Cajun chicken orzo is an easy weeknight dinner that packs a ton of flavor. Tender, juicy, chicken breast is cooked in cajun seasoning then served on top of a creamy cajun orzo cooked in the pan juices. Everyone is going to love this delicious spicy meal which only takes 30 minutes to make.Jump to Recipe
Cajun chicken is a huge favorite of ours but it’s even better served over orzo. This recipe is great because it’s not overwhelming by salt and spice. Since we make the cajun seasoning homemade everything can be adjusted to fit your family’s taste buds best. This recipe is the ultimate comfort food but it’s not too heavy. It’s the perfect balance and I’m excited for you to try it.
Reasons You’ll Love Cajun Chicken Orzo
- It’s perfect for weeknights because you only need 30 minutes to make it
- Don’t want to do a ton of dishes tonight? You don’t have to, it's a one pot meal and everything can be made in your skillet (don’t forget the lid for the orzo). The one pan cajun orzo is extremely simple and easy to make.
- Have kids that are sensitive to spice? Don’t worry, when you make your own cajun seasoning you can control the amount of spice added.
- There is a dairy free option for those who are trying to avoid dairy. It’s not stuffed with heavy cream or parmesan which is great for those who are also trying to cut back on extra calories.
Ingredients to Make Cajun Chicken Orzo
Of course you’ll need chicken. This recipe calls for 1lb for this recipe and found that was enough for 4 servings. I chose to use chicken breasts. I prefer a more lean piece for this however, using boneless chicken thighs would be very good and flavorful! You’ll also need vegetable oil for sautéing the cajun chicken of course.
For the cajun seasoning you can choose to either use a store-bought blend or use the recipe I’ve included to make your own. Feel free to adjust the heat by using less or no cayenne. If you’re choosing to make your own you’ll need:
- smoked paprika
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- black pepper
For the orzo
- tomato paste
- green bell pepper
- chicken stock
- salt to taste
Is There a Dairy Free Option?
There is a dairy free option and yes you can still have an extremely flavorful creamy cajun chicken orzo without dairy. No heavy cream or freshly grated parmesan cheese are used in this recipe, only milk. If you’re looking for a dairy alternative you can substitute a non-dairy milk or chicken broth. I have made this recipe with regular and non-dairy milk and I can’t tell the difference. Both regular and non-dairy milk provide a creamy texture for the orzo. You don’t have to compromise on flavor with this option. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Homemade vs Store-bought Cajun Seasoning
Cajun seasoning is such a popular flavor blend that can be made so many different ways. Making it homemade is my favorite way of using cajun seasoning because it allows me to dig into my spice drawer but I can also control the amount of salt and cayenne pepper I add. This is especially useful for families with small kids who can’t take the amount of spice that store-bought blends contain.
If you don’t have a well established spice drawer consider building it with the ingredients to make the cajun seasoning. Each ingredient is extremely versatile and can be used in multiple recipes. In fact, these are the ones I use most often!
When you buy a store-bought cajun seasoning you may notice the first ingredient is usually salt and yes they are salty. If using a pre-made blend for this recipe I recommend that you use a low sodium or non-salted chicken broth because you can always add salt but it’s much harder to get rid of once it’s in the recipe.
The homemade recipe below is not over salted and does not contain too much spice. Feel free to make adjustments as you see fit. After you’ve mixed all the ingredients in a small bowl, give it a taste and see if you would prefer more salt or cayenne.
What is Orzo?
Orzo is our favorite type of pasta lately. It’s also known as risoni and has a short shape that’s similar to rice. It’s typically made from flour but can be made from whole grain. Orzo pasta cooks similarly to rice in the sense that you cook it until all the liquid is absorbed. Traditional pasta is different in the sense that you boil and then drain the extra liquid after the pasta is cooked.
How to Make Cajun Chicken Orzo Recipe
Step 1: If you’re making your own cajun seasoning combine all ingredients for the spice blend into a small bowl. Season all sides of the chicken breasts with half of the cajun seasoning and set aside.
Step 2: Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Once heated, add the chicken and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken then cook for about 3 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Remove from the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
Step 3: In the same pan add the bell peppers, onion, garlic, and the remaining cajun seasoning. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the onion starts to turn translucent. You may need to add a dash of chicken broth to deglaze the pan if you notice your veggies starting to brown too much.
Step 4: Add the orzo and cook until toasted. About 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, chicken broth, milk, and an extra touch of salt to taste. Stir until well combined. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed. This should take about 12-15 minutes.
Step 5: Once done, slice the cajun chicken and add to the orzo. Garnish with parsley and green onion.
What to Serve with this Cajun Orzo Recipe
If you’re looking for some healthy side dishes to serve with this delicious cajun chicken orzo you’ll definitely want to try these!
Storing Cajun Chicken Orzo
Have left overs? No worries storing is easy. After the cajun chicken orzo has cooled place in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Simply reheat by microwaving for 30 seconds at a time being sure to stir well so it heats evenly. This is not a freezer friendly meal as the orzo can develop a weird texture upon thawing. Consider meal prepping this meal for work or school.
Cajun Chicken Orzo
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning see recipe below
- 1 lb Chicken
- 2 tablespoons Vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
- 1 cup Orzo
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon salt
- If you’re making your own cajun seasoning, combine all ingredients in a small bowl until fully combined. Season the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning. Make sure all sides are coated. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Once heated, add the chicken and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken then cook for about 3 minutes on the other side or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same pan, without cleaning it out, add the bell pepper, onion, garlic and remaining 1 tablespoon of cajun seasoning. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent. You may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of chicken broth to deglaze the pan if your pan dries out too much.
- Add orzo and cook until toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste, chicken stock, milk, and an extra pinch of salt to taste. Stir until well combined. Bring to a simmer, cover the skillet, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed. About 12-15 minutes.
- Slice the cooked chicken breasts and add to the orzo. Top with parsley and green onion for garnish. Serve warm.