Anytime I think of orzo, I think of comfort food. I grew up loving orzo. Most Albanian dishes with orzo are delicious, comfort foods that will make you ask for seconds. Thankfully my children are growing up loving orzo as well, mostly due to my mom making delicious dishes when she comes to visit. My daughter, who recently turned 2 years old would try to use the spoon for few bites when eating orzo pilaf, then give up and use her fists. The mess is epic, but her joy in eating orzo is priceless. I cook plenty of soups, salads and casseroles with orzo, but today I would love to share this Chicken Orzo Bake recipe with you all.Jump to Recipe
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What is Orzo?
Orzo is a rice shaped pasta that is used on soups, casseroles and salads across the Mediterranean. However, lately I have noticed orzo is becoming more mainstream. When I first moved to US, I couldn’t even find it in stores while now it is more readily available in most stores.
In Albania we call orzo kritharaqe and I just recently realized that in Greece they call orzo kritharaki.
When I was a little girl, I remember helping my grandparents making homemade orzo. It was a repetitive process and time consuming, but I found it rather productive. I remember being especially proud when they would cook orzo and I would ask them if it was from the orzo I prepared. My grandparents would prepare the dough and all of us would make the orzo pasta grains one by one by hand while watching some tv in the evenings. Then we would let it dry out in paper plates and store in a cool, dry place.
How to Make Chicken Orzo Bake?
Honestly, my chicken orzo bake looks slightly different each time I make it. The basics are the same, but I end up adding some veggies or decorating the dish slightly differently each time. The recipe below is just one of the instances I created a chicken orzo dish. From my childhood I remember, sometimes the dish was as simple as just chicken, orzo, chicken stock and salt/butter. Then we would serve that with a salad. So don’t worry if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, just go for it and add vegetables to your taste.
My goal is to add veggies to any of our dishes. I want my children to grow up loving both Mediterranean and Bolivian meals, but I also want them to eat veggies and not turn down a dish just because it has this or that.
What Type of Chicken to Use?
When I prepare an orzo bake or rice bake, I tend to use whatever chicken I have on hand. However, if I’m making the dish for company, I like to use a whole chicken. It looks more presentable when bringing it to the table:). When cooking for a regular weekday dinner, then anything will do, chicken breast, chicken thighs, boneless, etc etc. Please be careful with cooking times as it might change depending on the type of chicken you use. For the recipe below I used chicken thighs, so all cooking times and instructions are according to this type of chicken cut.
I’m accustomed to prepare chicken stock as I cook the dish or at least same day. The below recipe is shown from beginning to end. However, I do know that a lot of people prepare stock ahead of time and freeze it to use in portions as needed. In that case, it would take you less time to cook this meal because it’ll shorten your preparation time. Please adjust as needed.
Chicken Orzo Bake
- 1.5 lbs chicken thighs if using a different chicken type, please adjust cooking time accordingly
- 3-4 celery stalks
- 2 small shallots
- 16 oz orzo
- 12 oz baby carrots I ended up using almost 16 ozs of carrots because my kids love them baked, but in order not to change the dish’s balance i believe 12 oz is a bit better.
- 1 red bell pepper
- 5 tbsps butter 2 tbsps to fry the chicken and 3 tbsps to be used on the tray before baking
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 rosemary twigs
- 3 tbsps chopped parsley
- 0.5 cup chopped seedless olives
- pinch paprika
- salt/pepper to taste depends on the chicken stock and type of butter you used.
Prepare Chicken Stock
- Boil chicken thighs with celery, shallots, oregano in water for 30 minutes. Put chicken aside. Add rosemary twigs just for a minute.
- Pour stock through a colander and set it aside.
Prepping Chicken Orzo Bake
- Add 2 tbsps of butter in a skillet, fry chicken thighs on both side for about 2 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with paprika while frying for better coloring and flavor.
- Set orzo in a baking dish. Add the baby carrots whole or feel free to cut them to desired shape.
- Add chicken to tray, insert it in the midst of orzo by pushing the grains aside a little bit.
- Chop the bell pepper to desired shape, add it over the chicken and orzo. Sprinkle with parsley.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour 5 cups of the broth you prepared earlier to the tray.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool for few minutes before serving (orzo will absorb all the chicken stock during baking and during this cooling period). Decorate with olives and more parsley before serving.
- Please note that in the recipe I’m including time to prepare the chicken and chicken stock. If you have chicken stock beforehand, then feel free to adjust the recipe accordingly.
- You can interchange between red pepper or green pepper.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please pin the below image to Pinterest or share in the social media of your choice. I would love to hear from you if you tried the recipe out. Thank you:)