Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

This easy orzo pasta salad recipe with a simple lemon vinaigrette, crisp cucumber, savory olives, tender artichokes, juicy tomatoes, and fragrant fresh herbs is a crowd-pleaser. It’s adaptable enough to be served as a side dish or enjoyed as the star of your meal.

Watch the Video

Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe Video

Related: This easy pasta salad has mozzarella cheese and parmesan. We also love this Greek-inspired pasta salad!

How to Make the Best Orzo Pasta Salad

Our lemon herb couscous salad inspired us to share this light and fresh orzo salad. This dish can serve as a side or a main course. For extra protein, consider adding grilled chicken, shrimp, or baked tofu.

I know it’s saying a lot to call this the best orzo salad, but every time we have served this to a crowd, it is the first thing to go! We’ve got a total winner here.

It couldn’t be simpler. Start by cooking the orzo; it takes less than 10 minutes since it’s so tiny. While it cooks, get the rest of the salad ready. I like making the lemon vinaigrette in the bottom of a big bowl and then building the salad right on top.

Bowl of orzo pasta salad

The dressing is dairy-free, which makes this pasta salad perfect for picnics or warm weather. It’s got a magical combination of olive oil, mustard, fresh lemon, and a touch of honey (or maple syrup) to balance everything out.

When the orzo is cooked, drain it, then throw it — still hot — straight into the vinaigrette. Since we add the pasta warm, it absorbs all the flavors of the lemony dressing.

Orzo Pasta Salad Ingredients

The final step is to add your favorite vegetables and ingredients. We love cucumber and tomato, so that’s a must for us. We’re also partial to throwing in lots of fresh herbs. We used lots of chopped fresh mint in our photos, but you can play around with your favorite herbs. Parsley, cilantro, dill, and basil are all excellent options. In the photo above, you can see we added olives and artichokes. Both are excellent in the pasta salad.

More Fresh Salads

Orzo Pasta Salad with Cucumbers, Olives, and Tomatoes

Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

  • PREP
  • COOK

We love this light orzo pasta salad — it doubles as a side, can be the main event, or works well topped with grilled chicken or Adam’s favorite, shrimp! Use your favorite tender herbs in this — we love using one or a combination of mint, dill, basil, parsley, or cilantro.

Makes approximately 8 (1 cup) servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 ½ cups (8 ounces) dried orzo pasta

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, depending on taste

1 medium English cucumber, diced

1 large tomato, diced or 8 ounces halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs; use any combination of fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, dill or mint

1/2 cup pitted olives, halved

1 cup canned or jarred and drained artichoke hearts, chopped, see notes


    1Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until tender, 6 to 10 minutes (check box for actual cook time). Drain.

    2While the orzo cooks, in a large bowl, whisk the oil, mustard, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the drained orzo to the dressing and mix well.

    3Stir in the cucumber, tomato, herbs, olives, and artichokes. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and/or pepper as needed. Enjoy warm or cover, then refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • If you cannot find orzo pasta, you may substitute with any small pasta shape, quinoa or couscous.
  • Make-Ahead: This salad is delicious when eaten straight away, but you can also make the salad, cover it and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. This way all the flavors marry and mingle, making for an even more delicious salad. If you are planning to make a day or two ahead of time, keep the tomatoes separate until you’re ready to serve. This way they will remain crisp.
  • If you use marinated artichokes sold in oil, you can substitute some of the olive oil called for in the recipe above with the oil in the jar.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 cup / Calories 166 / Protein 4.4 g / Carbohydrate 20.5 g / Dietary Fiber 2 g / Total Sugars 1.8 g / Total Fat 8 g / Saturated Fat 1.1 g / Cholesterol 21 mg / Sodium 290 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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13 comments… Leave a Review
  • Lindy Erdman January 5, 2024, 7:27 pm

    What a delicious salad! I was limited to veggies I had in the frig so just added tomatoes, artichoke hearts and celery and it was really good. Next time I will make it with your ingredients but I wanted to try it today.

  • Thea October 7, 2023, 5:23 pm

    Oh yum, looking forward to trying your version!! I make one similar and add some cooked farro and cubed feta.

    • Adam October 7, 2023, 5:53 pm

      That would be delicious 🙂

  • Miles June 18, 2023, 7:31 am

    Delicious. Personally, I found it a bit too oily and that was after cooking more pasta than the recipe called for. In the end I cooked about 600g pasta and added some more lemon to cut through the oil and it was perfect. Definitely making again.

  • Tania September 2, 2021, 8:33 am

    This salad is excellent with anything or in a large bowl by itself! I will be making this very frequently! It’s my new favorite!

  • Alexandra August 29, 2021, 5:01 am

    Prepared with orzo (first time using it, lovely, truly absorbs the flavors around it), and a variety of add-ons: cubed beets, chickpeas, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, red bell pepper, carrots, chopped parsley, feta cheese. Did not need to add any extra dressing as the orzo soaked in the lemon-dijon-honey mix and after tossing the entire pasta had a lovely flavor.

  • Molly Hafner July 15, 2021, 9:58 pm

    Delicious! Thinking I might add goat cheese and chicken as well to make it a meal.

  • Patricia Markwick June 20, 2021, 11:32 pm

    Delicious, great accompaniment to spot prawns. Definitely a. Keeper.

  • Laure Lamy June 30, 2019, 4:06 pm

    I’ve made this twice and added black olives with the green for a little more diversity. It’s a great side dish with any meal! Will explore adding grilled shrimp and making it an entree next time!

  • Mimi StewartJennings July 17, 2018, 11:32 pm

    Absolute Deliciousness! Just added a little lime along with the lemon + asparagus & avocado on the side. My ENTIRE family loved it! My adult children think they have dietary needs… Vegan… vegetarian…paleo … what the heck ever. We all sat down and enjoyed this wonderful dish together ?

  • Lynne July 6, 2018, 12:05 pm

    Made it for 4th of July barbecue and it was a very good accompaniment to our burgers. I used fresh parsley and mint from my garden along with a variety of home grown tomatoes.

  • Michelle July 3, 2018, 8:10 pm

    My husband and I loved this. I chose to use bowtie pasta, and I added the liquid from the water packed artichokes (6.5oz jar) to the dressing. This recipe is a keepee!!! Thank you so much.

  • Joycelyn July 2, 2018, 4:35 pm

    Will give this a go tonight, should pair up well with left over chicken. Other than that, really enjoy your site!


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