Creamy Lemon Orzo With Salmon

This 20 Minute Creamy Lemon Orzo With Salmon is a culinary delight that brings together the comforting flavors of salmon, lemon, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and spinach. If you love creamy meals but don’t want to feel weighed down, this recipe is perfect for you! It’s quick, simple, and uses everyday ingredients to create a fresh and flavorful dish.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Quick & Easy: Ready in just 20 minutes, this meal is perfect for weeknight dinners.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Featuring light and zesty flavors, every ingredient is chosen to shine on its own while complementing others.
  • Versatile: You can adjust the lemon intensity or switch out the spinach for another leafy green.


  • Salmon: A nutrient powerhouse, salmon brings a tender texture and light flavor that perfectly melds with the creamy sauce.
  • Orzo: This small, rice-shaped pasta is a wonderful carrier for the light cream sauce, absorbing flavors and adding a delightful bite.
  • Lemons: A burst of freshness! Lemons cut through the richness of the sauce, providing a zesty edge that brightens the whole dish.
  • Parmesan Cheese: An Italian classic, Parmesan cheese lends a nutty, savory touch that deepens the overall flavor.
  • Shallots & Garlic: These aromatic vegetables add a robust undertone, forming the backbone of the sauce’s flavor.
  • Chicken Broth & Whole Milk: The perfect blend for a light yet creamy sauce. Chicken broth adds depth, while whole milk gives that creamy mouthfeel without being heavy.
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt + Pepper

Simple ingredients, right?

How To

  1. Cook the Salmon: Searing the salmon to perfection requires attention to detail. A golden crust locks in moisture, making every bite juicy.
  2. Sauté the Vegetables: Cooking the shallots and garlic until they’re fragrant and golden brown ensures they release their full flavor into the sauce.
  3. Build the Sauce: Careful whisking helps the flour blend smoothly with the liquid, avoiding lumps. The addition of spinach not only adds color but a subtle earthy flavor.
  4. Cook the Orzo: Simmering the orzo in the sauce allows it to soak up the delicious flavors, ensuring every bite is packed with taste.
  5. Combine: Folding in the flaked salmon carefully preserves its delicate texture. The lemon juice, zest, and Parmesan cheese pull all the elements together.
  6. Serve: Presentation matters! A sprinkle of fresh herbs or a lemon wedge can transform the dish from home-cooked to restaurant-worthy.


What other herbs can I add?

Basil, dill, or parsley would add a fresh touch.

Can I make it dairy-free?

Yes, replace whole milk with coconut milk and use dairy-free cheese.

What’s the best way to zest a lemon?

A microplane or the fine side of a box grater works best.

Chef’s Tips

Selecting the Right Ingredients

  • Salmon: Look for fresh or frozen wild-caught salmon. It should have a bright pink color and a fresh, ocean-like scent.
  • Orzo: Choose whole grain orzo for a nutritional boost, or gluten-free orzo if you’re catering to dietary preferences.
  • Lemons: Fresh lemons will give the best flavor. Look for ones that are bright yellow, firm, and heavy for their size.

Preparation Hacks

  • Zesting Lemons: Use a microplane for easy zesting. Be sure to zest only the yellow part, as the white pith can be bitter.
  • Salmon Cooking: To prevent overcooking, keep a close eye on the salmon. It should flake easily with a fork when done.
  • Garlic and Shallots: Mince them finely to distribute their flavor evenly through the sauce.

Cooking Techniques

  • Creating a Smooth Sauce: Whisk the flour in gradually and ensure that the liquids are well-incorporated to avoid any lumps.
  • Orzo Cooking: Stir occasionally while cooking the orzo to prevent sticking, and be mindful of the timing for an al dente texture.
  • Balancing Flavors: Taste and adjust the seasoning as you cook. More lemon juice can be added for extra tang, or more Parmesan for a richer flavor.

Presentation Ideas

  • Garnishing: A sprinkle of fresh herbs like parsley or chives, a lemon wedge, or even a sprinkle of red chili flakes can elevate the dish’s appearance.
  • Serving: Serve in a warm shallow bowl to showcase the beautiful colors and textures of the dish.

Alternative Ideas

  • Make It Dairy-Free: Swap whole milk with almond or coconut milk and use a vegan Parmesan substitute.
  • Adding Vegetables: You can toss in some cherry tomatoes or asparagus for extra color and nutrition.
  • Varying Protein: If you’re not a salmon fan, try shrimp or chicken as a substitute.

Pairing Suggestions

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20 Minute Creamy Lemon Orzo With Salmon

Sea Salt Savorings
This easy, simple ingredient, 20 Minute Creamy Lemon Orzo With Salmon is a fresh tasting meal.  With light hints of lemon and Parmesan cheese, this dinner is satisfyingly delicious.
5 from 32 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Servings 6


  • 3 tbsp salted butter divided
  • 1 lb salmon sliced into 1 inch filets
  • 1 shallots finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lemon juiced + 1 tsp zest
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt


  • Cook the salmon. Heat a large pan over medium heat.  Melt 2 tbsp of butter, then cook the salmon skin side down for 5 minutes.  Flip the salmon over and cook for another 5.   Remove from the pan, and let rest.
  • Sautè the vegetables. In the same pan, melt 1 tbsp of butter.  Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sautè for 2 minutes.
  • Build the sauce. Add flour to the pan, and stir to coat the garlic mixture.  Add milk, chicken broth, and spinach.  Bring the mixture to a light boil.
  • Cook the orzo. Add orzo to the pan, return it back to a light boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook according to package instructions or until al dente.
  • Combine the rest of the ingredients. Remove pan from heat once the orzo has cooked and stir in parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest, and salt. Slice the salmon into bite size pieces and discard the skin. Stir the salmon into the orzo.
  • Serve. Serve this orzo dish with more parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or chopped parsley. Mangia!


For a lighter lemon taste, use 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  

Nutrition values are estimates, for exact values consult a nutritionist.

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Recipe Rating


    1. sherry brubaker says:

      I can’t wait to hear how you like it!

  1. I had the ingredients on hand and decided to give it a try. This is a light and flavorful dish that was an instant hit with the family!

  2. Making right now for my family with some left over salmon from last night.

  3. Such an easy recipe and so delicious. Even my TODDLERS love it!

    1. sherry brubaker says:

      My toddlers do, too! High fives for healthy eating babies!