Lemon Pepper Orzo | Only 5 Ingredients!

GFGluten FreeNFNut FreeVVegan

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This Lemon Pepper Orzo is a creamy, tangy, one-pot side that’s delicious with practically everything! Vegan, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Option.

This Lemon Pepper Orzo is a fresh and creamy fuss-free side that pairs perfectly with practically any dish. Tangy lemon, hearty orzo, and cracked black pepper come together for a bright, tangy, comforting recipe that’s delicious any time of year. The best part? It’s ready in just 20 minutes!

lemon pepper orzo on plate with tofu and broccoli


Orzo is a form of pasta that’s shaped like grains of rice. In fact, orzo, also known as risoni, means ‘barley’ or ‘large grains of rice’ because of its shape! While it originated in Italy, orzo quickly spread in popularity throughout other parts of Europe like Greece and the Middle East. It’s often served as a side, mixed into salads, or cooked in soups, which is especially popular for kids and under-the-weather days.

This comforting Lemon Pepper Orzo combines creamy orzo with tangy lemon and freshly-cracked black pepper for a delicious everyday recipe. You can enjoy this on an easy weeknight in or bring it with you to get-togethers with friends and family.


ingredients for orzo arranged on kitchen countertop

This easy one-pot recipe is made from just 5 pantry-friendly ingredients: orzo, lemon, garlic, vegan butter or olive oil, and salt & black pepper. There’s also the option to add in some grated vegan parmesan cheese for an even creamier twist! 😊  If you want that cheesy flavor without the vegan parm, you can try using nutritional yeast instead for a rich, cheesy touch (see recipe notes).

Garlic and lemon are the main flavors that get to shine in this dish –  freshly crushed garlic gets sautéed in butter or oil so that every bite of orzo is coated in garlicky flavor while lemon juice and zest get added for extra bright, citrusy flavor!


lemon pepper orzo in sauté pan with wooden spoon

An added bonus? This fresh and filling side comes together in only one pot! Simmering the orzo in the same pan with the garlic and lemon juice ensures every bite is packed with flavor.

  1. Melt butter in a pan, add garlic and black pepper, and sauté until fragrant. Add dry orzo and toast.
  2. Add water, lemon juice, and salt. Boil, then reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon zest, vegan parmesan, and salt & pepper.
  4. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!


  • Use fresh lemons: I would strongly recommend you use fresh lemon juice and lemon zest for this recipe. Fresh does taste different than bottled juice, and since lemon is the main flavor here, I would stick to fresh.
  • Use a sauté pan instead of a pot. It has a wider base, so your orzo will cook faster and more evenly!
  • Don’t skimp on the black pepper! It adds the perfect kick. Freshly ground is best for the most pronounced flavor.

lemon pepper orzo in saute pan garnished with parsley and with lemon wedge on side


My favorite way to serve this Lemon Pepper Orzo is with a hearty protein like my Crispy Tofu or Easy Baked Tempeh and a side of veggies or a yummy salad. Sometimes I’ll also add extra veggies to this recipe if I’m craving a bulkier dish. If you’d like to up the veggies, you can stir in a couple of handfuls of spinach, a cup of peas, or even some mushrooms into the orzo towards the end of cooking. Top with fresh herbs like parsley or basil and you’re ready to enjoy!

If you’re looking for more delicious recipes using orzo, you’ll also love this Triple Tomato Basil Orzo Salad and this Spring Orzo Salad with Peas and Lemon Vinaigrette.


Store any leftover orzo in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can either reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop – just be sure to add a splash of liquid when reheating, as orzo tends to stick when cooled.

lemon pepper orzo topped with parsley


  • What is Orzo? Orzo can sometimes be mistaken for rice, but it is not. Traditionally made from flour, orzo is a short-cut pasta that looks like rice and other small grains, which is where it gets its name. Orzo, also called risoni, is named after ‘barley’ and ‘grains of rice’ in Italian.
  • Is orzo healthy? Like all pasta, orzo can be made using a variety of flours that range in amounts of protein and fiber. If you’d like, you can opt for whole wheat or whole grain orzo which packs even more protein and fiber than white orzo.
  • Can I make this recipe gluten-free? Yes, with gluten-free orzo! You may need to simmer the gluten-free orzo for a little longer, so check for doneness before you turn off the heat.
  • Is orzo eaten hot or cold? Both! One of the best parts about orzo is how versatile it is–it can be served hot or cold, as a side or in a main, you name it!

Enjoy! If you make this recipe and decide to share it on Facebook or Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @FromMyBowl + #FromMyBowl! I would also love it if you could leave a comment below with a recipe rating! Thank you for the support 😊


Lemon Pepper Orzo | Only 5 Ingredients!

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5 from 3 reviews

This Lemon Pepper Orzo is a creamy, tangy, one-pot side that’s delicious with practically everything! Vegan, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free Option.

  • Author: Caitlin Shoemaker
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 Minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan


  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter (or olive oil)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces (225 g) orzo (gf if necessary)
  • 2 1/2 cups (590 ml) water
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (9 g) finely grated vegan parmesan cheese* (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)


  1. Aromatics: melt the butter in a small sauce pan or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and black pepper and sauté for 60 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the dry orzo to the pan and toast for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Boil: add the water, lemon juice (save the zest for step 3!), and salt to the pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 12-13 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  3. Final Add-Ins: Turn the heat to low (or off) and stir in the lemon zest and parmesan, if using. Season with additional salt to pepper, to taste.
  4. Serve: serve warm, sprinkled with parsley, or as desired. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days; reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat with a splash of water (preferred).


  • If you’d like a cheesy flavor but don’t want to use vegan parm, add 1-2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast along with the other ingredients in step 2 for a dairy-free, cheesy kick!
  • Extra Veggies: if you want to up the veggies, stir in a couple of handfuls of spinach or up to 1 cup of peas into the orzo towards the end of cooking!

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About the Author

Hey there, I’m Caitlin! I make easy-to-follow, wholesome, and budget-friendly vegan recipes that are mostly gluten-free and refined sugar-free. I’m also an avid yogi, love the great outdoors, am chocolate-obsessed, and enjoy eating almond butter straight off of the spoon.

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  1. Just made this and it’s so good! I looooove the intense lemon flavor. I followed the recipe almost exactly except I added some diced red onion in with the garlic and then some diced zuchinni in at the very end. Topped with some air fried tofu for protein. Soooo good and so easy to make. Will definitely make again. Thank you for this recipe!

  2. SO good. I had it once without the grated vegan Parm, and once with. Both were amazing. It did add creaminess and a flavor I enjoyed!