Entree, Meat and Poultry, Mediterranean Diet Recipes, Pasta & Grains

One Pot Greek Chicken with Kritharaki (Orzo) and Tomato

January 17, 2013


This is an easy version of the classic dish Giouvetsi. It is a dish of meat (usually lamb or veal) accompanied by some sort of pasta and cooked in the oven. It was often made on Sundays, to be eaten after church. Well you might wonder, who stayed at home watching the oven? Nobody. Years ago not everybody had an oven in their home and so they prepared the meal/recipe in a large pan and took it over to their local bakery (fourno) to be cooked. I remember as a child when I was staying at my grandmother’s, my sister and I would pick up our meal from the fourno for lunch. Each customer had their last name written on their pan so that there were no mix ups and when 1 o’clock approached, our baker had our meal cooked to perfection and ready to be picked up.

Now this is a quick and easy version and not really a giouvetsi as I have basically cooked it in a pot and not in the oven, but the ingredients are same and because it is so easy, you can even make it on a weeknight. This is a comfort food, but when you really don’t have time to spend cooking a big meal in the oven, this one pot, lighter version will do the trick.

Usually you use whole chicken pieces with skin and all, but I like using boneless, skinless thighs. You don’t have the skin but you do have a bit of fat compared to boneless, chicken breast (which I am not very fond of).

Olive oil is used, complemented with tomato and a few spices. This is a simple recipe and can be infused with as much (or as little) flavor as you want, depending on the amount of herbs and spices used.

One Pot Greek Chicken with Kritharaki (Orzo) and Tomato

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
A Sunday Lunch Greek favorite: Chicken and Orzo cooked in tomato. An easier version you can make even on weeknights.
Author: Elena Paravantes RDN
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  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2/3 cup dry uncooked kritharaki (orzo)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cup tomato + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves


  • Rinse the chicken with some wine or water and dry with a paper towel. In a deep pan (3 inches deep) or pot, brown the chicken in the olive oil, at medium heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • If you are also adding onion, remove at this point the chicken from the pot and place it on a plate covered. Saute the onion until soft.
  • Put the chicken back in the pan, add about 1- 1/2 cup tomato sauce mixed with 1/2 cup water (the chicken should be covered-almost). Add 2 garlic cloves cut in half, a teaspoon of paprika, the cinnamon stick and salt and pepper to taste. You can use less tomato, but I like my chicken quite red.
  • Let the chicken cook in the tomato sauce for about 20 minutes, so that the chicken is done.
  • Remove chicken from sauce and cover to keep warm and add the orzo to the pot.
  • Cook/simmer for about 15 minutes until orzo is cooked and almost all the sauce is absorbed. Note, Greeks do not eat their pasta al dente but well cooked, but not overcooked and mush either, so check on it often. When it is done it should have smooth feeling in the mouth but withut bite. Add back the chicken and simmer for another 1-2 minutes warming through.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and garlic and serve.
  • Serve with grated cheese. Traditionally grated hard mitzithra is used on this dish, but you can use any hard cheese. (I’ll be sharing a vegetarian orzo dish with feta soon).


For more flavor you can also add whole cloves and allspice.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Leave a comment or share on instagram and mention @greekdiet
Photo  by Elena Paravantes © All Rights Reserved

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  • Reply sandee March 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    This recipe sounds delicious and easy to prepare. I do have a question though, as to what kind of tomato to use. Is the recipe calling for canned tomatoes or tomato sauce? Thanks.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD March 6, 2013 at 4:34 am

      You can use either.I’ll use chopped tomato when in season, otherwise canned chopped tomato or tomato sauce.

  • Reply rhian August 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

    how many people does this dish serve?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      About 2-3 people.

  • Reply Greek Orzo (kritharaki) with Shrimp and Feta | Olive Tomato October 8, 2013 at 1:14 pm

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  • Reply Thanasi October 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    My mom always used canned tomato paste and chicken broth.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Thank you for sharing Thanasi.

  • Reply Marika Laskaris-Heath September 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    I made this with White wine and used both canned seasoned tomatoes and some tomato sauce, Lemon, dill, mint, oregano, garlic powder as I am allergic to whole garlic, paprika, the chicken pcs, orzo and some water. it turned out beautifully. Thank you. it was wonderful.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 18, 2014 at 6:08 am

      Great! Thank you for sharing Marika!

  • Reply Sarah October 6, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Do you have the nutrition information for this dish?

  • Reply Marika Braschler October 21, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I have made this dish twice now. My daughter loves it. I use feta on top and reduce the amount of salt i use in the sauce.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD October 27, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Great tip Marika! Thanks

  • Reply Tania Tucker November 7, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    I’ve done this a few times now and have added red and green peppers and also used chicken stock instead of water, the last time I had a very small chicken which I boiled first and then mixed in the chicken shredded from the boiled chicken and was delicious, I also add a pinch of paprika to spice it up

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD November 12, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Thanks for sharing Tania!

  • Reply meg November 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    what changes would you need to make to the recepie to make it in a slow cooker?

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD November 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Hi Meg, I have not cooked it in a slow cooker, but I would probably adjust the liquids a bit, otherwise I think it would work well.

  • Reply jill December 2, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I am looking for a recipe my grandfather (Greek from Rhodos) used to make in his restaurant.
    It resembles this alot but had celery and onions in it then the chicken thighs… what I am unsure of is the spices used. I remember my mom making it very simple relative to the spaghetti sauce he used to make which had oregano, parsley basil bay leaves red pepper garlic) … I am trying this tonight but it sure looked like your picture… also I am trying it with quinoa for my daughter who must eat gluten-free…. wish me luck!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD December 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

      I’ll look around and see what I can find. Sounds delicious! Good luck Jill!

  • Reply Paula July 14, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    I made this last night for the family and there are NO leftovers- that’s pretty rare for my household. I’ll be making it again soon (but probably doubling it). I used bone-in chicken thighs and meat was amazingly flavored and super-moist.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD July 21, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Thank you for sharing Paula! Glad everybody enjoyed it!

  • Reply Tea July 26, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Oh. Such a lovely written recipe and memories. First time I read about rinsing chicken with wine. Here, in Macedonia, we prepare almost same recipe -Baked rice and whole chicken for Sunday lunch. This recipe of yours is lovely and I will definitely prepare it some day. I love Greece and Greek cuisine.
    Lots of love,

  • Reply MaryAnne Corliss April 23, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I want to make this so much to print out the recipe but can’t seem to do it.
    Am I doing something wrong? I’m not very techy, had brain surgery and am 77.
    So, every thing you can help will be appreciated.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD April 25, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Hi MaryAnne, We are in the process, of reformatting all the recipes so they are printable. I just reformatted so you should be able to print it now.

  • Reply Easy Orzo Risotto Style- Kritharotto | Olive Tomato May 20, 2016 at 1:29 pm

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  • Reply Lori E. Cole April 20, 2017 at 8:31 pm

    If you were going to add the cloves and allspice, about how much of each would you recommend?

  • Reply Michelle Wilcox May 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    I made this the other night for dinner and we loved it!! When I took the lid off to remove the chicken & add the orzo, the aroma from the cinnamon stick was unbelievable! I just wanted to grab a hunk of bread and start dipping. This is definitely going on our dinner rotation.

    • Reply Elena May 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

      Thank you for sharing Michelle! Glad you enjoyed it

  • Reply Brian May 30, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Love your recipes – Any recommendations for doing this one traditionally with whole chicken pieces with skin on?

    • Reply Elena May 31, 2017 at 5:35 am

      Thanks Brian. You follow the same method as above. In step 4 you may need to cook a little longer to make sure the chicken is cooked through.

  • Reply Laura Zanetis Post August 3, 2017 at 4:12 am

    I never see this recipe in Greek cookbooks – I’m so glad to see it here!

  • Reply Janice Feinberg September 11, 2017 at 11:07 pm

    I made this once, it was delicious. Making it again tonight. Do I leave the co er on when cooking the chicken in the sauce and also when cooking the orzo?

    • Reply Elena September 12, 2017 at 5:27 am

      Hi Janice, Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, you leave the cover on, just make sure it is only simmering.

  • Reply Cassandra February 22, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Hello! I love this recipe it’s delicious, thank you, itreminds me of Greece. However, every time I make it, orzo sticks to the pan! Is there anyway to prevent this besides constant stirring? More water? Less heat?! Or is it just gonna happen!

    • Reply Elena March 22, 2018 at 6:22 am

      Hi Cassandra, You want to make sure that it does not dry out, so check the water every so often.

  • Reply Ricky Trimble May 15, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    Love this simple recipe! Our local Greek fest usually prepares something very close to this dish…..very yummy!

  • Reply Mary Wood September 16, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Tried this recipe on the weekend … delicious … thanks Elena.

  • Reply Aikaterina April 29, 2019 at 7:47 am

    Xristos anesti. I was wondering how many grams approximately is 2/3 cup is dry orzo in this recipe?

  • Reply Jenn July 10, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I made this a few nights ago, my grandma always put oregano in this dish, so I added that to mine, it was pretty close to hers. The only thing was I needed a lot more water than the recipe called for.

  • Reply Marcia October 22, 2019 at 5:02 am

    This, like all of the other recipes I have tried from this website, was delicious… even though I made a couple of mistakes while making the recipe….. instead of rinsing the chicken with the wine, I drank the wine 😉 and I put the orzo in along with the chicken and tomatoes etc. rather than later. It still turned out amazing! I did add the sautéed onions. The paprika and cinnamon add amazing flavor to the dish. I feel like a 5 star Michelin Chef… again, that could be due to the wine 🙂

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