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Wooden spoon stirring orzo and spinach in a silver pot.

Parmesan Spinach Orzo

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


An easy, creamy parmesan spinach orzo recipe.


  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese


  1. Cook orzo in very salty water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
  3. Add green onion and garlic to oilSauté, stirring once or twice, for about a minute until onions have softened and garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  5. Add flour to pot and stir to combine. Let cook for 30 seconds or so to cook out any raw flour taste.
  6. Add milk to the pot a little at a time, whisking constantly to work out any lumps. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened and reached a low simmer, about 5-8 minutes.
  7. Add chopped spinach to sauce and stir to combine.
  8. Add parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese has melted and you have a smooth sauce.
  9. Return cooked orzo to sauce and toss to coat. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.


Additions and Substitutions. Use feta, goat cheese, white cheddar, fontina, brie, or havarti in place of (or in addition to!) the parmesan here. Swap kale or arugula for the spinach if you prefer, or use frozen spinach. Add chicken, shrimp, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, broccoli, or any other veggies you have on hand to this orzo to make it a little heartier. (For more swaps and substitutions, be sure to read the post above!)

If the sauce is too thin, let it cook for a few extra minutes. Too thick? Add a splash of milk to thin it out.

Use shallots, yellow onions, or white onions in place of the green onions if you like.

No orzo? Use any pasta you like! If you're using a larger pasta like rigatoni or cavatappi, you may want to use extra milk or add a dash of cream to stretch the sauce a bit more.

Strict vegetarians should look for parmesan cheese made without rennet.

This recipe was updated in April 2020. 

Keywords: alfredo, cream sauce, pasta