How to Make Italian Orzo Risotto

Risotto is considered a Northern Italian dish and is often used with a special white rice called Arborio.  However, much to the dismay of risotto experts and enthusiasts, I use pasta to make a risotto-like dish.

I won’t apologize either because I’m all about simple Italian cooking… and in my opinion authentic risotto is an art and not simple.

This risotto-like recipe is great for those wanting to do something different with their orzo pasta that’s sitting there in the pantry, and that like risotto style dishes.

For the ingredients, my recipe uses basic Italian ingredients and it takes less than 30 minutes to make from start to finish, probably even less.

I do use chicken broth for my recipe because the flavor really helps add some depth to the recipe.  However, as you’ll see in my video I actually cut the broth down by using a mix of water and broth.

Is Orzo Risotto Really Italian or Did I Make this Up?

Italian Orzo RisottoTruth be told, I have no idea.  I use Italian herbs, cheeses, and pasta in this recipe and that makes it Italian for me, oh yeah… and my picky Italian husband likes it… 🙂

As to if someone else does this too, probably somewhere.  I can’t imagine this is all that unique an idea.

True authentic risotto uses arborio rice and there’s a true art behind getting the right consistency, etc.   However, I don’t have time or patience for all that.  I gotta keep it simple and easy.

So I found that by using orzo pasta I get a nice alternative.

I hope you enjoy it!

Cutting Back on the Sodium

There are few reasons I do this. One is the recipe doesn’t need to be overpowered with too much of a chicken flavor.  Secondly, I really try to do what I can to cut back on sodium.  Plus if you use Romano cheese, that’s high in sodium so you’ll get enough saltiness from that.

In this recipe I use grated Romano as the main cheese ingredient.   Don’t use anything like mozzarella because that will be too stringy.

If you don’t have Romano you can use Parmesan, however I find that Romano has a stronger and more bold flavor.

What about the Mushrooms?

In regards to the mushrooms, I use button mushrooms.   Main reason is they are cheaper and I don’t know much about all the various types of mushrooms out there.   How’s that for honesty?

If you want to use your own mix of mushrooms, have at it, I’m sure it will taste great, and maybe even better!

Here’s my quick video showing how easy it is to make.

Orzo and Mushroom Risotto

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Course: Main Dish
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 1/2 cups orzo
  • 3 cups broth or 1/2 water and 1/2 broth
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup sliced or diced mushrooms


  • Bring the water and broth to a boil in a large sauce pan.
  • Add the orzo and cook per the boxes instructions (about 9 minutes).
  • When the liquid is absorbed, add the garlic, Romano, parsley and mushrooms and mix well.
  • Turn heat down to low and let everything cook together for a few minutes.
  • When ready, serve warm.


Tip #1: Stir the orzo every so often to prevent it sticking to the bottom.
Tip #2: Feel free to add a few of your own ingredients such as fresh basil, chopped red pepper or even sliced grape tomatoes.
Tip #3: Turn this into a main dish by adding some hearty vegetables or some chicken.

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How to Make Italian Orzo Risotto

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