Deliciously creamy, easy to make, and packed with good-for-you ingredients, this creamy orzo is one of the best comfort meals. It’s pretty much a cross between mac and cheese and risotto. Plus, it’s packed with plant-based ingredients making it vegan-friendly!
This is one of my favorite meals to enjoy year-round when I need a delicious and satisfying comfort meal. It tastes incredibly rich, but is dairy-free! And, of course comfort meals need to be easy to make, so this sauce is made by just blending together all ingredients and pouring it over the orzo.
One of the best parts about this dish is that it tastes just as good the next day! I love making this for Sunday night dinner and enjoying throughout the week for an easy lunch. You can also customize it by adding in your favorite veggies and/or protein-source.
P.S. Want more orzo recipes? Find 25+ ideas here.
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WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Healthy & Delicious – This creamy orzo is both healthy and delicious! Recipes that not only taste incredible, but are also packed with benefits are my favorite!
Easy to Make – To make the “cheesy” sauce, the ingredients are just blended together. If you have a blender and a pot, you’ll be good to go!
Perfect for Meal Prep – Not only is this pasta recipe fridge (and freezer) friendly, but the flavor continues to develop as it gets stored.
WHAT IS ORZO?
A small, oval-shaped pasta, orzo is made from semolina flour. Appearance-wise, it’s similar to a long grain of rice. Why do I love it? It’s inexpensive, super easy to make, and extremely versatile!
Besides being used for pasta, it’s also commonly used in soups and salads. But, it can be included anywhere a small pasta would be used. While we’re serving it hot in this dish, it can also be served cold.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED (WITH SUBSTITUTIONS)
Made with just a few simple ingredients, this orzo can be whipped up in no time!
Orzo – The base of this dish is orzo, however you can use any pasta base. Although, I do find it especially delicious with orzo!
Cashews – Soaked cashews make this sauce extra creamy and filling. For the best sauce consistency, it’s important to soak them for the best texture.
Carrots – Boiled carrots provide a savory undertone to this sauce. You can use baby carrots or one large peeled carrot. If using, baby carrots it will be slightly sweeter.
Unsweetened Almond Milk – For thinning out the sauce, unsweetened almond milk is used. Any plain and unsweetened non-dairy milk is fine, such as soy milk, oat milk, etc. You can also use vegetable broth.
Nutritional Yeast – To give a slight “cheesy” taste, we’re adding nutritional yeast. Plus, it’s a great source of B vitamins and protein.
Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, & Paprika – While these are my favorite spices to add a bit of flavor to this sauce, feel free to get creative and add any other ones as well.
Sea Salt & Black Pepper – Salt and pepper enhance the flavors in this sauce. Taste and add more as desired.
Apple Cider Vinegar – A splash of vinegar adds a nice subtle tangy flavor.
Non-Dairy Cream Cheese – To make this sauce extra creamy, plain dairy-free cream cheese is the perfect mix-in. You can omit it, but it does make the texture deliciously creamy!
HOW TO MAKE
Making this orzo is pretty simple, it just requires a few steps. For full ingredients and instructions make sure to read the recipe card below.
Step 1: Begin by soaking the cashews. Place the cashews in a bowl of warm water for at least 4 hours. Or, to speed up the process place the cashews in boiling water for 30-60 minutes, or until tender.
Step 2: The next step is to bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook the orzo according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
Step 3: Next, bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the peeled and chopped carrot (2-3 inch pieces). Boil for 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender.
Step 4: Once the carrots have softened, drain and add to a blender. Add in the drained cashews, almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
Step 5: Blend in a high-speed blender until completely smooth, adding a a few more splashes of almond milk as necessary.
Step 6: Lastly, in a pan on low heat, add the the sauce to the orzo. Mix in the cream cheese and apple cider vinegar and whisk until everything is melted and heated through.
This cream cheese orzo is delicious on its own, but bring it up a level by adding in additional ingredients.
Broccoli / Spinach – An easy way to get greens in is to add them to your favorite pasta dish. Both broccoli and spinach pair well with this super creamy orzo.
For the spinach, sauté before adding and then mix in.
For the broccoli, roast, steam, or boil with the carrots. Then, add to the orzo.
Cherry Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes are delicious with this dish! My favorite way to enjoy them is by blistering them. Here is an easy method to do so.
Vegan Sausage / Tofu – To make this orzo into a hearty meal add crispy tofu or vegan sausage to the dish.
STORAGE & REHEATING
Great for meal prep, this dish can be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Plus, the flavors get stronger as it sits. To store, let cool and place in an airtight container. When ready to enjoy, place the desired portion and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
To freeze this dish, store in a freezer-friendly container for up to 2 months. Reheat on the stove, adding a bit more plant-based milk and/or cream cheese as necessary.
OTHER DINNER RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
If you decide to try this recipe out, let me know! I love seeing your recreations tagged on Instagram @nourishedwithnatalie.
Easy Creamy Orzo
- 1 cup orzo
- ½ cup cashews, soaked
- 1 medium sized carrot, peeled *or 5-6 baby carrots
- ½ – ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk *any unsweetened non-dairy milk is fine
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup vegan cream cheese
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Begin by soaking the cashews for at least 4 hours in warm water. To speed up the process you can also soak the cashews in boiling water for 45 minutes.
- Next, bring a pot of water with a pinch of salt to a boil and cook the orzo according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
- Peel and chop the carrot and bring another pot of water to a boil. Boil the carrot until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- Once the carrots are tender, drain and add to a blender along with the drained cashews, 1/2 cup of the almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Blend until completely smooth, adding an additional tablespoon or two of almond milk as necessary.
- In a pan on low heat, pour the sauce over the orzo. Add in the cream cheese and apple cider vinegar and mix until everything is melted and heated through.
- Add more salt and pepper as necessary, and enjoy!