Instant Pot Orzo With Lemon, Parmesan & Spinach

Learn how to make Instant Pot Orzo with lemon, Parmesan cheese and spinach for a perfect, hearty side dish or main. This lemony, cheesy orzo recipe only takes 20-25 minutes from start to finish and is vegetarian-friendly.


Also known as risoni, orzo is basically rice-shaped pasta. Orzo is usually made from white flour or durum wheat semolina but can also be made with whole-grain flour and it looks like long-grain rice kernels. We often hear the question ‘Is orzo gluten-free?’ and the short answer is it usually is NOT, however, there are some brands that now make gluten-free orzo or risoni.

Orzo tastes more like pasta than rice but has a very pleasant, rice-like texture. It is more smooth and should be cooked al dente (a little bouncy and a touch firm to bite). Orzo is great as a side dish and is often used as a base for salads, bakes and soups. 

Is orzo healthy? Well, it has the same nutritional properties to regular pasta. It’s a rich source of carbohydrates, fibre (if cooked al dente!) and some protein.  It’s low in fat and is a good source of iron.


Cheezy Orzo Instant Pot Recipe Close Up


You can use our method as a template for cooking orzo dishes. The simplest way to cook orzo is in water and stock with a little salt and olive oil. Unlike rice, the ratio of water to orzo is slightly different from rice. For each cup of orzo, you need 1.5-2 cups of liquid (1:1.5-2). 

Orzo can be cooked on Manual/Pressure Cook setting on HIGH pressure for 5 minutes with quick release. This will give you nice, al dente orzo texture.


For our recipe, we sauteed some onions in butter and added lemon zest and pepper for simple yet tasty flavours. We love cheezy orzo, so we finished this dish with a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese and baby spinach for extra nutrients.

You can add carrots, celery or mushrooms or tinned tomatoes to cooking orzo; or, finish it with cherry tomatoes, capers, fresh herbs, feta, olives or whatever you have on hand. Orzo is a great canvas for creating something unique and special.

Cooking orzo in Instant Pot - spoon with creamy orzo

Substitute for orzo: if you want to create this dish without orzo, you can use long-grain rice (same cooking time) or another type of short-cut pasta.



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Instant Pot lemon parmesan spinach Orzo Recipe

Instant Pot Orzo With Lemon, Parmesan & Spinach

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian


Quick and easy Instant Pot orzo with Parmesan, lemon and baby spinach. You can serve this dish as a main or a side dish. It’s vegetarian-friendly (check the cheese you’re using) and can be adapted to use up other ingredients you have on hand.



1 oz / 25 g butter

1 medium onion, finely diced

A pinch of salt

1 tsp lemon zest

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1.5 cup orzo (we use this orzo pasta brand)

2.5 cups vegetable stock

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (90 g/3 oz)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups (2 handfuls) of chopped baby spinach

Parsley and extra grated cheese to garnish


Turn the Instant Pot and set to Saute function. Once hot, add the butter, onions and a pinch of salt. Stir and cook for 2 minutes to soften.

Add the lemon zest, pepepr and orzo and stir through. Press the Cancel button to stop the Sauteeing.

Add the stock, stir through and pop the lid on top. Lock the lid, making sure the top valve is poting to Sealing. Set the Instant Pot to Manula/Pressure Cook, HIGH pressure for 5 minutes for al dente orzo.  The pressurizing should take about 5-7 minutes and the timer will kick in.

Once the timer ends, use the quick release method to let off the pressure (simply point the top valve to Venting). Don’t leave the Instant Pot to release naturally  (5 minutes max) as the orzo will continue to cook and will get too soft or too dry.

Open the lid and add the Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and chopped spinach. Stir through well until the cheese has melted into the orzo. Serve right away while hot.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup and a bit
  • Calories: 320
  • Sugar: 4.3 g
  • Sodium: 1280.7 mg
  • Fat: 15.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 33 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 29.6 mg


Instant Pot Orzo With Parmesan, Lemon & Spinach - Pinterest

Instant Pot Recipes
By Instant Pot Eats

About Instant Pot Eats: Published by a seasoned food blogger and cookbook author, Irena Macri, and a team of cooking experts and enthusiasts, this blog is dedicated to delicious Instant Pot recipes. We love sharing all food including our favorite stovetop and oven dishes.

More about us here »


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  1. I have done this recipe 2 or 3 times and every time I get a burn warning. I even deglazed before putting the lid on. Is anyone else experiencing this or am I doing something wrong?

  2. I got my first instant pot only two weeks ago. I was looking for instant pot recipes on Pinterest and came across this recipe the other day. I made it today and we all loved it! I’ll definitely make it again. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. I make a lot of Instant Pot recipes. This one moves to the top of my list. It was a hit with everyone who tried it. I stuck to the recipe except I used chicken broth rather than vegetable. I prefer softer orzo so I cooked it for 7 minutes and then did quick release. Fabulous.

  4. Can I use my rice cooker.? I have an instant pot coming soon. We are in a motorhome and I use my ice cooker so that’s why I am asking. Thank you

    1. Hey Judy, I am not really sure about the rice cooker. In theory you could but I wouldn’t know about timings or amount of liquid needed.

  5. Accidentally picked up grated parm instead of shredded. Replaced onions with carrots, and celery. Replaced vegetable stock with plain water.

    Turned out really good. It did change what I believe are ingredients which are intentionally delicious when thrown together – spinach, lemon, pepper, and parmesan.

    Mine turned out to be more of a veggie orzo with cheese (still yummy!).

    Thanks for this recipe.

    1. Thanks, Aubrey. You can absolutely swap out the veggies, this is a great template recipe that you are welcome to adapt. Glad you enjoyed it!

  6. I made this tonight & it was really good! I cut back on the cheese though. It also was a bit too al dente for us, so I cooked it a little bit longer & it was perfect. Will definitely be putting this one into the rotation

  7. I would like to give it a higher rating, because it did turn out to be amazing… but I made too many substitutions and additions. I replaced lemon ingredients with orange. Added lots of garlic and used chicken stock and orange juice for the liquid. I added more lots more veggies… carrots & celery & petite frozen peas. I used Romano cheese and cut the amount in half. In reviewing recipes, I always note the accuracy of the cook time… this was spot on! Once it was done, it seemed creamy and flavorful… almost looking me risotto!

    1. Thanks, Terri. Glad you enjoyed this recipe and your own modifications sound delicious, too.

  8. I love this! So easy and so delicious. I only had a couple of blocks of frozen spinach so used those and cooked for 9 mins. Thanks for the recipe!

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