Chicken and Orzo with Lemon and Olives

I’m a big fan of one-pot meals. Partially because it cuts down on the dishes, partially for the simplicity, but also because I really like the idea of all the flavors from all the ingredients melding together in one big pot of yummy-ness. And that’s totally what this recipe is.

I originally saw it on one of my favorite food blogs, The Wednesday Chef and immediately bookmarked the recipe. I have since made this for friends and family numerous times and every time I get rave reviews. The best part is: it’s so simple! When I made it for R I left out the olives since he won’t go near them, but I think they add a nice, sharp, saltiness to the dish.

I highly recommend using dark meat because the pieces are smaller and will cook through, and the flavor is much richer. The original recipe calls for drumsticks, but I like thighs or, as Luisa recommends, whole chicken legs. I did find that the chicken came out slightly under-done if it was not browned very well, so make sure to let it cook through a fair amount at the beginning, depending on the size of your meat.

Not only does the chicken come out tender and juicy, but the orzo takes on this very creamy consistency that’s packed with zesty lemon flavor. Served with a simple green salad on the side, this one-pot meal is always a winner!

Chicken and Orzo with Lemon and Olives


4-6 chicken thighs or 8 drumsticks or 4 whole chicken legs
Salt, pepper to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 C. orzo
3 C. chicken broth
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 small lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C. pitted Kalamata olives
1 large bay leaf
3 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano, divided or 1 Tbs. dried oregano


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken well on all sides with 1 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper.

In a Dutch oven or large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the legs well on all sides. Make sure to brown well – 5-8 minutes depending on thickness of chicken. Remove from the pan.

Add the orzo, chicken stock, garlic, lemon wedges and juice, olives, bay leaf and 1 Tbs. of the oregano. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then return the chicken to the pan. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is done (the meat will be firm and its juices will run clear). Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining oregano and serve.

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  • noble pig

    This looks delicious! I love lemon and olives together.

  • Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Second time I’ve seen this recipe — thanks for reminding me that I really want to try it!

  • Liz

    Mmm – sounds delicious! I’m always nervous when cooking poultry in big chunks, so I think I’ll hold off on this one until we get a working meat thermometer. We have such bad luck with them. My fiancé broke one by using it to measure hot oil, another spontaneously stopped turning on, and yet another got water in the dial and stopped working.


  • Erin

    That is a gorgeous dish-very elegant for a one pot meal!

  • Rhoda

    I’m sure it tastes great and I will probably try it however why is all that fat on the chicken. Sure would be healthier without it after browning. Would probably look more attractive. Photos do not depict well cooked chicken.

  • Maxine

    Rhoda – I think the “fat” you’re referring to is really just the skin, which I always peel off. I think it gives really good flavor though, especially when you brown it. As I said in the recipe, the chicken should be really well-browned to avoid under-cooking.

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