Shrimp orzo is almost like risotto but so much easier and quicker to make! This Italian-style dinner takes only 30 minutes and is made in one pan. Seared garlic shrimp and creamy orzo are a perfect combo for a simple weeknight meal.
30-minute one-pan shrimp orzo
The one-pot dinners are simply the best, such as quick and delicious сhicken orzo or the reader-favorite sausage gnocchi. One-pan shrimp orzo is not only comforting but is also packed with fiber (veggies) and protein (shrimp). The shrimp is seasoned with smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Then it's seared with minced garlic. The orzo is cooked in the same pan after you cooked the shrimp - which means the cleanup is a breeze! The recipe features tons of colorful and vibrant veggies: spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes. This creamy shrimp orzo is an impressive weeknight dinner that can be on the table in just 30 minutes!
Why you'll love it
- Simplicity. Shrimp orzo is a simple meal which makes it a perfect choice to make on a busy weeknight. This recipe doesn't use complicated ingredients, and everything is cooked in one pan! The cleanup is a breeze!
- Fancy yet easy. Another thing I love about this one-pan meal is that with such a small amount of effort, you get a beautiful dish that tastes and looks like an entree from a fine-dining restaurant! For the fraction of the cost!
What is orzo?
Orzo is a short-cut pasta resembling long-grain rice in shape. It is made from flour, like usual pasta. Often, orzo is made with semolina (durum wheat used for making pasta). I prefer the kind of orzo that is larger in size. For this recipe, I used orzo by Delallo brand, Number 65 cut. Cook orzo in a 1:2 ratio (1 cup of orzo with 2 cups of chicken stock or water) for about 10 minutes on a low boil (simmer) - medium-low heat.
- Shrimp. I used large raw shrimp (peeled and deveined). 1 pound of such large shrimp equates to about 16 or 20 shrimp count.
- Orzo. Orzo is an Italian pasta that looks like long-grain rice. I used orzo by Delallo brand, Number 65 cut.
- Sun-dried tomatoes. I used sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil which I drained and then used some of the oil for searing the shrimp.
- Fresh spinach. Or, use frozen spinach - thaw and drain it really well. You can use other veggies, such as arugula, kale, or asparagus.
- Olive oil is used for searing the shrimp.
- Artichokes hearts - I used canned artichokes in olive oil and water.
- The heavy cream is added to the orzo and cooked veggies (sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and artichokes) to create a luscious and delicious cream sauce. Use heavy cream or half-and-half.
- Chicken broth is added to cook the orzo. You can also use vegetable or beef broth (or stock). Or, simply use water.
- Garlic adds pungency and so much flavor to shrimp orzo.
- Seasonings include smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
How to make shrimp orzo
- Prepare the shrimp by seasoning it with smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. This recipe uses 1 lb raw shrimp (peeled and deveined) which usually equates to 16 or 20 count.
- Sear the shrimp with olive oil and minced garlic on medium-high heat for 2 minutes per side. Make sure the shrimp are not overcrowded to avoid steaming. You might have to work in batches. When the shrimp is done, remove it to a plate.
- Cook orzo in the same, now empty, skillet: add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 cup of uncooked orzo, and 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of chicken broth and cook the orzo on a simmer (medium-low heat) until the orzo is cooked.
- Add veggies by adding spinach, artichokes, and heavy cream to the skillet with orzo. Stir on medium heat until the spinach wilts.
- Assemble the dish by adding cooked shrimp back to the skillet with creamy orzo, and reheating everything until the shrimp is cooked through and the sauce is reheated.
- Use a high-sided, heavy-bottomed skillet such as a cast-iron skillet or a good-quality stainless steel pan. This will help avoid the burn spots and will ensure even cooking without shrimp orzo getting stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Use raw, peeled, and deveined shrimp. Pre-cooked shrimp might be overcooked and taste too rubbery, especially when you reheat it.
- Take the tails off. It's easier and less messy to eat the shrimp with a fork and knife instead of picking up the shrimp out of the creamy sauce by the tail. So, I recommend removing the tails.
- Do not overcook shrimp. Cook it for only about 2 minutes per side, just until it turns pink in color. Overcooking the shrimp will result in a rubbery texture that nobody likes.
- The sauce will thicken as this dish cools. In this case, add a splash of heavy cream, half-and-half, milk, or chicken broth to the shrimp orzo to thin out the sauce before serving.
- Make this recipe gluten-free by using orzo clearly labeled as "gluten-free". Or, simply use long-grain rice.
Can you make it dairy-free?
- Use unsweetened coconut milk without making any changes to this recipe.
- Cashew milk is another great option as it has a thicker consistency.
- Oat milk or almond milk should work too - you will probably have to reduce the amount by half as these varieties of dairy-free milk have a thinner consistency, so gradually add them to the orzo in much smaller amounts than what the recipe calls for.
Variations, substitutions, and add-ins
- Use other types of seafood, such as scallops, lobster meat, crab meat, or salmon.
- More protein options include seared chicken, cooked rotisserie chicken, grilled steak, or pan-seared steak strips.
- Veggies. Add your favorite veggies. I love to add mushrooms, kale, asparagus, or bell peppers to my shrimp orzo.
- Heavy cream or half-and-half - either works fine.
- Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese: Parmesan, Asiago, Gruyere, or Pecorino Romano.
- Add pine nuts as a topping. I like to toast pine nuts briefly (and carefully!) in the oven for an even richer flavor.
- Add other toppings, such as fresh herbs (basil, thyme, or oregano), chopped green onions, or chopped chives.
- Make it spicy. Red pepper flakes will add heat. Use these sparingly, to taste, so that they don't overwhelm the dish.
Storage and reheating tips
I personally do not like to refrigerate cream-based recipes like this creamy shrimp orzo, because when reheating, they invariably lose their texture, turning the cream sauce into something greasy. My recommendation is to make just enough so that your family can eat this dish right away, without any leftovers. If you do have some leftovers, here are my tips:
- Fridge. Store creamy shrimp orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing this dish as cream-based sauces don't freeze well.
- Reheat on the stovetop. Reheat this dish in a large, high-sided skillet on the stovetop on low-medium heat. When using this method, add a small amount of heavy cream, half-and-half, or milk to thin out the sauce when reheating.
- Reheat in the oven. Add refrigerated shrimp orzo to an oven-proof dish and reheat in the preheated oven at 350 F for about 20 or 30 minutes, until bubbly.
What to serve with it
Because shrimp orzo features a rich and creamy sauce, I recommend serving it with a slice of crusty Italian bread to dip into the luscious creamy sauce. Also, serve a fresh salad - it always goes well with creamy pasta dishes. Here are my favorites:
- Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad with Mozzarella and Basil Pesto
- Arugula Salad with Pears, Apples, and Cashews
- Holiday Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Mandarin Oranges, Pecans, and Honey Mustard Lime Dressing
- Cranberry Spinach Salad with Cashews and Goat Cheese and Lemon-Honey Poppy Seed Dressing
- Simple Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts, Parmesan Cheese
- Apple Spinach Salad
Other orzo recipes you might like
- Chicken Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes, Spinach, and Basil Pesto
- Creamy Chicken Orzo with Butternut Squash and Spinach
- Italian Sausage Orzo Soup with Spinach and Portobello Mushrooms
- Creamy Butternut Squash Orzo with Sausage
Shrimp Orzo (30-Minute, One-Pan Meal)
- 1 lb raw shrimp large, peeled, and deveined - 16 or 20 count per 1 pound of shrimp
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Orzo and sauce ingredients
- ⅓ cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup orzo uncooked
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 14 oz artichoke hearts drained and chopped (1 can or about 1 cup)
- 4 oz fresh spinach
- 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
How to sear the shrimp
- This recipe uses 1 lb of large raw shrimp (peeled and deveined) which usually means 16 or 20 count. Season the shrimp with smoked paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat in a large skillet until hot. Add shrimp and minced garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes per side.
- Make sure the shrimp are not overcrowded to avoid steaming. You might have to work in batches. Remove shrimp to a plate.
How to cook orzo
- To the same, now empty, skillet, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 cup of uncooked orzo, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the orzo on medium heat, stirring, for about 2 minutes until browned.
- Add 2 cups of chicken stock and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer (medium-low) and cook for about 5 or 10 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the orzo is cooked through.
- Add spinach, artichokes, and cream. Stir everything on low-medium heat until the spinach wilts.
- Add seared shrimp to the skillet with the cream sauce. Simmer for about 2 minutes (or more), until everything is warmed through.
- Season with salt and pepper and more smoked paprika, if desired.
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
One of the food sites that I belong to shares your recipes. I have tried several of them. They are delicious. Thank you very much!
Maria, thank you for trying my recipes!
I added mushrooms. So good!!!
Thank you, Leslie! Mushrooms are a great addition!
I am gluten free due to health issues so I made the recipe using rice instead. Turned out beautifully and my family liked it and asked for it to be on the menu rotation. Thank,you!
Sandra, thank you for this feedback that the rice worked great instead of pasta to make it gluten-free! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed it! ❤️