skillet meatballs and orzotto

4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 large egg
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided plus more for garnish
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon zest and juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups orzo pasta
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus more as needed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen petite peas
  • lemon wedges, for serving


  • In a mixing bowl, whisk 1 egg then add 1 lb. ground chicken, ½ cup Parmesan, ½ cup chopped basil, ⅓ cup panko, and zest from 1 lemon. Finish with a big pinch salt and thoroughly combine.
  • Portion into 12-15 meatballs, each a little larger than a tablespoon – I like using a small scoop for this. The mixture will be sticky and wet; if you need to, wet your fingers between meatballs to prevent sticking.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat the pan. Using tongs, sear the meatballs on all sides for about 5  minutes total.
  • After searing the meatballs, scoot the meatballs to the outer edges of the pan to make space in the center. Add 1 ½ cups orzo, 2 cups broth, 3 cloves minced garlic, pinch salt and juice from 1 lemon; stir to combine. The meatballs, orzo, and chicken broth will all mix together in the pan, spread the orzo out evenly so it’s covered in liquid.
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, and stir often until all liquid is absorbed and orzo is tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Once the liquid is absorbed, stir in 1 cup peas and remaining ¼ cup Parmesan. The consistency of the orzo should not be too thick, and not too thin. If it gets too thick, just add another splash of broth or water. If it looks too thin, keep cooking.
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve with additional Parmesan and lemon wedges.


  • Serve with a crisp green side salad and garlic bread to complete this meal.


  • Protein: Ground chicken can be swapped for ground turkey or pork.
  • Vegetarian: Swap chicken broth for vegetable broth and use a veggie based meatball. I really like the Vegetarian Meatball from Morningstar Farms.
  • Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free pasta. Or swap orzo for rice or quinoa. Adjust cook time according to package directions.
  • Pasta: If you can’t find orzo, ditalini will also work great.
  • More veggies: Stir in a handful of fresh spinach or kale when you add the peas and Parmesan. If peas aren’t your thing, swap for frozen corn, halved fresh snap peas, or cooked asparagus.


  • Meatballs can be assembled in advance and frozen in a freezer bag (cooked or uncooked).
  • The cooked orzo portion of this dish is best right after being cooked. You should only need 10 minutes for this last portion of the recipe and the other ingredients can be prepped and portioned out in advance, stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator.


Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 328mg | Potassium: 680mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 443IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 154mg | Iron: 2mg