Lemon Orzo Chickpea Salad

Fresh, vibrant and easy to make, this lemon orzo chickpea salad is the perfect dish to start welcoming spring and summer. This salad is full of flavor from the zippy lemon garlic dressing and can be prepped in minutes.

Bowl of orzo salad with a wedge of lemon tucked into it.

Meals like this remind me of bright spring afternoons. Fresh veggies, spending time outside soaking up sun and enjoying food with family outside. This bowl of lemon orzo chickpea salad tastes exactly how I imagine the start of spring, fresh! We still have a little bit of time to wait between fluctuating weather, but I’m patient. So between this salad and alternating it with a warm bowl of my favorite lemon orzo soup, I am holding strong with the anticipation of spring very soon.

Why you’ll love this lemon orzo chickpea salad

  • Super quick and easy to make. The orzo takes a few minutes to cook and everything else gets thrown into a bowl to toss together.
  • This recipe is vegan and can be easily modified to be gluten free and nut free.
  • A great way to use up fresh veggies and herbs that might be on their way out in the fridge.

Key Ingredients

  • Orzo: the main starch in our dish
  • Lemon: need both the juice and zest
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: we’re opting for EVOO for that really robust taste that will adhere to the salad
  • Chickpeas: for a little extra plant based protein
  • Nutritional Yeast: provides a little umami flavor in place of using any cheese
  • Herbs: fresh herbs like parsley for a little bit of brightness to this salad
  • Vegetables: vegetables of your choice like cucumbers, red onion, and cherry tomatoes

How to make this salad perfectly

Start by bringing a pot of water to a boil, making sure salt the water well. Add in orzo and cook according to package instructions. Drain your pasta and set aside making sure not to rinse.

Prepare your dressing by mixing together all dressing ingredients well in a small bowl or jar.

To a large mixing bowl add your orzo, chickpeas, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon zest and red pepper flakes.

Orzo salad being mixed with a wooden spoon

Tips for making orzo salad

  • Make sure to salt your water when cooking your orzo! This will impact the flavor of your pasta, which will also help to enhance the flavor of your salad at the end.
  • Don’t rinse your orzo. Rinsing the orzo will remove some of the starches that helps to adhere the sauce to the orzo.
  • Remove the seeds from your cucumber to help prevent your salad from getting soggy over time especially if you are using this for meal prep.

Is Orzo Healthy?

While many view pasta negatively, pasta like orzo is made with semolina flour, which is a little different than regular flour. This flour comes with a little protein and fiber to it, even it’s more refined state. Balancing this orzo with all the vegetables, chickpeas and herbs makes for a very nutritious and satisfying meal.

Do you eat pasta salad warm or cold?

This salad is meant to enjoy cold, but can be enjoyed once fully prepared as well. If enjoying cold, just make sure to cover and allow to cool in the fridge for at least an hour.

Side view of a bowl of lemon orzo chickpea salad set on top of a napkin.

What do you serve this orzo pasta with?

Since this dish has chickpeas added in, you can technically eat as is and still get a full balance of nutrients. However, if you want some additional fullness, you can enjoy some veggie skewers or baked or grilled tofu along with this salad.

Can you make substitutions to this salad?

  • GLUTEN FREE: You can substitute the orzo with some quinoa, gluten free orzo or Banza’s Chickpea Rice for this recipe. Follow package instructions for best results when preparing.
  • SWEETENER: You can replace the agave with another liquid sweetener of choice like maple syrup.
  • BEANS: Sub out the chickpeas for white beans, tofu or your favorite plant based meat alternative.
  • NUTS: You can replace the almonds with pepitas, hemp hearts or sunflower seeds.

Storing your lemon orzo chickpea salad

Place ingredients in an airtight container and allow to chill in the fridge for up to 4 days. This salad is not appropriate for freezing.

More delicious salad ideas

Large bowl of orzo salad sitting on a napkin.
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Bowl of orzo salad with a wedge of lemon tucked into it.

Lemon Orzo Chickpea Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 9 reviews
  • Author: Catherine Perez
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Fresh, vibrant and easy to make, this lemon orzo chickpea salad is the perfect dish to start welcoming spring and summer. This salad is full of flavor from the zippy lemon garlic dressing and can be prepped in minutes. 



Orzo Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups dry orzo
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, deseeded and cubed
  • 1/4 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • Handful chopped parsley, minced
  • Zest of one lemon (optional)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Lemon Garlic Dressing Recipe
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Garlic Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 12 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp dry basil
  • 1/4 tsp dry oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook orzo according to package recommendations and instructions. Drain the orzo, but do not rinse it! Just set it aside and prep the remaining ingredients. 
  2. Prepare your lemon garlic dressing. To a small bowl or jar combine olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, agave, basil, and oregano. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Now, to a large bowl add in your orzo then add in cucumber, onion, tomatoes, almonds, nutritional yeast, chickpeas, parsley, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and pour over your dressing. 
  4. Toss the salad together to coat and mix ingredients well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve. To really allow the flavors to meld, I recommend chilling for at least an hour in the fridge before serving.  


When cooking orzo pay attention well to salting the boiling water well. This will make a difference in terms of the final taste of your salad. If you feel some of the flavors aren’t as pronounced in your salad, adjust by sprinkling in some more salt to taste. 

Do not rinse your orzo after cooking! Rinsing the orzo will remove the starch from the orzo, which might effect how the sauce adheres to your pasta. 

If you can manage to wait a little longer to enjoy this salad, I do recommend allowing this salad to really chill in the fridge for at least an hour before enjoying. This will allow the flavors to truly blend together for the best tasting salad.

Need some alternatives for this salad? For GLUTEN FREE substitute the orzo for quinoa, gluten free orzo or Banza’s Chickpea Rice. For SWEETENER, you can replace the agave with another liquid sweetener of choice like maple syrup. Replace CHICKPEAS for white beans, tofu or your favorite plant based meat alternative. For NUTS replace almonds with pepitas, hemp hearts or sunflower seeds.

Did You Try This Recipe?
Then let me know what you thought! Share your creations by tagging me on Instagram with the hashtag #plantbasedrdeats



  1. My husband and I loved this! It tasted great the night we made it and there was plenty extra, which was perfect for lunches during the week. Didn’t change anything and will absolutely make again.

    1. Totally makes my day to hear! Thank you so much for trying this and so glad you and your husband loved it!

  2. As a RD, I appreciate how tasty & wholesome this recipe is while using simple ingredients.

    I was able to get away with subbing white balsamic vinegar for rice vinegar (per availability of my pantry staples). I also added a veggie bouillon to the orzo and roasted the chickpeas on a whim. These modifications aren’t necessarily, but can add extra flavor & texture for those with some extra time on their hands.

    Loved the meal overall and would recommend it! Thanks for creating it Catherine 🙂

    1. Hi fellow RD. 🙂 So glad you made this and so so grateful for this super kind comment Chels! So glad the substitutions worked out great too!

  3. This was so delicious! Although I had most of the ingredients, there were some I didn’t. I substituted the cucumbers for diced radishes and I didn’t have fresh parsley or sliced almonds. Even so, this came out soooo good and I found it so addicting to eat. I will definitely make again and make sure I have all ingredients.

    1. I’m so glad the substitutions worked! So glad you enjoyed it and literally could pour the dressing on anything and be super satisfied. Thank you Amanda!

  4. I was so excited about this recipe. It’s very nice until your lips are on fire from the heat of the chili flakes. I’ll make this again but skip the chili flakes. I only added less than 1/2 a tsp.

    1. So sorry the spice effected you! I hope you can still enjoy making it in the future. Thanks for the feed back Melanie!

  5. I just made this and I LOVE it. The flavors are fresh and the recipe makes a decent amount with is perfect for meal prep lunches during busy weeks. Will definitely be making this on the regular 🙂

    1. Awww this makes me so happy to hear Isabella! So glad you love it and even happier to know it is helpful during those busy weeks. 🙂

  6. Just made this for our dinner tonight – waiting the “hour” suggested (however, I can’t wait – just a taste test was amazing!) I have never used brewer’s yeast, so that is a new one for us – thanks for the great recipe! I think this is going to be one of those that gets into in my “tried and true” recipe files!

    1. Hehe I know the wait can be so challenging, but so so happy you loved the recipe. This brings me the greatest joy! 🙂

  7. So yummy. Made for my daughter’s school for snack. Didn’t have white balsamic vinegar so used white wine vinegar instead. Used the higher amount garlic because…garlic! Refrigerated overnight and then added additional lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Was a big hit with the teachers and I think the kids were fascinated that pasta could look like rice. It was the perfect refreshing pasta salad for a warm day.

    1. This was the best message to receive! Thank you so so much for making this recipe and oh goodness even happier to know it was a big hit with others. Getting the little ones interested in rice like pasta is always so fun. 🙂

    1. When the whole family loves it, it is absolutely a win. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe. Means so much to hear. 🙂

  8. I substituted the white balsamic with red balsamic, sunflower seeds for the almonds and honey for agave syrup and it was great! Very delicious and easy to make. Alisa

  9. This is an amazing dish! I’ll be adding this to my regular rotation … especially during warmer months.

    1. Makes me so happy to hear! Thank you Tricia and glad to know you’ll be enjoying this more. 🙂

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