This orzo salad recipe is perfect for summer picnics and cookouts! Feta cheese, olives, and a zingy Greek dressing fill it with bold flavor.
If you need a last-minute side dish for a cookout or picnic this weekend, make this orzo salad recipe! It’s fresh and flavorful, easy to put together, and, like any good picnic salad, perfect for making ahead. Toss it together a few hours to a day before a summer gathering, and it’ll still taste great when you’re ready to eat.
But even if you’re not planning a cookout this weekend (or if your menu’s all set to go), stash this orzo salad recipe in your back pocket anyway. Because it keeps so well, it’s a great recipe to pack for lunch. Crispy cucumbers and juicy tomatoes play off briny olives and salty, tangy feta cheese. The orzo pasta and chickpeas make it nice and filling, and a zingy Greek dressing ties it all together. De-licious.
Orzo Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this orzo pasta salad recipe:
- Orzo, of course! I love the way this tiny pasta shape mixes and mingles with the other ingredients.
- Cherry tomatoes – For sweet, juicy pops of flavor.
- Persian cucumbers – They add a cool, refreshing crunch.
- Red onion – Slice these guys as thinly as you can. I recommend using a mandoline if you have one!
- Kalamata olives – Their salty, briny flavor contrasts with the fresh herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
- Feta cheese – Skip the pre-crumbled feta for this recipe. Instead, look for feta that comes in a block, preferably in brine. Its flavor and texture are SO much better. You’ll never get the crumbled kind again!
- Chickpeas – I love garbanzo beans with Mediterranean ingredients like feta and olives, so I couldn’t resist tossing them into this orzo salad. They make it more substantial too.
- Greek salad dressing – In this orzo salad, I make the dressing extra-bright by whisking in an additional tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a big squeeze of lemon juice.
- Fresh mint and/or basil – Pick just one, or use a mix.
- And sea salt and fresh black pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
Cook the orzo, and dice up the veggies, feta, and olives while it cools.
Then, whisk up the dressing and toss it all together. Making this orzo salad recipe is as simple as that!
Orzo Salad Recipe Tips
- Cook the pasta a little past al dente. Whenever I make a pasta salad, I cook the pasta just past al dente, so that it stays tender after it cools.
- And let it cool before you add the veggies. If you toss the hot orzo with the tomatoes, cucumber, and onion, they’ll begin to wilt. Instead, drain the cooked orzo, dress it with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking, and spread it in an even layer on a large baking sheet to cool. When it reaches room temperature, proceed with the recipe.
- Make it ahead. You can make this orzo salad recipe up to a day in advance, but save the herbs to add at the last minute. If they sit in the dressing for too long, they’ll wilt, so it’s best to toss them in right before you eat. The salad may also dry out a bit in the fridge. If you think it needs more moisture, loosen it with a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
Orzo Salad Serving Suggestions
This orzo salad recipe is a perfect side dish for summer picnics and cookouts. Pair it with other cookout sides like grilled corn on the cob or grilled veggies, broccoli salad, potato salad, and/or coleslaw. If you need a main dish, try making one of these recipes:
- Best Veggie Burger
- Easy Black Bean Burger
- BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches
- Portobello Mushroom Burger
- Chickpea Salad Sandwich
If you have any leftovers, save them for lunch the next day. Thanks to the orzo, chickpeas, feta, and olives, the salad makes a light, yet satisfying, meal on its own.
More Favorite Pasta Salad Recipes
If you love this orzo salad recipe, try one of these fresh pasta salads next:
- Easy Pasta Salad
- Cherry Tomato Couscous Salad
- Vegan Pasta Salad
- Broccoli Pasta Salad
- Easy Macaroni Salad
- Or any of these 37 Best Salad Recipes!
- 1½ cups dry orzo pasta
- 1 recipe Greek Salad Dressing
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 Persian cucumbers, halved vertically, and sliced ¼-inch thick
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained, and rinsed
- 4 ounces feta cheese, cut into ¼-inch cubes
- ⅓ cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½ cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 cup fresh basil and/or mint leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions, or until slightly past al dente. Drain the orzo and toss it with a little olive oil, so that it doesn’t stick together. Spread onto a baking sheet to cool.
- Prepare the Greek Salad Dressing and add in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, and sea salt.
- In a large bowl, toss together the cooked orzo, cucumbers, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta, red onion, and olives. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, add half the herbs, season with freshly ground black pepper, and toss to coat. Garnish with the remaining herbs and serve.
The Rainbow Orzo Salad (under 37 best salads) doesn’t go correctly to the recipe. It goes to one without the mango.
Hi Janice, good catch! We updated that recipe recently and missed it in the round up post.
Fantastic. I didn’t have ozro so I used quinoa instead (cooked in my instant pot using vegetable broth) and topped it with chicken seasoned with Greek seasoning.
I’m so glad you loved it!
can i use dill instead of basil or mint?
Yep, you can!
Great recipe that I make time and time again. I toast pistachios as well to top.
Love this salad. I did use bottled hreek dressing. So good
This is SOOOOOOO delicious…. My kids and I devoured it. 🥰
So glad you loved it!
How long does this last in the fridge?
Hi Kaytie, about 3-4 days.
If this makes 6 servings, how much would be in 1 serving? I followed the measurements.
Hi Ciara, We estimate that this recipe would serve six as a light main or hearty side, but we don’t have an exact measurement for a serving size.
I don’t have the red wine vinegar in the house. Can I substitute with balsamic vinegar?
Hi Florentina, I would use white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice instead if you have one of those ingredients. I think balsamic could work too, it’s just a stronger, sweeter flavor.
perfect side dish to a steak!
Delicious! Used only mint. People liked the dressing!
Made this for a bbq picnic and it was a big hit! Great flavors. Thanks so much!
I’m so glad it was a hit!
Made it and we devoured it before taking a photo. Then made it for another family, they LOVED it. Whoops forgot to take a photo again. So, besides being unanimously determined as delicious, it is quite a pretty and colorful dish. Thank you!
I’m so glad it’s been such a hit!
so you add in the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, and sea salt and then also put the Dressing in the salad?
yes, that’s additional, sorry for the confusion, I’ll write that out more clearly.
can i make this a day ahead?
I made this as a side for a birthday party and it was a hit. Light and refreshing for summer months. Even my husband, who never eats cucumbers, enjoyed it!! Added green pepper and used parsley as the fresh herb. Will definitely make this again. Thanks for sharing.
I’m so glad it was such a hit!
I made this as a side to lemon pepper grilled chicken and it was perfect! I only used mint (no basil) and found that to be very refreshing. The whole family enjoyed it. I will definitely be making again.
I’m so glad everyone loved it!
This is so yummy!! Thank you! We just got an air fryer so I cooked the canned chickpeas in the air fryer before tossing them in the salad and love the crunch!
I’m so glad you loved it!