This vegan orzo risotto is a quick and easy 1-pot meal that can be made in about 20 minutes. It’s perfect for a healthy, yet simple weeknight meal that the whole family will love. Made with your choice of mushrooms or vegan protein, orzo pasta, baby spinach, and drizzled with fresh lemon. This meal is packed with flavor!

A white bowl filled with vegan orzo with mushrooms, spinach, and lemon.

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This orzo risotto is a super quick and easy way to make a risotto-style dish, without the time that it takes for Arborio rice to cook. If you have a little more time, vegan broccoli cheese risotto or my vegan butternut squash risotto recipes are also delicious!

This orzo recipe is

  • quick and easy to make in just 20 minutes!
  • versatile – just toss in the protein or veggies that you have on hand.
  • packed with flavor.
  • great for meal prep or lunches!

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Olive Oil – or any neutral-flavored oil. You can also use vegan butter instead.
  • Garlic – freshly pressed or minced garlic works best.
  • Sliced Mushrooms or “Vegan Meat” of Choice – you can use any kind of mushrooms that you like. I usually use baby Bellas. You can also swap out the mushrooms for chickpeas, vegan chicken strips, or vegan Italian sausage slices for a high-protein more filling meal.
  • Salt and Pepper– for flavor.
  • Orzo Pasta – this is the little pasta that looks similar to rice. (They also make gluten-free orzo pasta if you need it to be gluten-free.) You can also use Israeli couscous instead of orzo pasta if you would like.
  • Vegetable Broth – for flavor. You can also just use water if you would like. I like the flavor of Not Chick’n broth in this recipe.
  • Baby Spinach – you can also use kale or swiss chard, but I usually use a bag of washed baby spinach to make it quick and easy.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed lemon juice gives it a burst of flavor and acidity.
  • Optional Add-Ins – for more flavor add a tablespoon of capers, 1 cup of kalamata olives, or some fresh basil.
Vegan orzo risotto with spinach on a white plate.

How to make vegan orzo pasta

Step 1 – Saute sliced mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt for about 3-5 minutes until they release their juices. (Or if using a vegan meat substitute saute until heated through.)

Step 2 – Add 2-3 cloves of fresh minced garlic to the mushrooms and cook for 1 more minute.

Step 3 – Add a 16 oz package of orzo pasta to the mushrooms and stir well to coat the orzo. Then add 1 cup of broth and stir again.

Step 4 – Continue stirring frequently over medium heat adding the 5 1/2 cups of additional broth 1 cup at a time until a total of 6 1/2 cups of broth have been used and your orzo is creamy. (This will take about 10-12 minutes.)

A collage of 4 images showing the process of sautéing mushrooms, adding orzo and broth, and then adding spinach to make orzo pasta.

Step 5 – Once all of the broth is absorbed, add the baby spinach and cover with a lid.

Step 6 – Let it sit for about 2-3 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt, then add the juice of 2 lemons and stir well.

Pro Tips

  • Add the broth slowly stirring well each time.
  • It may seem like it won’t absorb all of the broth at first, but give it a little time and it will absorb it all.
  • If using kale, massage it well first and add it to the pasta during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped basil or parsley for more flavor.
  • To make it rich and cheesy, add 1 cup of shredded vegan mozzarella cheese at the end of cooking or sprinkle it with some vegan parmesan cheese.
  • This dish is also delicious with some toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.

Can I make it gluten-free?

Yes, Dellalo”s makes a good gluten-free orzo pasta that you can use instead of wheat-based pasta. If you are using a vegan meat substitute, be sure that it’s gluten-free as well. If you want a low-carb, gluten-free alternative, you have to try my riced cauliflower risotto with spinach!

Storage and reheating

Refrigerate: This vegan orzo pasta will keep well in the fridge for 3 – 5 days in a sealed container.

Freeze: The orzo also freezes well and can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating: Reheat your spinach orzo in the microwave for about 3 minutes or reheat it in a pan with a few tablespoons of water or broth.

A top view of a frying pan with vegan orzo risotto with spinach and lemon.
A white frying pan filled with vegan orzo with mushrooms and spinach.
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5 from 14 rating

Vegan Orzo Risotto with Spinach and Lemon

Creamy vegan orzo pasta with spinach and lemon. This makes a quick and easy meal in less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or 2 tablespoon broth for oil-free
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (or vegan meat product of choice like vegan sausage or chicken.)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups orzo pasta, (this is a 16 oz box of orzo)
  • 6 1/2 cups vegetable broth, or water or a combination of both
  • 6 cups baby spinach, or kale
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, or the juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 dash salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Saute sliced mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt for about 3-5 minutes until they release their juices. (Or if using a vegan meat substitute saute until heated through.)
  • Add 2-3 cloves of fresh minced garlic to the mushrooms and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Add a 16 oz package of orzo pasta to the mushrooms and stir well to coat the orzo. Then add 1 cup of broth and stir again.
  • Continue stirring frequently over medium heat adding the 5 1/2 cups of additional broth 1 cup at a time until a total of 6 1/2 cups of broth have been used and your orzo is creamy. (This will take about 10-12 minutes.)
  • Once all of the broth is absorbed, add the baby spinach and cover with a lid.
  • Let it sit for about 2-3 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt, then add the juice of 2 lemons and stir well.

Notes

  • Add the broth slowly stirring well each time.
  • It may seem like it won’t absorb all of the broth at first, but give it a little time and it will absorb it all.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped basil or parsley for more flavor.
  • To make it rich and cheesy, add 1 cup of shredded vegan mozzarella cheese at the end of cooking or sprinkle with some vegan parmesan cheese.
  • This dish is also delicious with some toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.
  • If you want a more veggie-heavy dish, you can cut the pasta and the broth in half and keep the other ingredients the same.
Serving: 1cup, Calories: 280kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 1151mg, Potassium: 409mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 3356IU, Vitamin C: 13mg, Calcium: 45mg, Iron: 2mg
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