This easy Shrimp and Orzo Salad recipe is served cold, drizzled with the most delicious garlicky, lemony fresh herb vinaigrette! The corn, tomatoes, and green onions complement the shrimp really well in this 25-minute make-ahead recipe. And if you don’t have fresh herbs? No problem- just use dried.
You’ve got to add this yummy recipe to your pasta salad collection. It’s packed full of fresh flavors and is sure to be a crowd pleaser, whether you make it for a light meal or serve it as a side at a potluck or summer BBQ.
And because you can make it ahead of time, it’s perfect for meal prep lunches all week long!
Lately, I’ve received feedback that including ingredient substitutions in my recipes has been helpful. I hear you, and I’m going to start including them when applicable, so you can use what you have on hand and not worry about running to the store!
For example, I love orzo in this easy shrimp salad recipe, but you can use any kind of pasta shape you want. There are lots of other ingredient substitutions for this recipe. Read on for how to make this recipe and some suggestions for if you don’t have some of the ingredients on hand.
How to make shrimp orzo salad
Just whip up an easy herb vinaigrette, and mix it with some cooked shrimp, orzo, corn, tomatoes, and green onions! here’s how, with some helpful tips and tricks.
- First, cook the orzo in salted water.
- While the orzo is cooking, mix up the herb vinaigrette. Fresh herbs- basically any kind you want (I used parsley, dill, and oregano) – with olive oil, lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, salt, pepper, a little honey, and a little crushed red pepper. YUM.
- Mix a little of the vinaigrette with the raw shrimp to coat, along with a little more salt and pepper.
- Cook the shrimp for a few minutes in a nonstick skillet.
- Two minutes before the orzo is done cooking, add frozen corn directly to the pot. This is one of my favorite pasta salad tricks when you use frozen veggies! The corn will defrost in the water, and you can drain it all together.
- Once the orzo is done, drain it and rinse it off with cold water until it’s cool. When making pasta salad, it’s important to do this, as warm pasta will absorb too much dressing. (NEVER rinse pasta when making a hot pasta dish, though, as it will remove too much starch and the sauce won’t stick to it.)
- Finally, mix everything together, along with some chopped tomatoes and scallions. Yum!
I like serving this orzo salad with an extra drizzle of olive oil and a scattering of more fresh herbs. It would also be delicious served with crumbled feta cheese or queso fresco!
How to make it ahead of time
I love pasta salads because they can be made ahead of time, but sometimes, they will absorb the dressing and dry out over time.
You can do two things here:
- Drizzle with olive oil just before serving, or, if you don’t want the extra fat…
- Reserve half the vinaigrette before mixing it all together, and add it in just before serving.
This will help re-coat all the ingredients to make sure it doesn’t taste dry! Read more about this trick in these 20 easy make-ahead pasta salad recipes.
Ingredient Substitutions for Shrimp Orzo Salad
- Other frozen veggies, such as peas or soy beans, can be substituted for the corn.
- Pre-cooked shrimp can be used instead of raw- just add it cold into the salad with all the vinaigrette.
- Dry herbs may be substituted for fresh. Use 1 tablespoon in place of the 1/4 cup fresh. An Italian seasoning mix, or individual dried herbs would work well. I recommend letting the dressing sit for a little longer to allow the flavors to really develop if you use dried.
- Red wine vinegar, or another kind of vinegar, may be substituted for the fresh lemon zest/juice. I recommend 1-1.5 tablespoons.
- Sugar may be substituted for the honey.
- Red onions or chives may be substituted for the green.
- Garlic powder may be substituted for the fresh minced garlic- I recommend 1 teaspoon.
- You can use any kind of pasta you want if you don’t have orzo. I like small pasta for this.
- You can also use rice instead of orzo for a gluten-free version.
Other orzo recipes:
- Mediterranean Chickpea and Orzo Salad
- Manestra (Greek Orzo and Ground Beef)
- Italian Spinach, Orzo, and Meatball Soup
- One Pot Orzo with Mushrooms, Brown Butter, and Thyme
Browse all my pasta recipes here.
Other shrimp recipes:
- Easy classic shrimp and grits
- Shrimp and Zucchini fritters
- Blackened shrimp tacos
- 15-minute classic shrimp scampi
- Shrimp and couscous with peas and mint
Browse all my seafood recipes here.
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Shrimp and Orzo Salad
- 8 oz. dry orzo (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- juice and zest of one lemon or two, if you like things lemony!
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs I used dill, parsley, and oregano. See notes for dry.
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 small clove garlic minced, preferably with a microplane zester
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 lb. raw shrimp peeled and deveined, preferably large or extra large (or pre-cooked, see notes)
- 2 green onions white and green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes optional, any kind will do
- extra herbs and olive oil for serving optional
- Cook orzo according to directions in salted water. During the last two minutes of cooking, add the frozen corn to the water. Drain the corn and orzo together and run cool water over it until it's sufficiently cooled, shaking off any excess water as best you can when you're done rinsing. Meanwhile, while the orzo is cooking, make the dressing and cook the shrimp.
- In the bottom of a large bowl, mix together the olive oil (1/4 cup), lemon zest and juice, the fresh herbs (1/4 cup), crushed red pepper (1/4 teaspoon), minced garlic (1 small clove), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and honey (1 tablespoon).
- Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel. In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp with 2 tablespoons of the dressing, along with another pinch of salt and pepper.
- Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high for about one minute, then cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes on each side until fully cooked (you may need extra oil in addition to the dressing if you use another kind of skillet).
- Add the cooled, cooked orzo and corn, the cooked shrimp, the sliced green onions, and the chopped tomatoes (if using) to the large bowl with the dressing. Toss to coat.
- Serve immediately, garnished with extra herbs and olive oil if you want. See notes for making ahead of time.
- Ingredient substitutions: 1/4 cup red onion may be substituted for the green onions. sugar may be substituted for the honey. 2 tablespoons vinegar (such as red wine) may be substituted for the lemon juice and zest. Other frozen veggies like peas or lima beans can be substituted for the corn. Other small pasta can be substituted for the orzo. 1-2 tablespoons of chopped sun dried tomatoes packed in oil can be used in place of the fresh tomatoes.
- Crumbled feta cheese or another cheese would be a delicious addition!
- Precooked shrimp may be used in place of raw- just add them as is to the mix. This is a great way to use up leftover grilled shrimp.
- To thaw frozen shrimp quickly, soak them in cool water or run cool water over them in a colander, until defrosted.
- To use dried herbs: substitute a heaping tablespoon of dry herbs, or a mix like Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence, in place of the fresh.
- If you're making this in advance: reserve half the dressing in a separate container in the fridge. Mix in just before serving, as the salad may dry out as it sits in the fridge. Or, just drizzle with more olive oil and adjust seasoning right before serving if it seems dry.
- If using a large, juicy tomato: try patting the pieces dry with a paper towel before adding, as too much juice will dilute the salad dressing and make it watery. Cherry or grape tomatoes should be fine as is.