This packed-with-flavour, 25-minute ginger chilli chicken orzo recipe will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. It’s made in one pot for a mess-free clean-up, loaded with delicious Asian-style flavours, and drizzled with chilli oil and sweet chilli to make a super satisfying, easy weeknight meal the whole family will love.
Anything that can be made in one pot is always a bonus – less washing up and minimal mess is never a bad thing! This makes a wonderful quick weeknight meal and uses mainly cupboard staples, plus it can be easily tweaked for kids.
The inspiration for this beauty of a one-pot meal comes from Hainanese chicken rice, a classic Chinese dish. That’s a whole poached chicken, served with rice cooked with chicken fat and chicken stock, plus a few different flavour-packed condiments (ginger and scallion sauce, chilli sauce and some kind of soy sauce). That dish takes multiple hours to make, whereas this one takes all of 25 minutes, and celebrates very similar flavours.
I’ve used orzo rather than rice because it cooks really quickly, and when you cook it in one pot like this, it creates its own super silky sauce.
You just need a handful of simple ingredients for this quick and easy recipe.
- Chicken thighs. These are important because we want to take advantage of the lovely chicken fat to cook the aromatics – chicken breasts are too lean. But, you could use chicken breast if you like, you’ll just need to add extra oil to the pan when you cook your garlic, ginger and scallions.
- Ginger. Use fresh ginger ideally, or you can use ginger paste. I like to grate fresh ginger when I use it – that way there’s no need to peel it. You’ll need about a 2.5cm/1″ piece of fresh ginger.
- Orzo. This wonderfully versatile rice-shaped pasta cooks quickly, perfect for one-pot meals. It’s also called risoni in some places (primarily Australia and often New Zealand).
- Fish sauce. This is optional (I know it’s divisive) but it adds a beautiful savoury depth to the recipe so I’d really recommend giving it a try.
- Chicken stock. Ideally, use low-sodium stock. Different brands have different salt levels and we’re adding soy sauce and fish sauce to the recipe, so you don’t want to use stock that’s too salty. Or, make your own stock so you can really control the salt level.
- Cilantro (coriander). Use mint, Thai basil or flat-leaf parsley if you’re not a fan.
How to make it
Cook your chicken thighs in a large, high-sided skillet or pan, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.
Remove from the pan and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add the ginger, garlic and scallions to the same pan (keep all that lovely chicken fat in there!) and cook for a couple of minutes, until starting to soften.
Pour in the orzo and stir it through the aromatics, before adding all the stock, soy sauce and fish sauce.
Cook the orzo for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s al dente (firm to the bite but cooked through). At this point, nestle the chicken thighs into the orzo, then drizzle with chilli oil, sweet chilli jam, cilantro and more scallions. I also often add a good spoonful of ginger scallion sauce on top!
Got a question?
You can, but I do really recommend chicken thighs. Thighs are fattier, which is key for creating that delicious chicken flavour in the orzo itself. If you use breasts, you’ll need to add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to cook the ginger, garlic and scallions.
This very much depends on the heat of the chilli flakes you use, and how much chilli oil you add at the end. If you’re making this for kids, skip the chilli flakes and serve the chilli oil and sweet chilli on the side. If you’re worried, just reduce the amount of chilli flakes you use.
Yes! It’s a great one for meal prep and will keep well for 4 days stored in the fridge in a covered container. You can easily reheat it in the microwave – add a splash of water to the orzo when you do – it will have absorbed a lot of the sauce as it sits in the fridge.
While this is definitely a meal in itself, I’ll often add chopped broccoli, asparagus, bok choi, pak choi, spinach or cavolo nero too. You can add them when you add the stock and they’ll cook as the orzo does. If you’d like something on the side, a crunchy Asian slaw or green goddess salad would work really well, as would a dollop of ginger scallion sauce.
Like this recipe? Here are more easy one-pot meals
If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you! You can leave me a comment below.Print