Tuscan Orzo with Chicken is a delightful dish that combines tender chicken, orzo pasta, and a medley of Mediterranean flavors typical of Tuscan cuisine. This recipe features ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan cheese, all brought together with a garlic-infused olive oil base. It’s a hearty yet light dish that captures the essence of Italian cooking while being easy to prepare, making it perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions.

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  • Author: recipstep
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


Tuscan Orzo with Chicken is a flavorful and hearty dish that combines creamy orzo pasta with tender pieces of chicken, vibrant sun-dried tomatoes, fresh spinach, and a hint of Parmesan. This dish brings a taste of Italy to your dinner table, perfect for a comforting weeknight meal or a special occasion.


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon paprika
⅛ teaspoon black pepper

1 cup cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
2½ cups low sodium chicken broth
⅓ cup heavy cream
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, drained and sliced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1½ cups uncooked orzo pasta (250 grams)
1½ cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
¼ cup Parmesan, freshly grated


Place chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to pound the thick ends so they are an even thickness.
Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add the oil.
Stir together the salt, Italian seasoning, paprika, and pepper and sprinkle over both sides of the chicken.
Sear chicken on both sides until golden brown. Remove and keep warm.

To the same skillet, add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes until they start to blister.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in chicken broth, cream, sun dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
Stir in the orzo, and add the chicken back on top of the orzo. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes until the orzo is al dente.

Stir in spinach and Parmesan before serving. Note that it may look quite thin right after you finish cooking but it will thicken considerably in the first 10 minutes as it sits off the heat.
Enjoy your delicious One Pan Tuscan Orzo with Chicken! 🍽️


  • For a lighter version, substitute heavy cream with half-and-half or whole milk.
  • Ensure not to overcook the orzo to avoid a mushy texture in the final dish.
  • Contains dairy and gluten (substitutions available for dietary restrictions).
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Sautéing
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Calories: 450
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 300mg
  • Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 42g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 29g
  • Cholesterol: 80mg

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I make Tuscan Orzo with Chicken in advance?

Yes, you can prepare Tuscan Orzo with Chicken ahead of time. Cook it completely, let it cool, and then store it in the refrigerator. Reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving. Adding a little extra olive oil or water when reheating can help keep the orzo moist.

What can I substitute for Parmesan if I’m dairy-free?

For a dairy-free version, you can use nutritional yeast to give a cheesy flavor, or look for a dairy-free cheese alternative that grates and melts well. Make sure it complements the other flavors in the dish.

How can I make this dish vegetarian?

To make Tuscan Orzo with Chicken vegetarian, omit the chicken and add more vegetables like mushrooms, zucchini, or eggplant. You can also add a plant-based protein like chickpeas or tofu to keep the dish hearty and satisfying.

Is there a low-carb option for this recipe?

For a lower-carb version of Tuscan Orzo with Chicken, replace the orzo with a low-carb grain like cauliflower rice or spiralized vegetables. This substitution will maintain the texture and bulk of the dish while reducing the carbohydrate content.

How do I prevent the orzo from becoming mushy?

To prevent the orzo from becoming mushy, make sure to cook it al dente, which means it should still have a slight chew when you drain it. It will continue to absorb moisture from the sauce and other ingredients when mixed, achieving the perfect texture without becoming overcooked.


Key Ingredients

The success of Tuscan Orzo with Chicken hinges on its ingredients. Orzo, a small rice-shaped pasta, is the foundation of the dish, providing a satisfying texture that absorbs flavors well. Chicken breasts, cooked and diced, add a lean protein source, making the meal filling and nutritious. The dish is accented with sun-dried tomatoes, which deliver a concentrated burst of sweetness and tartness, and fresh spinach, which wilts into the pasta, adding color and nutrients. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese lends a salty, umami kick, which is complemented by the richness of a good quality olive oil.

Preparation Techniques

To begin making Tuscan Orzo with Chicken, cook the orzo pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, sauté the chicken breasts in olive oil until they are golden and fully cooked. In the same pan, add minced garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, cooking until fragrant. The key is to build layers of flavor by sautéing each component to perfection. Once the chicken and vegetables are ready, combine them with the drained orzo, add fresh spinach, and toss everything together until the spinach is slightly wilted.

Flavor Enhancements

Enhancing the flavor of Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can involve several additional touches. Incorporating a splash of white wine can add acidity and depth to the dish, deglazing the pan to incorporate all the caramelized bits into the pasta. A pinch of red pepper flakes can introduce a gentle heat, which balances the richness of the olive oil and cheese. To finish, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a zest can brighten the entire dish, providing a fresh contrast to the earthy components.


Serving Suggestions

Tuscan Orzo with Chicken is best served warm, garnished with extra Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil for added luxury. It pairs beautifully with a crisp green salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and a glass of Chianti, which complements the Tuscan flavors. For a heartier meal, serve alongside roasted vegetables or a loaf of crusty Italian bread to soak up any leftover juices on the plate. This dish not only satisfies the palate but also makes for an aesthetically pleasing presentation, ideal for entertaining guests.

Tips for Perfect Al Dente Orzo

Achieving perfectly cooked orzo is crucial for the ideal texture of Tuscan Orzo with Chicken. Start by boiling the orzo in a large pot of salted water to give it enough space to move freely, which prevents sticking. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. Testing the orzo a minute before the package’s recommended cooking time can help catch it at the al dente stage, which means it should be tender but still have a slight chew to it. Immediately draining the orzo and rinsing it under cold water stops the cooking process, preserving its ideal texture before it’s added to the rest of the ingredients.

Utilizing Leftovers

Tuscan Orzo with Chicken is excellent for repurposing leftovers, making meal planning easier and reducing food waste. Leftover cooked chicken from other meals can be diced and added to the dish, cutting down on preparation time and cost. Additionally, any leftover Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can be transformed into a new meal by adding it to a soup or a baked casserole the next day, or by serving it cold as a pasta salad, adding a fresh dressing and extra vegetables for a different flavor profile.

Wine Pairing Suggestions

Selecting the right wine to accompany Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can enhance the flavors of the dish. A light-bodied white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, complements the brightness and lightness of the herbs and lemon. For those who prefer red wine, a Chianti or Barbera pairs well due to their acidity and light tannins, which can cut through the richness of the Parmesan cheese and olive oil without overpowering the meal.


Enhancing the Presentation

The presentation of Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can be enhanced to elevate the dining experience, especially when entertaining. Serve the dish in a fine ceramic or porcelain dish to add an element of sophistication. Garnish with freshly chopped herbs, such as basil or parsley, to add color and freshness. A few lemon slices on the side not only improve the visual appeal but also allow guests to adjust the citrus flavor to their taste, adding a personal touch to their meal.

Integrating Whole Grains

For a healthier version of Tuscan Orzo with Chicken, consider integrating whole grains into the dish. Substitute traditional orzo with whole wheat orzo or another whole grain like farro or quinoa. These grains provide additional fiber and nutrients, making the dish more filling and nutritionally balanced. This simple substitution maintains the integrity of the dish while offering a more wholesome alternative that supports a healthy diet.

Adapting for Dietary Restrictions

Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can be adapted to meet various dietary restrictions, making it a versatile choice for diverse dining needs. For gluten-free guests, replace the orzo with a gluten-free pasta option or a grain like quinoa, which does not contain gluten. For dairy-free adaptations, omit the Parmesan cheese or substitute it with a dairy-free alternative that mimics the texture and flavor of cheese. These substitutions allow everyone at the table to enjoy a meal that fits their health needs without compromising on taste.

Maximizing Flavor with Fresh Ingredients

Using fresh ingredients in Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can significantly enhance the dish’s flavor. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, rather than pre-grated varieties, offers a richer taste and melts better into the dish. Using freshly squeezed lemon juice instead of bottled also adds a brighter, more vibrant citrus note. When available, fresh herbs like basil or parsley provide a more potent flavor and aromatic presence than their dried counterparts, elevating the overall sensory experience of the meal.

Cooking Techniques to Preserve Nutrients

Employing specific cooking techniques can help preserve the nutritional value of the ingredients in Tuscan Orzo with Chicken. Steaming or sautéing the spinach rather than boiling it helps retain more vitamins and minerals. Similarly, adding sun-dried tomatoes without additional cooking preserves their antioxidant properties. These methods ensure that the dish is not only tasty but also retains more of the health benefits of its ingredients.

Incorporating Seasonal Varieties

Tuscan Orzo with Chicken can be varied according to the seasons for freshness and to support local produce. In the spring, incorporate asparagus or peas, which add a fresh green crispness. During the summer months, cherry tomatoes or zucchini can provide additional moisture and lightness. In the autumn, swap in roasted butternut squash for a hearty, seasonal twist. Utilizing seasonal vegetables not only improves the dish’s taste and presentation but also ensures that the ingredients are at their nutritional peak.

Hosting Tips for Large Gatherings

When preparing Tuscan Orzo with Chicken for large gatherings, consider making the dish in batches to ensure freshness and to manage kitchen workload effectively. Prepping ingredients in advance—such as chopping vegetables and cooking chicken—can save time on the day of the event. Serve the dish in a large, attractive serving platter garnished with lemon wedges and fresh herbs to make it more appealing. Providing side options like crusty bread or a simple salad can help extend the meal without requiring much additional effort, allowing you to enjoy the gathering along with your guests.


Tuscan Orzo with Chicken is a versatile, flavorful dish that brings the essence of Italian cuisine to your table. It combines the comforting textures of orzo and chicken with the robust flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan cheese. This dish is not only adaptable to various dietary needs but also suitable for both casual family dinners and more formal gatherings. With options for preparation in advance and adjustments for different dietary restrictions, Tuscan Orzo with Chicken is a practical choice that doesn’t compromise on flavor or presentation. Whether you’re cooking for a small family or a large party, this recipe is sure to impress and satisfy your guests.

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