocado oil and champagne vinegar, grapeseed oil and tarragon vinegar. Your choice. Always needs salt, pepper and can benefit from an emulsifier like egg or mustard and a bump in flavor like parsley, chives, cilantro or garlic.

For an easy way to mix the dressing, just put the oil, acid and herbs in a mason jar and SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE until the mixture is emulsified. If you make a double recipe, you can keep it in the refrigerator for several days.


orzo pasta salad recipe


This is my basic recipe - but yours could be different. A vinaigrette is basically just 2 parts oil to one part acid (which could be lemon, lime, any other flavored vinegar, etc...)
The salt, pepper, herbs, cheese, etc. is all up to your personal preference.


  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs kosher salt
  • 1/2 Tbs freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp dijon
  • 2 Tbs parsley or mixed herbs


  • Add all ingredients to a container, and use an immersion blender to combine well. Taste for seasoning.

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