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Cheesy Broccoli Orzo – NeighborFood

Must Try

Cheesy Broccoli Orzo is a creamy one pot meal that’s kid friendly and easy to make! This 30 minute recipe is a versatile side dish or easy vegetarian dinner.
If you’re looking for more one pot dinners, try our One Pot Orecchiette with Sausage and our One Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni.

Do It All Broccoli Cheddar Orzo
Broccoli Orzo is the recipe equivalent of the “dress it up or down” skirt.
It’s quick to throw together, pairs well with a variety of other dishes, and can pull off a casual weeknight dinner or a holiday feast.
And just like the magical skirt that comes to your rescue on days when you’d like to set your closet on fire and start from scratch, this broccoli cheddar orzo can save you from dinner time burnout.
Made with pantry staples and done in under 30 minutes, this do-it-all dish features tender orzo pasta with broccoli in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce.
We finish it off with a buttery Ritz cracker topping, an homage to our beloved Ritz Broccoli Cheese Casserole.

A Recipe that’s Easy to Love

Side dish or Dinner? Orzo Broccoli is whatever you need it to be. Serve it on its own for a filling vegetarian main dish or pair it with Grilled Italian Dressing Chicken, Mom’s Best Easy Meatloaf, and Honey Garlic Pork Tenderloin.
One Pot– I will sing the praises of one pot recipes for all my days. This recipe is made in a Dutch oven, meaning fewer dishes to juggle and wash.
Cheesy AND Creamy– The two adjectives kids love most. This pasta is like a slightly upscale Creamy Mac and Cheese, and it’s a pretty easy sell for picky eaters, even if it does happen to feature a green vegetable.

Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Butter- We love to begin this recipe by toasting the orzo and shallots in butter. Salted or unsalted butter both work well. You can also substitute olive oil if you prefer, but the flavor of the butter is really a bonus here.
Shallots– Feel free to substitute with a small yellow onion if you don’t have shallots on hand.
Orzo– This pasta that looks similar to long-grain rice cooks quickly and is the perfect vehicle for a creamy, cheesy sauce.
Vegetable broth– We use Better Than Bouillon’s vegetable base, but feel free to use whatever vegetable or chicken broth you have in your pantry.
Broccoli– This recipe calls for fresh, raw broccoli, but you can also use frozen. See more in the FAQ section.
Half and half– We use half and half for most of our recipes with a creamy sauce, including Italian Sausage Pasta and Creamy Ham and Potato Soup. We find it provides the right amount of richness without feeling too heavy. That said, you could also substitute heavy cream or whole milk for this recipe.
Cheese– We use both sharp cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese for maximum flavor.
Ritz crackers- This part is optional, but it sure is yummy. Is there anything Ritz doesn’t make better? From meatloaf to Ritz cookies to 5 minute appetizers, these simple crackers are a staple in our household.

How to Make Broccoli Orzo
Step 1: Saute aromatics and orzo. In a large pot, melt 3 Tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the orzo and stir for about 2 minutes.

Step 2: Add broth and boil. Stir in the vegetable broth, scraping the bottom of the pot. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often and scraping the bottom so the orzo doesn’t stick.

Step 3: Add broccoli and cook. Once boiling, stir in the broccoli, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring every few minutes, paying special attention to the edges and bottom of the pan.

Step 4: Add milk and cheeses. At the six minute mark, uncover and stir in the milk. Continue to simmer until the orzo is softened, another minute or so. Stir in the cheeses, stirring until melted. Remove from heat.

Step 5: Toast Ritz topping and serve. Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the Ritz crackers and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Top individual bowls of broccoli orzo with Ritz cracker crumbs and black pepper, to taste.

Storage and Make Ahead Instructions

This Broccoli Orzo is best served immediately after making, especially if you’re using the cracker crumbs.
That said, the leftovers are pretty darn great as well! Keep extra Ritz crackers separate in a bowl or baggie at room temperature. Heat leftover orzo in the microwave with an extra splash of milk or half and half to bring back the creaminess.
Leftover orzo will keep for about 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

FAQS
Can I use frozen broccoli for this recipe?
Yes, you can. Frozen broccoli will take a little less time to cook, so add it when there’s only 3-4 minutes left on the cooking time for the orzo.
Can I halve this recipe?
Yes! If you’re cooking this for a small family or don’t want leftovers, I recommend halving it.. As is, the recipe can easily feed 8 people for a side dish and 6 people for a main dish.
Can I substitute rice for orzo?
Unfortunately rice is not a good substitute for orzo in this recipe. Rice has a much longer cooking time and different liquid requirements, so it cannot be substituted easily in this recipe. If you’d like to try a similar recipe with rice, check out our Creamy Chicken Mushroom and Rice.

What to Serve with Orzo and Broccoli
This recipe works well as a side dish alongside all sorts of beef, pork, fish, and chicken main dishes.
Try it with Tilapia in Foil, Mediterranean Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Air Fryer Chicken Thighs, and Cast Iron Ribeye Steak.
If you’re serving it as a main dish, a simple garden salad or strawberry spinach salad, roasted carrots and parsnips, or sauteed spinach and onions are all nice accompaniments.

4 Tablespoons butter (divided)2 shallots (diced)3 large cloves garlic (minced)16 ounces orzo4 cups vegetable broth2 heads broccoli (chopped into small florets)¾ cup half and half1 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese1 cup crushed Ritz crackers (optional)
In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the orzo and stir for about 2 minutes.Stir in the vegetable broth, scraping the bottom of the pot. Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often and scraping the bottom so the orzo doesn’t stick.Once boiling, stir in the broccoli, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring every few minutes, paying special attention to the edges and bottom of the pan.At the six minute mark, uncover and stir in the milk. Continue to simmer until the orzo is softened, another minute or so. Stir in the cheeses, stirring until melted. Remove from heat.For the cracker topping:Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the Ritz crackers and cook until browned, stirring occasionally.Top individual bowls of broccoli orzo with Ritz cracker crumbs and black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Leftover orzo can be stored in a container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave with an extra splash of milk.
If using frozen broccoli, add it during the last 3 minutes of simmering time.

Keyword broccoli cheddar orzo, broccoli orzo, broccoli with orzo, cheesy broccoli orzo, orzo and broccoli
Calories: 502kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 888mg | Potassium: 695mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1714IU | Vitamin C: 137mg | Calcium: 349mg | Iron: 2mg

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