HomeDinnerOne Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo

One Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo

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One Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo


When it comes to quick, delicious, and satisfying meals, One Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo stands out as a top contender. This dish combines tender shrimp, perfectly cooked orzo, and a zesty lemon pepper seasoning that tantalizes the taste buds. Not only is it a breeze to prepare, but it also packs a punch in terms of flavor and nutrition. Let’s dive into why this meal should be on your weekly rotation and how to make it.

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Ingredients Overview

To make this delightful dish, you’ll need a few simple ingredients:

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  • Shrimp: Fresh or frozen, peeled and deveined.
  • Orzo: A type of pasta that looks like rice but cooks faster.
  • Lemon pepper seasoning: A mix of lemon zest, black pepper, and other spices.
  • Garlic: Fresh cloves, minced.
  • Olive oil: For sautéing.
  • Chicken broth: To cook the orzo and add flavor.
  • Parsley: Fresh, for garnish.

Optional add-ins include cherry tomatoes, spinach, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for an extra burst of flavor.

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Benefits of Cooking with Shrimp

Shrimp are a powerhouse of nutrition, boasting high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals while being low in calories. They’re incredibly versatile and cook quickly, making them perfect for busy weeknights. Plus, shrimp are a great source of antioxidants like astaxanthin, which promotes heart and brain health.

What Makes Orzo Special

Orzo, though often mistaken for rice, is a small, rice-shaped pasta. It cooks quickly, absorbs flavors well, and has a satisfying, slightly chewy texture. Nutritionally, orzo provides a good source of energy through carbohydrates and can be found in whole grain varieties for added fiber.

Why Lemon Pepper Seasoning is a Game Changer

Lemon pepper seasoning combines the tangy zest of lemon with the sharp bite of black pepper, creating a vibrant and refreshing flavor profile. This seasoning not only enhances the taste of the shrimp and orzo but also offers a dose of vitamin C and antioxidants from the lemon zest.

Essential Tools for the Recipe

To whip up this meal, you’ll need a few key tools:

  • A large skillet: Preferably non-stick or cast iron.
  • A sharp knife: For mincing garlic and preparing other ingredients.
  • A wooden spoon: For stirring.
  • A measuring cup: For the chicken broth.

Optional tools like a lemon zester and a garlic press can make preparation even more efficient.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

1. Preparing the Shrimp:
Start by rinsing the shrimp under cold water and patting them dry with paper towels. Season them generously with lemon pepper seasoning.

2. Cooking the Orzo:
In your skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. Pour in the orzo and toast it slightly before adding the chicken broth. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the orzo is tender and has absorbed most of the broth.

3. Combining Ingredients:
In a separate pan, cook the seasoned shrimp until they turn pink and opaque, about 2-3 minutes per side. Add the cooked shrimp to the skillet with orzo, stirring to combine. Toss in any optional add-ins like cherry tomatoes or spinach at this stage.

Tips for Perfectly Cooked Shrimp

To ensure your shrimp are perfectly cooked, avoid overcooking them. Shrimp should be cooked just until they turn pink and start to curl. Overcooked shrimp become tough and rubbery, which can ruin the dish. Ensure even seasoning by tossing the shrimp in the lemon pepper seasoning and letting them sit for a few minutes before cooking.

Orzo Cooking Tips

Achieving the perfect texture for orzo involves not overcooking it. Orzo should be al dente, meaning it should have a slight bite to it. To enhance its flavor, toasting the orzo in a bit of olive oil before adding the broth can add a nutty depth to the dish.

Adjusting the Recipe for Dietary Needs

Making it Gluten-Free:
Substitute the orzo with gluten-free pasta or rice to make the dish gluten-free.

Low-Carb Adjustments:
For a low-carb version, replace orzo with cauliflower rice. This keeps the dish light and reduces the carb count significantly.

Pairing Suggestions

Side Dishes:
This dish pairs wonderfully with a fresh green salad or steamed vegetables. Garlic bread or a side of roasted asparagus can also complement the flavors well.

Beverage Pairings:
A crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or a light rosé can elevate the meal. For non-alcoholic options, try sparkling water with a splash of lemon.

Serving and Presentation

To make the dish visually appealing, serve the shrimp and orzo in shallow bowls. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon on the side. For an extra touch, sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep well for up to 3 days.

Reheat gently in a skillet over medium heat, adding a splash of chicken broth or water to keep the orzo from drying out. Alternatively, you can use a microwave, stirring halfway through to ensure even heating.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Pitfalls in Cooking Shrimp and Orzo:

  • Overcooking the shrimp: This makes them tough and unpalatable.
  • Underseasoning: Ensure the shrimp and orzo are well-seasoned for maximum flavor.
  • Overcooking the orzo: It should be al dente, not mushy.

How to Fix Common Issues:

  • If the shrimp are overcooked, try adding a bit more olive oil and lemon juice to the dish to add moisture.
  • If the orzo is overcooked, serving it immediately can help prevent it from becoming mushier as it cools.


One Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo is a delightful, easy-to-make dish that combines the bright flavors of lemon pepper with succulent shrimp and perfectly cooked orzo. It’s nutritious, versatile, and perfect for any night of the week. Give it a try, and enjoy the burst of flavors in every bite!


Can I use frozen shrimp?
Yes, you can use frozen shrimp. Just make sure to thaw them completely and pat them dry before cooking.

What can I substitute for orzo?
You can substitute orzo with other small pasta like couscous, or for a gluten-free option, use rice or quinoa.

How can I make this dish spicier?
To add some heat, include a pinch of red pepper flakes or diced jalapeños while cooking the garlic.

Is there a vegan version of this recipe?
For a vegan version, replace the shrimp with tofu or chickpeas and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

How long does it take to cook?
From start to finish, this dish takes about 30 minutes to prepare and cook, making it perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.

One Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo

When it comes to quick, delicious, and satisfying meals, One Skillet Lemon Pepper Shrimp and Orzo stands out as a top contender. This dish combines tender shrimp, perfectly cooked orzo, and a zesty lemon pepper seasoning that tantalizes the taste buds. Not only is it a breeze to prepare, but it also packs a punch in terms of flavor and nutrition. Let’s dive into why this meal should be on your weekly rotation and how to make it.

  • 2 Tbsp. butter (divided)
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 lb. raw peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (divided)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 1/4 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 3 cups lower-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach (or 8 oz. fresh asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
  1. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel, and season evenly with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

    Heat 1 Tbsp. each of butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Arrange shrimp in skillet, avoiding any overlap; cook 3 minutes, flip, and cook 1 more minute. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

    (Note: cook shrimp in two separate batches if skillet isn't large enough.)

  2. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. each of butter and olive oil to pan. Add shallots and garlic; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until aromatic. Add orzo, stir to coat; cook 1 to 2 minutes, to lightly toast grains.

    Add broth, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. cracked black pepper; bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and gently simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until orzo is al dente and most liquid is absorbed.

    During the final few minutes, stir in spinach or asparagus. Cover and continue cooking until spinach is wilted (or asparagus is tender with still some bite). Uncover and stir in lemon zest and juice.

  3. Nestle shrimp back into skillet and garnish with fresh parsley and extra cracked black pepper, if desired.

    *I also love to garnish this dish with sautéed lemon slices, however it's simply for aesthetics.


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