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One pan meatballs and orzo with mushrooms

Weeknight dinners call for easy recipes like meatballs and orzo with mushrooms. This hearty one pan meal is ready in less than an hour. One pan meals are a favorite around here. Weeknights are hectic and a simple dinner that only requires one pan to wash is always appreciated.

I’ll give you variations and substitutions where I can, plus helpful tips and tricks for success. Read on for this info as well as the recipe. If you’d like to skip straight to the recipe, use the jump to recipe button at the top of the post.

You may also be interested in my one pot chicken pasta and my fregula with mushrooms recipes. For ease of browsing, you can find all of my one pot meals in one place.

Meatballs and orzo with mushrooms in a wide shallow pan, with herbs in the background.

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Why you should make this recipe

The whole point of easy weeknight cooking is that it should be easy. Use what you have and make this dish your own. I used my beef meatball recipe, but you can switch it out for turkey meatballs or chicken meatballs. You can even use veggie meatballs to make it a meat-free dinner.

  • Fast This easy recipe is ready in under an hour.
  • Versatile – You can swap out beef meatballs for turkey meatballs, swap out mushrooms for other vegetables, etc. Use this recipe as a template and make endless variations.
  • Minimal cleanup With only one pan to wash, this meal qualifies for easy cleanup.
Overhead photo of shallow red pan with orzo, meatballs and mushrooms, with a kitchen towel in the background.

One pan orzo and meatballs

This might be my new favorite weeknight meal. It is so easy and so full of flavor. Besides the fact that it’s delicious, it doesn’t take me an hour to clean up the kitchen afterwards. Minimal cleanup is definitely a factor when I’m deciding what to make for dinner.

Weeknight cooking is all about ease. This includes the amount of dishes to wash as well as the actual recipe. I have a certain criteria that weeknight meals need to meet, and if I can have leftovers, it earns bonus points.


This easy recipe is customizable to suit your dietary preferences, and also to what you might happen to have on hand. For example, the stock. Use what you have – if you have chicken stock, use it. Vegetable stock? No problem, use it.

Ingredients for mushroom orzo and meatballs recipe on dark wood background.
  • Meatballs – If you have some stashed in the freezer, this is the perfect time to use them. If not, they are quick and easy to make. You can use any meatball recipe that you like.
  • Garlic and herbs – These ingredients add amazing flavor to this one pan meal.
  • Parmesan – A handful of grated Parmesan gives the sauce tons of flavor and body.
    • Substitutions: Pecorino Romano is a great substitute and one I often use.
  • Mushrooms – For the mushrooms, I prefer cremini (also called baby Bella), instead of the white mushrooms pictured here. Unfortunately, the creminis didn’t look great, so I opted for the regular mushrooms.
    • Substitutions: Swap out mushrooms for baby spinach, if you are not a mushroom fan.
  • Stock – I used chicken stock, but you can use whatever you have in the pantry.
  • Cream – A splash of cream gives this meal a bit of richness.
  • Orzo – Orzo is rice-shaped pasta. You can use any small pasta you have, just check the cooking time on the box.
  • Shallots – Milder than regular onions, shallots give a great flavor to the meal without being overpowering.

How to make

Here’s a quick summary of how to make meatballs and orzo with mushrooms. Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe. 

This one pan meal is made by browning meatballs, then adding in the aromatics (onions and garlic). Finally, the orzo, stock and cream go into the pot and it simmers until the pasta and meatballs are cooked.

Mushrooms and onions cooking in a shallow red pan.
  1. Prep – Preheat a wide shallow pan and add olive oil. Brown the meatballs all over.
  2. Cook – Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Sweat them for a few minutes until they begin to soften.
  3. Add – Pour in the orzo and give it a good stir. Add liquids and stir to combine.
  4. Simmer – Add meatballs back into the pan, cover and simmer.

Make ahead meal to the rescue

Last week, when I made my easy weeknight meatballs recipe, I froze half of the batch and pulled some of them out to make this dinner. That’s a big time-saver and I highly recommend it.

Whenever I make meatballs, I always freeze some for meals like this. If you don’t have any stashed in the freezer, no worries. They are quick and easy to make.

They key to making sure they are all uniform in size is a small cookie scoop. You can make the beef meatball recipe with any type of ground meat that you have.

Meatballs and orzo with mushrooms FAQ’s

Can I make this ahead?

Yes. You can make this the night before and reheat, covered, on the stove or in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes at 350°F / 180°C. You may need a splash of stock to loosen it up.

How long does this last in the fridge?

You can store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 or 5 days.

Can I freeze meatballs and orzo?

Yes. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge, then gently reheat with a splash of stock.

Meatballs with orzo and mushrooms with herbs in a pan with herbs on a wood surface with forks and plates in the background.

Variations and substitutions

  • Pasta – Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta, and it’s ideal for this dish because it cooks quickly. You can use any type of pasta that you have in the house. Check the box for cooking time for the pasta that you are using.
  • Farro – Another substitution for the orzo would be farro. I love the nuttiness of this grain and it’s great if you are trying to avoid pasta. You’ll need to increase the cooking time to about 20 minutes.
  • Shallots – If your family doesn’t like the flavor of onions, you might consider shallots. They are still in the onion family, but have a milder flavor. I had shallots that needed to get used up, so I used them instead of onions.
  • Meatballs – You can make a variation of my chicken meatballs in mushroom sauce by swapping out the ground beef and adding a splash of wine and cream.

As you can see, there are quite a few options for changing up ingredients to make it your own. Whether you choose to make it as is, or substitute an ingredient, I hope it is one you come back again and again.

Helpful tools and equipment

  • Wide shallow pan – I’ve used a 5 qt. enameled cast iron braiser for this meal. A wide, shallow pan allows more surface area for the orzo to cook.
  • A small cookie scoop is the perfect tool for making meatballs. It guarantees uniform size, so they will all cook at the same rate.

More one pan meals

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One pan meatballs and orzo with mushrooms

Cheryl Bennett
Meatballs and orzo with mushrooms is a one pan meal that is perfect for weeknight dinner.
5 from 8 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course One Pot Meals
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 589 kcal


  • Meatballs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced (or 2 shallots)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms cleaned and thinly sliced // 227g
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo // 360ml
  • 2 1/2 cups stock – chicken beef or vegetable // 600ml
  • 1/2 cup light cream or half & half // 120ml
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese 120ml
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped herbs – parsley oregano, or marjoram (optional)

Meatball ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper – a few grinds of the peppermill
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1 lb. 85/15 ground beef
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped (optional, but recommended)


  • In a wide, shallow pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add meatballs and brown on all sides, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Add diced onions and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, then add mushrooms and garlic.
  • Season with salt and pepper, then cook another 6 – 8 minutes, until mushrooms have started to soften and give up some of their liquid. Scrape the bottom of the pan as they cook to incorporate all of the browned bits (called fond – this is FLAVOR, don't rinse out the pan).
  • Add orzo to the pan and stir to combine.
  • Pour in the stock and cream, stir to combine and season with another pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Return meatballs to the pan, cover with a tight-fitting lid and lower heat to medium-low.
  • Cook for 10 minutes, or according to directions on box of orzo. (It should simmer, not boil.)
  • Sprinkle parmesan cheese over meatballs and orzo, stir to combine cheese into orzo.
  • Top with herbs, if desired.


Sub farro for orzo – increase cooking time to 20 minutes. You may need to adjust stock as well.


Serving: 1gCalories: 589kcalCarbohydrates: 98gProtein: 53gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 165mgSodium: 1173mgFiber: 7gSugar: 12g
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