Kotopoulo Kritharaki ~ Chicken Orzo with Tomato

Zoy remembers this dish well from his childhood. Back then he simply thought of it as 'chicken and rice pasta'. It was one of those meals that was on high rotation in his household. Zoy says "I never knew it was Greek until I went to my friend’s houses and was served unseasoned meat and three veg. This recipe is my YiaYia’s but according to my father my mum makes it best because Yia Yia used to always burn it".

Zoy’s mum will usually prepare the whole dish on the stove top, but we’ve simplified the recipe to be baked in the oven.

We hope you enjoy!


Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • Approx 8 chicken drumsticks or 4 chicken Marylands.

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • One onion, finely chopped

  • Two garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • One celery stick, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • Fresh chilli, chopped or half teaspoon chilli flakes (both optional)

  • 1 teaspoon paprika 

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • One stick of cinnamon

  • Two bay leaves

  • Tin crushed tomatoes (400g)

  • 1 cup chicken stock or water

  • 250g uncooked kritharaki (orzo) or risoni

  • Salt & pepper

  • Feta, for crumbling


  • Preheat oven to 200 celsius.

  • In a medium fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high heat and brown the chicken drumsticks/marylands for 2 minutes either side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate, covered.

  • Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a large casserole pan (stove top & oven safe) on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and sauté for 8-10 minutes or until soft. 

  • Add the tomato paste, chilli if using, paprika, oregano, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and stir for 1 minute.

  • Then add the tin of tomatoes, stock and the orzo. Season with salt and pepper and give everything a good stir.

  • Arrange the chicken pieces on top of the orzo, skin side up and drizzle over everything with olive oil.

  • Cover with foil and carefully place in the oven for 30 minutes.

  • After 30 minutes, carefully remove from the oven, remove the foil and pour half a cup of water around the chicken (not on it as you want to keep the skin crisp) and return, uncovered, to the oven to bake further for approximately 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden. (If you feel like the tomato and orzo are looking too dry, add a little more water as needed before returning to oven the second time).

  • Remove from the oven and crumble over feta (or your favourite cheese). Serve immediately.