Lemon-Orzo Salad with Veggies and Chicken

This light and fresh salad is packed with fresh vegetables and bright flavors (hello lemon and dill), and while I love the addition of grilled chicken, you can also make it meatless if you prefer.  The orzo pasta makes this salad hearty, but it stays light and fresh at the same time.  This is a great meal-prep recipe as it stays good in the fridge for several days, and also really wonderful for luncheons and potlucks.  It’s also very flexible, feel free to adjust the veggies and add things you enjoy or need to use up! 

orzo salad in serving bowl

Ingredient Notes

  • Orzo –   If you’ve never cooked with Orzo before, it’s a pasta that you can find in the regular pasta aisle.  It usually comes in a small box, or you can buy it in bulk in a tub sometimes. The actual pasta pieces look like large grains of rice.
  • Lemon Juice and Lemon Rind – Go with fresh lemon here, not jarred juice or dehydrated zest. The only product I recommend in place of fresh lemon, is True Lemon, which is crystallized fresh lemon and makes an excellent substitute!
  • Dill – dried dill is just fine here, but I especially love the addition of fresh dill, which you can usually find with the other fresh herbs in the grocery store.
  • Olive Oil – Use extra virgin olive oil. If you prefer a more neutral flavor, use light olive oil. 
  • Veggies- This recipe calls for red pepper, green onion, cucumber. If you have other vegetables you’d like to use up, feel free to substitute, it’s pretty flexible!
  • Chicken– I usually grill chicken for this recipe. If I can plan ahead, we’ll grill chicken one night for dinner, and I’ll make extra to save for the next day for this salad. You could also grab a rotisserie chicken or use other leftovers, like grilled steak!

How To Make Lemon-Orzo Salad With Chicken

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
  2. While orzo is cooking, chop red pepper, cucumber and green onions and set aside.
  3. Put all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake till combined.
  4. To assemble, combine all salad ingredients except feta in a bowl and toss with dressing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this ahead of time? Yes! Most pasta salads are best when they’ve had a chance to chillin in the fridge and flavors have really blended. They are great for meal prepping lunches for several days as well. Feel free to make this one day and enjoy it for several. Sometimes citrus juice loses it’s kick after a couple of days, so a fresh squirt of lemon juice before serving won’t hurt. You can mix the feta in when you make it initially, or simply sprinkle some on at serving time.

Serving Suggestions

This salad is great on it’s own as a light meal. It would also make a great side dish if you leave the chicken out and serve alongside something like this Lemon-Garlic Herb Rubbed Chicken.

Did You Make This?

I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, then come back and give this recipe a rating!

orzo pasta salad in salad bowl

Lemon-Orzo Salad with Veggies and Chicken

5 from 16 votes
Orzo pasta, veggies, and chicken are tossed in a lemony dressing in this light yet filling pasta salad.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings5 cups

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • ½ teaspoon lemon rind finely grated
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice fresh
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ - 2 cups chicken cooked, shredded, skinless, and diced
  • 1 cup cucumber diced
  • 1 cup red bell pepper diced
  • ½ cup green onions sliced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dill, fresh, chopped or 1 ½ teaspoons dried
  • ¾ cup feta cheese crumbled

Instructions

  • Cook orzo according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water until pasta feels cool to the touch.  Drain and place in a medium sized salad bowl.
  • While orzo cooks, combine lemon rind, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, garlic, honey, and black pepper in a mason jar.  If using dried dill, add that as well.  Shake well to combine. 
  • Add chicken, cucumber, bell pepper, green onions, and dill (if using fresh) to pasta. 
  • Shake dressing immediately before drizzling on salad.  Toss to combine.  Add feta and gently toss again.
  • You can eat it immediately, but I find it's best if you can chill for 1-2 hours before serving. 

Notes

This recipe tastes best when it's allowed to chill in the fridge for a few hours. You can make it, then enjoy for several days afterwards. However, it may need some extra seasoning the longer it sits.

Nutrition

Serving: 11/4 cup, Calories: 845kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 78g, Saturated Fat: 23g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g, Monounsaturated Fat: 37g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 611mg, Potassium: 224mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1157IU, Vitamin C: 46mg, Calcium: 133mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: chicken breast, pasta, salad, vegetables
Calories: 845kcal
Author: Sara Wells
Cost: $12
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious!! I used chick peas instead of chicken. Another excellent recipe – thank you!!!

  2. 5 stars
    I never leave comments on blogs, forums, etc., but I just finished eating this for dinner and had to get on here and tell you that it seriously made my day better. I’d had a long, busy, stressful day at work and other things, and wasn’t really in the mood to make dinner, and consequently was getting really annoyed at everything while I was making dinner. Then when this was done, I took one bite and felt so much better and thought, “mmm, it was all worth it” (making it – not like it’s hard, but…long day… you know). This is the kind of thing I could eat all day. It’s perfect. I love how it’s healthy but so flavorful and filling. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Found your site through a friend and have tried some recipes and liked them. I actually made this recipe from the Cooking Light July issue, you should give credit where it’s due.

  4. 5 stars
    I just made this for my lunch for this week, and it is so delicious! I added some grape tomatoes and subbed chickpeas for the chicken. Thanks for the fabulous recipe…I’m looking forward to lunch time all week!

  5. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness, I just made this with quinoa, and it’s so so good! I’ve found my new lunch for this week! Thank you!

  6. Is this something that gets better after it sits in the fridge? Or does the pasta get soggy? I’ve never cooked with orzo before…or should I do the dressing in advance?

    1. Yep! It can definitely be made ahead of time. The flavors just get better!

  7. 5 stars
    This salad was awesome! I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I have never made a recipe from you ladies that hasn’t been delicious so I decided to give it a go. And once again you girls came through!! I loved it!! Thanks for the recipe and keep them coming!

  8. 5 stars
    I made this salad last night and it was some serious deliciousness! LOVED IT! Will be adding it to our regular dinner rotation. Thanks ladies!

  9. 5 stars
    This looked SO good that I drove home from work and picked up a cuke and a red pepper so I could make it. I made it as a side with our steak sandwiches a few days ago. It is sooo delicious. The dressing is out of this world, so fresh and tangy. I added a little bit of dijon mustard to my dressing because I find the mustard helps emulsify the dressing better.

    I packed leftovers for my husband for lunch the next day and he said it was the best lunch he's had in a while.

    I also made a second batch w/o chicken (didn't have anymore), and instead boiled some eggs to put with it. He brought it the next day for lunch and showed it off to everyone at work. HAHA!!

    Great salad, thanks for the great idea!!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and I loved it! so refreshing..I also love it when you post WW points!!!!!! whoo hoo!!! I will be making this as a side dish at my son's birthday party…Thank you!!!
    Mandy

  11. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was delicious! But I think to really knock it out of the park, I'm going to replace the chicken with a jar of freshly canned sockeye next time. OMNOMNOMNOM.

  12. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was very, very good. I'm not much of a cucumber fan but this salad just made convert me. Perfect summer dish!

  13. This looks DELICIOUS! Thanks so much for posting the Weight Watchers points! I'm already head over heels for your site, if you added WW points as a regular feature, I'd be completely smitten! 🙂

  14. I just have to leave a comment and tell you two cute gals your blog is the BEST! I know this is not hte first and surley not the ;ast time you will hear this but i neededt olet you know :)I love looking at food blogs but have become (in only 2 days) obsessed with yours. Everyone claims to be geared towards the average housewife/mother..you guys are the REAL deal with a funky flare I love! I dont know that my comment will be read with the followers you guys have (i too am now on this list) but for my own good i had to leave this comment. O and Yes i am very excited to make the watermelon salad this Sunday for my moms family dinner..i am sooo going to look like a Betty 🙂

    Thanks again. Keep keepin on girls!

  15. 5 stars
    I just made this for dinner and it was ridiculously delicious and easy! I did sub parsley for the dill (not a fan), red onion for the green and shrimp for the chicken. I just sauteed the shrimp in a lil olive oil with salt, pepper and parsley. I'm wondering how long this will keep in the fridge, need something for a potluck on Friday and this would be perfect

  16. I have been making a salad like this for years, except mine has cooled roasted veggies (zucchini, red peppers, onions, eggplant, mushrooms) and I use either feta or parmesan, whichever I have on hand. Similar dressing too, a really lemon-y vinaigrette but no honey or dill. I will have to try this fresh version, thanks 🙂

  17. I have always been interested in cooking orzo, but never knew what to make with it. I am going to give this a try. Thanks!

  18. yuuuuuuuuuuuuum! My mouth is watering!!! I think I might add some roasted artichoke hearts… I think I know what's for dinner tonight!

  19. we make orzo salad all the time in the summer-my boys love it! we make a similar version but with shrimp,garlic, lemon, pinenuts, tomotoes, and feta. We also make a chicken, basil, tomato, basil, mozarella, & balsamic that is delicious too.

  20. This looks amazing! I have to try this!

    And Barilla is my absolute FAVORITE pasta brand. Go Barilla!

  21. iamhoneybee–We've featured crumbled just because it's more widely available. Athenos actually offers chunk feta, it's just more difficult (for me, at least) to find.

  22. This looks great. I have been loving all the recipes with Feta. I love, love, love Feta!
    I have noticed that you only use crumbed feta. Maybe that is your agreement with Athenos but I really like their block feta. It just seems that the brine adds a lot of flavor, plus you can crumble it to the size you want. (just my 2cents)

  23. we cook them as pasta, or make pilaf with them. Orzo is commonly used in chicken soups.. It's a huge part of our nutrition. I've never tried it in salad, but i definetly will. Thanks for the idea.