Orzo Risotto with Shrimp, Peas & Bacon

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Rice-shaped orzo is cooked like risotto in this easy, one-pot pasta dish.

In this easy one-pot recipe, rice-shaped orzo pasta is cooked like risotto, an Italian dish of rice slowly cooked in broth with other ingredients like meat, seafood, and vegetables. However, unlike traditional risotto, orzo “risotto” doesn’t require constant tending to and stirring – all of the broth is added at once and the pasta cooks almost unattended. My starting point for the recipe was a simple shrimp and orzo risotto from The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, but I added crispy bacon, peas, and Creole seasoning to amp up the flavor and give the dish a little Southern flair.

What You’ll Need To Make Orzo Risotto with Shrimp, Peas & Bacon

orzo risotto ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat and add the bacon.

adding bacon to pot

Cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
sizzling bacon

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion.

cooking onionsCook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Do not brown.

adding garlic

Stir in the orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes.

toasting the orzo

Stir in the broth, salt, pepper, and Cajun/Creole seasoning and bring to a boil.
boiling broth

Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring once midway through, until the orzo is creamy and nearly tender, about 10 minutes.

creamy orzo

Stir the shrimp and peas into the orzo.

adding shrimp and peas to the pot

Cover and cook over low heat until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the orzo is tender, about 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the lemon juice, and chives. Right before serving, stir in the crispy bacon.

adding the bacon and chives

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then spoon into bowls and serve.

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Orzo Risotto with Shrimp, Peas & Bacon

Rice-shaped orzo is cooked like risotto in this easy, one-pot pasta dish.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 slices (5 oz) bacon, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups orzo
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning, such as Emeril's Essence
  • 2 pounds extra-large (21/25) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup frozen green peas (no need to thaw)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Melt one tablespoon of the butter in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Do not brown. Stir in the orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, salt, pepper, and Cajun/Creole seasoning and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring once midway through, until the orzo is nearly tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir the shrimp and peas into the orzo (it will be quite creamy/brothy at this point; that's normal). Cover and cook over low heat until the shrimp are opaque throughout and the orzo is tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Off the heat, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, the lemon juice, and chives. Right before serving, stir in the crispy bacon. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, then spoon into bowls and serve.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 639
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 50 g
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 49 g
  • Sodium: 1,868 mg
  • Cholesterol: 322 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This was fantastic. Easy, fresh,and flavorful. I made it as a side with chicken spiedini, so I left the shrimp out.

    • — Kathy Brockland on May 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another winner! I’m becoming more courageous substituting ingredients I don’t immediately have on hand, though I prefer to follow the recipe to a T the first time I make it. This time I did not have Cajun seasoning so I used Old Bay and substituted pancetta for bacon. I also added asparagus as I had them on hand. I did not use all the leftover grease from cooking the pancetta; used maybe 2 tbsp. Turned out awesome and my husband loved it! Thank you, Jenn.

    • — Lulu on May 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this twice now halving it, delicious and simple to make. I’m elderly and look for less time in the kitchen recipes. If you ever do a book for one or two servings I will be first in line to purchase. Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for recipes such as this.
    Thank you for your great blog.

    • — Beryl Kerr on April 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • My family and I enjoyed this (even better the next day) but it was rather soupy. I live at an elevation over 7000 ft, which is probably the problem, or was I supposed to drain the bacon fat out of the pot? I left it in to sauté the onions with. Will try again, pasta takes forever at this elevation.

    • — Christy on April 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Christy, Glad you enjoyed this but sorry to hear it was a little soupy (and I’d love to say whether or not the elevation had an impact, but I don’t know enough about it to weigh in). You did the right thing by leaving the bacon fat in the pot.

      • — Jenn on April 30, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn, 2 pounds isn’t too much?

    • — Ally O'Connor on April 29, 2021
    • Reply
    • I’m assuming you’re referring to the shrimp? If so, the 2 pounds work well with the other ratios in the recipe. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2021
      • Reply
      • Oops, should have said shrimp! Yes, and thanks Jenn!! Can’t wait to make it!

        • — Ally O'Connor on April 30, 2021
        • Reply
  • I’m sorry to write that this recipe won’t earn a place in our rotation. It sounded so yummy, but we didn’t find it that flavorful. We did not get a layering of flavor. There was heat from the creole spice, but there just wasn’t any depth of flavors. I agree with others that the broth wasn’t completely absorbed, though we were okay with that. I just served it in bowls. Jenn, we have loved most of the recipes we have tried but unfortunately not this one.

    • — Beryl on April 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn …
    I haven’t logged on in a while (we have horses and occasionally go on long horse treks in the high country in the Sierras-we live in Cali).

    I was so excited to see this recipe waiting for me in my emails!

    Currently my pantry has a choice of traditional white rice or Arborio rice.
    Would either of these work? I’d like to make this for tonight’s dinner.
    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • — Lisa on April 28, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lisa, I think I’m too late to help for last night’s dinner – sorry! Unfortunately, neither traditional or arborio rice would work here. Now at least you have time to get some orzo! 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this last night and it was another winner. The only thing I did differently was marinate the shrimp in oil, cajun seasoning and salt beforehand. I then broiled the shrimp for a short time – I’ve had not so good experiences in the past with adding the raw, unseasoned shrimp to other recipes and we’ve never liked how it turned out. So I thought I would try this out and it was yum! I still added the same amount of cajun seasoning to the broth/orzo mixture, not taking into account the marinated shrimp, so the dish came out spicy for me and the kids, but my husband loved it. So that would be the only thing I would do different next time. I added the broiled shrimp and let it cook per the recipe and the texture was perfect. Thanks again Jen! I’ve also preordered your next cookbook – can’t wait to get it! Loved the first one!

    • — Anita on April 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was really good! My Cajun seasoning has salt in it, so I left out the added salt. My only other change was using thawed, precooked shrimp, because I was feeling lazy. It worked great!

    • — Susan R. on April 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • I followed the recipe as presented and it was delicious! This dish had wonderful flavor and texture; it was another winning recipe and we’ll definitely be making it again.

    • — Kathryn on April 25, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe sounds so good on paper, it was easy to follow and finished well. However I felt it lacked flavor and therefore was mediocre. I could elevate this but I have several other go-to shrimp dishes. I appreciate your sharing Jenn.

    • — Jude on April 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Yum! Made this last night and enjoyed it very much. It had a nice smoky heat with the creole seasoning. Thanks for another great recipe that I will be adding to my rotation!

    • — Nicole S on April 24, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great recipe but the title was really misleading. I wanted to make this for my elderly parents and my one year old who loves risotto but my dad with health conditions who can not see wound up making this and added the spices. I had no idea, I printed the recipe based on your title and description. It bothered my elderly parents and gave my one year old a stomach ache! Other than that I loved it and my Indian husband will too but please next time be more clear in the title for the unassuming elderly people!

    • — Marie on April 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Correction: Orzo!

      • — Marie Patricia on April 24, 2021
      • Reply
    • Delicious! Made as written
      No need to adjust a thing
      What size Dutch oven do you use?

      • — Kim Moore on April 25, 2021
      • Reply
      • So glad you liked it! That’s a 5.5-quart Dutch oven.

        • — Jenn on April 26, 2021
        • Reply
  • I am not a fan of butter. I bake with it, but I will try to avoid it if possible in cooking because I don’t the smell or taste. Can I substitute olive oil?

    • — Cindy Dorfman on April 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Cindy, that should be fine. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • Jenn,

    You are my “go to” when I want to try something new. I made this on Sunday evening for friends and it is definitely a keeper. I followed the directions exactly as written and it turned out perfect. It was quick and easy, simple yet yummy with lots of flavor. Thanks!

    • — Dawn on April 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • Disappointed with this dish.

    • — Tish on April 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for dinner last night and I am having the leftovers for lunch today! Excellent recipe. This is going into my regular rotation!

    • — Darlene on April 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    Made this dish tonite and for some reason after the last 5minutes of cooking time for the added shrimp, the orzo was creamy and tender, but not all the shrimp were cooked through—and the mixture was quite watery; I simmered it covered for an additional 3-4 minutes and the shrimp were cooked, but the mixture still remained remained pretty “liquid-y”? Your photo looks pretty “well-absorbed.” Also, could you recommend a different seasoning profile that is less spicy than creole? Would herbs de Provence work here? Same amount? Also, would pancetta work in lieu of the bacon? And any suggestions for making the risotto less wet, without over-cooking the shrimp? Thanks so much; the flavors are great, but I would like to improve my texture😌.
    Elise

    • — Elise on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Elise, sorry to hear you had a bit of a problem getting this to cook evenly. I’m wondering if perhaps the heat on your stove was a little too low; next time I’d try increasing the heat to medium-low. You could also reduce the liquid just a bit. Additionally, I’ve read the different brands of orzo can behave slightly differently – I’ve had good luck with Barilla.

      Yes, herbs de Provence would definitely work here (or any spice of your choosing, really). And the same amount would be fine. Last, pancetta would also work nicely in place of bacon. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • Husband said this was the best thing he has eaten in weeks.

    • — Nicole on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made as indicated using whole wheat orzo in a Dutch oven. Not sure why the liquid was not absorbed but I ended up with a very soupy version. Very flavorful though.

    • — Niki on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is delicious!! The whole family loved it!

    • — Barb, BC on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another 5 star recipe!! I wasn’t sure about the combination of flavors but I’ve learned to trust the Chef….this one is sooo good.

    I follow a lower fat diet so I modified the recipe a bit, I completely drained the bacon grease from the pot and wiped it out then added back in about 1/3 of a tablespoon of butter and 2/3 tablespoon of bacon grease. I didn’t add any additional butter at the end. The result was still beautifully creamy and full of flavor and much lower in fat. I’m going to keep this one in my regular rotation! It would also make an awesome side dish alongside a grilled steak which is how I plan to serve it next.

    Thanks Jenn!

    • — Diana Matthew on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Just made this without the bacon and added celery and yellow pepper to the onion – it was easy, tasty and will be added to the rotation!

    • — Mae Brown on April 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • I divided the recipe in half for two/three portions. To do next time; absolutely no butter or salt is to be added as it is not needed. The bacon grease left over alone after cooking the bacon, will do an amazing job in cooking both onion and garlic. I’m not sure which brand of Orzo pasta you will use, but mine looked larger and off white in color, and that was even before it went into the pot, compared to the finished picture. After adding the broth-(1/2 cup less next time -too soupy)and Cajun seasoning, 10 minutes later the orzo darkened up more. Shrimp and peas next, definitely needs more than 5 minutes to cook as the temperature of the broth dropped considerably from its low simmer and 6 minutes later, peas were still a little hard. Next time I will use the petite ones. Should not have added the butter at the end, like I mentioned before, not necessary, the chive and lemon was a nice touch though. The carb/protein content were ok, the sodium levels were in the roof! Please check content, it is for one serving!

    • — Libby on April 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I love your recipes!! I was just diagnosed with celiac disease, so am looking for a substitute for the orzo. Would arborio rice work, or would something else be better? thank you!

    • — Sarah on April 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sarah, Unfortunately, this won’t work with risotto as it would require a different cooking method. You could give this a try with gluten-free orzo though. While it’s a pretty different recipe, you may want to give this risotto recipe a try. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 19, 2021
      • Reply
    • Dear Sarah, I would recommend that you go to celiac.org to view all for food you can Safely eat and more importantly, food to avoid!
      Commercial Chicken Broth contains Brewer’s Yeast and the Sodium levels alone is another reason you should avoid it.
      Hope you are managing after your new diagnosis.

      • — Libby on April 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • You’re a genius; best shrimp recipe EVER! Everyone loves it so much!

    • — Mary From Georgia on April 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Très bonne recette! facile à faire.

    • — LYNN (QUÉBEC) on April 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a winner. I made it with a few modifications. Eliminated the peas as neither of us are a big fan. I reduced the butter to make it a bit healthier. It still was rich, possibly because we make our own chicken stock which is richer than commercial. Also felt the Cajun seasoning and cheese added just enough salt, for our tastes at least. I loved that the shrimp could just be cooked in the orzo. Next time I may steep the shrimp shells in the stock for a bit before beginning.

    • — Kathie on April 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. What diameter of pot would you recommend to make a half order? I have a Dutch oven that looks smaller than yours, but I’m not sure how much smaller. Looking forward to trying it. I love this kind of thing.

    Jim

    • — Jim on April 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jim, I’d recommend a 3-1/2 to 4-quart pot or Dutch oven. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 19, 2021
      • Reply
  • Absolutely wonderful Jenn

    • — Dennis on April 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another winner, & perfect recipe, Jenn. So simple and a great weeknight recipe and the flavors, well, it was like a party in my mouth! Here is the best part, I had to pick someone up from the airport @ 8pm and then I wanted dinner on the table quickly after returning home. So, I prepared this dish up to the point of having toasted the Orzo. When I got back home from the airport, I microwaved the chicken broth while getting the pot with Orzo back up to temperature. Then, Viola, an awesome dinner on the plate in under 20 minutes from getting in the house. Aside from how well this worked out, practically speaking, the DISH IS PHENOMENAL. I added a little extra stock so it wouldn’t all absorb and the extra “gravy” was a nice touch. So flavorful.

    • — lawrence J schwarz on April 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Risotto literally means rice. Interesting titling choice.

    • — Derek Chauvin on April 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Good morning Jenn, wondering if I can use shallots instead of the onion. If so how much. Thanks in advance,

    • — ARLENE NELSON on April 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Arlene, and I’d use the same amount. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was fantastic, and easy to make with stuff I usually have on hand. Thank you!

    • — Lynne on April 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious!!!! I added steamed asparagus to the dish but otherwise followed the recipe as is! My son loved it and I’m sure it will be a staple moving forward since it was so tasty and easy!!! Thank you, Jenn!

    • — jane on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Do you think one could sub some other vegetable? Okra maybe? Not a fan of peas. TIA.

    • — Michael on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Michael – depending on which vegetable you use (and whether it is fresh or frozen), you may need to add it a bit earlier in the cooking process so it cooks through.

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this recipe for dinner tonight and everyone loved it! It will be a family favorite for years to come! I really appreciate the wonderful recipes you post!
    Thanks Jen!!

    • — Tammy Aden on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • I was excited to make this and have had such great luck with most of Jen’s recipes. Smelled great, but family just did not love it. Won’t be making this one again.

    • — Becky on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this today with Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous mix instead of orzo and it was delicious. Just happened to have most of the ingredients so with a few improvisations I didn’t need to go shopping.

    • — Susan L. on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was so delicious .. already have visions of serving to friends and family … perhaps add mussels.. chorizo …. yumm
    Thank you Jenn

    • — Dulcie Blyth on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband and I don’t eat pork, chicken or beef. Would skipping the bacon drastically alter the flavor of this recipe? Or can I add additional seasoning to compensate? Other than that, it sounds delicious!

    • — Sue VanDeventer on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sue, It will still be delicious without the bacon. You’ll need an additional tablespoon of butter in the beginning to cook the onions and garlic; you’ll also need to increase the salt to 3/4 teaspoon. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
      • Reply
    • Dear Sue,
      Personally, I would replace the butter and bacon for your very best Olive Oil for sautéing the onion and garlic, you will not have the smokyness that the bacon imparts but I feel this isn’t not what first attracted you to the recipe. I would recommend using Vegetable boullion powder, frozen petite peas and then tossing everything with lemon juice and chopped parsley just before serving.

      • — Libby on April 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can I use frozen shrimp?

    • — Paula on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Paula – that’s what I use (but defrost it first).

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
      • Reply
      • This recipe sounds great! I have cooked frozen shrimp in my freezer. Can I use that instead of uncooked?

        • — Jane on April 15, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Jane, I think you could get away with that here, but I’d put them in the pot for just the few minutes or so (so about 3 minutes after you add the peas) just so they can get heated through. Otherwise, they’ll be overcooked. Please LMK how it turns out!

          • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
          • Reply
          • Jenn – the pre-cooked frozen shrimp work just fine! I defrosted the cooked shrimp in cold water, rinsed and added during the last minute as you suggested. Another great and easy weeknight recipe..thanks!

            • — Jane on April 16, 2021
          • So glad it worked out — thanks for the follow-up!

            • — Jenn on April 16, 2021
  • Can this recipe be easily doubled?

    • — Marilyn on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, that should be fine as long as your pot is big enough. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – OK to just halve everything?
    Thanks. Chuck

    • — Chuck Klemballa on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Chuck, that should be fine, but you may want to go with a smaller pot. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
      • Reply
      • I love your recipes and have made many of your delicious dishes!! Question- could I substitute Old Bay for Cajun spices? Not a huge fan of cayenne pepper and wondering what a good substitute would be. Thanks!!

        • — Kathy on April 15, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Kathy, I do think Old Bay would be good here; I would add it to taste at the end to be sure you like it. Enjoy!

          • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
          • Reply
          • OMG!! Made this tonight and it was spectacular!! Thank you Jenn!!

            • — Kathy on April 18, 2021
  • Hello Jenn,
    I love your recipes. My children don’t eat shrimp. Can I substitute shrimp with salmon or chicken?

    • — Louise on April 15, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Louise – I would cook the salmon or chicken separately and add it at the end.

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
      • Reply
    • This recipe looks wonderful and happily, I actually have all the ingredients on hand. Just want to confirm: the weight for the shrimp before removing the shells, right? One of those questions I seem to rethink every time I make a shrimp dish!

      • — Karen on April 15, 2021
      • Reply
      • Yes, that’s correct. 🙂

        • — Jenn on April 15, 2021
        • Reply

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