Cheesy Broccoli Orzo


Cheesy Broccoli Orzo is a crowd-pleasing, quick and easy side dish recipe for dinner!


Want to know what I find difficult?

Besides finding a hair length I like, painting my own toes, sleeping in cars, wearing high heels (team wedge!) and recently discovering that Atomic Fireballs have 40 calories a piece (highly disappointing considering I’ve been subjecting my tongue to their delicious, delicious burn since my in-laws brought Ben and me a bag from Cracker Barrel last week…)

Finding a good side dish recipe.


I don’t know. I’m the kind of person who can sit down with a big bowl of soup or piece of lasagna and be just fine, but Ben likes himself some options at dinnertime!

In the summer I’ll slice up a couple peaches or a make a side salad with cucumbers and tomatoes from the garden for dinner, but I have to be careful, you see. There are plenty of side dishes I’ve been politely asked to “discontinue” due to the fact that I get obsessed and try to serve them 4 days a week.

(Cough, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, cough. OMG that reminds me! The brussels sprouts in my garden are budding wee sprouts! Will post an update soon.)


I don’t like to spend a ton of time on fussy side dishes either, so I’m always on the hunt for recipes that are not only quick, but interesting, and aren’t just serving as dinner “fillers”. Enter Cheesy Broccoli Orzo.


Lip-smacking delicious, easy, and FAST – this is one side dish Ben requests over and over. Sometimes I surprise him with it because it literally makes him so incredibly happy. Bahahaha! Anyways.

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All you do is boil a cup of rice-shaped orzo pasta for a few minutes, then add chopped broccoli and cook for a few more minutes. BTW – you could use brown rice in place of the orzo for a whole-grain boost, but it takes about 30-40 minutes to cook. Orzo is for when time is of the essence!


Drain the mixture really well, as broccoli florets are notorious for holding onto water, then return to the pot.


Add a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese, grated parmesan cheese (fresh or pre-grated – doesn’t matter) and a pat of butter.


Then stir everything together with milk.


Season with salt to taste (may not need it) then dish, and dine!


Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Print this recipe!

Serves 3-4

1 cup orzo
1-1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 cup 2% milk


  1. Add orzo to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes then add chopped broccoli and cook for 2 more minutes, or until orzo is tender. Drain well (broccoli florets are notorious for holding onto water) then return to the pot. Add cheeses, butter, and 1/4 cup milk then stir well and add more milk if needed. Season with salt to taste.


Might want to make a double batch of this stuff, ’cause it will go fast. It’s just so simple and GOOD, know what I mean? Well you probably don’t, but after you make it you will!


I recently served Cheesy Broccoli Orzo under chicken breasts brushed on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then seasoned with salt & pepper and sauteed (aka THE BEST CHICKEN EVER) but this simple side dish will pair well with most anything.


Here are a few more easy side dish recipes to try (besides roasted, steamed, or raw fresh fruits and veggies, which are always healthy, easy options too!)

Roasted Green Beans

Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (cooked in chicken broth = AMAZING)

Roasted Seasoned Potatoes

Grilled Zucchini (cut fresh zucchini on the bias, toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper then grill)


Your turn! What are some of your favorite side dishes to serve with dinner?

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  1. […] Source: Iowa Girl Eats […]

  2. Emily 02.05.2013

    Made this tonight and…I think it changed my life. So, so good. And doing the broccoli right in with the orzo? Genius. Thanks for a great recipe!!

  3. Cyndi 02.11.2013

    This dish is excellent. For years I have been stuck on rice- a – roni and this is just as easy, but much better!

  4. Tara P. 02.19.2013

    This looks amazing! Just stumbled upon your site today and I am making this for dinner tonight! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jackie 04.02.2013

    I made this for dinner tonight… only question was do you lower the heat when you put the Orzo in (like other pasta)? I had turned it down and it took a lot longer to cook. It was yummy!

  6. […] Source: […]

  7. […] understand that the orzo looks a little bit like Caroline’s diaper after she eats a jar of green beans BUT it was […]

  8. JennO 05.05.2013

    Had to cook the orzo a little longer than anticipated – but this dish is a keeper! So happy to have stumbled upon your blog – Cheers!

  9. […] and I tried Iowa Girl’s Cheesy Broccoli Orzo this week and it was delicious! It tastes just like mac n cheese but is so much easier to […]

  10. Jenn 06.14.2013

    This looks yum! What is the recipe for the chicken on top? That looks great, too!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 06.16.2013

      It’s just chicken brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then sauteed until cooked through. :)

  11. […] my dish. this is another one of our fall back recipes that we keep on hand at all times, we got it here from iowa girl eats. she used it as a side for their main ingredient but dan and i use it as the […]

  12. Marley&Me 07.15.2013

    made this but used both broccoli and collie flower also 1% milk as it was all we had in the house. still turned out amazing!very easy quick and yummy recipe!

  13. Nicole 07.20.2013

    Just made this, very yummy! Will be adding it to the family recipe book ASAP :) Thanks!

  14. Angela Lightner 10.21.2013

    Made this for dinner tonight and it’s a hit! My little one’s loved it. Thanks for the great recipe :)

  15. Samantha 01.05.2014

    This was fantastic. I made no changes :)

  16. […] full to bursting with fantastic healthy food ideas. The latest one I’ve tried is for cheesy broccoli orzo which has made enough for two good-sized portions to take to work. It tasted great hot so I’m […]

  17. dave 05.01.2014

    This looks like just what im looking for, but the orzo cooks in only 5 minutes? Is that right?

    • Kristin 05.06.2014

      Mine cooked in 5 minutes – I just followed package instructions. I’d check out the instructions on your particular package to double check if you have concerns!

  18. […] A good recipe is a good recipe. Sometimes you just have to Real Foodify it, as I like to say.  This recipe came from Iowa Girl Eats.  She’s got a great little blog filled with some tasty recipes […]

  19. Kelly 05.14.2014

    I thought it was a good base recipe, but it was pretty bland. Next time I am going to cook the noodles and broc in chicken broth, add some pepper, garlic seasoning and onion powder.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  20. Prashanthi 08.30.2014

    This dish was delicious! I used chicken broth to cook the orzo and broccoli- it took about 10 min to cook. I added some smoked paprika at the end to taste. Thank you!!

  21. […] found the Cheesy Broccoli Orzo at Iowa Girl Eats, and we are going to add Chicken to […]

  22. Bella 02.26.2015

    This orzo is delicious, and the photos are amazing!

  23. Anna S. 03.31.2015

    This was amazing! I had some leftover grilled asparagus and broccoli, which I chopped and heated up. Then I just cooked the orzo for 5 minutes, drained it and then threw in the veggies and followed the rest of the recipe as written. LOVED IT. Will make again VERY soon!

  24. […] see myself serving this side dish A LOT. Cheesy Broccoli Orzo adapted from: Iowa Girl Eats(Printable Recipe) or (Printable with […]

  25. […] easy recipe and I found that you can add additional cheese to your liking.  Recipe is adapted from Iowa Girl Eats.  I added additional cheese to our recipe, whole milk, and no […]

  26. Kristin 09.03.2015

    Made this last night for my family and we loved it! So glad I doubled it. It was super easy and quick, perfect for a school night. And I may have thrown in a little extra cheese and butter :) Thanks for another great recipe. Trying your garlic parm quinoa tonight!

    • Kristin 09.03.2015

      LOVE the part about the extra cheese and especially butter. ;) So glad your family loved it!!

  27. […] […]

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