Perfectly cooked Instant Pot orzo is ready in just 2 minutes! Plus recipe ideas for turning orzo into an easy family dinner.
Why Cook Orzo in the Instant Pot?
When orzo is cooked in a pressure cooker, each small grain of pasta becomes plump and tender, without getting mushy.
A bowl of Instant Pot orzo has a slightly creamy texture that you won't get from orzo cooked on the stove in boiling water. The creaminess comes from letting the pasta absorb the water it's cooked in, rather than draining it off.
A similar affect happens with One-Pot Spaghetti with Tomatoes and Kale. In this magical recipe, the starchy pasta water creates a flavorful "sauce" for the spaghetti.
This orzo can be served warm, or you can chill the orzo and make a cold pasta salad. One of my favorites is Tuna and Orzo Pasta Salad.
You should also try making orzo rice, which is a blend of toasted orzo pasta and basmati rice simmered into a buttery pilaf on the stove. Or, try baked Greek chicken pasta with orzo.
How Long Should Orzo Cook in a Pressure Cooker?
The greatest risk when cooking pasta in a pressure cooker is overcooking the noodles. If the pasta turns to mush, dinner is ruined.
I find the 2 minutes on high pressure with a quick release is the best cook time for Instant Pot orzo.
After 2 minutes, the pasta is still al dente but will continue absorbing any remaining water in the pot and continue cooking in the residual heat. Let the pasta sit for 3 to 5 minutes with the lid loosely covering the Instant Pot, until the orzo has the texture you want.
Using this method, rather than cooking orzo slightly longer in the Instant Pot, insures that it won't overcook.
You really only need orzo, water and salt to make this recipe. But if you want the orzo to have more flavor, then add the olive oil and garlic.
- Heat olive oil and garlic briefly in the Instant Pot
- Add the orzo
- Optional for more flavor: Saute the orzo for 3 to 5 minutes to toast the orzo
- Add water
- Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes, with a quick release
After removing the lid, turn off the Instant Pot and stir the orzo, making sure to scrape up any orzo that is sticking to the pot. Let the orzo sit for 3 to 5 minutes. During this time, the pasta will finish cooking in the residual heat and will absorb any water that might still be in the pot.
How to Serve Orzo
Orzo pasta is perfectly delicious with just grated parmesan cheese sprinkled on top (my kids also like butter!) But there are plenty of ways to turn cooked Instant Pot orzo into a flavorful dinner.
One recipe to try is Instant Pot orzo and shrimp scampi pasta.
More Dinner Ideas:
- Add 2 cups grated cheese and ½ cream or milk to make creamy Instant Pot orzo mac n' cheese
- Add handfuls of baby spinach (let it wilt in the warm orzo)
- Add chickpeas or other beans
- Add marinara sauce and fresh basil
- Cool the orzo, toss with oil, and make cold pasta salad
Frequently Asked Questions About Orzo
Yes, risoni and orzo are the same thing
Yes, orzo is just pasta. It's a short pasta that is shaped like rice.
No. Orzo is pasta that is made from flour. However, you can buy gluten-free products that are similar to orzo, like Banza "Rice" made from chickpeas.
Yes. For a full pound of orzo (about 2 ½ cups dry) add 3 ½ cups water and use the same cooking time.
Instant Pot Orzo
Perfectly cooked Instant Pot® orzo cooks in just 2 minutes! You really only need orzo, water and salt to make this recipe. But if you want the orzo to have more flavor, then add the olive oil and garlic.
Read the blog post above for recipes and ideas that turn Instant Pot orzo into an easy family dinner.
Total Instant Pot Cooking Time: 5 minutes to reach pressure + 2 minutes at high pressure + quick release
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 2
- Total Time: 7 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: pasta
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups orzo (12.5 ounces)
- 3 ¼ cups water
- ¼ teaspoon salt (a generous ¼ teaspoon)
- Heat the olive oil using the Saute function on the Instant Pot. I like to saute using the “normal” setting instead of the default “more” setting so that the garlic won’t burn. (Read the notes below to learn how to change the heat setting)
- Add the garlic, and saute about 30 seconds.
- Add the orzo and mix well to coat in oil. For more flavor, lightly toast the orzo by sautéing it for 3 to 5 minutes, so that the orzo is lightly toasted. Some pieces will turn a darker color, make sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the water, stirring well to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Lock lid in place.
- Program the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 2 minutes.
- Quick release the pressure immediately when the cooking time is complete.
- Stir the orzo with a spatula, loosening any pieces that have stuck to the bottom. The orzo will be just a little watery and have a soft but slightly firm texture.
- Turn off the Instant pot and let the orzo sit for another 3 to 5 minutes with the lid set back on until the pasta has fully absorbed the water and has the texture you want.
- Scoop the orzo out of the Instant Pot into a serving bowl so it doesn't keep cooking in the residual heat. Add more salt to taste if needed.
- From here, you can serve the orzo with just grated cheese, or read the blog post above for other serving ideas. You can also chill the orzo and turn it into a cold pasta salad.
If you'd like to make plain orzo, skip the olive oil and garlic and simply combine orzo, water and salt. Then follow the same cooking time and instructions.
If you'd like to make a full pound of orzo (about 2 ½ cups dry) then add 3 ½ cups water.
This recipe is made in a 6-quart Instant Pot.
How to Adjust the Instant Pot Saute Heat: There are 3 levels of heat when you saute in the Instant Pot: More, Normal and Less. I often find that the setting for "More" heat is too hot, and whatever I'm sauteing burns to the bottom of the pot. To adjust the saute heat, first press the Saute button, then press the "Adjust" button to move the red light under "Normal" or "Less."
Keywords: orzo, risoni, instant pot orzo
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This orzo was fantastic with some veggies and buttery lemon-garlic shrimp. It’s definitely going in the rotation!
Thank you for the simple and delicious recipe! How much water would I need to make a full pound of orzo?
I just tested a full pound of orzo with 3 1/2 cups of water and it worked well. The orzo will absorb all of the water while it cooks. You'll still need to mix the cooked orzo and scrape up any orzo that is sticking to the pot, then put the lid back on for 3 to 5 minutes to let the orzo get a bit more tender. You'll probably want to add another pinch of salt as well. I'll add this information to the recipe card for future reference!
Perfect, thank you so much!
Ditto on the 3 qt instant pot adjustment. Amazing! I rely on my Instant Pot because I travel full time and it is essentially my 'road kitchen'. I couldn't believe how perfectly the orzo came out. Thanks.
Glad the orzo turned out well! It's good to know a 3qt instant pot also gives good results.
I halved the recipe in a 3qt IP and used broth instead of water. Perfect texture! Thank you!
Great, glad you liked it!
We love making pasta in out instant pot! This turned out great!
This is such a simple yet delicious looking recipe! Perfect for the weeknights when you don't have time, thanks for the recipe.
I love making orzo but have always just made it on the stovetop! I'm excited to try your instant pot version for a quicker and easier way to make orzo!
Oh wow, have not made orzo in an Instant Pot. Great idea! Perfect for summer pasta salads!