With one simple method, you can make the best Orzo Pasta Salad using your family’s favorite ingredients and dressing. This is infinitely flexible, it stores well so you can make it ahead, and it’s great cold or at room temperature.

Orzo pasta salad in two bowls.

Fresh, fast, and so yummy, this Orzo Pasta Salad is a fast vegetarian main dish or side to share with the kids. It’s so versatile, too, and easy to make for a potluck, party, or easy weeknight dinner. I love making this with classic Italian flavors and using small orzo pasta as a fun texture contrast with the fresh vegetables.

You can make this ahead of time and serve it up cold or at room temperature, according to your preference.

(You may also like my Easy Pasta Salad and my Pesto Pasta Salad.)

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Ingredients You Need

Here’s a look at the ingredients needed to make this pasta salad recipe so you know what to have on hand.

Ingredients for orzo pasta salad.
  • Orzo pasta: This small shape of pasta is similar in size to long-grain rice and a nice option for pasta salad. (You can also use a larger shape if you prefer.)
  • Cherry tomatoes: Any variety of cherry or grape tomatoes will work here to add texture, freshness, and acidity.
  • English cucumber: This variety of cucumber is nice since it has fewer seeds that are smaller and a thinner skin so you don’t have to peel them. If you only have a traditional cucumber, that is fine, too. If the peel is thick, feel free to peel it. 
  • Crumbled goat cheese: I like to add crumbed goat cheese to this, with its mild flavor. You can also use feta if your family enjoys it.
  • Red onion: Thinly sliced red onion adds nice flavor here and softens and mellows as it sits in the Italian dressing.
  • Italian dressing: This is my preferred dressing to use in this pasta salad recipe. As variations, you can also use Caesar Dressing or pesto.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Below is a preview of how to make this pasta recipe so you know what to expect from the process. Scroll down to the end of the post for the full amounts and timing.

how to make orzo pasta salad in grid of images.
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box. Let the pasta cool while you prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion.
  2. Add the ingredients for the dressing to a pint-size mason jar and shake to combine, or add to a small bowl and whisk with a fork.
  3. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl or storage container.
  4. Mix gently.
Orzo pasta salad in glass container.

How to Store

Store pasta salad in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Stir to serve cold or at room temperature.

Pasta salad may firm up a little as it sits in the fridge, so either let it sit at room temperature for a bit before serving or you can sprinkle with very hot water and toss to help loosen the mixture as needed.

Orzo pasta salad in blue bowl.

Best Tips for Success

  • Trade in an equal amount of pesto, bottled Italian dressing, or bottled Caesar dressing to change the flavor.
  • Add cooked, diced chicken; drained and rinsed white beans or chickpeas; or cooked and cooled shrimp to add more protein.
  • Add 1 cup each thinly sliced salami and/or black olives if desired.
  • Use gluten-free pasta as needed or another small shape of pasta.
  • Omit the cheese to make this dairy-free.
  • Use feta cheese instead of goat cheese if desired.

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Orzo pasta salad in two bowls.

Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe

With one simple method, you can make the best Orzo Pasta Salad using your family's favorite ingredients and dressing. This is infinitely flexible, it stores well so you can make it ahead, and it's great cold or at room temperature. (See the Notes for variations!)
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Cooling Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Dinner
Calories 473kcal
Servings 8 -10

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound orzo pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved lengthwise)
  • 1 medium English cucumber (sliced into half-moons; about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)

Italian Dressing

  • cup olive oil
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (from a jar or two cloves)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
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Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions on the box, making sure not to overcook. Drain.
  • Let the pasta cool while you prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion.
  • Add the ingredients for the dressing to a pint-size mason jar and shake to combine, or add to a small bowl and whisk with a fork.
  • Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl or storage container, mix gently to combine, and serve cold or at room temperature.
  • Season to taste with additional salt and oregano, as desired.

Notes

  • Store pasta salad in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Stir to serve cold or at room temperature.
  • Trade in an equal amount of pesto, bottled Italian dressing, or bottled Caesar dressing to change the flavor.
  • Add cooked, diced chicken; drained and rinsed white beans or chickpeas; or cooked and cooled shrimp to add more protein.
  • Add 1 cup each thinly sliced salami and/or black olives if desired.
  • Use gluten-free pasta as needed.
  • Omit the cheese to make this dairy-free.

Nutrition

Calories: 473kcal, Carbohydrates: 48g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 283mg, Potassium: 348mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 628IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 74mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Rate in the comments and tag @yummytoddlerfood on IG!

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  1. 5 stars
    Delicious and super easy!! Lots of pantry ingredients, plus some fresh veg – perfect for a weeknight side and lunches.