These meatballs and orzo feature tender beef meatballs and orzo simmered in a flavorful homemade vodka tomato sauce.
More one pot dinner winners are firmly in our dinner future. Enter, this killer meatballs and orzo situation.
There’s homemade tomato vodka sauce, all the fluffy orzo, insanely juicy beef meatballs, and we’re wrapping up this dinner deal in only an hour in one pot.
Just your average weeknight wonder that’s getting a firm spot on the dinner rotation.
This dish may look a bit plain, but I PROMISE we’re loading it up with all the flavor. Heck, we’re even making our tomato sauce from scratch and it’s worth every second of effort.
These Meatballs and Orzo feature…
- Juicy seared beef meatballs
- Tender orzo cooked in flavorful tomato vodka sauce
- Ready in an hour and made entirely in one pot
Making the Meatballs and Orzo
(scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe)
Ingredients You Will Need
- Ground beef
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Vegetable oil
- Unsalted butter
- Red pepper flakes
- Tomato paste
- Whole peeled tomatoes
- Granulated sugar
- Chicken broth
Tips for Perfect Meatballs and Orzo
- Sear meatballs – this adds a lovely golden crust to the outside of meatballs and helps them hold their shape during simmering.
- Simmer tomato vodka sauce 20-30 minutes – this simmer time is where all the flavor gets built.
- Blend sauce – you can use a food processor or blender to blend the tomato vodka sauce smooth or leave some chunks for a little body to the sauce.
- Simmer orzo and meatballs – this will cook the orzo until perfectly fluffy and finish cooking through the meatballs.
Try these ideas for a different twist on this recipe.
- Use a different meat – try ground chicken or turkey in place of the beef.
- Make it spicy – you can increase the amount of red pepper flakes or add a minced jalapeno.
- Add vegetables – try adding a diced sweet pepper, zucchini, or mushrooms.
- Skip the vodka – for an alcohol-free meal, replace the vodka with chicken broth.
Make Ahead Instructions
Follow these instructions for time-saving make ahead tips.
- Form meatballs – assemble the meatballs and store in refrigerator up to 3 days before proceeding with recipe.
- Make tomato vodka sauce – this sauce stores well in refrigerator up to 6 days.
There’s no going wrong with breaking out this alla vodka orzo and meatballs for any occasion! It goes so well with an Italian tossed salad and some fresh warmed French bread on the side.
And definitely don’t forget all the fresh grated Parm on top.
Save this recipe using the ‘save to recipe box’ button below. If you make it, please let us know! Leave a comment + star rating below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #wholeandheavenlyoven.
More easy orzo dinners to try next!
Meatballs and Orzo alla Vodka
This recipe may included paid links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Vodka Sauce and Orzo
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 large basil leaves
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 lb dry orzo
- 3 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed to thin sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan cheese and French bread for serving
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, garlic, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Scoop mixture into 1-in meatballs and place on a plate.
- In a Dutch oven or large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and swirl pan to evenly coat. Add meatballs to pan and sear on all sides, turning occasionally with a tongs until meatballs are golden brown. Transfer meatballs to a plate and set aside.
Vodka Sauce and Orzo
- Drain grease from pan and melt butter over medium heat. Add shallot and cook 2-3 minutes until tender. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano to pot and saute 1 additional minute until fragrant. Deglaze pan with vodka, scraping up any browned bits.
- Add tomato paste, whole tomatoes, basil leaves, and sugar to pot. Bring sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer 20-30 minutes until slightly reduced, stirring and smashing tomatoes occasionally.
- Discard basil leaves, transfer sauce to a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender and blend on high speed until sauce is smooth or to your desired level of chunkiness.
- Pour sauce back into pot and add meatballs, orzo, and chicken broth. Stir until evenly combined. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is reduced, orzo is tender, and meatballs registers 165F.
- Season orzo with salt and pepper to taste and add an additional splash of chicken broth if needed to loosen sauce. Serve meatballs and orzo warm with grated Parmesan on top and French bread for dipping. Enjoy!