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 Courses
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
    I have made this several times and it always goes over well. It works well with other veggies and without chicken. I also like it because it comes together quickly. I have passed the recipe on to several others because we are all fans! Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    This was wonderful! I detest cucumber, so I substituted diced apple and it was delicious!!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was a huge hit! I subbed quinoa for the orzo (didn’t have orzo on hand) and it was delish. My family has requested it go on the regular rotation. Thanks!