This greek orzo pasta salad is a refreshing cold pasta dish perfect for the hot summer months, parties, or even meal prepping! Made with orzo pasta, vegetables, and lemony oregano vinaigrette, this easy pasta salad is definitely a crowd favorite.
What is orzo pasta?
Also called risoni, orzo pasta is usually made from the same ingredients as other popular types of pasta – like macaroni or linguine – but is just cut and shaped like rice.
People love orzo because it has a wonderful mouth-feel and cooks quickly. A large pot of orzo pasta only takes about 7 minutes to cook.
What is Greek salad?
Greek salad is a dish that uses ingredients grown naturally in the Mediterranean region. Some of the most common ingredients in Greek salad are:
- Feta cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
Why this recipe works
There’s nothing better on a warm day than cold pasta salad!
Orzo pasta is cooked al dente, then chilled with greek ingredients, including kalamata olives, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, and juicy tomatoes. The pasta salad marinates in a lemony oregano vinaigrette for maximum flavor.
Even without warm weather, this orzo pasta salad is perfect for travel or work since you don’t need to heat it up!
Greek orzo pasta salad ingredients
There are endless options with ingredients when making pasta salad. I love Greek flavors and knew they would be great to use in this recipe!
For the salad, I used:
- Orzo pasta
- Cherry tomatoes
- English cucumber
- Red onion
- Kalamata olives
- Feta cheese
You can use any type of pasta for this recipe, but I used orzo pasta. The small size of the orzo incorporates well with the additional greek ingredients.
Any type of olives, tomatoes, onion, and cucumbers will work perfectly! I like the small size of cherry tomatoes, and the red onions have a very powerful flavor (and look beautiful) in pasta salad.
If you like spicy foods, then add some pepperoncini peppers to the dish. It’s a classic pepper that is often found on Greek salad.
And don’t forget the feta cheese! If you can’t find feta, crumbled goat cheese is a perfect substitute.
Prepping vegetables for pasta salad
Another reason I love this pasta salad recipe is that it is so easy and quick to make.
To prep the veggies:
- Chop up the cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber, and parsley.
- Slice the red onions on the mandoline for them to be more uniform, but please be careful and use the guard.
If you do not have a mandoline, you can easily just thinly slice with a knife.
What type of dressing to use for Greek salad
My favorite part of any pasta salad is the dressing or vinaigrette that it’s in! When the pasta soaks up all that flavor, every bite is so delicious.
Greek salad dressings are usually mild and resemble Italian dressing – a combination of Greek oregano and olive oil.
I used these basic ingredients such as:
- Red wine vinegar
- Dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
The lemon adds a bit of acidic tang- it’s my favorite part! All of the ingredients come together to make such a bright vinaigrette.
Cooking orzo pasta
- Cook the orzo al dente. You do not want to overcook it because when it soaks up all the vinaigrette, it will get soggy.
- Once al dente, remove it from the pot, drain, and run cold water over it before adding it to the dish. You don’t want the orzo to be hot when adding to the other ingredients.
Marinating the pasta
I allow the dish to “marinate” for a minimum of an hour in the refrigerator before enjoying it. This will allow all the ingredients to get cold (for that refreshing bite) and, most importantly, give the ingredients a chance to meld with the vinaigrette.
This pasta salad gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator!
Once the greek orzo pasta salad is done marinating, you are left with a bright and refreshing pasta salad. An easy pasta salad recipe perfect for picnics or to enjoy throughout the week.
Best type of meat to add to Greek salad
Beef or lamb are both very popular types of meat that you will most commonly find on top of Greek salads.
If you want to top it with beef, try some thinly sliced roast beef. Or, add some tender top sirloin steak or even a marinated flank steak.
For a classic pasta salad look, add some salami and pepperoni! I’ve even seen chicken on Greek salad.
So, have fun with your salad and make it how you want it.
Storing Greek orzo pasta salad
This is a fantastic salad to add to your weekly meal prep. If you are going to store leftover pasta salad, keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I prefer to use a mason jar because I can screw the lid on so tightly that it is leakproof.
This pasta salad will stay delicious if you keep it for only three days or so. After about three days, the vegetables won’t be as crispy because they will have soaked up all the salad dressing.
Other delicious side dishes:
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Greek Orzo Pasta Salad
- 8 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 cup English cucumber diced
- ½ cup red onion thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup kalamata olives sliced in half
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 lemon for juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a small pasta pot, cook pasta al dente according to package instructions. Remove from heat, drain, rinse the pasta, then set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients including the vinaigrette. Toss to ensure all the ingredients are combined.
- Place in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving to marinate.
Add-Ins + Substitutions
- If you like spicy foods, then add some pepperoncini peppers to the dish.
- Can't find feta? crumbled goat cheese is a perfect substitute.
- You can use any type of pasta for this recipe
- Ensure pasta is cooked al dente, you do not want to overcook it because when it soaks up all the vinaigrette it will get soggy.
- Orzo should be cooled before adding the rest of the ingredients
- Allow the dish to "marinate" for minimum an hour in the refrigerator before enjoying it. This will allow all the ingredients to get cold (for that refreshing bite) and, most importantly, give the ingredients a chance to meld with the vinaigrette. This pasta salad gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator!
- Store in refrigerator
- Can drizzle a little olive oil when enjoying leftovers if needed.
Made this for a trip with friends and it was a huge hit! Followed recipe except I grated one glove of garlic into my dressing when I made it. I added one can garbanzo beans I happened to see in the pantry. Everyone loved it…served with steaks that night. We even had leftovers and I tossed in some rotisserie chicken to make it our entree. Delicious!
I’m so glad everyone loved it! Great idea with the chickpeas, I’ll have to try that next time!
This is my go-to for potlucks, showers (baby, bridal, etc), summer barbecues. It is so easy and flavorful. It makes ahead and stores really nicely. I never leave an event without giving someone the recipe — after they’ve requested it ;p
I don’t change anything for this, which is rare for me, I usually have some tweak. I feel like Stephanie did a fantastic job on this recipe. Very grateful for it!
New follower here. Cannot wait to try other recipes after making this winner. I was super worried it wasn’t going to come together, it seemed to easy. And no garlic? It took every ounce of me to not add garlic & I am so glad I didn’t. This is one of the tastiest, simplest & most versatile dishes I have ever made. Husband approved! Thank you for making my life easier with tasty meals such as this one.
Haha trust me I’m the biggest garlic lover EVER, I add it to everything too. I’m so glad you loved it and look forward to you making more recipes!
Excellent. I added some garbanzo beans and chopped artichoke heart.
When trying to print, can not print entire recipe as it chops off parts at the end of the page and the advertising gets in the way of the ingredients.
Makes it difficult to interpret the recipe!
Hi EJ, there seems to be a glitch with the top print button at the start of the page. If you use the print button on the recipe card itself, it will print with no advertisements and proper spacing.
My husband and I loved this recipe – was a great side for our lunches this week!!
Absolutely delicious- I wish I had doubled it- I added mint instead of parsley bc that is what I had since I didn’t look at the recipe before I shopped- it was fantastic!!
For the dressing, the oil and vinegar keep separating – as soon as I stop shaking my cruet container. Is this normal?
Oil and vinegar will naturally separate. If making ahead, just whisk it together before adding to the dish.
I doubled this for a potluck. It was so good, and I had several requests for the recipe! I did add a little Mediterranean seasoning to it, since I was a little short of the right individual spices.
I’m so glad you and everyone enjoyed it!
I have made this, as well as a few variations of it, many times over the past few years. It is always enjoyed by my family. I will say, if you don’t have something on hand for it- many substitutions will work just as well. I have substituted the red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar or balsamic, and have also mixed in some salad dressings like pesto vinaigrette and sundried tomato vinaigrette, to make up for the other dressing ingredients. It’s all about tasting and adjusting! Great recipe, though! A definite crowd-pleaser!
I’m so glad you love it Cheyenne! I agree, so many vinegars work so well with the recipe. I’ll have to try the pesto next time, that sounds great! Thanks for making it.
Can you make it the night before or is it soggy?
Hi Tammy! You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week if you don’t eat it all before then 🙂
Just made this (doubled it, actually), and I can’t wait to dig in. I made extra for dinners and lunches (once with grilled chicken, another time with grilled shrimp, and then sides for when family comes over later this week). Can’t wait!
Yay! I’m so excited for you to try it! I love that you made a double batch too. It’s perfect for meal prepping during the week.
Great, simple recipe! I halved the salt and it was perfection. Great compliment to salmon or fish.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the pasta salad Christine!
Made this salad today. It’s a beautiful salad and tastes anazing
I am so glad you enjoyed it Lynn!
Trying this out for lunch today! How long does this keep in the fridge?
So excited for you to try! I would keep it for up to a week in the fridge.
I used to LIVE on greek salads in high school so this really takes me back. Looks awesome!
Thanks Jo! I agree, Greek flavors are some of my favorites! They all blend together so well