Chicken Orzo Salad With Lemon And Dill Recipe

When you're looking for a one-dish meal that packs in both flavor and nutrition, pasta with protein is a great option. Skip the usual penne, rigatoni, and fettuccine and reach for orzo to transform this familiar combination into something a little different. Orzo might look like chunky grains of rice, but it's really just short pieces of pasta with all the same carb-based comfort and appeal. Tasting Table recipe developer Kara Barrett shares this recipe for chicken orzo salad with lemon and dill that is sure to turn you into an orzo lover after the first bite. 

"This is an easy weeknight or weekend option that's perfect for warmer temps," Barrett says. "Fresh lemon and dill are a classic combination that pairs well with chicken and pasta." Even better, the chicken soaks up plenty of flavor from a yogurt, lemon, and dill marinade while also becoming moist and tender. "I would absolutely have this in my meal rotation this spring and summer," Barrett says, and you'll most likely want to follow suit.

Get the ingredients for this chicken orzo salad with lemon and dill

For this recipe, start by cubing boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Next, get plain Greek yogurt, lemons (zested and juiced), fresh dill, kosher salt, orzo pasta, and olive oil. If desired, prepare some lemon wedges for serving.

Step 1: Mix the yogurt marinade

In a bowl, combine ⅓ cup yogurt, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh dill, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well.

Step 2: Marinate the chicken

Combine the marinade with the chicken until well coated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Step 3: Cook the orzo

Boil the orzo pasta according to the package instructions with 2 teaspoons salt. Drain and set aside, reserving some pasta water.

Step 4: Cook the chicken

In a skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken with ½ teaspoon salt for approximately 5–8 minutes, or until gently cooked through. Set aside.

Step 5: Combine the orzo with the dressing

In a large bowl, combine the orzo, chicken, olive oil, 2 tablespoons dill, 1 tablespoon yogurt, lemon juice, and some of the reserved pasta water, as needed. Taste for salt and adjust, if necessary.

Step 6: Garnish and serve

Serve, garnished with fresh dill and with lemon wedges on the side, if desired.

Can you serve this chicken and orzo salad cold?

If you're preparing and immediately serving this chicken orzo salad, it will be nice and warm, with the yogurt sauce melding into the orzo to coat all of the grains. That said, you might want to make this ahead of time for a picnic or dinner or store the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Given the yogurt and chicken content, you'll definitely need to refrigerate it if you're not consuming the salad within an hour or two. 

Barrett explains, "You can chill it, but you may need to loosen it back up with more yogurt and olive oil if it refrigerates overnight." She recommends just adding a bit of liquid at a time and stirring to properly mix it in. Then, be sure to taste it to see if it needs more seasoning after you've modified the proportions. "Orzo, like many other pastas, tends to plump as it absorbs moisture," Barrett says, which you might notice as you enjoy it the second time around.

What substitutions or adaptations can I make in this chicken and orzo salad?

This chicken orzo salad with lemon and dill highlights a delicious combination that requires only a few simple ingredients. Of course, you can modify that combination if you're missing something or want to start preparing variations of this recipe regularly without getting bored. Orzo is a great option for a pasta salad, but Barrett notes that other small pasta types, such as macaroni, would also work well with the yogurt dressing and cubed chicken.

You can also substitute the chicken with other proteins in this pasta salad. Barrett says, "You can try another protein, such as shrimp or salmon, which should both pair well with lemon and dill." If you're short on time and have leftover fish, seafood, or chicken in the fridge, just warm it up, chop it, and mix it into the orzo salad for a super easy dinner.

Chicken Orzo Salad With Lemon And Dill Recipe
5 from 26 ratings
This chicken orzo dish highlights citrusy, herbal flavors, and the pasta salad format can be endlessly customized with different mix-ins and bases.
Prep Time
45
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
2
servings
lemon chicken orzo salad
Total time: 1 hour
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt, divided
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced, zest and juice divided
  • 2 + 2 tablespoons fresh dill, divided, plus more for garnish
  • ½ + 2 + ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Optional Ingredients
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
Directions
  1. In a bowl, combine ⅓ cup yogurt, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh dill, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Mix well.
  2. Combine the marinade with chicken until well coated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
  3. Boil the orzo pasta according to the package instructions with 2 teaspoons salt. Drain and set aside, reserving some pasta water.
  4. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the chicken with ½ teaspoon salt for approximately 5–8 minutes, or until gently cooked through. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the orzo, chicken, olive oil, 2 tablespoons dill, 1 tablespoon yogurt, lemon juice, and some of the reserved pasta water, as needed. Taste for salt and adjust, if necessary.
  6. Serve, garnished with fresh dill and with lemon wedges on the side, if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 660
Total Fat 23.5 g
Saturated Fat 5.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 173.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 49.0 g
Dietary Fiber 4.0 g
Total Sugars 5.4 g
Sodium 1,010.1 mg
Protein 63.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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