Orzo Salad with Fresh Lemon and Chive Dressing

Looking for a light, fresh, flavor filled pasta salad? This salad has been on the Foster family table for years at many holiday events from Easter to summer barbecues! Orzo Salad with Fresh Lemon and Chive Dressing is not your run-of-the-mill pasta salad. A side dish stand-out in a sea of traditional pasta salad recipes!

Orzo pasta salad in minutes!

Orzo is a small, rice shaped pasta, often served in place of rice or potatoes as a side dish. In this recipe, the pasta is so small, I often have guests ask if it’s rice! Because the pasta is so small, be careful to follow recipe and package directions to cook just until done (I usually cook for a couple minutes less and test until the orzo is al dente). I think we can all agree that nothing is worse than mushy pasta!

Asparagus and tomatoes in lemon dressing with orzo pasta

Whether you are planning a family dinner, a trip to the beach, a wedding shower, or lunch with your best friends, this salad satisfies the pickiest palate! It travels well and can be made ahead too. The pasta may be cooked a couple of days before serving and stored in the fridge tossed with a little bit of olive oil. If you need to make a gluten free salad, substitute cauliflower rice instead of orzo.

Looking for other amazing salads for summer gatherings? Take a look at this post, where we have rounded up 20 of our best easy summer salad recipes.

Easy fresh lemon dressing on pasta salad

This salad pairs well with Beef Fajita Shish Kabobs, Lemon Pepper Kabobs with Soda Pop Marinade, Soft Herb Bread Sticks, and homemade pie. Enjoy!

Originally published in 2014, this post updated in 2023 with new content and photos

Orzo Salad with Fresh Lemon and Chive Dressing

4.34 from 3 votes
Author: Si Foster
Course: brunch, Dinner, lunch
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 12
Orzo Salad with Fresh Lemon and Chive Dressing for your next summer gathering! Made with orzo, a small, rice shaped pasta, fresh tomatoes and asparagus.


for salad:

  • 1 lb orzo
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus
  • 1 lb grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped chives, divided (half for dressing, half for garnish)
  • 1 lemon rind, grated fine, using a microplane grater
  • sliced lemon, for garnish

for dressing:

  • 1 cup light olive oil or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh chives, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


  • Cook the orzo according to package directions, set aside. This may be done up to three days before serving salad.
  • Wash and snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Cut into one inch pieces on the diagonal. Place about 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan. Put the asparagus in the pan, heat until water boils. Cover and cook for one minute. Remove from heat. Asparagus should be bright green. Drain off hot water and pour cool water into the pan. Drain again and place asparagus in the bowl with the cooked orzo. Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the bowl with the orzo and asparagus. Add one half cup of the chopped chives and the grated lemon rind.
  • Mix all of the dressing ingredients with a whisk, or place in a blender, or use an immersion blender and pulse until ingredients are blended well.
  • Pour 3/4 cup of the dressing over the salad and toss. Just before serving, toss with additional dressing if needed. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of chives and lemon slices.


  • The orzo may be cooked ahead, but the asparagus is best when tossed with the dressing on the same day.
  • You will have leftover dressing. Don’t be tempted to drown the salad in dressing! Use the leftover dressing on a green salad, or chopped avocado and tomatoes. This dressing also makes a great marinade for grilled chicken. 

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