This lemon chicken orzo dish is made in one skillet in less than 30 minutes! Juicy, seared chicken thighs are nestled into perfectly cooked, lemony orzo alongside thinly sliced lemons and fresh thyme. It’s an elevated weeknight dinner that the entire family will love!

An all-clad skillet with orzo, chicken thighs, lemon slices, and thyme with a silver serving spoon on a grey surface.

This recipe is…

This lemon orzo and chicken dinner is divine, y’all. It’s a simple dish (done in less than 30 minutes) that will, quite literally, knock your socks off! Plus, any dinner made in ONE skillet is a win in my book because it makes clean-up an absolute breeze.

Looking for more easy dinner ideas? We’ve got a BUNCH. These sheet pan curry chicken thighs are flavorful and always a home-run in my house, this baked chicken marinara is a simple, show-stopping dish, and this beef teriyaki sheet pan dinner is a delicious Asian-inspired spin on the classic sheet pan dinner.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s made in one-skillet – one skillet dishes are always a huge win in my house. My family gobbles them up, and I’m always super grateful for the easy clean-up.
  • It’s flavorful – the ingredients are simple, but WOW, the flavor is not! Fresh lemon, thyme, and red pepper flakes make this recipe unbelievably delicious.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Recipe Ingredients

You don’t need a whole lot to make this easy one-skillet dinner. Find ingredient notes (including substitutions and swaps) below.

Lemon orzo chicken skillet ingredients on a grey and white marble surface.
  • Chicken thighs – we used chicken thighs here because they stay nice and juicy once cooked, but you can totally use chicken tenders or chicken breasts, if you’d prefer.
  • Orzo – we used a grain-free cassava orzo for this recipe, but you can use regular, wheat orzo if that’s what you have on hand.

A full ingredient list with exact amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Recipe Variations and Modifications

  • Use rice – if you don’t love orzo (or don’t have it on hand), feel free to use rice instead. If you decide to go this route, we suggest using this lemon chicken and rice recipe as a go-by instead.
  • Make it dairy-free – this recipe is dairy-free as-is!
  • Make it grain-free – as long as you use a grain-free orzo (we used Jovial’s cassava orzo) like we did, this recipe is totally grain-free.
  • Make it gluten-free – similar to above, if you use a gluten-free orzo (or grain-free, like we did), this recipe is gluten-free.

How to Make a Lemon Chicken Orzo Skillet

One-skillet meals are as easy as it gets! Follow along below for the full how-to.

Top down of a glass bowl with chicken thighs tossed with lemon zest, herbs, and garlic on a grey and white marble surface.
Top down of a skillet with browned chicken thighs and slices of lemons on a grey and white marble surface.

Step 1: In a large bowl, toss the chicken thighs with the chopped thyme, minced garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon sea salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest.

Step 2: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken thighs to the pan, nestle the lemon slices into the pan, and sear the chicken on one side for 6-7 minutes, or until it develops a nice brown crust. Remove the chicken and lemon slices from the pan and set aside.

Top down photo of an all-clad skillet with orzo being toasted and stirred in butter with a wooden spoon on a grey and white marble surface.
A wooden spoon stirring broth in an all-clad skillet with orzo on a grey and white marble surface.

Step 3: Add the butter to the pan and stir until it melts. Add the dried orzo and stir for 2 minutes to toast the orzo.

Step 4: Carefully pour the broth and lemon juice into the pan, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan.

Top down view of browned chicken thighs and sliced lemons nestled in a skillet with broth on a grey and white marble surface. There are sprigs of thyme gentle placed over top of the chicken.
Cooked orzo, chicken thighs, lemon slices, and thyme with a little broth in an all-clad skillet on a grey surface.

Step 5: Add the chicken, seared side up, lemon slices, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, and thyme sprigs to the pan.

Step 6: Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook fro 15 minutes over medium heat. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Tip

Let the orzo sit for a few minutes – after the orzo simmers for 15 minutes, know that there’s a REALLY good chance that there will be some extra liquid in the pan. If that’s the case, let the dish sit for 10 minutes so that the orzo can fully absorb the liquid, and then serve.

How to Serve

Serve your lemon chicken and orzo skillet as is (it’s a complete meal all on its own!) or, if you’re looking for a couple of sides to serve with it, alongside crusty bread (our cheesy garlic bread would be divine) and a simple arugula side salad.

How to Store and Reheat

Store any leftover lemon chicken and orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat, simply pop a serving or two into the microwave for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through.

An all-clad skillet with orzo, chicken thighs, lemon slices, and thyme with a silver serving spoon on a grey surface. There are two white plates with gold forks, a couple glasses with ice water, a wooden bowl with a French loaf of bread ripped in half, a bulb of garlic, and a yellow and white checkered linen on the surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is orzo a pasta or rice?

Orzo is shaped like rice, but it’s actually pasta! Because of it’s unique shape, though, it finds its way into a lot of dishes that would typically call for rice (like this one-skillet meal!) vs. pasta.

How do you know when orzo is done?

You’ll know the orzo is done when it’s soft but still has a bit of a bite to it. Because it’s pasta, it’ll become mushy if it’s overcooked.

If you tried this Lemon Chicken Orzo or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below! 

Lemon Chicken Orzo Recipe

5 — Votes 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
This lemon chicken orzo dish is made in one skillet in less than 30 minutes! Juicy, seared chicken thighs are nestled into perfectly cooked, lemony orzo alongside thinly sliced lemons and fresh thyme. It's an elevated weeknight dinner that the entire family will love!

Ingredients  

  • pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested then sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • cups (or 1, 8-ounce box) dried orzo
  • cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions 

  • In a large bowl, toss the chicken thighs with the chopped thyme, minced garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken thighs to the pan, nestle the lemon slices into the pan, and sear the chicken on one side for 6-7 minutes, or until it develops a nice brown crust. Remove the chicken and lemon slices from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the butter to the pan and stir until it melts. Add the dried orzo and stir for 2 minutes to toast the orzo.
  • Carefully pour the broth and lemon juice into the pan, stirring to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the chicken, seared side up, lemon slices, remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and thyme sprigs to the pan.
  • Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Let the orzo sit for a few minutes – after the orzo simmers for 15 minutes, know that there’s a REALLY good chance that there will be some extra liquid in the pan. If that’s the case, let the dish sit for 10 minutes so that the orzo can fully absorb the liquid, and then serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 639kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 179mg | Sodium: 1570mg | Potassium: 724mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 430IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 3mg

Additional Info

Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 639

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Brandi Schilhab


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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This came together so easily and very quickly and was delicious! Will definitely be making this again.

  2. 5 stars
    This was amazing! Both my husband and 3 year old loved it and both are very picky eaters! It feels so great to make something everybody loves. Thank you!

    1. That is so exciting, Cheryl! We are so happy y’all loved it!