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Shrimp orzo salad is a light and vibrant summer salad filled with cooked shrimp, orzo pasta, fresh vegetables and herbs. It’s perfect for taking to a potluck, picnic or packing up for a cold lunch!
- Pasta: We use orzo pasta for this shrimp salad. It’s a short grain pasta that resembles rice. You can make this with other pastas like bow tie or fusilli, but the texture of orzo and its size is perfect here.
- Shrimp: You can use any size shrimp shrimp for this salad. If you do use large shrimp, make sure to cut it into thirds so that everything easily fits on one bite. Peel and devein them before quickly cooking with the seasonings.
- Vegetables: Scallions, cherry tomatoes and cucumber; you can also add any other vegetables like peppers, zucchini or red onions.
- Cheese: Greek feta cheese is crumbled into the salad to add a burst of flavor and creamy texture. Goat cheese could also be used.
- Dill: Dill adds a wonderful freshness and works so well with the shrimp. You can use other fresh herbs like basil, parsley or cilantro if you prefer.
- Dressing: The Mediterranean style dressing is made with shallot, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, dijon mustard, oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper.
How to make shrimp orzo salad
- Season the shrimp and add to a hot skillet with oil.
- Cook until pink and fully cooked through.
- Mix together the ingredients for the dressing in a large bowl.
- Add in the cooked orzo and toss to combine.
- Add in the cooked shrimp and rest of the salad ingredients.
- Toss and serve immediately or chill to cool.
Tips to make this recipe
- Pat the shrimp dry before seasoning and cooking it. If they have excess moisture they will steam in the pan and can develop a mushy texture.
- Cook the orzo in salted water. This helps to add flavor to the pasta right from the start. It should be cooked al dente so that it’s not clumpy and soggy.
- Rinse the orzo under cold running water. Once cooked, drain the pasta in a fine mesh sieve and then run it under cold water. This will help to stop the cooking process so that it doesn’t get overcooked. If you add the orzo to the other ingredients when warm, the shrimp can start to cook again and become chewy.
- Don’t over cook the shrimp. Shrimp only take two or three minutes to cook through. They are ready when they are a pink opaque color. Overcooking can result in a tough texture.
Frequently Asked Questions
This shrimp orzo salad is best served soon after it is made so that the shrimp are nice and fresh. You can leave it sitting in the fridge for a up to a day before serving and leftovers are great for a couple days.
You can prepare the dressing ahead of time, that will keep well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and the orzo can also be cooked and cooled 3 to 4 days ahead of time, then you just have to cook the shrimp and toss everything together.
Absolutely! This salad is also great with cooked or diced chicken breast. Similarly, you can easily make this vegetarian with chickpeas or as a lighter side salad by skipping the protein altogether.
If you don’t have orzo, acini de pepe is a similar pasta, but slightly smaller and ditalini pasta is slightly larger. You can make this with other dried pastas if that’s what you have to hand, fusilli, penne and bow tie will all work well.
This shrimp orzo salad is perfect to enjoy for the summer months, whether you enjoy it as a light lunch or as a side for your favorite mains. Refreshing, tangy and so simple to make!
More summer salads:
- Watermelon Feta Salad
- Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
- Summer Fruit Salad
- Mediterranean Potato Salad
- Strawberry Caprese Salad
- Peach Salad
- Smoked Salmon Salad
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Shrimp Orzo Salad
- 8 ounces dry orzo
- 1 pound medium-large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 large scallions thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 persian cucumbers thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook orzo until al dente. Drain and run cool water over it until it’s cooled.
- Make the dressing. In the bottom of a large bowl, mix shallot, vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon, and ½ teaspoon oregano. Slowly stream in 4 tablespoons oil, whisking constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon dried oregano, salt, and pepper on both sides.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add shrimp and cook until pink and fully cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Add the cooled orzo, cooked shrimp, green onions, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, and dill to the large bowl with the balsamic dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and serve immediately.