Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo — Damn Delicious

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Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo

The easiest, creamiest enchilada pasta ever. Even the pasta gets cooked right in the crockpot!

Now that we are finally in December and gearing up for the rest of the holidays, I figured we all needed a break from that Turkey Day comfort food and go a completely different direction to of course, Mexican food.

Well, I guess it’s more Mexican-Italian with the pasta and all but still – there’s no stuffing, no cranberry sauce and absolutely no turkey here. Just good old Mexican comfort food in pasta form.

Best of all, it all comes together conveniently in a slow cooker. There’s no sauteeing, no prepping, no nothing. Just throw it all in the crockpot and you’re set. Done and done.

And when you get home from work, you’ll have that creamy, cheesy enchilada goodness just waiting to be gobbled up. Just be sure to save a serving for later because the leftovers taste even better!

Slow Cooker Enchilada Orzo

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 8 hours, 25 minutes

The easiest, creamiest enchilada pasta ever. Even the pasta gets cooked right in the crockpot!


  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Old El Paso™ mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can Old El Paso™ chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth, or more, as needed
  • 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Place diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, green chiles, vegetable broth, corn and black beans into a 6-qt slow cooker.; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until well combined. Top with cream cheese.
  2. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  3. Uncover and stir until cream cheese is well combined. Stir in orzo. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 15-30 minutes. Add more vegetable broth as needed until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro, if desired.

Did you Make This Recipe?

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Old El Paso . All opinions expressed are my own.

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I rarely make orzo but I love it and I know this would be perfect with the tomatoes, sauce, and the black beans….and it’s healthy! love it!

Definitely something I have to try to make soon! Looks delicious!

Since I am trying to eat vegetarian and I love Mexican food, this is a must try. Sounds yummy.

Is there some version of this where you would add chicken or ground beef?

You can certainly add protein in this dish, but I recommend crumbling the beef (or chicken) before adding to the slow cooker.

Sorry for sounding stupid but what you say “crumbling”, do you mean partially or fully cooking chopped beef (or any protein) and dumping into the crop pot first? 🙂

Elpida, I am a little confused with your question as there is no indication of “crumbling” in this recipe. This is also a meatless recipe.

My reply was in reference to the comment about adding protein above…

“Crumbling” strictly refers to ground beef/chicken/turkey – you want to make sure it’s cooked through before throwing it into the slow cooker. Hope that helps!

Are fire toasted tomatoes hot and spicy? If so can canned diced tomatoes be substituted and then adding some spices or hot sauce? I’m not a big fan of anything that is hot and spicy as my stomach won’t tolerate. Recipes sounds great. Thank you…

Trish, you can certainly substitute diced tomatoes or even petite diced tomatoes to cut down on heat.

I don’t handle spicy things well either, but I use fire roasted tomatoes ALL the time. So much flavor without much heat at all. Just my two cents! 🙂

Cheese, pasta, Mexican flavors, the slow cooker… this is weeknight meal perfection. Pinning!

I have never seen a more perfect meal. Mexican?! Pasta?! Crockpot?! I think I may faint.

Ohhhh sign me up for this! I have a hankering for some tasty southwestern food and this is going to satisfy that craving!

This looks so good. Do you think you can use a reduced fat cream cheese or is the fat really needed for this to come out right?

Reduced-fat cream cheese should work just fine.

I have a crockpot white chicken chili recipe that calls for cream cheese and I used the blocks of greek yogurt instead and it has turned out great!

This is just what I was looking for! I love meatless dishes AND I love slow cooker dishes!! Double yay!! Thanks so much for posting this!

I have never had orzo before, but it looks delicious, and this dish is so colourful it makes me happy 😀 x

Oh, how I love my slow cooker – endless things to make in it – this looks wonderful! I love the orzo in it too 🙂

I am making this on Sunday, it looks SOOOOO good and I can’t stop thinking about it!

i have a electric pressue cooker, how much time should i use to make this yummy dish!

Maril, unfortunately, I do not have much experience using a pressure cooker. Please use your best judgment to convert this recipe to utilize a pressure cooker.

Is this a side dish or entrée? I can’t figure what I’d eat with this? I usually serve rice and beans w/enchiladas, but I don’t think I would with the orzo. Chips maybe??

Faline, this is more of an entree but feel free to serve this alongside some chips – that’s what we did!

This recipe looks absolutely fantastic! I’m unfortunately not a fan of cream cheese (nor of greek yogurt) and was wondering if you knew of any substitutes that would work with this?

Jen, sour cream would be a suitable substitute, although the use of cream cheese would yield the best results possible. I promise – it doesn’t taste “cream cheesy” at all – it just lends off that creamy goodness!

I am just cooking this today and used soft unripened goat cheese instead as I can’t do cow’s milk. Quite often you can sub goat cheese for cream cheese.

This recipe is perfect for this time of year. Warming, healthy, and easy to throw together! With the rush of the holiday season anything in the crock pot is a slam dunk! Can’t wait to get this cooking at my house!

Made this tonight for dinner. It was amazing!! Definitely making again. I served with chips which made great for scooping. I also added more vegetable broth at the end when adding in the orzo. Loved it!! Husband loved it too. Thank you.

I am gluten and dairy free…can I substitute rice? what would be another substitute for the cream cheese that could make it creamy? Going to try and make it Monday the 15th…thanks

Yes, you can certainly substitute rice but you may have to adjust cooking time as needed to ensure that the rice is completely cooked through. You can also try substituting Greek yogurt but I recommend stirring at the very end of cooking time. I hope that helps!

This recipe sounds delicious…only problem is I don’t have a slow cooker. Can I do this as a one pot dish (similar to your other orzo recipes? If so, any suggestions or best practices? Thank you!

I haven’t tried it myself but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, although you may have to adjust the liquid measurements accordingly.

Hi again. Any recommendations on the liquid measurements, Chungah? Thanks!

Michelle, without further recipe testing, I cannot advise on the correct liquid measurements. Please use your best judgment.

Do you really add the uncooked orzo for the last 20mins? Or did I miss somewhere that your suppose to cook it first?

That’s exaclty right – there’s no need to cook it separately.

This was so delicious! I am from Texas originally and have had more than my fair share of Tex Mex. This was a nice change with orzo and didn’t feel too heavy. It was so creamy and the fresh cilantro was the perfect topping at the end. I added frozen chicken and a whole can of black beans. Will absolutely make again!

Good afternoon – I’m wondering if you have any recommendations to adapt this recipe for someone who doesn’t have a slow-cooker. I’d make it for a dinner. Thank-you!

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot advise on how to adapt this recipe without a slow cooker. However, here is an article worth checking out on a possible conversion guide from Williams-Sonoma:

I made it today and it was fabulous. Alot left over though for one person, How does it reheat the next day. Does it need a liquid to become creamy again. Anyone know how it freezes.

Love your recipes, Chungah. I made the enchilada orzo today and it was very tasty. Instead of the canned enchilada sauce I used an easy homemade recipe ( and it worked very well!!

This is so delicious! I used fat free cream cheese and it was still amazing! I never had orzo before, and now I love it! Thanks for the recipe!

I notice you use canned black beans in this recipe. Can I substitute reconstituted beans instead? How many cups would make up one can?

Ashley, 1 15-ounce can of black beans is equivalent to about 1 1/2 cups, drained.

Could you double this recipe?

I haven’t tried it myself but I don’t see why it should be a problem, although you may have to adjust cooking time as needed.

I’ll be the dissenting voice. We did not like this dish. It wasn’t inedible, but we definitely won’t be making again. It was like spaghetti with mexican food aftertaste. Maybe it needs some cumin or something to make it less tomatoey. Not our cup of tea. Oh well, life goes on.

I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully tested in my own kitchen, and as you can see from the comments here, many of these readers have had great outcomes in the final dish as well. But I understand that failures and mishaps can happen, and with a little bit more information, we can troubleshoot what went wrong to have a successful turnaround next time.

So I must ask – did you follow the recipe exactly as written without any substitutions? I’m also not entirely sure where you are getting the spaghetti taste as the recipe reflects more of an enchilada-type pasta. Did you use tomato sauce?

I really think it’s a personal taste issue. The only sub I made was brands. I like my enchilada sauce better than old El Paso (I think it has more flavor). I’m eating leftovers for lunch today (like I said, it’s not awful, just not very good). I think goulash is a better way to describe the taste, and I hate goulash (that might be the problem).

Maybe I was thinking it would taste more like the quinoa enchilada casserole (which we love). Perhaps the noodles versus quinoa and cheese versus cream cheese make a bigget difference in flavor than i thought they would.

Brittney, this recipe is similar to a casserole that i’ve made before, but it users more seasonings than just salt and pepper. I added:
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano.
It added much more flavor. Hopefully you’ll give it a second try, it came out great.

Hello! This recipe looks great but when I plugged it into a calorie counting website it shows the serving size is 542 calories and not 304 which is huge if you’re counting calories.

Jennifer, I’m not entirely sure where you are getting your numbers but the numbers here are correct.

I’m also getting a much different calorie count-about 475 per serving. This is using the El Paso brands you described, and generic cans for everything else (calorie counts were approximately the same across different brands.

There can be quite a difference in the orzo pasta. The numbers listed here include 2 cups measured and weighed for accuracy. Measurements in volumes will vary more dramatically.

What is the serving size? 🙂 it looks positively delicious. Also wonder if farro would work?

The serving size is roughly about 1-2 cups per serving. As for the farro, unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty if it will work. Please use your best judgment.

so this dish is 331.8 calories per 1-2cups??

Yes, that’s exactly right.

Hi Chungah….
I am a new follower and fan…. I have tried several of your recipes and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I tried this recipe tonight, and it was great. I added some leftover taco chicken that I made the other night, made my own enchilada sauce and topped everything with lots of fresh cilantro (YUM), a dollop of sour cream and some Mexican shredded cheese…YUMMY! I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes…thank you for sharing!

looks so amazing! i am heading out to buy all ingredients to make today….i was looking for something new to try..will let you know how it goes..thanks .

May I ask what size crockpot. I may have missed it… It always helpful when the size crockpot is listed in recipe, there so so many different sizes for sale these days… Thank You…

I used a 3-qt slow cooker.

Can I request that you change the recipe to say 3-qt instead of 6-qt, then? I have a 5 1/2-qt crock pot, and I was going to set this to cook while I run errands all day. I got nervous when the liquid didn’t come close to half way and came back to double check. Now I’m going to have to run out and got an extra can of all of the canned ingredients before I can safely let it cook for the day!

You can halve the recipe to utilize a 3-qt slow cooker.

I see that cream cheese is added twice in the recipe, what is the amount do I add each time. Recipe looks delicious!

Shannon, the cream cheese is added only once. The second time it is mentioned in the recipe, you are simply stirring the mixture to make sure everything is well combined.

Hello! I just made a double batch for a work retreat this weekend. I’ll have to freeze it then reheat when serving. Any suggestions on best way to reheat such a large amount? I was thinking of adding more broth then warming it in a huge pan.

How does that sound? Thanks for everything. I couldn’t stop “testing it” aka. eating spoonful after spoonful. 🙂

Yes, absolutely. That sounds like a great idea!

Hi there! I was just wondering if coconut milk, coconut cream, or something similar could be used in place of the cream cheese to make this recipe dairy-free? Would that effect the cooking time or texture of the pasta at all?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot advise an appropriate substitute that will not alter the overall taste/texture of the dish. Please use your best judgment.

I am vegan and make a cashew cream instead of cream cheese. It adds the richness of the cheese without the carcinogen

Sorry what has been “proven” to be a carcinogen in this meal? I’m not talking a potential carnicogen such as pea protein but are you sure you know what your talking about? To be a carcinogen it has to be showen to cause cancer 100% of the time, not even cigarettes has not shown that! Did you mean “potential” if so he you could make that claim with plenty of vegan choices as well never mind cooking with essential oils….sorry for the rant, don’t like vegans throw that word around not knowing basic chemistry and plant actives….yes I get the argument about meat eaters and saturated fat but that’s a “stress” releatednargument hence execrise no problem

Can this recipe be frozen and reheated?

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself – there were no leftovers left to freeze! Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

I don’t normally post reviews on recipes I’ve tried, but this one was really good. My boyfriend, who’s a big meat eater, loved it even without any chicken or anything. My chihuahua even managed to sneak some when we weren’t looking and ate half a bowl, the little rascal. I liked it because it was super easy to make and required very little prep work, but made a ton of food. I ate some for breakfast this morning and still have plenty left over for probably two more meals for myself (it still tastes good as leftovers if anyone was wondering). I’d never had orzo before, so it was also an interesting way to try something a little different. Thanks for the recipe!

I often substitute soaked and simmered dry beans for canned…not a big fan of canned beans. I haven’t tried this in a slow cooker recipe, but I’m thinking to soak overnight and then toss them in to simmer over the 7-8 hours on low. What do you think?

That sounds like a great idea but without having tried this myself, I cannot really say with certainty – please use your best judgment.

Just tried this today. Delicious. Super easy and tasty. I found the fire roasted tomatoes combined with the mild green chillies to be too spicy for me. Next time I plan to use plain diced stewed tomatoes and half the amount of chillies. I also added some water to mellow it down for my personal taste. The cream cheese does add creaminess …I topped my with shredded mozzarella as well. Great dish!

I can’t wait to make this today! I am wondering if after I make it can I leave the crockpot on warm for a few hours? Or will the pasta get mushy? Thank you !

It should be fine for a few hours. I would just give it a good stir from time to time.

I have everything to make this recipe except I’m short one cup of orzo. I’m trying to clean out my pantry, and I don’t want to buy any more. Any suggetions? I was also thinking of adding some open refried beans from my fridge.

Refried beans sounds amazing! As for the pasta, I highly recommend using orzo to ensure that it is completely cooked through during the allotted time in the slow cooker.

Think I could use a mix of regular cheese and cream cheese?

What about chopped bell pepper…?

That all sounds amazing!

I made this for dinner tonight and it was awesome. The flavor was very good. Not too spicy My husband liked it too. Will beaming this again! Thanks for the great recipe!

Sad to say this didn’t work for me…just re-read the instructions to make sure I understood correctly that the cream cheese was supposed to sit on top during throughout cooking. I did that, but when I stirred the cream cheese to mix it in, it had completely curdled. Doesn’t seem like anyone else in the reviews had this problem so not sure what happened. I followed the directions of the recipe as written. A shame because it smelled great! I may try again and add the cream cheese at the end rather than cooking it the whole time. Just wondered if anyone else had this problem & came up with a solution. As is, it isn’t edible 🙁

Oh no, what a bummer! It should not be curdling at all! The cream cheese that sits on top throughout the entire cooking process is a commonly used method, like this slow cooker creamed corn. I hope you get a chance to try this again with a more successful outcome!

I had the exact same problem. I’m about to add the orzo so I’m hoping it will mix well enough to not notice the cheese broke.

Hi there! I’m in Canada and can’t find enchilada sauce anywhere (Old El Paso or otherwise). I’ve been to 5 different grocery stores in Toronto and I’m out of luck. Most have Old El Paso taco sauce….is it possible to use that as a substitute, or should I just make my own enchilada sauce. Very excited to try this, but enchilada sauce is the missing piece!

Yes, you can actually make your own enchilada sauce right at home. It’s so easy! You can grab my recipe here. Hope that helps!

I too am in Toronto and get really peeved that we don’t have any enchilada sauce here.

I am as well and I swear they used to sell it but no longer. But super easy to make your own (and better)!

This looks delicious! I need to make at least a double batch, does it have to cook longer in the crockpot if I double it? Will a double batch fit in a standard crockpot?

Yes, cooking time will need to be adjusted if the recipe is doubled.

Made this for dinner and it was delicious!! Super simple, too. Will definitely be making again. Thanks!

Does this recipe fit in a 4qt slow cooker?

It should but cooking time will have to be adjusted accordingly.

Made this today it was delicious! My boyfriend is not vegetarian and loved it- said it didn’t even need meat!

Do you cook the orzo before putting into crockpot?

Nope – the recipe indicates 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta.

The cream cheese curdled for me, too. I’m thinking that maybe the cream cheese may have been too cold and the slow cooker got too hot since I opted for the high heat for 3-4 hours instead of low heat. There is a good amount of flavor so it is still edible enough, just wish the cheese didn’t curdle like that. I will try again someday soon on low heat instead and see if that still happens.

My cream cheese curdled too. I don’t think it will be much of a problem, but it doesn’t look as nice. Mine was straight out of the fridge, and I also used the 3-4 hour high setting. I think I will be using the low setting in the future. I haven’t tried it yet but it smells delicious!

Good guidelines, but I took creative liberties to make it delicious:
1) Doubled the recipe, except kept the same amount of cream cheese and added some monterey jack cheese at the same time and mixed it all together for cheesy gooey deliciousness
2) Brown rice added at the start, skipped the orzo
3) Added the extra spices suggested above (cumin, garlic, cayenne)
4) Cooked on high for 30 minutes at the start to get the rice started, then on low for 6-7 hours

We like spicey, so we added some habanero sauce when serving – om nom nom!

What is your opinion, do you think that vegan/dairy-free cream cheese would be ok to substitute for regular cream cheese in this?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment.

I made this today, and it was DELICIOUS!! Kept going back for just one more bite…and ending up with another full bowl! 🙂
I made some slight alterations, added 3 frozen chicken breasts that I took out and cut up and added back in before I added the pasta. I used gluten free pasta shells and just added 10 minutes extra cooking time. And also added just a bit of shredded cheese along with reduced fat cream cheese. It was absolutely heavenly! Thanks so much for the recipe. 🙂

My cream cheese also curdled when I made this today. Really disappointing. Any idea why this is happening to some of us? After reading some of the other comments from people who had this issue, I let the cream cheese come to room temperature before cooking it and also cooked the dish on low. When I stirred the ingredients before adding the pasta, the cream cheese crumbled into tiny little curdled pieces and it looks so unappetizing. 🙁 So upsetting.

Bummer! It’s really hard to say why this is happening – I have honestly made this a dozen times without any curdling issues. But here is a great resource discussing how to cook cheese in the slow cooker. Hope that helps!

I made this last night and it was a hit. My 2 year old son and husband loved it! Definitely on the repeat list. My hubby is not a fan of crockpot stuff or soup type stuff but he said it was good and yes he would recommend eating again!! Win win.
I added chicken to mine.

I’ve made this three times in the last couple of months..It is that good. Quick and easy on the stove top too if you don’t have all day. AMAZING RECIPE! LOVE IT. LOVE ALL OF YOUR RECIPES. (btw, made it today..eating it right now).

Did you do anything different when you made it on the stovetop? I may end up doing that if it helps keep it from drying out! (Making it for my boyfriend and he’s got to work late tomorrow so not sure when he’d get home).

How did you make it on the stovetop? I’m looking for some adjustments with the liquids so that I can do the same, don’t want to mess it up!

This looks delicious and totally want to try it for the boyfriend tomorrow! He works later than me, so do you think it would be a problem to have it all cooked and just keep it on warm/stir, then not add int he orzo until he gets home? That way it doesn’t get sticky or dry out?

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