Beautifully seasoned, tender, pan-fried salmon, nestled in a bed of creamy orzo with lemon and parmesan. It feels like a really special dinner, yet it's quick to make and all cooked in one pan (no pre-boiling of the orzo needed).
I love to use orzo as an alternative to risotto for a dinner that cooks in far less time!
Have you ever used orzo before? It's such a great store-cupboard ingredient, and cooks up really quickly (usually about 8 minutes).
You would normally cook it in boiling water, but for this recipe, i'm cooking it in stock, in the SAME PAN as my salmon.
Although it looks a lot like large grains of rice, orzo is actually pasta. You would usually cook it in boiling water until al dente.
It works particularly well served in a sauce (like pasta) or in soups.
It's also known as risoni.
📋 What do we need?
- Salmon - I'm using sockeye or red salmon in this recipe, as I love the colour and the slightly more robust flavour than regular salmon. However, regular salmon works just fine too.
- Orzo - you can find this on the pasta shelf in most large supermarkets. You don't need a lot. A little goes a long way (especially in a creamy sauce).
📺 Watch how to make it
Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.
- First we season the salmon - I like to use a mixture of seasonings, that include garlic salt, parsley and paprika (as well as good old salt and pepper) to give the salmon plenty of flavour and a lovely colour. Once it's seasoned, we fried it, flesh side down for just a few minutes, then transfer to a plate.
- Now we add some garlic to the pan, as well as the orzo and chicken stock. The salmon fillets are nestled back in too, so they'll continue to cook, along with the orzo.
- Once the orzo is cooked, we stir in some cream, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, plus a little more seasoning if it needs it, and it's ready to serve.
👩🍳PRO TIP Serve right away, as the orzo will continue to absorb liquid if it's left standing too long.
I like to serve mine with some lemon wedges, black pepper and a sprinkling of parsley.
🍽️ What to serve it with
- Some fresh baby spinach or a simple green salad
- Steamed asparagus or peas
- A nice chunk of garlic bread always goes down well!
Can I make it ahead?
This recipe is best served right away, so I don't recommend making it ahead. If you make it ahead and try to reheat, you'll find that the orzo becomes claggy and the salmon is at risk of drying out.
Swap out salmon for smoked haddock or trout fillets
Add frozen peas in during the last five minutes of cooking if you want a bit of green in there
How to scale down this recipe
You can halve this recipe to serve to two people. Just halve the ingredients (same ratios), but stick to the same cooking times.
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🐟 Pan-Fried Salmon with Creamy Lemon Orzo
Salmon and spice rub:
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1 Pinch salt
- 1 Pinch garlic salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic - , peeled and minced
- 230 g (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) dried orzo
- 480 ml (2 cups) chicken stock
- 60 ml (¼ cup) double (heavy) cream
- 75 g (¾ cup) grated parmesan
- Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Small bunch fresh parsley - , finely chopped
- Lemon wedges
- Black pepper
- Place the salmon fillets on a plate.
- Mix together the salt, garlic salt, pepper, paprika and dried parsley. Sprinkle onto the top of the salmon and pat it down, so it sticks.
- Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan (skillet), over a medium-high heat.
- Add the salmon fillets, skin-side-up (so the part coated with the spice mix is in the oil).
- Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the salmon is golden brown, then remove the salmon from the pan and place on a plate, skin-side-down (we'll continue cooking it shortly).
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, so the garlic doesn’t burn.
- Add the dried orzo to the pan, stir with the garlic, then add the chicken stock and stir again.
- Nestle the salmon fillets into the orzo, skin-side down.
- Turn the heat back up to medium-high and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is al dente (cooked, but with a little bite). You'll need to move the salmon with a set of tongs to stir the orzo underneath, so it doesn't stick to the pan.
- Add the cream, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper to the orzo and stir together.
- Turn off the heat, sprinkle on the chopped parsley and a little black pepper. Arrange the lemon wedges in the pan, then serve.
- Swap out salmon for smoked haddock or trout fillets
- Add frozen peas in during the last five minutes of cooking if you want a bit of green in there
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.
Very delicious. I will use 2 pans next time. Easier to stir the orzo.
Susan Sparkes says
This recipe has now become one of our favourite meals! So quick and easy and more importantly delicious.
This was such a great recipe and SOO easy to make on the fly!
A lovely way to enjoy salmon
Alison A says
Nicky I've been making your Salmon Orzo recipe for quite a while. Its super tasty and so quick when you've been out and come home starving. Everyone I've made for has loved it too.
Thanks so much for all your lovely recipes.
Chris Davenport says
Great tasty recipe for fried salmon. Everyone in our house loves this variation. Have you tried adding Himalayan salt as a garnish just before serving? It gives some great added texture.
Just had for my dinner. Really quick to make & it was absolutely delicious. I added some extra lemon juice & zest because I really like citrus flavours. I replaced the cream with quark just because I need to watch my calories but I didn't feel it changed the taste. I also added the peas at the end as well & a little less parmesan. Simple & tasty. Going on the midweek rota as well.
I doubled it for company. We all loved it!!
This recipe was perfect! First of all, it was easy and uses ingredients that I had on hand. Second, it was quick! Third, it was incredibly tasty--the salmon cooked to the perfect doneness and the orzo had just a bit of lemony tang. Thank you for sharing this!
Quick and delicious thanks
Yvonne Cooper says
Quick, easy and completely delicious.
Always looking for new ways to cook salmon and this was delicious thank you. The orzo makes such a delicious change from risotto.😋
PJ Wall says
Made this tonight with limited time to prep. It was easy, quick and delicious!! A real keeper.
Thanks from across the pond, Nicky!