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broccoli cheddar orzo with breadcrumbs in beige bowl

Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Orzo Recipe

  • Author: Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Diet: Vegan


This Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Orzo is the rich and creamy pasta dish you didn’t know you needed! Fresh veggies, tender orzo, and a cashew cream sauce combined into a cheesy, dairy-free dish that’s as addicting as it sounds. Have this orzo dish on the table in no time!


  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, julienned
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 16 ounces orzo
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 cups vegan chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 8 ounces vegan cheddar cheese shreds
  • Black pepper, to taste

Cashew cream

  • Boiling hot water
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Breadcrumb topping (optional):

  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (80 g) panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Black pepper


  1. Soften the cashews. Place the raw cashews in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling hot water overtop. Set aside to soak for at least 20 minutes, or overnight.
  2. Prepare the breadcrumbs. In a medium-sized pan over medium heat, melt the vegan butter. Once melted, add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté for another 4-5 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
  3. Season the breadcrumbs. Add the salt, Italian seasoning, and freshly cracked black pepper. Stir through and remove the breadcrumbs from the heat. Set aside until ready to serve.
  4. Make the cashew cream sauce. Drain the cashews and transfer them to a high-speed blender along with the water and lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth and set aside.
  5. Sauté the onions. In a large Dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of vegan butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the diced onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté until the onions are softened and browned, about 6-7 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients. Add in the garlic, carrots, paprika, and thyme. Sauté for another 2 minutes. Then, add the orzo (short-cut pasta), broth, and remaining salt.
  7. Bring to a boil. Bring the orzo mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the broccoli. Add the broccoli florets and stir to combine. Cover again and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the orzo has absorbed the liquid and is al dente.
  9. Stir in the cashew cream and vegan cheddar cheese. Combine until the cheese is melted and creamy.
  10. Serve. Season this vegan orzo with additional black pepper and salt to taste, and serve warm topped with the toasted breadcrumbs. Enjoy!


  • Although this is best when enjoyed fresh, it will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • We wouldn’t recommend freezing this recipe as the cashew cream sauce is likely to separate upon thawing. 
  • This broccoli cheddar orzo can also be served with fresh herbs like fresh parsley or chives, vegan parmesan cheese, nutritional yeast, additional cheese shreds, and/or croutons! 
  • If you are gluten-free, use gluten-free breadcrumbs and use gluten-free pasta.
  • If nut-free, replace the cashews 1:1 with raw sunflower seeds.  
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Pasta, Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop and Blender

Keywords: pasta, cashews, entree, lunch, broccoli, vegan cheese