Spicy orzo with shrimp and capers is a delicious weeknight meal that checks all the boxes. It's easy to make, creamy, spicy, and bright. The red pepper flakes give the orzo a bit of heat and the lemon brightens it all up!
In the last few years, I've developed a love affair with orzo. It's so versatile! You can use it in place of pasta, in bowls like this, or in soups, like this Lemon Orzo Soup with Shrimp that I practically make weekly.
I love making this spicy orzo with shrimp too! The orzo is creamy and delicious, and the lemon adds a touch of brightness while the red pepper flakes add a hint of spice. It's the perfect balanced meal in my book.
If you want to add veggies to the spicy orzo with capers and lemon, you can always add in some thinly sliced and sautéed zucchini, some small broccoli florets, or some cooked peas.
What is orzo?
If you haven't used orzo before, it's a type of pasta that's cut into a rice-like shape. Don't confuse it for rice! It's pasta and is cooked similar to pasta. It also has a pasta texture when cooked, not a rice-like texture.
Orzo is used in a lot of Italian and Greek dishes. In fact, the first time I ever tried orzo was when a neighbor brought us back some from a trip to Greece!
In the grocery store, you can find it alongside other pastas (unless you frequent a grocery store that thinks it's rice).
- Cooked orzo - Cook according to the package directions on the orzo
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Capers - capers are nice and briny. To me they taste like something between a pickle and an olive. If you're not a fan, leave them out!
- White wine
- Heavy cream
- Crushed red pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional) - Freshly grated is best!
- If you're using large shrimp, I cook up 6-8 large shrimp and top each bowl with 3 or 4. If using small shrimp, cook up 10-12 and top each bowl with 5-6 shrimp. You can absolutely remove the tails before serving, if desired.
- If I serve this to my toddlers, I cut up the shrimp into small pieces before adding to the orzo so that it is easier to eat and not a choking hazard. I also leave off the red pepper flakes from their portions.
Spicy Orzo with Capers and Shrimp
- 1 cup dry orzo
- 12 large shrimp deveined
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 tablespoon white wine or sherry
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- black pepper
- Cook the orzo according to the package directions.
- While orzo is cooking, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook, flipping once, until cooked through.
- After the orzo is cooked, In another medium skillet, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and capers to the pan. Saute for one minute, stirring frequently. Add the white wine or sherry to the pan to deglaze.
- Drain the orzo, and then add the orzo and heavy cream to the skillet with the garlic and capers. Stir to combine. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- While that cooks, take the lemon and slice into four wedges. Squeeze two wedges into the skillet and stir to combine.
- Plate, and top with the red pepper flakes and cooked shrimp. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
- If cooking thawed shrimp, the shrimp will probably only need 2-3 minutes on each side. If cooking frozen shrimp, the shrimp may take 7-8 minutes on one side and 2-3 minutes on the other side.
- If using smaller shrimp, cook an additional 2 shrimp per person.
- Use more or less red pepper flakes depending on your spice level preference.
If nutrition info is shown, values are based on an online calculator and are estimates. Please verify using your own data.