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Meatballs and Orzo

You'll use just one pot to make this irresistibly delicious Meatballs and Orzo dinner, complete with one-ingredient "meatballs" and creamy Italian-seasoned orzo. 
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Meatballs and Orzo
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 -6 servings
Calories 616kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.12


  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups finely diced yellow onion (1 large onion)
  • 19 ounces Italian sausage (Note 1)
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • 1 bag (12 oz.) frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons each: unsalted butter and white flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock/broth
  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk (Note 2)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: onion & garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 cups dry orzo pasta (Note 3)
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, divided (Note 4)
  • Optional: fresh parsley, lemon (for serving)


  • PREP: This dish moves quickly; prep first! Start by measuring the milk and setting it aside (warmer milk = cooks faster). Dice onion (use food processor for quicker prep). Prepare sausage (Note 1).
  • ONION AND SAUSAGE: Heat 1-1/2 tbsp oil in a large nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté 3 minutes. Add prepared coined sausages and cook, stirring/flipping only occasionally until golden and nicely browned on the outside. (Don't constantly stir; we want to get a nice char!) While browning, season the sausage to taste (I add 3/4 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper). Once sausage is cooked through, add in frozen peas and 1 tbsp garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes. Empty all of the mixture into a large bowl; cover with foil and set aside for now. Don't wipe out the pot.
  • CREAM SAUCE: Return the pot to the burner, set to medium heat. Melt 2 tbsp butter, whisk in 2 tbsp flour. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually, while whisking constantly, add in 2 cups stock. Add in 2-1/4 cup milk, uncooked 1-1/2 cups orzo, 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp onion powder. Stir.
  • FINISH COOKING: Raise heat to bring mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat until it's gently bubbling. Cook for 7 minutes, without a lid, stirring occasionally and making sure to scrape the bottom so the orzo does not stick. After 7 minutes the pasta should be almost tender (mixture will still be soupy). Add the bowl of sausage to the pot and stir through gently. Sprinkle on 3/4 cup Parmesan and stir to melt. Season again to taste -- the salt and pepper really pull all the flavors together.
  • SERVE: Consistency should be similar to risotto and very creamy. (Add a splash of milk if needed to thin consistency a bit.) Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan over individual plates. If desired, add some freshly chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon to individual plates. Enjoy while hot.



Note 1: Italian sausage: Depending on personal preference, use mild or spicy sausage — either works. (When making for my kids, we use mild.) Make sure to get Italian sausages with casings (as opposed to bulk ground Italian sausage) so the sausages can be cut into the mini "meatballs." Before cutting the sausage, remove the casings. Once casings are removed, use a sharp knife to cut the sausages into small 1/2-inch-thick rounds. No need to shape them into perfectly round balls-- they'll work great this way! 
If you end up with a package of bulk ground sausage, just turn it out onto a cutting board in one large piece and cut into a grid to make squares. That works too!
Note 2: Whole milk: This is meant to be a creamy recipe, so stick to whole milk for best results. 2% and 1% will work, but less creamy. Unfortunately, skim milk or a dairy milk alternative doesn't work the same way in this recipe.
Note 3: Orzo: Although orzo looks a bit like rice, it’s not a grain. (It's a common misconception that rice and orzo can be interchanged, but they won't cook the same in this recipe.) You can find orzo in the pasta aisle of most grocery stores. Don't add the entire box; only use 1-1/2 cups. I would not recommend any substitutes for orzo pasta -- it takes on a risotto-type creamy consistency that is not well duplicated with different (larger) pasta.
Note 4: Parmesan cheese: Use a block of Parmesan and grate it on the small holes of a grater. Alternatively, use finely grated Parmesan cheese. Parmesan from the can will be too salty and won't melt into the sauce nicely.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 616kcal | Carbohydrates: 35.9g | Protein: 28.6g | Fat: 39.6g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 1082.8mg | Fiber: 3.8g | Sugar: 10.1g