Creamy Baked Orzo with Meatballs Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Creamy Baked Orzo with Meatballs

33 reviews / 4.1 average

Dinner is ready! Creamy baked orzo with bits of garlic butter peeking through, a luscious tomato-y base, and meatballs if you want. Silky, cozy, and a hit with everyone!

This recipe is sponsored by DeLallo.

Roasty tomatoes, creamy parmesan orzo, and some meatballs if you want, all laced with a little bit of garlic butter. This is silky, luscious, and dangerously easy to eat. One bowl becomes two bowls becomes three… it’s so good. Plus, the whole thing gets mixed and baked all in one dish, which is the only way I want to live from here on out.


In This Post: Everything You Need For Creamy Baked Orzo


Creamy baked orzo in a pan next to a bowl of parmesan cheese

Lindsay’s Notes

This is the definition of a weeknight hero! It’s comforting, cozy, and ridiculously easy to make.

Pour everything in a pan, bake it in the oven, and be rewarded with a creamy baked orzo that is full of simple, nostalgic flavor. It has a Spaghetti-O’s vibe in the most delicious way – a little extra starchy with the baked-all-together texture, plus rocking that comforting taste of store-bought tomato soup. And with all the coziness, the addition of fresh garlic, butter, Parmesan, and fresh basil gives it the perfect amount of lift.

I actually love this meal without any meatballs at all – the first time I made it, I just had the roasty tomatoes, the creamy tomato orzo, and the parmesan, garlic, butter, and basil finishers. It was SO good, I practically ate half the pan by myself.

But if you are looking to add some protein, meatballs are a good choice – and my first recommendation, of course, would be the baked chicken meatballs. I’ve also had good luck with just throwing a bag of store bough frozen meatballs right in there, although you might not even need the whole bag – usually half a bag, or a few meatballs per person, is good enough for us.


How To Make This Creamy Baked Orzo

Step 1: Pour Orzo Directly Into a 9×13 Pan.

Yes, directly in there!

White hand holding a package of DeLallo orzo

We use DeLallo orzo – all their pasta is top-notch, imported from Italy, with the best texture. It’s bronze cut, which means each individual piece has a bit more texture that can hold onto all that saucy goodness.

Step 2: Add Stuff Right in There.

This is the beauty of this recipe. Just pour it all in! We’re adding:

  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Tomato soup
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Meatballs if you want
Tomato mixture gets poured into white pan.

Step 3: Mix and Bake.

Give it a little stir and transfer that guy to the oven. Everything will happen right in the pan!

Tomatoes, orzo, meatballs, and tomato soup get mixed into 9x13 pan.

Step 4: Add Your “Finishers” for Flavor and Beauty.

All is fair game! I like to add:

  • Fresh grated garlic
  • Butter
  • Parmesan
  • Fresh basil
Knob of butter on top of baked orzo

Butter and cheese on top of baked orzo

Watch How To Make This Creamy Baked Orzo

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A picture of Creamy Baked Orzo with Meatballs

Creamy Baked Orzo with Meatballs


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x

Description

Chewy little pasta bites with a nostalgic-feeling tomato base and bits of garlic butter peeking through. Parm sprinkle, basil leaves, and you’re good to go!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 16 ounces DeLallo orzo
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups ready-to-serve tomato soup (like this one)
  • 23 cups premade chicken meatballs (store-bought frozen or homemade)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • fresh basil for topping
  • DeLallo Private Reserve Olive Oil for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pour the orzo, vegetable broth, tomato soup, meatballs, and tomatoes into a 9×13 baking dish. Stir to get everything coated and combined.
  2. Bake for 25 minutes. Give it a little stir and check the texture. If needed, bake for another 10 minutes to let the orzo finish absorbing the liquid. Fluff up the orzo with a fork and stir in any remaining liquid that might be bubbling around the edges. This will gently break down the tomatoes and release some of their juices as well. (As the orzo sits, it will continue to absorb liquid so add more tomato soup or broth as desired.)
  3. Add the Parmesan, garlic, and butter; stir to melt it in. Top with fresh basil leaves, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: baked orzo, orzo recipe, orzo and meatballs

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Frequently Asked Questions For Creamy Baked Orzo

What can I use instead of tomato soup?

Jarred tomato sauce would be a great stand-in and give it more of a true spaghetti taste and feel.

What other protein would work well here?

Throwing a can of chickpeas in would be perfect!

Can you make this vegetarian / meatless?

Yes! The chickpea alternative would be the way to go.

How do you make this gluten-free and/or dairy-free?

Use gluten-free orzo and dairy-free butter and parmesan. You would also want to make sure that your tomato soup is a gluten-free and/or dairy-free variety.

Can you make this on the stovetop?

Yes! I would boil the orzo (cook to al dente) and then drain it off. Blister your tomatoes in a skillet until they’re bursty, add the orzo, and build a sauce with a combination of broth, tomato soup, butter, garlic, and parmesan.

3 More Pasta Recipes My Family Loves!


Thanks to DeLallo for sponsoring this recipe!

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51 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks incredible! Apologies if I missed this- if using homemade meatballs, do they need to be frozen or can they be freshly made? Thank you!!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Happy Wednesday Lindsay,

    Oh wow, this Creamy Baked Orzo with Meatballs recipe looks absolutely divine. This looks like such a comforting dish to make for family dinner on any given day. I love how the creaminess of the orzo complements the savory meatballs. The photographs are so mouthwatering, they make me want to dive right in. Thanks for sharing such a delightful recipe, as I also appreciate your clear step-by-step instructions.

    Cheers to many more delicious meals from Pinch of Yum! 🍽️🤤

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this tonight and for some reason it didn’t turn out. The pasta did not cook and did not have enough liquid. I had to convert 16oz to g which is 453g for the orzo. I then added all of the liquid . I ended up adding at least two more cups of fluids and it still tasted like zoodles. Where should I go wrong 😔 is it possible that the recipe is incorrect?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hey Allyson,

      Don’t be discouraged. Keep reading this beautiful blog and don’t give up in trying again. 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hate to say this, but I strongly advise against making this. The dish was flavorless except for the tomato soup. We used a good one, but it still was desperately lacking flavor. Also, we found the orzo really clumped up in the oven/in the soup. A hearty dash of italian seasoning and extra parm helped, but it was really not very tasty.

    We doubled it for a group and were left with a disappointing amount of leftovers.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I unfortunately agree with you, I found it lacking in flavour and the texture was clumpy/mushy. We had lots of leftovers and aren’t eager to have again.

      I did love how easy it was and I imagine it will be a good recipe for families with kids.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    So good! I used GF pasta and it was stuck to the bottom of my glass baking dish when I took it out after 25 min – not sure why that was but it scraped up and mixed back in just fine, put it back in for another 5 min. Adding fresh parm, butter, garlic, a little EVOO and fresh basil made it perfect!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    My family all loved this recipe. I did adapt it slightly, and added a little italian seasoning, peppers, mushrooms and courgette. Also added slightly more stock as I know how absorbent ozro can be! But it was so easy to make and was a huge hit. The orzo did stick slightly, but with a few stirs it shouldn’t next time. I will definitely be making it again. Thank you for the recipe!!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This recipe is the definition of “cozy” and perfect for the changing seasons. I did add about a cup more of tomato soup, and I used a fresh deli soup from Aldi’s rather an a canned one. Also added tubbed basil! I feel like you can adapt it by adding mushrooms, spinach, etc.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks great. If making homemade meatballs, should I cook them prior to adding to the baking dish with everything else? Or do they go in raw? Thanks!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was exactly like grown up spaghettio’s and so so delicious and very easy to make. Everyone in my family loved it. I used Trader Joe’s Tomato & Red Pepper soup and then bone broth (for added protein) and Simek’s meatballs (for ease). It also needed a lot of salt and some garlic power – that helped a lot. Since it is so basic, I think that the quality of your soup/broth makes a big difference.
    Even my teenagers liked this!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I was nervous after reading reviews but the proportions worked out perfectly for me. I did stir a couple of times through, and used high quality ingredients. Everyone at my house liked it and it was sooo easy! The fresh basil and parm took it to the next level.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Unfortunately not a Win for me. After the instructed cooking time the orzo was still raw (crunchy) and the rest was pure liquid. I had to continue adding increments of 10 minutes (testing for doneness after each ten mins) for a total of 40 extra minutes (!!) and by the time it was finally cooked it got super gummy. I may have overcooked it in the end? Flavour was good but texturally awful and recipe just didn’t work as advertised.

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. I used vegetable broth and chickpeas to make it vegetarian. Very easy for a weeknight dinner. Thank you for another great recipe!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this last night, and there are only two servings left! I did make homemade chicken meatballs (recipe on Food Network.com) to ensure lots of flavor from the meat. I also used the entire container of roasted tomato and pepper soup and used chicken base and 1 cup of water. I think it helps to adjust seasoning to individual liking as well. Don’t be afraid to add garlic or more Italian flavors. It was good and easy! Will make it again.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    SO easy, and SO yummy for the minimal amount of work put in! I was a little cautious going into making this recipe due to some of the comments from people who didn’t have the best outcome, but following the recipe to a T–especially making sure everything was well-mixed before going in the oven and giving things a good stir anytime I removed the baking dish from the oven–resulted in a perfect dish for me. Also, that additional 10 minutes proved crucial for me, so don’t worry if things are still pretty soupy after that initial 25 minutes!

    Also if it helps anyone, because I was a little confused about the meatball situation: I put the (fully cooked) frozen meatballs in straight from the freezer and they were totally warmed through by the end. I was unsure if I’d have to heat up the meatballs prior to adding, but the verdict is that I did not.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this tonight exactly as written and it was DELICIOUS. My 3 year old twins ate it too. My husband even gave it 5 stars! So easy and very tasty.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was great! Followed the recipe as written. My two year old helped me make it and enjoyed eating it as well. Definitely adding this to easy meal rotation!

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    My family LOVED this! I was able to use a can of tomato soup that has been in my pantry forever and the last of my summer cherry tomatoes. With a fresh batch of meatballs, this was so easy and so delicious.

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I don’t usually comment, but thought I’d share my experience with this recipe, since the negative reviews made me wary to try this.

    I halved the recipe, but otherwise followed the quantities and I did not have any trouble with excess liquid or the orzo not being properly cooked. For people using the metric system: I do find that the tool on here to convert measurements doesn’t work half the time, or doesn’t convert everything. So, I’ve listed the measurements I used below, for 2 to 3 portions:

    * 200g orzo
    * 350 ml vegetable stock/bouillon
    * 250 ml tomato soup (get a good quality one!)
    * 125g cherry tomatoes, halved
    * 200g meatballs (I used frozen, from Ikea lol)
    * 20g parmesan cheese
    * 1 scoop garlic butter
    * about 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning

    + I added in one red bell pepper and about 80g of baby spinach as I wanted more veggies and I had those lying around.

    I followed the instructions, baked everything for 25 minutes on 210°C (my oven runs a little hot), took it out, gave it a stir as there was still quite a bit of liquid and then baked for another 7 minutes. When it came out of the oven the second time, I stirred in the spinach (that wilts really quickly), the parmesan and the garlic butter.

    It was so dreamy and perfect, really loved it! People calling it bland flavour-wise are probably not adding any extra seasoning, but I added Italian seasoning and quite a bit of pepper before putting it in the oven (no salt as the bouillon is quite salty).

    Easiest recipe ever, thanks Linsey and crew!

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I tried this last night, and was a little spooked by some of the other reviews, so I thought I’d post about it.
    This was pretty good! My oldest snarfed it up, and my other kids picked the meatballs out. I used leftover homemade tomato soup (the one from POY!) so the flavor was pretty good, but I also added some Italian seasoning, and I used garlic powder instead of fresh. If I didn’t have leftover soup, I would’ve used jarred Rao’s and some half&half. Whatever gets you to 5 cups of liquid. This also makes A LOT. It’s a full pound of orzo. I wish I had used more meatballs to balance it out, actually. Anyway, my oldest liked it so much, he’s taking some for lunch today.

  20. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this tonight and ended up throwing it all out. It came out gummy and certainly lacked flavour. On top of that it look over an hour to cook by the time the pasta was actually cooked. Save your money and pass on this one.

  21. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made this last night and both my husband and son praised it. In addition it uses frozen meatballs (and I put them in frozen and they came out fine) which I always seem to have hanging around in my freezer to make a SUPER QUICK comfy weeknight dinner. Or for when you don’t feel like cooking, which happens often with me, haha! Thanks Pinch of Yum!

  22. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this last night and it was decent and incredibly easy! I made this with Delallo whole wheat orzo, Pacific creamy tomato soup, premade chicken meatballs from the refrigerated section and good parmesan. I added the garlic at the beginning of the cooking process because I do not like raw garlic which worked well. I felt as though the dish needed a little extra flavor so I added garlic powder after it had cooked and quite a bit of salt. I did not have any issues with the pasta cooking although I added 5 minutes extra because the pasta was too al dente for my liking. It was quite tasty and I am excited to eat my leftovers but this wasn’t the normal standout recipe from POY that I am used to– I felt as though the flavors could have been amped up a bit.

  23. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I thought this was really good! Very easy and cozy. My orzo stuck to the glass pan, so next time I’ll make sure to spray the pan first. The flavor depends a lot on which tomato soup you buy, so it could turn out differently if you get a weird soup. The garlic and basil at the end are crucial. Maybe add some more seasoning if you like a bit more “oomf.” It reminds me a lot of the baked penne & meatball dish on the site. That recipe is one of my all time favorites.