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Simple to prep and so flavorful, this easy Lemon Orzo Salad recipe is so quick to toss together and a perfect side dish for any meal. Loaded with fresh herbs, cucumbers, peppers and lots of feta. Lemon zest and juice give the salad a vibrant and fresh flavor everyone will love!

Overhead view of lemon orzo salad with fresh parsley and feta.
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Pasta in salads is one of my favorite things. And I am not talking about Italian dressing over pasta with some cheese and veggies.

I am talking Tortellini Caprese Pasta Salad, or Tomato Basil Rotini Salad–pasta salads that everyone will come back for seconds.

And this Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad recipe is a new favorite for this summer’s pot luck, bursting with fresh flavors and all the veggies!

Why You Will Love this Lemon Orzo Salad:

  • Minimal prep time. In the time it takes you to cook up the orzo, you can have everything chopped and ready to go. Once the orzo is done, it’s a matter of tossing it all in a bowl and then digging in. Simple salad for the win!
  • Loaded with fresh veggies. I mean, it is a salad right? All the cucumbers and peppers plus fresh basil and parsley. Fresh vegetables and all the good stuff for sure!
  • Great for meal prepping. If you are a meal prepper, this lemon orzo salad recipe is a perfect option to make early in the week and then enjoy later on. The longer the salad has to sit, the more flavorful it will be! Great as a nice light lunch during the week or topped with grilled chicken or steak for your main course!

What is Orzo?

Orzo is also known as risoni. It’s a form of short-cut pasta, shaped like very similar to rice. Orzo is traditionally made from white flour.

In Italian the word orzo actually means “barley” so it’s not as commonly used there. It’s most commonly found in soups, pilafs, salads and more.

You can find it in whole grain and gluten free varieties, but it’s definitely a pasta and not a grain like rice!

Lemon orzo salad with feta in bowl.

Ingredients and Swaps:

  • orzo: I would stick to orzo in this recipe as the very small pasta is what makes this salad. There are some options for similar pastas such as ditalini or oricchiette. There are several gluten free orzo options out there if you need this Lemon Orzo Salad to be made without gluten.
  • English cucumber: You can use another kind of cucumber if that is what you have on hand. I prefer the English cucumber because the seeds are super small and the skin is much thinner. No need to remove the skin and the cucumber itself is much sweeter with the lack of large seeds.
  • onion: red onion is our preference and adds more color to this easy orzo salad
  • bell pepper: I use red bell pepper for this salad, but orange or yellow would be great as well. I wouldn’t opt for a green bell pepper as the others are sweeter options.
  • lemon: the star of the show in this salad. The fresh lemon juice make this all the more vibrant and flavorful. Fresh is best for the best flavor.
  • honey: This will balance the sour from the lemon in this Lemon Orzo Salad as it can be a bit powerful without it. The honey or sweetener is not 100% necessary so you can wait until the salad is prepared and taste to determine if you would like to add it.
  • garlic: Another ingredient you can layer on for more flavor. Start with the 2 and then add more as desired.
  • feta: Regular and full fat is what I use in this orzo salad. You can use a lower fat version if desired. I have had readers who aren’t fans of feta cheese use crumbled goat cheese and enjoy that as well.
  • herbs: Fresh basil and fresh parsley add great flavor. I would not substitute dry herbs here unless absolutely necessary. The flavor will be different for sure. Also, 1/4 cup of each is only a suggestion, I love to add more especially on top when serving.
  • olive oil: Using a good quality extra virgin olive oil is ideal, but not 100% necessary. Use what you have on hand. Also, have some extra to drizzle and toss with leftovers that have been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days.
Cucumber, pepper, orzo, lemon, onion and other ingredients labeled on counter.

How to make Lemon Orzo Salad:

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions–cook orzo to al dente. While the orzo cooks, chop veggies and prep the other ingredients.
  2. When orzo is cooked al dente, drain the water and then pour cold water over to cool it off and keep if from cooking any longer. Drain the water completely.
  3. Add the pasta and all other ingredients into a large bowl aside from the feta cheese (you can wait to add the honey until after tossing.) Toss the salad well. Add more olive oil if desired and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Fold the feta into the mixed salad.
  5. Chill until ready to serve. Toss just before serving and add an extra drizzle of olive oil if desired. Refrigerate in a sealed container for about 5 days.

Recipe Tips

  • For best results, chill before serving. While this easy Lemon Orzo Salad can be eaten freshly tossed, chilling for about 30 minutes will allow the flavors to meld and really soak in. If time allows, try to chill.
  • Toss with an extra drizzle of olive oil before serving. If the salad has been chilling for more than a few hours, add extra olive oil and toss to add back in the moisture that may have been absorbed. For best results, always toss just before serving.
  • Make it a full meal! Add some strips of grilled chicken over top for added protein and make this salad a full meal!

Storage Instructions:

For best results, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Add an extra drizzle of olive oil the next day before serving and toss. Allowing the lemon orzo salad to sit out for about 10 minutes before serving also helps some of the solidified olive oil come to room temperature.

Freezing is not recommended for this salad. The vegetables will become icy and water logged and do not thaw the same at all.

Orzo salad with feta, basil, parsley, cucumbers and more in white bowl.

Other Orzo Salad Add-Ins:

Huge fan of this easy summer salad exactly as it is, however, there are some delicious ways to vary it or add to that make it even tastier!

  • cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, add them in halved or quartered
  • kalamata olives
  • other herbs–to enhance the flavor, chopped fresh oregano or dill are great and I have also added some dried oregano with great success.
  • other fresh herbs such as oregano, mint, etc.
  • toasted pine nuts
  • chopped baby spinach
  • chickpeas
  • arugula

Other Salad Recipes:

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5 from 40 votes

Easy Lemon Orzo Salad with Feta

Simple to prep and so flavorful, this Lemon Orzo Salad is so quick to toss together and a perfect side dish for any meal. Loaded with fresh herbs, cucumbers, peppers and lots of feta. Lemon zest and juice give the salad a vibrant and fresh flavor everyone will love!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

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Instructions 

  • Cook orzo according to package instructions. Chop and prep all veggies.
  • When orzo is cooked al dente, drain the water and then pour cold water over the orzo to cool it off. Drain the water completely.
  • Add the orzo and all other ingredients except the feta into a large bowl (you can wait to add the honey until after tossing.) Toss the salad well. Add more olive oil if desired and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  • Fold the feta cheese into the mixed salad.
  • Chill until ready to serve. Toss just before serving and add an extra drizzle of olive oil if desired. Refrigerate in a sealed container for about 5 days.

Notes

  • For best results, chill before serving. While this easy Lemon Orzo Salad can be eaten freshly tossed, chilling for about 30 minutes will allow the flavors to meld and really soak in. If time allows, try to chill.
  • Toss with an extra drizzle of olive oil before serving. If the salad has been chilling for more than a few hours, add extra olive oil and toss to add back in the moisture that may have been absorbed. For best results, always toss just before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcal, Carbohydrates: 34g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 388mg, Potassium: 212mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 793IU, Vitamin C: 23mg, Calcium: 128mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




49 Comments

  1. Amber Neumann says:

    5 stars
    We love this recipe! I’ve already made it four times this Spring. Sometimes I use spiral gluten free pasta, and it works just as well.

    1. Lorie says:

      Yay! That is great to hear!

  2. Linda says:

    5 stars
    So light and refreshing. I will be making it for 3rd time. I have already shared the recipe with a few people. This will be my go to salad!!!

    1. Lorie says:

      Yay! Mine as well–I can’t stop making this one either

  3. janet silver says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe! Only change I made was with the orzo, I only used 1/2 cup.

    1. Lorie says:

      So glad you loved it!