Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

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Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage that's all cooked in one pan for an easy, healthy dinner that is comforting and full of flavor. All for under 400 calories!

377 CAL 46g CARBS 10g FAT 24g PROTEIN

This One Pan Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage is comfort food at its finest and comes together in just 25 minutes. Plus it has less than 400 calories for a cheesy, creamy pasta dish that you will make again and again.

One pan dinners are the way to go on busy nights. Not only does it mean less dishes, but it also means that you don't have to worry about making a main dish and side dish since everything is cooked together - your protein, grain, and veggie all in one. This version is a spin on a traditional lemon and broccoli pasta with the addition of some lean chicken sausage for protein and flavor. You could also use chicken breast, chicken thighs, or ground turkey. You may just want to add in some additional spices to kick up the flavor. Spices like fennel, Italian seasoning, grill seasoning, thyme, or rosemary would all be delicious.

Lemon Orzo with broccoli and chicken sausage in a pan with wooden spoon.

For the pasta, I decided to use orzo since I love the way it absorbs flavors, but this would work with almost any kind of pasta. Cooking it directly in the liquid allows the pasta starch and chicken broth to combine and create a creamy, flavor filled sauced. Then to make everything even tastier, there is some Parmesan cheese and lemon. Yum. One more note, this recipe would probably work with rice or quinoa as well for a gluten-free option. Just make sure to add a little more cooking liquid than the package directions call for since the sausage and broccoli will absorb some of the liquid.

Tips for Making One Pan Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

  • Although I opted to use orzo, you can use almost any pasta for this recipe. You could also make a gluten-free version with quinoa or rice. 
  • All kinds of veggies will work in this dish. Just choose something sturdy that isn't likely to get too mushy during cooking.
  • Sometimes I add a can of drained diced tomatoes to the recipe as well. It adds some extra veggies and great flavor.
  • For a lower calorie version, use chicken breast or lean ground turkey instead. Just make sure to add some extra spices since you will be missing the flavor of the sausage.
  • This keeps well in the fridge for a few days so don't be nervous about the extra servings.

Healthy Lemon Orzo with broccoli, lemon wedges, and chicken sausage in a pan with green napkin.

Is orzo healthier than rice?

Orzo is a small pasta that is often used in Italian and Greek soups and stews. It's basically just pasta in a smaller shape. Now let' compare it to brown rice. If we compare 1/2 cup of brown rice to 1/2 cup of cooked orzo, brown rice has about 110 calories while orzo has around 150 calories. When it comes to protein, orzo wins with 5.5 grams of protein versus just 2.3 in brown rice. In terms of fiber content, brown rice has about .5 grams more of fiber. 

However, the main differences come in terms of vitamins and minerals. Brown rice has significantly more vitamins and minerals than orzo and is a healthier, whole grain option. 

Curious about white rice? In terms of health, white rice and orzo rank similarly in terms of their nutritional benefits.

What does orzo pasta look like?

Orzo pasta basically looks like large, oval-shaped pieces of rice. They are normally 2-3 times the size of a standard grain of cooked rice.

What can I use instead of orzo?

If you don't want to use orzo, there are all kinds of alternatives. You could choose a different pasta shape. Consider another small pasta like elbows, shells, or mini penne. You could also use quinoa, brown rice, barley, or farro. Just make sure to adjust the liquid amount as needed so there is enough cooking liquid for the grain you choose.

Looking for more one pot pasta dishes?

The Recipe
Lemon orzo cooked with chicken sausage and broccoli in a skillet.

Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage

Adapted from thekitchn.com
377 CAL 46g CARBS 10g FAT 24g PROTEIN
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  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 lean chicken sausages, sliced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 lb broccoli (or broccolini)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. orzo
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

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Heat the oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the onion and sausage and cook for 4-5 minutes until browned.


Add the broccoli and cook for 3-4 minutes until it is bright green. Add the garlic and orzo. Cook for 1 minute.


Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes or until orzo is tender. If there is extra liquid, remove the lid for the last couple of minutes.


Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 377
Calories from Fat 88
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g
Saturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 50mg
Sodium 535mg
Total Carbohydrate 46g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 5g
Protein 24g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Lemon Orzo with Broccoli and Chicken Sausage
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Sara Sculthorpe
May 20, 2019 - 16:38
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My super picky husband and toddler daughter both loved this recipe. We don't eat broccoli in this family, so we subbed in asparagus. In the future, I would wait to put the asparagus in because it got a little mushy. Otherwise, it was delicious and will become a regular in the dinner rotation.
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Ana Sanchez
March 19, 2018 - 20:38
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The recipe calls for onions, but the instructions never use them. I put them in with the chicken. I used whole wheat orzo and I wouldn't do that again. I might try it with risotto in the future. Also I like really crispy broccoli so I might wait to put it in until later in the recipe.

Overall an easy one pan recipe. I do love lemon. :-) It was delicious.
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March 16, 2018 - 18:40
If using quinoa or rice, how much do you use?
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