Recipe: Creamy Corn and Basil Orzotto

updated May 20, 2020
Creamy Corn and Basil Orzotto
A recipe for quick and easy orzo pasta "risotto" made with fresh corn and basil.


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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Classic risotto will forever and always be one of my favorite dishes to make at home, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have room for riffs. No, this version made with orzo pasta is not traditional, but it’s seriously delicious and it’s got a fun name, so it works. It’s creamy, cheesy, and flecked with summer sweetness in the form of corn kernels and chopped basil. It’s also incredibly easy to throw together, thanks to the quick-cooking pasta. That means you can get a satisfying vegetarian dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.

A Super-Satisfying Risotto Riff for Pasta-Lovers

Quick-cooking orzo has the ability to get as creamy as risotto rice when continually stirred as it cooks so that it releases some of its starch. Here, it’s matched with sweet corn kernels that lend juicy crunch to eat bite and chopped basil. The results are light yet homey and satisfying — this is comfort food that’s dressed for summer.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Creamy Corn and Basil Orzotto

A recipe for quick and easy orzo pasta "risotto" made with fresh corn and basil.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1

    medium shallot, minced

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, heated to a simmer

  • 1 1/2 cups

    orzo pasta

  • 1/2 cup

    dry white wine

  • 1 1/2 cups

    fresh or frozen corn kernels

  • 1/2 cup

    grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 cup

    loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot, season lightly with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a low simmer in a medium saucepan.

  2. Add the orzo to the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir until it has all evaporated, about 1 minute more.

  3. Add a ladleful of the hot broth to the pot and simmer, stirring constantly, until the orzo has absorbed all of the broth. Continue cooking, adding ladlefuls of broth whenever the mixture looks dry, stirring continuously. When 1/2 of the broth has been added, stir in the corn.

  4. Continue adding ladlefuls of broth and stirring until all the broth has been absorbed into the orzo and the orzo is creamy and tender, about 15 minutes total.

  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, basil, and butter. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with additional grated Parmesan.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating leftovers: When reheating leftovers, add a tablespoon of water or stock to loosen the mixture up.

Add extra protein: If you want to give this a protein boost, stir in a cup of shredded chicken or a can of (drained) chickpeas at the end of cooking and warm through.