This one-pot Chicken Mushroom Orzo recipe may look elaborate, but it comes together in no time using a short list of healthy ingredients. It’s a flavorful and hearty family dinner that’s naturally gluten free!
What’s the best way to make family meals 10 times easier? Cook all of the ingredients in one pot! That’s exactly why I love making my One-Pan Chicken and Rice, Stovetop Lasagna, and now, this Chicken Mushroom Orzo recipe for easy family dinners.
At the core of this easy one-pot recipe are chicken breasts, pancetta, and rich, earthy mushrooms tucked into savoy gluten free orzo. The addition of kale and red peppers adds a boost of nutrition as well as a festive flair!
The best part? You can finish the dish with coconut milk or regular cream, instantly transforming it into a creamy comfort food. It’s fantastic and filling on its own, or you can serve it up with a variety of healthy sides. It’s sure to be a hit!
Ingredients and substitutions
The Italian-inspired ingredients here are straightforward and easy to find:
- Chicken breasts - Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano. If you like dark meat, use chicken thighs instead.
- Pancetta - Small pieces of this salt-cured pork belly enhance every bite of the creamy orzo. Bacon is a great substitution if you can’t find pancetta.
- Mushrooms - I like making mushroom orzo with cremini and shiitake mushrooms, but white button, portobello, and porcini mushrooms are also tasty.
- Sweet pimentos - These tiny, mild peppers add color and zing! If you need a substitution, use roasted red peppers, red bell pepper, or mini red sweet peppers.
- Orzo - I used gluten free orzo to make this epic gluten free meal. Look for Barilla, Delallo, or Jovial gluten free orzo pasta in stores or online. If you’re not gluten free, regular orzo works just as well.
- Kale - Or use baby spinach.
- Coconut milk - For the optional but recommended creamy element. You can use regular heavy cream if dairy isn’t a concern.
How to make chicken mushroom orzo
Step 1: Pat the chicken dry, then season all sides with salt, pepper, and oregano. Set aside.
Step 2: Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the pancetta. Push it to the side to make room for the chicken breasts. Cook until they’re browned on both sides, then transfer the chicken and pancetta to a plate.
Step 3: Pour a little more oil into the skillet to saute the onion, garlic, and mushrooms. Next, add the peppers.
Step 4: Pour the orzo and broth into the pot. Stir well before nestling in the chicken and pancetta. Cover with a lid and leave it to simmer until the orzo is cooked through.
Step 5: As soon as the orzo is cooked, again, remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside. Stir in the kale, lemon juice, and coconut milk or cream (if you like creamy orzo). Then return the chicken back to the skillet, garnish with fresh cilantro, and enjoy!
Slow cooker instructions
This recipe can easily be made in a slow cooker for those nights when you want to set it and forget it. To do so, follow the stove top instructions until it’s time to add the orzo and broth. When you get to that step, transfer the browned chicken, pancetta, and sauteed vegetables to the slow cooker.
Stir in the broth and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours or HIGH for 2 to 2½ hours. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and add the orzo, making sure it’s completely submerged in the liquid. Cook on HIGH for 15 to 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is tender.
Add the kale, lemon juice, and coconut milk or cream, then return the chicken to the crockpot and serve.
Instant Pot instructions
Saute the pancetta in an oiled Instant Pot on Saute mode. Next, add the chicken to brown on all sides. Transfer the pancetta and browned chicken to a plate.
Add more oil and saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms, and peppers. Place the chicken and pancetta back in the pot, along with the broth and orzo.
Cancel Saute mode, seal the lid on top, and lock the steam valve. Cook on High Pressure for 5 minutes. As soon as the timer stops, quick release the remaining pressure.
Finish by stirring in the kale, lemon juice, and cream, then serve.
Tips and tricks
- Toast the orzo - This is optional, but toasting the dry orzo in a hot and dry skillet for 30 seconds to 1 minute gives the pasta a warm, nutty flavor.
- To check the chicken is cooked through - A meat thermometer is the best way to tell when the chicken is done cooking. You’ll know it’s ready when the internal temperature is 165ºF.
- If the broth absorbs before the orzo is cooked, add ¼ cup of broth to the skillet and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat the process until your pasta is al dente.
- Deglaze with white wine - After sauteing the aromatics, add a generous splash of white wine to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding the broth and orzo. The wine is bright and punchy, adding another dynamic flavor element to the meal.
This chicken and orzo dish is excellent with freshly grated parmesan cheese and cilantro on top. It’s satisfying and well-balanced, but serving it with a side of vegetables is never a bad idea!
It goes great with:
- Roasted broccoli
- Roasted asparagus
- Roasted vegetable salad
- Sauteed zucchini
- Maple glazed green beans
- Sauteed spinach
- Cauliflower mashed potatoes
- Garlic butter mushrooms
To store: Let any leftovers cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
To reheat: You can reheat the mushroom orzo in a skillet over medium heat or in the microwave in 30-second intervals. If the consistency is too thick, add a splash of broth to loosen it up.
Looking for more easy family dinners?
- Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies
- Classic Pot Roast
- Sheet Pan Hawaiian Shrimp
- Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Mushroom Orzo
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 2 oz pancetta
- ½ onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup cremini or shiitake mushrooms sliced
- 8 oz sweet pimento or preserved peppers
- 1 cup gluten-free orzo
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups kale
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tablespoon oregano
- ½ cup coconut milk or cream (optional)
- ½ lemon juice
- fresh cilantro
- Season chicken with salt, pepper and oregano. Set aside
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron skillet then add in pancetta. Sauté for 1-2 minutes then push it aside.
- Add chicken skin side down and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side. If your chicken is thin cook for 4-6 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate along with toasted pancetta.
- To the skillet add remaining 1 tablespoon oil along with onion, garlic and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring often until vegetables are soften. Add in sweet pimento and sauté for another couple minutes.
- Next add in orzo and broth, give it a good stir. Nestle in the chicken, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until orzo is cooked through.
- When orzo is cooked, once again removed the chicken from skillet. Add kale and a splash of lemon juice. If you want more of a creamy orzo add coconut milk or cream if not dairy-free. Stir well. Add chicken back into the skillet. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
Mary Ann Seltzer says
Silvia Dunnirvine says
You're welcome Mary!