This simple and flavorful Lemon Orzo Salad is so easy to toss together and is a perfect side dish or light main. It’s packed with creamy feta, crisp cucumbers, tangy olives, fresh herbs, and a simple yet delicious lemon vinaigrette.

Close up of a lemon orzo salad tossed with feta, herbs, and veggies.

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Pasta salad is the ultimate flex meal, especially in the warmer months, but arguably year round. This simple version has Mediterranean vibes thanks to generous scoops of tart Kalamata olives, creamy Feta cheese, and Greek oregano infusing the lemon vinaigrette.

This is adapted from a simple orzo salad I first made specifically to accompany our favorite Greek shrimp skewers. After more than a year of making it as a side to other meals and for the occasional light lunch or potluck contribution, I decided it deserved a dedicated post of its own!

Ingredients & Common Substitutions

Here is a visual overview of the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe. Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for quantities!

Labeled photo of red onion, orzo, olive oil, spices, olives, cucumbers, baby spinach, tomatoes, parsley, lemon, and feta arranged in prep bowls.
  • Orzo: the star!
  • Red onion: Provides a little tang. Substitute with shallot, or leave it out entirely. I find a yellow or sweet onion is too pungent by itself.
  • Cucumber: I like to use 1-2 Persian, or miniature, cucumbers, because they are tender, thin-skinned, and easy to cut into small bites. One half of an English cucumber works well, too.
  • Tomatoes: Cherry or grape tomatoes work well, and can be used whole or cut in halves, lengthwise. Roma or heirloom tomatoes are also lovely, and can be sliced or quartered into bite-sized pieces.
  • Baby spinach: Optional. Arugula makes a good substitute.
  • Olives: Kalamata olives provide an unmistakeable tang. Substitute black or green olives if you prefer, or omit them entirely if olives simply aren’t your thing.
  • Feta cheese: For a creamy, lightly salty effect.
  • Fresh parsley: Italian flat-leaf preferred, but curly parsley will work, also.
  • Lemon: For both the dressing and wedges to garnish the finished salad.
  • Olive oil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.

Why orzo?? In addition to being readily available and easy to cook, orzo’s small size gives it an advantage in the flavor department. While the pieces themselves have only a neutral flavor, as do most pastas, their small size and relatively greater surface area means they become tender quickly and naturally absorb a lot of flavor from the dressing and veggies with which they are mingling in a salad like this one.

Is orzo a pasta or rice?

Despite its rice-like shape, orzo is a type of pasta. It is in the form of small oblong “grains,” but is a traditional pasta that can be made from whole grain, semolina, or white flour.

Is orzo eaten hot or cold?

Like many pasta shapes, the beauty of orzo is partly its extreme versatility: enjoy it hot, cold, or at room temperature. This makes it perfect for including in pasta salads, that you may wish to enjoy right after making it, cold from the refrigerator, or out and about at a picnic or potluck.

How To Make Lemon Orzo Salad

As is often the case with pasta salads, this lemon orzo number is delightfully simple and straightforward to make, even when using a from-scratch dressing, which contributes the freshest, most citrus-filled taste.

  1. Cook the orzo in well-salted water. Drain and cool slightly.
  2. Whisk together the dressing.
  3. Pile veggies, herbs, olives, and Feta on top of cooked orzo. Pour on dressing, toss, and enjoy!
Dressing being poured out of a jar and onto a salad with orzo and spinach.

The simple dressing is dairy-free, which makes this lemon orzo salad perfect for picnics or potlucks in warm weather, when you don’t want to leave a creamy dressing sitting out for too long.

I highly recommend serving with additional lemon wedges, both for looks and for the taste if you have any major citrus-lovers gathered at your table. Sprinkling a bit of lemon zest over the salad is a nice way to up the flavor, too.

How do you cook orzo?

Cooking orzo is very simple, as simply as cooking any other type of pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil — there should be enough water for all of the pasta to float freely and be stirred with ease. Once boiling, add a very generous pinch of salt, then stir in the orzo.

Let the orzo cook at a rapid simmer for about 7-8 minutes for al dente pasta, then drain and use as desired. Of course, exact cooking times may vary, so read your package instructions and test the orzo frequently as it nears the end of its cooking time.

Can I make this ahead?

This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, tightly-covered, for up to 3 days. In fact, I think it tastes even better after 12-24 hours, because the dressing absorbs slightly into the pasta, allowing the flavors to meld beautifully.

That said, if I were intending to make ahead and serve after awhile, I would leave off the feta, parsley, and lemon wedges to mix in just prior to serving.

Bowl with a large lemon orzo salad ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions

This lemon orzo salad goes beautifully with grilled shrimp, grilled salmon, baked tilapia, or grilled chicken breasts. It also goes very well with these Mediterranean-inspired lamb meatballs, or with a simple accompaniment of garlic bread or breadsticks for an easy, meatless main dish.

More Easy Pasta Salads

Love this? Try my protein-packed pasta salad with chickpeas and roasted red pepper, balsamic tortellini Caprese, or chicken pesto pasta salad next.

If you try this Lemon Orzo Salad, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.

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Close up of a lemon orzo salad tossed with feta, herbs, and veggies.
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Lemon Orzo Salad with Feta

This simple lemon orzo pasta salad with feta is so easy to toss together and goes with absolutely everything in the spring and summer!

Ingredients

For the Salad:

  • 8 ounces orzo
  • 2 baby cucumbers sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 and 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10-12 cranks fresh-ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a medium-large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a generous pinch of salt, then stir in the orzo and cook just to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside briefly to cool.
  • Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small jar or liquid measuring cup. Shake or whisk to combine.
  • Combine cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, spinach, feta, red onion, and parsley in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Serve right away or store in the fridge and enjoy as needed.

Notes

  • This salad keeps well in the refrigerator, tightly-covered, for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 215kcal, Carbohydrates: 32g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 452mg, Potassium: 227mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 920IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 62mg, Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!