A while back, a friend posted this recipe in an Instant Pot recipe group. Thanks, Anna! I made a few little changes, and this is now a family favorite. This post contains affiliate links.
This creamy ranch chicken with orzo is one of those comforting, easy-to-eat dinners that takes basically no effort to put together. You don’t even need to remember to thaw the chicken. That’s right; you can make this with frozen chicken breast (or thighs).
The ability to cook from frozen is one of my favorite features of the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker, by the way. The texture is usually a little better if you do thaw the chicken first, but in a dish like this it’s not that big a deal. You can proceed from frozen and feel not even a tiny hint of regret. It does take about an hour from frozen, but can be done in 30 minutes if you thaw the chicken ahead of time.
Just want the recipe for Instant Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken with Orzo Pasta? Jump to Recipe
This recipe works equally nicely with other flavors. A packet of onion soup mix is lovely, and completely different. I like taco seasoning sometimes. Wildtree makes a number of dry seasonings that are great for a dish like this – the Garlic Galore is amazing if you and your family like garlic. Basically, any dry seasoning is worth a shot!
(Hint – if you use the onion soup mix, try adding a tablespoon of sherry. It’s next-level. Like this wineglass full of tap water.)
ON CHICKEN STOCK
I frequently make stock from rotisserie chicken leftovers. However, if I don’t have any around, I use Better than Bouillon, which I find quite nice. But look: If ever there was a place for Wyler’s Bouillon Cubes, dishes like this are it.
I love orzo. Trader Joe’s, though, sells an orzo-rice mix in a box that’s exactly 1 cup dry, and works really well here, too. However, I find I need to up the water to 1-1/2 cups. I’ve put a note in the recipe, too. It’s not like it was bad with super-al-dente orzo. It was just… different.
ONE FINAL NOTE
My experience has been that pressure cooking anything with ranch dressing mix in it results in a really offputting and weird kind of smell. My husband doesn’t think it’s so bad, but if you notice it like I do, never fear; it’s apparently normal, and your dinner will be delicious and not taste at all like the first step smells. (It’s not bad like, makes you want to leave the house. It’s just kind of weird.)
Since this is, and I don’t mean this in a bad way, a soft, comforting, stuff-in-a-bowl kind of meal, I do like to add a contrasting side.
Roasted broccoli with lemon juice really hits the spot – it’s a strong texture and a bright flavor. You can set it right in the same bowl, off to the side, too.
A green salad is also a nice option, particularly as spring lettuces come into season! I’d go with a simple vinaigrette and lettuce; add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. if you have them. Arugula is also a favorite of mine.
Instant Pot Creamy Ranch Chicken with Orzo Pasta
This comforting, creamy chicken pasta doesn't take much in the way of effort; just an electric pressure cooker and a little time. Try varying the flavor by using different seasoning mixes! You can use frozen chicken breasts but the cook time will increase to about 60 minutes.
- 2 8oz chicken breasts, boneless and skinless so about a pound of chicken; you could also use thighs
- 1 cup chicken broth 1-1/2 cups if using orzo-rice mix
- 3 Tbsp ranch dressing mix or a 1oz packet
- 1 cup orzo pasta or orzo-rice mix
- 4 oz cream cheese
Place the chicken breasts in the Instant Pot with the chicken stock and ranch seasoning. Set to cook on high pressure for 10 minutes (18 minutes for frozen chicken). Allow the pressure to release naturally 10 minutes, then open the valve to release it the rest of the way.
Shred the chicken and return it to the pot (or just shred it IN the pot). Add the orzo and stir. Seal the lid again and set to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Do a quick release of the pressure when it's done.
Stir in the cream cheese and let it melt, then stir again. Serve forth! Dinner is ready!
We buy Hidden Valley Original Ranch Seasoning and Salad Dressing Mix, 16 Ounce (affiliate link) in a big container from Costco, so we measure 3 tablespoons. You can buy individual packets, or grab the big container on Amazon, too. We eat a lot of ranch, OK?