Skillet Chicken with Orzo and Olives

I’ve been craving the salty, briny flavor of kalamata olives lately, so I bought a handful of olives off the olive/salad bar at the grocery store, combined them with a can of diced tomatoes, a few herbs, and made a wonderful sauce for this One Skillet Chicken with Orzo and Olives. The orzo and chicken cook right in the same skillet as the tomato and olive sauce, maximizing the flavor and making sure not a drop of goodness is lost. Plus, my favorite bonus of having everything cook in one skillet: fewer dishes to clean. Woot!

One Skillet Chicken and Orzo with Olives

Overhead view of a skillet full of chicken and orzo with olives and tomatoes, parsley on the side

Can I Use Chicken Breast?

This recipe is written specifically for skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. The dark meat of chicken thighs together with the bones and skin help keep the chicken moist and tender through the slightly longer cooking time. While you technically can use a boneless, skinless chicken breast, you’ll miss some of the flavor provided from the chicken skin and bones, and the chicken may be slightly on the drier side.

Can I Substitute the Olives?

If you don’t like or can’t find kalamata olives, you can achieve the same briny flavor with either capers or artichoke hearts. Both would pair beautifully with the other flavors in this dish.

Love briny flavors? Check out my Pasta Puttanesca or Chicken Piccata recipes!

What is Orzo?

Orzo is just a very small shaped pasta. It’s shaped a little bit like grains of rice, but slightly larger. It’s great for making pilafs, serving as a side dish, or adding to soup. You can find it in most major grocery stores either in the pasta aisle, or near other specialty Italian or Mediterranean ingredients. 

What Else Can I Add to This Chicken and Orzo?

If you have a few extra dollars, a little crumbled feta would be amazing on this. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a basil plant, try thinly slicing some fresh basil to sprinkle over top after cooking.

What Do You Serve with Chicken and Orzo?

I would consider this a “one pot meal” or “one bowl meal” because it has everything I’d want in one dish–meat, grain, and vegetables. If you want to add a side, you could do a simple green salad with a light vinaigrette, and maybe some homemade garlic bread

Skillet Chicken with Orzo and Olives - BudgetBytes.com

 
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4.8 from 30 votes

Skillet Chicken with Orzo and Olives

This Chicken with Orzo and Olives simmers together in one skillet for maximum flavor and minimum cleanup. A one-pot easy weeknight dinner! 
Total Cost: $10.03 recipe / $2.57 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin on) ($5.66)
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.12)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.24)
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes* ($0.89)
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives ($1.62)
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
  • 2 cups chicken broth** ($0.26)
  • 1.5 cups orzo (uncooked) ($0.89)
  • 1/4 bunch parsley (optional) ($0.25)

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then sprinkle both sides with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken thighs with the skin side down. Cook the chicken thighs on each side until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes each side), then remove to a clean plate.
  • Pour off the excess fat from the skillet, leaving just enough to sauté the garlic. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the minced garlic, and sauté for about one minute, or just until the garlic is soft and very fragrant.
  • Add the diced tomatoes (with juices), oregano, olives, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir the tomatoes, herbs, and olives to combine and allow the juices from the tomatoes to dissolve any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Roughly chop the kalamata olives, and add them to the skillet.
  • Add the chicken broth and orzo to the skillet, and stir to combine. Nestle the browned chicken thighs down into the skillet, place a lid on the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. Allow the skillet to come to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, or the lowest temperature needed to maintain a gentle simmer. Let the skillet simmer for 15 minutes with the lid in place.
  • Turn the heat off and let the skillet rest for 5 minutes. The tomatoes and olives will have risen to the top, so use a fork to gently stir or fluff the orzo, tomatoes, and olives back together. The orzo should be tender and slightly saucy. Pull the parsley leaves from the stems, roughly chop them, and sprinkle over top.

Notes

*I used garlic and onion flavored diced tomatoes, but regular diced tomatoes will work as well.
**I use Better Than Bouillon concentrate to make my broth. One tsp Better Than Bouillon + 1 cup water = 1 cup broth.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 748.9kcalCarbohydrates: 37.65gProtein: 17.75gFat: 57.55gSodium: 935.93mgFiber: 3.35g
Nutritional values are estimates only. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Close up side view of Chicken with Orzo and Olives in the skillet, garnished with parsley

How to Make Chicken with Orzo and Olives – Step by Step Photos

Raw Chicken Thighs on a cutting board, seasoned with salt and pepper

Start with four bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Pat them dry with a paper towel (this helps facilitate browning and reduce splatter), then season on both sides with a pinch of salt and pepper. 

Chicken Thighs cooking in the Skillet, skin side down

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the chicken thighs, skin side down.

Browned Chicken Thighs in the skillet

Cook the chicken thighs on each side until golden brown (about 5-7 minutes each side), then remove them to a clean plate. The chicken will only be partially cooked at this point, but it will continue to cook through while it simmers with the orzo. The chicken will let off quite a bit of fat as they cook, so pour off the excess oil, leaving just a small amount to cook the garlic.
Sautéed Garlic in the skillet with a wooden spoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add four cloves of minced garlic to the skillet and sauté in the leftover fat for about one minute, or just until the garlic has softened a bit and is very fragrant.

Can of Diced Tomatoes with Garlic and Onion

Add one 15oz. can of diced tomatoes and stir to help the tomato juices dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. I used  a garlic and onion flavored diced tomato because they were on sale, but you can use plain diced tomatoes as well.

Kalamata Olives in a small salad bar container

Roughly chop about 1/3 cup kalamata olives. I grabbed this handful of olives off the olive bar at my local grocery store so that I could avoid purchasing an entire jar. They are already pitted, so I just cut them into smaller pieces so they would distribute throughout the dish better.

Tomatoes Olives, Oregano, and Pepper added to the skillet

Add the chopped olives, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, and a little more freshly cracked pepper.

Jar of chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon

Add two cups of chicken broth. I use Better Than Bouillon because it’s very flavorful, less expensive than boxed or canned broths, stays good in the refrigerator for just about forever, and allows you to mix up the exact quantity of broth that you need.

Uncooked orzo being poured into the skillet.

Finally, add 1.5 cups uncooked orzo. Stir to combine the tomatoes, broth, and orzo.

Chicken pieces added back to the skillet with the other ingredients, ready to simmer.

Nestle the chicken thighs down into the liquid in the skillet.

Lid on skillet, chicken and orzo simmering.

Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and let it come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, or the lowest temperature that maintains a gentle simmer. Let the skillet simmer for 15 minutes, then turn the heat off and let it rest for 5 minutes (with the lid in place). 

Simmered Chicken and orzo in the skillet

The tomatoes and olives will rise to the top as it simmers. The orzo should be tender at this point, but also quite saucy. Use a fork to fluff the orzo and mix the tomatoes and olives back into the orzo.

Overhead view of finished one skillet chicken and orzo with olives, garnished with parsley

Roughly chop a handful of fresh parsley and sprinkle over top just before serving (optional). Serve hot!

A bowl of chicken with orzo and olives, the skillet in the background

One skillet, one meal. Perfect.

 

Meal prepped chicken with orzo and olives in square Ziploc containers.
Skillet Chicken with Orzo and Olives all in pretty little portioned containers. :) Cuz that’s how I roll.

 

Skillet Chicken with Orzo and Olives - BudgetBytes.com