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Orzo Mac and Cheese

The ultimate comfort food dish. This super creamy, indulgent orzo mac and cheese is a fun and delicious twist on a classic American favorite. Plus, it’s so easy to make – this orzo mac and cheese variation is ready in less than 30 minutes and makes a fantastic hearty vegetarian dinner.

Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that we all know and love – but what if we took that classic recipe and gave it a little twist? That’s where this Orzo Mac and Cheese recipe comes in.

With creamy, cheesy, garlicky goodness and a crispy breadcrumb topping, this dish is a perfect way to indulge in comfort food. It’s easy to make, adaptable, and perfect for a cozy night in. My pumpkin mac and cheese is another great mac and cheese variation, while this super creamy french onion pasta is a good option for a more indulgent pasta dish.

Pair this absolutely delicious dish with crunchy garlic bread for the ultimate treat dinner tonight. For more orzo-inspired deliciousness, I think you’ll love this one-pan-baked orzo with veggie meatballs.

A birds eye view of a bowl of orzo mac and cheese topped with fresh black pepper and a sprig of parsley.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Creamy and cheesy: This Orzo Mac and Cheese is loaded with cheese and has a silky-smooth, creamy texture that will make you want more.
  • Easy to make: With just a few simple steps, this recipe is easy to follow, even for beginners.
  • Adaptable: You can customize this recipe to your liking by adding your favorite seasonings, veggies, or proteins.
  • Perfect comfort food: Whether you’re in need of a warm and cozy dinner or a comforting snack, this Orzo Mac and Cheese is sure to hit the spot.

Equipment You’ll Need

If you don’t want the crispy breadcrumb topping, this is a one-pot meal. Otherwise, you only need very few tools.

  • Large pot for boiling the pasta
  • Medium saucepan for making the cheese sauce (or, just put the orzo in a bowl and use the large pot for your cheese sauce!)
  • A baking dish for baking the mac and cheese
  • A whisk for stirring your cheese sauce
A birds eye view of abaking dish of orzo mac and cheese topped with golden breadcrumbs, fresh black pepper and a sprig of parsley.

Ingredient Notes

  • Orzo pasta: Orzo is a type of pasta that looks like grains of rice. It’s perfect for this recipe because it has a great texture that works beautifully with the creamy cheese sauce – almost like a halfway house between mac and cheese and cheesy risotto!
  • Cheese: The combination of cheddar, smoked gouda, and mozzarella creates a deliciously creamy and savory sauce. Cheddar and gouda are classics for mac and cheese, while the mozzarella melts wonderfully. You can also experiment with other types of cheese, such as parmesan, gruyere, or blue cheese.
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, and salt add some great layers of flavor to the dish. You could also add a teaspoon of dijon mustard, some cayenne pepper, or even a pinch of nutmeg.
  • Breadcrumbs: Use fresh breadcrumbs made from a slice of bread for the perfect crispy topping.
  • Flour, butter, and milk: These are the foundations of your cheese sauce, making a roux before you add your cheese. Use equal parts butter and flour.

How To Make This Orzo Mac and Cheese

Here are all the steps to follow to make this orzo mac and cheese. Please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this page for all the quantities and instructions needed.

Step 1: Cook Your Orzo

Cook 300g of orzo pasta according to the package instructions (around 10 minutes) until it’s al dente. Drain the pasta and set it aside. Preheat Your Oven Preheat your oven to 200°C.

Step 2: Make the Cheese Sauce

In a medium saucepan, heat 50g butter over medium heat until it’s just melted. Add one minced clove of garlic to the saucepan and cook for about a minute until fragrant. Add 50g of plain flour to the saucepan and stir until the mixture resembles a dough. This should only take around 1 – 2 minutes.

Gradually pour in 500ml of milk, stirring continuously with a whisk to avoid lumps. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of onion powder, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp of black pepper, and 2 tsp of salt to the saucepan and stir to combine. Then, add 30g of cheddar cheese, 30g of smoked gouda, and 25g of mozzarella to the saucepan and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and glossy.

Step 3: Combine the Orzo and Cheese Sauce

Add your cooked, drained orzo pasta to the cheese sauce and stir it into the cheese sauce until it’s evenly coated.

If you’re not looking for that crispy crunchy topping, you’re done! Otherwise…

Step 4: Prepare the Breadcrumb Topping

Blitz one slice of bread into breadcrumbs and set them aside.

Step 5: Assemble the Orzo Mac and Cheese

Pour the orzo mac and cheese into a baking dish and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the mac and cheese. Sprinkle a little more black pepper and paprika over the breadcrumbs for extra flavor.

Step 6: Bake the Orzo Mac and Cheese

Bake the orzo mac and cheese for around 10 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy.

Step 7: Serve and Enjoy

Remove the orzo mac and cheese from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with chopped parsley and garlic bread. Try not to devour the whole dish in one sitting!

Expert Tips

  • Use fresh garlic and mince it finely for the best flavor. I know jarred garlic is convenient, but it just doesn’t taste the same!
  • Grate your cheeses to ensure they all melt into the cheese sauce around the same time. Adding chunks of cheese in will take much longer to melt down!
  • Keep stirring the sauce while adding the milk to avoid lumps. Don’t worry if it looks lumpy at first – just keep stirring!
  • Use a whisk to stir the sauce to ensure a smooth and silky texture.
  • If your sauce looks too thick, add a tablespoon or two more milk to thin it out.
  • Adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes – if you prefer a spicier mac and cheese sauce, add more paprika and perhaps even a little cayenne pepper.
  • Use a mix of cheeses for a more complex and rich flavor.
  • To make this orzo mac and cheese completely vegan, you’ll need plant-based butter and milk, and to swap out the cheese for vegan cheese.
A shot of a bowl of orzo mac and cheese topped with fresh black pepper and a sprig of parsley.

Storage

This Orzo Mac and Cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through. The leftovers will be quite solid once refrigerated, but don’t worry, once warmed through your mac and cheese is restored to deliciousness!

You could also freeze this recipe for up to three months in an airtight container. Defrost fully before re-heating and ensure it’s piping hot before serving.

Other Recipes You Might Like

If you like the look of this orzo mac and cheese, you might also like this creamy tomato pasta, this butternut squash and white bean pasta, or this delicious vegan cauliflower cheese.

A birds eye view of a bowl of orzo mac and cheese topped with fresh black pepper and a sprig of parsley.

FAQs

Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

Yes, you can use any type of pasta you like, but orzo works best because of its size and texture.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can make this recipe ahead of time and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just reheat it in the oven or microwave before serving.

Can I make this recipe vegan-friendly?

Yes, you can use vegan butter, milk, and cheese to make this recipe vegan-friendly. Just make sure to choose a cheese that melts well and has a good flavor. Nutritional yeast can also be used to add a cheesy flavor to the sauce.

Can I freeze this recipe?

It’s not recommended to freeze this recipe because the cheese sauce may separate and become grainy when thawed.

This Orzo Mac and Cheese is the perfect way to indulge in a warm and comforting dish that is easy to make and adaptable to your tastes.

The creamy cheese sauce and crispy breadcrumb topping make this dish a perfect crowd-pleaser, whether you’re serving it as a main dish or a side dish. If you make this recipe, please do let me know what you think of it!

Orzo Mac and Cheese

Orzo Mac and Cheese

Yield: 4-5 portions
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A super creamy and delicious twist on the classic mac and cheese recipe, this orzo mac and cheese is packed with flavor and great as an appetizer or as a main dish.

Ingredients

  • 300g orzo pasta
  • 50g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 30g cheddar cheese
  • 30g smoked gouda
  • 25g mozzarella
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 slice bread (blitzed into breadcrumbs)

Instructions

  1. Cook your orzo according to the package instructions (around 10 minutes). Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Meanwhile, heat your butter on medium heat until it’s just melted.
  3. Add your garlic, minced, and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  4. Add the flour and stir - the butter and flour will resemble a dough.
  5. Pour in the milk, stirring continuously to avoid lumps. 
  6. As the sauce begins to thicken (2-3 minutes), add in the seasonings and cheeses. Keep stirring until the sauce is thick and glossy.
  7. Drain your orzo and stir it into the cheese sauce.
  8. Pour the orzo mac and cheese into your baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs and a little more black pepper and paprika.
  9. Bake for 10 minutes until the top is golden brown and crispy.
  10. Serve with chopped parsley and garlic bread.

Notes

This Orzo Mac and Cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through.

Expert Tips

  • Use fresh garlic and mince it finely for the best flavor.
  • Keep stirring the sauce while adding the milk to avoid lumps.
  • Use a whisk to stir the sauce to ensure a smooth and silky texture.
  • Use a mix of cheese for a more complex and rich flavor.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 378Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 46mgSodium: 1196mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 2gSugar: 7gProtein: 14g

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