Pesto Orzo Salad

pesto orzo salad in bowl with two spoons.

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This orzo salad with pesto is so easy to make in only about 20 minutes! It's filled to the brim with fresh flavors from tomatoes, cucumbers, and torn basil. A hint of lemon brightens the pesto flavor and brings a summery note to this delicious pasta salad.


Units Scale
  • 12 ounces (340 g) dry orzo pasta (2 cups)
  • 1 cup (240 g) pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 1/2 cups (240 g) grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup (125 g) Kalamata olives
  • 1 cup (150 g) cubed English cucumber (about 1/2 cucumber)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons (15 - 30 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 cup (20 g) lightly-packed fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Set a large pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, add a few large pinches of salt. Cook the orzo "al dente," according to the package directions.
  2. While waiting for the water to come to a boil, and while the orzo is cooking, cut the grape tomatoes in half and cube the cucumber. If desired, cut the olives in half or roughly chop them. Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives to a large bowl.
  3. When the orzo is finished cooking, drain it and rinse it under cool water. Add the drained orzo to the bowl with the other salad ingredients.
  4. Add the pesto and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice to the salad. Stir well to combine. Taste the salad and add more lemon juice if desired, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir again.
  5. Tear the basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and add to the salad, stir gently to combine. Serve immediately or cover and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.


If you don't have an English cucumber, you can substitute a regular cucumber that has been peeled. If the seeds are particularly large, you can scoop them out before cubing.

Due to the fresh basil, the orzo salad will taste best when served the same day or the next day. If you want to make the salad earlier, you can choose to add the fresh basil right before serving. The orzo salad will keep for a total of 3 - 4 days. (Store the orzo salad in a covered container in the fridge.) 

The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brand and exact amounts of ingredients used. This nutrition estimate should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full disclosure policy.


Keywords: pesto orzo salad, orzo salad with pesto