Fresh, vibrant and so easy to make, this cucumber lemon orzo salad is a perfect summer side dish. Full of flavor and it can be made ahead of time in minutes
This is such a great pasta side dish for all of your cookouts this summer! Cucumber lemon orzo salad is wonderfully fresh in flavor and works with so many grilled dishes. Easy to make with a few simple ingredients, everyone will be asking you for this recipe!
Ingredients to make lemon orzo salad
- Orzo pasta: Orzo is short cut pasta that looks like a large grain of rice. It’s also known as risoni and works wonderfully in salads.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is so much more flavorful than regular. If you are in a pinch, you can use regular, but go for the EVOO if you can.
- Lemon juice and zest: I use both the zest and juice for a really vibrant and bright lemony dish. Use fresh rather than bottled juice of the freshest and zingiest flavors.
- Persian cucumber: I like to use smaller Persian cucumbers as they have a thinner skin compared to English so they’re easier to chew and add a fresh color to the salad. You can use English if you can’t find Persian.
- Fresh dill and parsley: The fresh herbs really bring this dish alive. Dill and parsley work perfectly with the cucumber and lemon. You could also make this with fresh cilantro or basil if you’d like.
- Salt and pepper: Add the salt and pepper to taste.
- Feta cheese: The crumbled cheese is optional, but I love the creaminess it adds to each bite.
How to make the orzo salad
- Cook the orzo, drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.Make sure not to rinse the orzo.
- Drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest over the cooked orzo pasta and toss to combine.
- Set aside and chop the cucumbers and herbs.
- Add the cucumbers and herbs on top of the orzo salad.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, as needed and add the feta cheese if using. You can also add some olives or red onions, which both pair really well with the salad.
Tips for making lemon orzo salad
- Use fresh herbs and don’t substitute with dried ones. Because this salad has such limited ingredients, I highly recommend using fresh herbs to really make the flavor stand out. You can add or substitute though others like basil, chives or cilantro.
- Don’t rinse the cooked pasta. This will wash away the starch and all of those wonderful flavors won’t stick to it properly.
- Dress the orzo salad immediately after cooking. The heat from the pasta will help all of those flavors blend together and the orzo will absorb the flavors more easily.
- Chop everything finely. The ingredients will be easier to toss together and and none of the flavors will be too overpowering.
- Adjust the lemon juice as needed. I prefer equal parts lemon juice to olive oil but this may be too lemony for some, so feel free to start with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and adjust as need.
Frequently asked questions
This salad will keep well for up to 4 days when covered and stored in the fridge. When it sits, the flavors really develop, so you can make this ahead of time without worry.
Because this salad contains no mayo, you can enjoy it warm or cold. If you plan on serving it cold, let it sit covered in the fridge for about an hour.
More pasta salads
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Avocado Pasta Salad
- Sun-dried Tomato Pasta Salad
- Spinach Pasta Salad
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Cucumber Lemon Orzo Salad recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Cucumber Lemon Orzo Salad
- 8 ounces dried orzo pasta
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 5-6 Persian cucumbers diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Feta cheese for serving (optional)
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Drizzle the olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest over the cooked orzo pasta and toss to combine. Set aside while preparing the cucumbers and herbs.
- Add the diced cucumbers on top of the orzo salad along with the chopped dill and chopped parsley. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper, as needed. Add feta cheese, if desired.
- Enjoy warm immediately or cover and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.
- Use any short cut pasta instead of orzo.
- Use any red win vinegar or apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice; the acidity is important for flavoring the salad.
- Use any other fresh herbs instead of dill and parsley.