This Orzo with Mushrooms, Browned Butter, and Thyme is my new favorite one-pot recipe. It’s packed with earthy, savory flavor, and you only need 30 minutes and five ingredients! It’s the perfect easy vegetarian side or meal.
If you ever even utter the words “browned butter” in my presence, you will have my full attention. I just LOVE it.
Browning butter is simply cooking butter over high heat until the dairy particles in it begin to toast and get brown. The result is melted butter that begins to foam and is deeply brown in color, and it adds a wonderful nutty, earthy flavor to your recipes.
It adds a depth of flavor that can’t be beat.
The flavor of browned butter is PERFECT with the flavor of the mushrooms in this recipe. And the thyme elevates it to a whole other level.
If you’ve never done it before, here’s a great primer on how to brown butter.
Browning butter is very easy, even though it requires attention and constant stirring, but you do want to be careful that you brown it and don’t burn it.
After you brown the butter, immediately add the onions and thyme. Adding the onions to the butter will stop the browning process as it will take the temperature down and begin to release some liquid into the butter.
Also, at this point, you may just die from happiness at how good your kitchen smells. If you think the smell of onions sautéing in butter is good, just wait until that butter is browned and you add thyme to the mix. HEAVEN.
But just you wait, the smell gets better when you add the mushrooms!
Cooking mushrooms is super easy, but there are a few tricks I want to share with you for how to get the best flavor from them.
First of all, I recommend using baby portobello mushrooms (AKA cremini mushrooms) rather than standard white mushrooms. They are a bit more flavorful.
In order to get the best flavor and texture out of the mushrooms, don’t wash them. Instead, use a clean towel to gently rub any visible dirt off of the surface.
A mushroom is like a sponge- if you run them under water, they will absorb the water, and won’t have as much room to absorb the flavors of the recipe you’re making.
Finally, when you sauté them, add salt and don’t stir them too frequently.
The salt will not only help to season the mushrooms, but will also help to draw the moisture out of the mushrooms. You want as much moisture to be released from the mushrooms and evaporate into steam as possible.
When you don’t stir the mushrooms, the moisture has a better chance of evaporating, rather than being re-incorporated into the ingredients. Stir occasionally, in order to ensure all the mushrooms get equal time against the hot pan and to ensure they don’t stick, but don’t do it constantly like you would with other veggies.
You’ll know the mushrooms are done when you stir and there is very little to no liquid at the bottom of the pan (after about five minutes or so).
Once the mushrooms are done cooking, you’ll add the orzo. I like to add it BEFORE adding the liquid, so each piece gets coated in butter and flavor. This will help the texture of the orzo as it cooks and also help the pieces to not stick to each other.
I just love orzo. Tiny, rice-shaped pieces of pasta that aren’t rice at all.
I also LOVE one-pot pasta recipes. Not only are they easier than other pasta recipes (fewer dishes!), but all the starch that’s released from the pasta stays in the pot, rather than drained away.
This one-pot orzo with mushrooms recipe ends up with the browned butter and thyme coating literally every bite, due to the starches released from the orzo thickening everything up.
I think this recipe would also be great with rice as a gluten-free alternative. The flavor of wild rice would be delicious paired with the browned butter and mushrooms, and the starchy texture of arborio rice (usually used for risotto) would create a similarly creamy, thick base.
If you use rice, just make sure to look at the package for differences in cooking time or liquid to rice ratio.
This One Pot Orzo with Mushrooms, Browned Butter, and Thyme suffices as a meal in itself, but it’s also a great side. I had it on the side of these Crispy Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs, but it would also pair SO well with lamb shanks.
Here’s the recipe- enjoy!
One Pot Orzo with Mushrooms, Browned Butter, and Thyme
- In a large skillet with a lid (or a dutch oven or large pot), melt the butter (4 tablespoons) over high heat. Whisk constantly until it turns foamy and a deep brown color.
- Immediately add the diced onions and fresh thyme (1 tablespoon) and turn the heat down to medium. Be prepared for it to splatter a little bit! Stir and sauté for a minute until onions soften a bit.
- Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to coat the mushrooms, then sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring only occasionally. This will allow the moisture from the mushrooms to be drawn out and evaporate- if you stir it too much, this will take longer. The mushrooms are done when there is almost no moisture left if you stir it and they are a deep brown color.
- Add the orzo (1 cup) and stir to coat each piece in butter.
- Stir in the chicken or vegetable broth / stock. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes (or until orzo is fully cooked and liquid is absorbed), stirring occasionally so the orzo doesn't stick.
- Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.
- Time Saving Tip: buy pre-sliced, pre-washed mushrooms to cut down on prep time.
- Money Saving Tip: any mushrooms will work for this- get the ones that are cheapest!
- This recipe is best served immediately, since the orzo tends to get a little mushy and dry when refrigerated and reheated. But you can reheat leftovers in the microwave if you have any, adding a little more butter or a drizzle of olive oil if it seems too dry.
- For a gluten-free version, I think this would be wonderful made with wild rice. Keep in mind, the cooking time will be longer, and the ratio of liquid may be different (refer to the package for more instruction).
- For a vegan version, use 2 tablespoons olive oil instead of butter and skip the browning part. I recommend cooking the mushrooms for a little longer, until some browned bits get stuck to the bottom of the pan (then deglazing with vegetable stock), to develop the lost flavor from not having browned butter.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.