This one-pot cajun orzo skillet is so delicious! It features red bell pepper, black beans, corn, tomatoes and a generous amount of cajun spices. It is so rich and creamy, completely vegan and can be done under 30 minutes. Perfect weeknight healthy dinner that all your family will love!
A lot of you have been asking for more quick weeknight dinners, so I'm sure you will love this easy cajun style orzo skillet!
Most classic cajun orzo dishes are loaded with heavy cream and heavily processed sausages, but I promise that this lighter plant-based version will still leave you craving for more! No dairy, no meat, no cheese... just whole foods to make this mouthwatering recipe good-for-you and so darn delicious.
The highlight of this recipe actually is how easy and quick it is to prepare, plus everything is made in one-pan. Even the dry orzo is tossed within the creamy tomato based sauce to cook until tender, no pre-boiling necessary. It makes for such a fuss-free, yummy and easy to clean up meal that will be perfect for busy weeknights.
But even though this meal can be done within 20 minutes, it still is loaded with amazing flavor. The cajun spices are such a hit combined with the tomatoes, beans, corn and coconut cream. I use frozen corn and canned goods, which makes it so much more convenient. All the flavors simply harmonize so well together! Garnish with lime juice and herbs for a nice fresh twist on this amazing comfort food recipe.
We just cannot get enough of this meal and I hope you do love it too! ❤️
Ingredients you'll need
- Produce: Onion, red pepper, fresh garlic.
- Canned goods: black beans, diced tomatoes (regular or fire-roasted for extra flavor), green chiles (mild or spicy) and coconut cream. Coconut cream can be swapped for coconut milk, see below.
- Spices: I used the cajun spice blend mix from Frontier, super convenient and I like its flavor. You can also make your own cajun spice mix if you don't have any all ready to go! Cajun spices are a blend made from cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, ground black pepper, oregano and thyme with some salt.
- Veggie broth: use water in a pinch if you don't have it. In that case, add flavoring ingredients such as more salt and maybe some dried herbs like oregano or basil.
- Dry orzo: I used whole wheat orzo to boost the protein and fiber content from this meal, but I also tested using regular white orzo and it worked out well too. Orzo is a small pasta that resembles rice and similarly to risotto, orzo cooks really well in broth or one-pot recipes to turn the sauce ultra rich and creamy.
- Frozen corn: easy and convenient, but use fresh corn cobs when in season. Simply remove the raw kernels from the cobs and add them to the skillet to cook within the sauce.
I like to stir in some fresh cilantro towards the end of cooking the orzo as well as topping with some more at serving. Also garnish with chopped green onions and diced avocado. And to make this dish feel more fresh, serve with lime wedges: the lime juice brightens up all the flavor!
How to make a cajun orzo bean skillet
Cook the vegetables
Warm up a large skillet with a little oil (if using) and add the onion, red pepper and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium-high heat until they soften and then, add garlic and cajun spice mix and cook for one more minute.
Then, add the corn, black beans, canned green chiles, canned tomatoes and veggie broth. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Then, turn down the heat to low and cover.
Keep cooking covered for about 10 minutes or until the orzo is done to your liking. Uncover and stir every few minutes as it tends to stick to the bottom.
Garnish and serve
Once the orzo is done, add the coconut cream (and cilantro, if using) and stir well. Cook uncovered still on low for 1-2 minutes or until desired consistency.
Remove from the heat, top with fresh cilantro, green onions and avocado. Serve right away with lime wedges and bread on the side to dip in the delicious sauce.
Watch how to make it
- This makes for a saucy dish, which you can make less saucy by keeping the dish uncovered towards the end of cooking it.
- If your orzo looks a little too dry, simply add some more liquid. Just watch carefully to adjust the amount of broth needed.
- Can't find coconut cream? Place a can of coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours ahead of time and simply use the top solid portion from the can (about ½ cup)! And use the remaining coconut water when making smoothies. Or, use your favorite unflavored vegan coffee creamer (ensure no sugar added nor any vanilla flavoring). I love to add some of my plain Nutpods coffee creamer for this recipe as well if I don't have the coconut cream.
- Even at low heat, the orzo needs to be stirred often to prevent it from drying out and sticking to the bottom. So, keep mostly covered, but take a break every few minutes to stir and taste the orzo to know when it is done to your liking.
Variations to the recipe
There are many ways to personalize this dish depending on what you have and your taste.
- Make it smoky: add some smoked paprika with the cajun spices or serve alongside my pan-fried smoky tofu, which would also add more plant-based protein to your meal. We also recently discovered the smoked tofu from Soy Boy that you could add directly to the dish without having to cook it first.
- Add more flavoring ingredients such as chili powder or dried oregano.
- Make it spicy: cayenne pepper would work well with the flavor and add some more heat. Try also serving with sliced jalapeño or simply add diced jalapeño alongside the onion and red pepper. Also, if you love spicy food, then be sure to grab a can of spicy green chiles instead of mild!
- Add more veggies: zucchini, frozen green peas, green bell pepper or leafy greens (spinach or kale) would all be great additions. Roast the veggies with the onion if needed. For the leafy greens, simply add them towards the end just so they can soften and wilt.
This meal is best when just done as the orzo will keep softening while storing in the fridge and the dish is saucier when freshly prepared.
That being said, keep any leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 24-48 hours. We devoured our leftovers by warming it up in the microwave with a little splash of extra liquid and it was still delicious. I would still recommend to eat the leftovers the next day though.
More vegan one-pot recipes you might like
- One-pot curry ramen with broccoli
- One-pot whole wheat tomato pasta
- Vegan hamburger helper
- Vegan American goulash
More quick vegan dinner recipes to try
- Vegan Mediterranean tray bake
- Sweet and sour tofu
- Loaded vegan nachos
- Quick sticky tofu
- Vegan tofu tikka masala
- Healthy vegetable stir-fry
I hope you like this vegan cajun orzo recipe as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let me know how it was. Your feedback is so helpful!
One-Pot Cajun Orzo Skillet with Beans
- 1 yellow or sweet onion - diced
- 1 red pepper - diced
- 2 cloves of garlic - crushed
- 1 tbsp cajun spice mix
- 15 oz canned black beans - rinsed and drained
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 4 oz canned green chiles - mild or spicy
- 1½ cup dry orzo - whole wheat or regular white
- 2½ cups vegetable broth
- salt - to taste
- 5.4 oz canned coconut cream (plain) - see notes
- 1 handful fresh cilantro - optional
- green onions
- lime wedges
- In a large skillet, warm up a little oil (if using) and add the onion and red pepper with a pinch of salt. Cook on medium-high heat stirring often until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Then, add the garlic and cajun spices, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining of the ingredients, EXCEPT for the coconut cream and fresh cilantro (if using) and stir well. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to low, cover and keep cooking for about 8-10 minutes or until the orzo is al dente. Stir every few minutes to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom.
- Adjust consistency to your liking: If the dish is too saucy, then keep uncovered towards the end of cooking the orzo. If the orzo dries out, add an extra splash of liquid.
- When the orzo is al dente, add the coconut cream and cilantro (if using) and stir. Let it cook on low for a few minutes uncovered until desired consistency. Then, top with more cilantro, green onion and avocado and serve right away with lime wedges and a side of bread. Enjoy!
- This recipe is best when freshly made, since the orzo will keep softening while storing. If you do have any leftovers, then keep them in an air-tight container in the fridge and try enjoying the next day. Reheat using the microwave and add a little splash of liquid to recreate the saucy consistency.
- If you don't have coconut cream, then place a can of coconut milk in the fridge a few hours ahead of time and simply use the solid top portion (about ½ cup). Use the remaining coconut water in your smoothies!
- Adds-on ideas: smoked paprika, frozen green peas, dried oregano, spinach, cubed smoky tofu, zucchini and cayenne pepper for a nice heat.
- Serve with fresh cilantro, avocado, green onions and sliced jalapeño if you like spicy food. We also like this dish with a side of bread to grab on all the delicious sauce and a generous squeeze of lime juice for an extra freshness.