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.
WHAT IS ORZO?
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.
HOW TO COOK INSTANT POT ORZO
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.
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.
MORE INSTANT POT PASTA RECIPES
- Chicken, Ham & Vegetable Pasta
- Cheeseburger Pasta
- Ricotta, Lemon & Spinach Pasta
- 20+ Pressure-Cooked Pasta Recipes For All Occasions
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.