This orzo salad recipe is perfect for summer picnics and cookouts! Feta cheese, olives, and a zingy Greek dressing fill it with bold flavor.
If you need a last-minute side dish for a cookout or picnic this weekend, make this orzo salad recipe! It’s fresh and flavorful, easy to put together, and, like any good picnic salad, perfect for making ahead. Toss it together a few hours to a day before a summer gathering, and it’ll still taste great when you’re ready to eat.
But even if you’re not planning a cookout this weekend (or if your menu’s all set to go), stash this orzo salad recipe in your back pocket anyway. Because it keeps so well, it’s a great recipe to pack for lunch. Crispy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes play off briny olives and salty, tangy feta cheese. The orzo pasta and chickpeas make it nice and filling, and a zingy Greek dressing ties it all together. De-licious.
Orzo Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this orzo pasta salad recipe:
- Orzo, of course! I love the way this tiny pasta shape mixes and mingles with the other ingredients.
- Cherry tomatoes – For sweet, juicy pops of flavor.
- Persian cucumbers – They add a cool, refreshing crunch.
- Red onion – Slice these guys as thinly as you can. I recommend using a mandoline if you have one!
- Kalamata olives – Their salty, briny flavor contrasts with the fresh herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
- Feta cheese – Skip the pre-crumbled feta for this recipe. Instead, look for feta that comes in a block, preferably in brine. Its flavor and texture are SO much better. You’ll never get the crumbled kind again!
- Chickpeas – I love garbanzo beans with Mediterranean ingredients like feta and olives, so I couldn’t resist tossing them into this orzo salad. They make it more substantial too.
- Greek salad dressing – In this orzo salad, I make the dressing extra-bright by whisking in an additional tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a big squeeze of lemon juice.
- Fresh mint and/or basil – Pick just one, or use a mix.
- And sea salt and fresh black pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Cook the orzo, and dice up the veggies, feta, and olives while it cools.
Then, whisk up the dressing and toss it all together. Making this orzo salad recipe is as simple as that!
Orzo Salad Recipe Tips
- Cook the pasta a little past al dente. Whenever I make a pasta salad, I cook the pasta just past al dente, so that it stays tender after it cools.
- And let it cool before you add the veggies. If you toss the hot orzo with the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, they’ll begin to wilt. Instead, drain the cooked orzo, dress it with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking, and spread it in an even layer on a large baking sheet to cool. When it reaches room temperature, proceed with the recipe.
- Make it ahead. You can make this orzo salad recipe up to a day in advance, but save the herbs to add at the last minute. If they sit in the dressing for too long, they’ll wilt, so it’s best to toss them in right before you eat. The salad may also dry out a bit in the fridge. If you think it needs more moisture, loosen it with a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
Orzo Salad Serving Suggestions
This orzo salad recipe is a perfect side dish for summer picnics and cookouts. Pair it with other cookout sides like grilled corn on the cob or grilled veggies, broccoli salad, potato salad, and/or coleslaw. If you need a main dish, try making one of these recipes:
If you have any leftovers, save them for lunch the next day. Thanks to the orzo, chickpeas, feta, and olives, the salad makes a light, yet satisfying, meal on its own.
More Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes
If you love this orzo salad recipe, try one of these fresh pasta salads next:
This orzo salad recipe is a fresh, delicious side dish or vegetarian lunch! If you make it ahead of time, save the herbs to add at the last minute. I also recommend tossing the salad with a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
- 1½ cups orzo pasta
- 1 recipe Greek Salad Dressing
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Persian cucumbers, halved vertically, and sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained, and rinsed
- 4 ounces feta cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 cup fresh basil and/or mint leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly past al dente. Drain the orzo and toss it with a little olive oil, so that it doesn’t stick together. Spread onto a baking sheet to cool.
Prepare the Greek Salad Dressing and add in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, and sea salt.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, red onion, and olives. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, add half the herbs, season with freshly ground black pepper, and toss to coat. Garnish with the remaining herbs and serve.