Instant Pot Lemon Parmesan Orzo With Arugula

Blue's Best Life
by Blue's Best Life
6 servings
9 min

Instant Pot Orzo is a quick weekday dinner that comes together in just minutes! This creamy pasta dish is versatile enough for a light main dish or even a cold side dish.

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Why This Instant Pot Orzo is the Best!

I love how creamy this lemony orzo pasta dish is and the best part is it doesn't require an hour standing over the stove top stirring! The texture reminds me of risotto, which I love. I created this mushroom risotto for my husband, but that's a labor of love! Sometimes we need something quick and easy and this pressure cooker orzo pasta is just that!

Orzo is a pasta so it's starchy and that starch is going to help make this creamy saucy pasta dish in just minutes! It could be the main dish or the perfect side dish depending on your tastes. Regardless of how you serve it it's a delicious dish your whole family will love!

Key Ingredients

orzo- is a type of pasta that is small and almost rice shaped. It's easily found in your local grocery store.

Parmesan cheese- adds a nice creamy texture to the orzo. Make sure to get a block and grate your own for the best flavor!

arugula- adds a little something green to the dish. I like the little peppery bite the arugula adds.

lemon juice- fresh squeezed is the best option for this recipe. It brightens the flavor of the dish. Add a little lemon zest if you want even more pronounced lemon flavor!

olive oil- make sure to go for a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor! When a dish has few ingredients those ingredients need to be the best!

Step-By-Step Instructions

If you have not experimented with the Instant Pot much, it has many other features than just being a pressure cooker. One feature I use often is the sauté function. It heats quickly so you can chop your garlic while the pot heats and sauté the garlic in the olive oil.

Add the garlic and olive oil to the bottom of the pot. Let the garlic sauté for just 30 seconds and then toast the orzo. You may see a few recipes that skip this step but sautéing the garlic and toasting the orzo is what makes this dish so flavorful!

Now that the orzo it toasted add your cups of water, fresh lemon juice, salt and black pepper to the Instant Pot.

It is very important to turn the sauté feature off before you secure the lid to the pot.

Set the cooking time for 2 minutes and make sure to adjust the steam valve to the sealing position.

Remember an electric pressure cooker takes time to get to high pressure. So when we set the timer at 2 minutes we will have a waiting time before the actual count down begins.

Once the Instant Pot reaches high pressure the timer will count down the 2 minute cook time.

After the 2 minutes is complete it is time to use the quick release to allow the steam to escape the Instant Pot so that we can open and remove the lid. To do this simply use a wooden spoon and move the steam valve to the venting position. Make sure to keep your face clear of the hot steam as it escapes.

Once the steam has released open the lid to the Instant Pot and add the grated Parmesan cheese and the arugula while stirring. The residual heat will melt the cheese and wilt the arugula quickly. Let the pasta rest for a couple of minutes while it continues to absorb the remaining liquid. The starch from the pasta along with the cheese will create a creamy texture!

Plate and add an extra sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to the top of the orzo.

Serving Suggestions

For a light vegetarian dinner you can serve the orzo as is along with a fresh green salad.

Add a little shredded rotisserie chicken for an extra protein boost. Seafood would also pair nicely with the orzo. Seared scallops, or sautéed shrimp would be a perfect accompaniment.

If you are looking for a cold dish you can make an orzo pasta salad by allowing the pasta to cool completely before adding the arugula.


I love the pop of green that the arugula adds to the dish but you can easily substitute fresh baby spinach or kale to the dish. If you want even more fresh veggies add a handful of cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. Fresh basil leaves or mint adds delicious flavors.

To add even more flavor you can use vegetable broth or chicken broth in place of the water in the recipe. Just remember one cup of liquid to one cup of orzo.

Expert Tips

If you have never used an Instant Pot they are a wonderful addition to your kitchen! Do not be intimidated, but remember there are a few safety measures to keep in mind.

  • Never put the Instant Pot lid in place when using the sauté function.
  • Pressure cookers must have some sort of liquid when using the pressure cook function.
  • Use caution when removing the steam from the steam release valve.
  • We want an al dente orzo pasta so do not use the natural pressure release because the orzo will become overcooked and mushy.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Store any leftover orzo in an airtight container for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat you can add a drizzle of water and microwave for 60 seconds and stir.


Can you subsitute orzo for rice?

Yes! Although orzo is technically a pasta it can be used as a side dish in the same way rice would be paired.

Is orzo gluten-free?

No, orzo is made from semolina flour which comes from durum wheat.

Looking For Other Great Instant Pot Recipe? Try These!

Instant Pot Turkey Tenderloin Recipe

Instant Pot Potatoes and Carrots (An Easy Side Dish Recipe)

Instant Pot Pearl Couscous

Easy Instant Pot Asparagus

Did you try this recipe? Please let me know what you think! Leave a comment below, and a 5- star rating. I would love to hear from you! Subscribe to get new recipes sent straight to your inbox!

Instant Pot Lemon Parmesan Orzo With Arugula
Recipe details
  • 6  servings
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 4 Minutes Total time: 9 min
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  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups water, or broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1.5 cups Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Turn the sauté feature on the Instant Pot and allow it to warm while chopping the garlic.
Once the Instant Pot is hot add the olive oil and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds being careful to not burn the garlic.
Add the orzo and stir to coat with the olive oil while toasting the orzo. After a minute turn off the sauté feature.
Add the water, or broth if using, and the salt, pepper and lemon juice.
Now secure the lid of the Instant Pot. Set the timer for 2 minutes and make sure that you turn the steam valve to the sealing position.
The Instant Pot will take a few minutes to pressurize. You will hear it make slight hissing noises as the steam is building inside the pot. Once it gets to pressure the 2 minute timer will begin to count down.
Once the 2 minutes is up it is time to release the stem or do a quick steam release. Do this by using a wooden spoon to move the steam release valve to the venting position. Be carful to keep your face away as the steam is released.
Now you can remove the lid from the Instant Pot and add the Parmesan cheese and arugula. The heat will melt the cheese and wilt the arugula as you stir it into the orzo.
Let the orzo sit for 2-3 minutes as the pasta absorbs the remaining liquid. The starchy pasta will create a creamy sauce with the cheese.
Serve immediately as a quick vegetarian dish or with protein of choice for a delicious side dish.
Leftover orzo can be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days and reheated in the microwave with a little splash of water.
  • Never put the Instant Pot lid in place when using the sauté function.
  • Pressure cookers must have some sort of liquid when using the pressure cook function.
  • Use caution when removing the steam from the steam release valve.
  • We want an al dente orzo pasta so do not use the natural pressure release because the orzo will become overcooked and mushy.
Blue's Best Life
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  • MayMay MayMay on Jul 27, 2022

    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! I made this dish with spinach on my stovetop. I do not have an Instant Pot and it still turned out so creamy! I will be making this quite often…THANK YOU!