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Glass bowl of orzo pasta salad with wooden spoon.

Easy Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


An easy orzo pasta salad recipe with summer produce and a quick lemon dressing.


  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 heaping cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced



  1. Cook orzo in very salty water until just barely al dente. 
  2. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water
  3. Drain orzo and set aside.


  1. While the orzo cooks, use a microplane to zest your lemon. Place zest into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Cut zested lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice into your mixing bowl. Be careful not to let any lemon seeds fall into the bowl!
  3. Add olive oil, salt, and pepper to bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.


  1. Add reserved 1/2 cup pasta water to your lemon juice mixture and whisk to combine. The sauce will look watery, but don't worry - the orzo will soak the liquid up as it cools!
  2. Add cooked, drained orzo to lemon juice mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Let orzo cool for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Add basil and tomatoes to orzo. Stir to combine. Taste and add salt or pepper as necessary.
  5. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and chill until ready to serve. Top with an extra sprig of basil for garnish if you like.


Additions and Substitutions. Add extra fresh herbs (we love parsley, chives, or cilantro!), grilled chicken, chopped mozzarella or mozzarella pearls, feta, goat cheese, or parmesan to this pasta salad. It's also great with diced bell pepper, cucumber, or grilled zucchini and yellow squash. Use any kind of dried pasta you like in place of the orzo. Use halved cherry or grape tomatoes instead of diced tomatoes if you prefer. No lemons? Use 1/4 cup of bottled lemon juice instead.

Make-Ahead Tips and How to Serve: This orzo pasta salad will last 3-4 days in the fridge. If it looks dry, stir in a splash of olive oil to loosen it back up. For best results, wait to mix in the tomatoes and basil until just before you're ready to serve. It'll taste just fine after being refrigerated, but you get the biggest punch of flavor when the tomatoes and basil are ultra-fresh!

Serve this orzo pasta salad with Smoked Gouda Beer Burgers, our easy Lemon Garlic Chicken, or a quick lemon arugula salad!

Keep this dish vegan by making sure your orzo is egg-free!

Keywords: Summer, potluck, vegan