lemon basil orzo & chicken

This lemon basil orzo & chicken is incredible. I might be a little biased but, OH MY, what could be tastier?!

Even my husband says it’s his favorite meal besides “a big steak dinner” so I’ll take that as a major win! No matter your dietary preferences, there should be an option for you with this recipe!

creamy lemon basil orzo and chicken recipe

what is orzo?

If you aren’t familiar with Orzo, it’s a delicious type of pasta that is shaped similar to rice or another long grain. Fun Fact: Orzo means “barley” in Italian, and it can also be found by the name Risoni. Orzo is typically made with flour, meaning it is not gluten-free.

BUT I’ve listed out recipe modifications below for my gluten-free & vegetarian friends because the flavor of this dairy-free sauce is SO incredible that there should be an option for everyone!

Also, there are plenty of whole-wheat Orzo options out there if that’s something you prefer!

To learn more about orzo, click here.

what’s in this lemon basil orzo & chicken recipe?

Orzo: Like I mentioned above, the base of this recipe is orzo. Orzo is a pasta but similar in size and texture to a grain like rice. It’s not something I eat everyday, but in a recipe like this, it’s incredibly delicous!

Chicken: Juicy chicken tenderloins seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic. Omit for a vegetarian option.

Onions and Garlic: Always.

Chicken Broth: The liquid base, and gives a good added flavor. You can also substitute a tablespoon of bouillon and water.

Coconut Milk: Gives that beautiful creamy textures. I promise there isn’t even a slight hint of coconut in this, it’s solely for texture!

White wine vinegar: For flavor and tang.

Lemon Juice: Lemon flavor, duh!

Ghee: Cooking fat for the onions and garlic, adds a touch of unique flavor as well. You can definitely substitute olive oil here as well.

Fresh Basil: Herbs for added flavor. Basil paired with lemon is one of my FAVORITE pairings.

creamy lemon basil orzo and chicken recipe

creamy lemon basil orzo & chicken

Lexi Finke
This recipe is a super simple yet satifying meal that can be made in 40 minutes or less. Creamy lemon basil sauce with orzo pasta, and juicy chicken tenderloins! Perfection 😉
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people


  • 8-10 oz chicken tenderloins seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 2.5 cups dry orzo
  • 1 yellow or white onion diced
  • 1.5 tbsp ghee or butter
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • juice from 1-2 lemons to taste, personal preference. I use 2
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar optional
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca starch optional, if leaving out orzo
  • 2 tbsp water optional, if leaving out orzo


  • Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken tenderloins to the pan and season with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Some smaller tenderloins will cook quicker than others- cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Once cooked, set aside.
  • Cook the orzo on the stove to package instructions. Boil the water first. Once boiling, add the orzo. Orzo has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pan when boiling, so lightly spray the bottom of the pan with non-stick cooking spray or stir occasionally. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  • Now, let’s make the sauce. In a skillet, heat ghee (or butter), and add the diced onion. Soften the onion, and once softened, add the minced garlic and sautee with onion until fragrant. Next, add the broth, coconut milk, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice.
  • Add chopped basil, and seasonings. Let simmer for a few minutes until the sauce simmers and thickens, then add orzo. Mix until all orzo is coated in the sauce. Lastly, add cooked chicken to the top of the orzo and garnish with fresh basil leaves, lemon slices, and parsley. Enjoy!

cooking instructions without orzo (for gluten-free):

  • Cook the chicken tenderloins to the above instructions. Cook the sauce to the above instructions but add 1 tablespoon of arrowroot or tapioca starch (cornstarch will work as well) mixed with 2 tablespoons water in addition to the rest of the ingredients.
  • When using the orzo, it absorbs the majority of the sauce. Adding the arrowroot or tapioca starch will thicken the sauce since there is no orzo to absorb the liquid.
  • Add the cooked chicken tenderloins to the sauce and garnish with basil, lemon slices, or dried parsley.
  • Serve the chicken by itself with the lemon basil sauce, with rice, or even a salad on the side. Enjoy!

cooking instructions for vegetarian friends:

  • Simply leave out the chicken and substitute a vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth. The orzo and sauce in this recipe are so tasty and super satisfying even without the chicken!
Keyword creamy lemon basil orzo and chicken, lemon basil orzo, lemon basil orzo and chicken, orzo recipes
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