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20 Unexpected Quinoa Recipes That Are Easy to Make

If you’re looking for creative and delicious ways to make quinoa, these recipes are for you!

You probably know quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) as a good plant-based source of protein, but did you know that a cup has more iron than a six-ounce steak?

Even better is the fact that it’s a gluten-free seed that cooks up like a grain. That means it has a highly adaptable flavor and can be enjoyed in countless combinations, and can be ground to make flour, used to replace rice in any dish, or turned into a casserole like pasta.

These 20 unique recipes showcase how versatile and delicious quinoa really is, giving you delicious choices for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Enjoy!

Apricot Vanilla Quinoa Protein Bars

Serves 12

Most trail mix-style snacks bars are made with flour and oats. If you use quinoa instead, you can make a gluten-free protein bar that’s every bit as sweet and chewy.

And as with many recipes for baked goods, this one is easy to adjust by changing the types of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. For example, you could make a peanut butter bar with tart cherries, sesame seeds, and a dark chocolate drizzle.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

247

Calories

12 g

Protein

24 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups quinoa flakes

1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 cup vanilla whey protein powder

1 large egg

1 small container (5.3 oz.) plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup almond butter

1/4 cup pure honey

1/2 cup chopped apricots

1/4 cup vanilla chips

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Chicken Quinoa Burrito Bowls

Serves 2

Can’t get enough Mexican food? You may as well mix it up every once in a while by using quinoa instead of rice.

Although they have similar calorie density, quinoa has nearly twice as much protein per serving. It also has more fiber, riboflavin, folate, and iron as compared to brown rice. Knowing all that, it’s no wonder that quinoa is fast becoming a pantry staple.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

692

Calories

48 g

Protein

58 g

Carbs

32 g

Fat

Ingredients

Chicken Burrito Bowl:

2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup dry quinoa)

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 8 oz.)

4 tsp. taco seasoning

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup guacamole

1/4 cup (1 oz.) crumbled cotija cheese

1 lime (for serving)

Corn Salsa:

1 can (15 oz.) corn kernels, drained

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

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Strawberry Quinoa Pancakes

Serves 6 / Makes 18

With quinoa in addition to flour, milk, and eggs, these pancakes are sure to power you through the day.

And the recipe includes a maple syrup topping alternative: from-scratch strawberry sauce. It only takes about 10 minutes on the stove to cook down fresh strawberries and a kiss of vanilla extract into a naturally sweet syrup. It also includes just enough maple syrup so you’re not missing out.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

268

Calories

9 g

Protein

54 g

Carbs

2 g

Fat

Ingredients

Quinoa Pancakes:

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed

1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

4 tsp. baking powder

Pinch of salt

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup skim milk

2 egg whites

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1/2 cup strawberries, diced

Strawberry Sauce:

1 lb. strawberries, diced

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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Jalapeno Bacon Quinoa Mac & Cheese

Serves 6

How can you have mac and cheese without any macaroni?

This recipe uses quinoa instead of pasta to deliver all the goodness of this classic comfort dish – bacon included. Aside from the single replacement, there’s not much to set this recipe apart from spicy mac and cheese. The ingredients are first cooked on the stove, and transferred to the oven until the top is browned.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

556

Calories

33 g

Protein

38 g

Carbs

30 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups low-fat milk

2 Tbsp. cornstarch (or tapioca starch)

4 jalapenos, diced

1 medium onion, diced

10 strips bacon

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. paprika

2 1/2 cups (8 oz.) shredded white cheddar cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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High-Protein Vanilla Pudding

Serves 1

Like rice pudding, you can use quinoa pudding as a protein delivery system. And amazingly, this one doesn’t even rely on protein powder!

Instead, it uses a winning combo of quinoa, chia seeds, and hemp hearts. The resulting quinoa pudding is delicious enough to enjoy as dessert, but nutrient-dense enough to have as a wholesome breakfast. Want to cut over 100 calories and 25 grams of sugar? Simply use stevia in place of maple syrup.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

515

Calories

18 g

Protein

67 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/4 cup cooked quinoa

2 Tbsp. chia seeds

2 Tbsp. hemp hearts

1/4 tsp. vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

Pinch of cinnamon

3/4 cup unsweetened cashew milk (or milk of choice)

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No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies

Serves 24

Most quinoa cookie recipes use a processed variety sold in the cereal aisle called quinoa flakes. However, these chocolate cookies prove it’s possible to use whole quinoa instead. And you don’t even need to turn on your oven!

This dough will come together quickly on the stove, especially if you have leftover cooked quinoa in the fridge. After an hour in the freezer, these healthy cookies – with just 4 grams of sugar apiece – will be ready to eat.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

149

Calories

5 g

Protein

20 g

Carbs

6 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked quinoa + 2 cups water)

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Pizza Quinoa Casserole

Serves 4

For pizza flavor that you can serve as a light lunch or side dish, make this baked quinoa casserole.

It has everything you love about marinara, including garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano. To complete the picture, this is garnished with cheese, but for a dairy-free alternative, you can sprinkle with a little nutritional yeast, commonly used as a vegan substitute for cheesy goodness.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

304

Calories

13 g

Protein

38 g

Carbs

12 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa

2 cups water

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste

4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. water

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. fennel seed

1 tsp. marjoram

1 tsp. dried basil

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1/4 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella (or 3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast)

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Guacamole Quinoa

Serves 4

If you’re a guacamole addict, you might wind up eating way more than a day’s serving of avocados. With this twist on the creamy dip, you can eat more of the creamy dip-turned-side dish while getting a little more variation in your diet.

Not only are you benefiting from the healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals in avocados, but the superfruit is said to act as a nutrition booster, helping your body absorb more of the nutrients in quinoa.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

449

Calories

14 g

Protein

67 g

Carbs

15 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 ripe avocado, diced

Juice of 1 1/2 limes

1/4 tsp. salt

2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1/2 cup dry)

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/2 ripe mango, diced

3/4 cup baby tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/4 tsp. ground cayenne

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

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Quinoa Buckwheat Date Cereal

Serves 10 / Makes 3 1/2 cups

Quinoa cereal has become popular since people have started looking for alternatives to wheat and corn-based products. However, the homemade versions usually call for quinoa flakes, which can be hard to find in the grocery store.

This recipe uses regular cooked quinoa, so you can use leftovers to make this delicious granola.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

181

Calories

4 g

Protein

24 g

Carbs

8 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup gluten-free rolled oats

1/2 cup raw buckwheat groats

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (about 1/3 cup dry)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. sea salt

5 pitted Medjool dates, chopped

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Edamame Quinoa Salad

Serves 16

For a salad that’s light on your stomach but not on nutrients, quinoa makes an excellent base. And in this case, it becomes a way to dish up a whole spoonful of superfoods at once. There’s edamame, almonds, chickpeas, corn, and cranberries.

With so much in the salad itself, the only dressing it needs is a mix of olive oil and lime juice.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

295

Calories

13 g

Protein

41 g

Carbs

10 g

Fat

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked quinoa

4 cups water

1/2 tsp. salt (plus more to taste)

1 cup celery, sliced

1 can (15 oz.) corn, drained

1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 cup dried cranberries

12 oz. edamame, cooked and shelled

2 red bell peppers, diced

1 cup sliced almonds

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

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Broccoli Quinoa Quesadillas

Serves 4

Quesadillas might seem like a guilty pleasure, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Replace some of the cheesy filling with superfoods like broccoli and quinoa, and suddenly quesadillas look like more than a quick dinner.

You can make a quesadilla in the microwave or toaster oven, but it’ll get perfectly crispy if you take a minute to heat up some olive oil in a skillet. It only takes a few minutes on each side to cook, melting the cheese.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

234

Calories

11 g

Protein

19 g

Carbs

13 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/4 cup quinoa

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1/2 cup chopped broccoli

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 medium whole-wheat tortillas

2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

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Curried Quinoa & Sweet Potato Pilaf

Serves 6

Quinoa pilaf might sound plain, but with curry powder, cumin, and currants, this is anything but. As if that’s not enough flavor, there’s also sweet potato and crisp green apples. You can serve this as a side dish for meat, but it’s satisfying enough to serve as an entrée.

As long as you aren’t concerned about the carbs, you can double the portion. Or, consider serving with a simple green salad.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

192

Calories

7 g

Protein

34 g

Carbs

4 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced

1/2 cup green peas

2 Tbsp. currants, raisins, or cranberries

2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts, toasted

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Fruity Quinoa Porridge

Serves 4

Load up your freezer with fresh fruit when it’s in season, and you’ll be rewarded when winter comes.

You can enjoy this toasty warm bowl of porridge studded with blueberries, pomegranate, and rhubarb. This vegan breakfast is also loaded with nutrient-dense nuts and seeds. Go ahead and use whichever ones you have on hand, like walnuts and chia seeds, or almonds and sesame seeds.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

342

Calories

10 g

Protein

47 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1/4 cup pecans

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Dash of freshly ground nutmeg

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 cup chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

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Mediterranean Quinoa Soup

Serves 4

Mediterranean soup might call to mind olives, tomatoes, and basil, but this recipe takes things in a completely different direction.

Like many soups, this one starts by sautéing onion, garlic, and carrots. After the quinoa toasts for half a minute, vegetable broth and garbanzo beans are mixed in, and the soup is left to boil until everything is cooked through. Fresh spinach and lemon juice are added immediately before serving.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

627

Calories

35 g

Protein

95 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 white onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup uncooked red quinoa

6 cups vegetable broth

1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans

Juice of 1 lemon

4 cups fresh spinach, chopped

1 small jar (6.5 oz.) marinated artichokes

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Quinoa Hawaiian Pizza Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4

Using a healthy package like a bell pepper doesn’t make a dish healthy. This filling includes all the things you want – protein, complex carbs, and a little cheese – and nothing that’ll put this over the top of your macro targets.

These Hawaiian stuffed peppers are big enough to be served as lunch or dinner, but of course they’re even better next to a slab of meat.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

454

Calories

29 g

Protein

49 g

Carbs

16 g

Fat

Ingredients

4 large green bell peppers

1 cup cooked quinoa (about 1/4 cup dry), cooled

4 slices Canadian bacon, chopped

1 cup marinara sauce

1 oz. fresh mozzarella

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/2 cup (2 oz.) grated Parmesan

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Carrot Cake Quinoa Bites

Makes 20

When you’re craving cake, it helps to cut down the portion sizes. Otherwise, you might be pleased after one piece– yet thinking you’d be even happier with a second. With these small bites of vegan carrot cake, you can satisfy dessert cravings while avoiding butter, white sugar, and white flour.

You can make them without protein powder, but why would you bother? The recipe makes more servings with it than without.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

85

Calories

4 g

Protein

13 g

Carbs

3 g

Fat

Ingredients

Cake Bites:

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 Tbsp. date puree (about 4 Medjool dates)

2 carrots, grated

1 tsp. chia seed

1 tsp. ground flaxseed

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp. coconut flour

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk)

3 Tbsp. hemp seed

2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts

2 Tbsp. chopped raisins

4 scoops stevia

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 scoops Sunwarrior protein powder (or other vanilla protein powder)

6 Tbsp. unsweetened cashew milk

Frosting:

1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut butter

2 tsp. pure maple syrup

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cashew milk

1 tsp. chia seeds

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Smoky Beet Quinoa Burgers

Serves 8

It’s hard to get the texture right on a veggie burger. Beans can get too mushy to replace meat. Tofu doesn’t come close to being like a burger. Wheat-based seitan is great because it can be made to have a variety of textures, but it’s tricky to prepare. Plus, all of the protein is from gluten.

Then there’s quinoa, which gives you something to bite into and just enough softness to stand in for juicy ground beef.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

396

Calories

17 g

Protein

58 g

Carbs

14 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup water

1 lb. raw beets, peeled

2 medium carrots, shredded

1 large onion, grated

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 chipotles in adobo, chopped

2 tsp. adobo sauce

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buckwheat flour (or oat flour)

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

8 whole-grain burger buns, toasted

1 large avocado, sliced

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Kale & Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Serves 6

Two in one, this recipe is a grain salad mixed with a leafy green salad.

The result is a whole bowl of superfoods like kale, quinoa, corn, and black beans. That’s enough reason to eat up, but even health food-averse eaters will be addicted to this salad based on the spicy dressing. It’s got a kick of hot sauce tempered by a spoonful of maple syrup and a splash of lime juice.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

412

Calories

22 g

Protein

77 g

Carbs

3 g

Fat

Ingredients

Quinoa Salad:

1 cup uncooked quinoa

6 cups chopped kale, destemmed

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn kernels

Spicy Dressing:

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup hot sauce

1/4 cup water

1 tsp. pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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Spring Quinoa Risotto

Serves 4

Why make risotto without Arborio rice? Quinoa won’t be as creamy because it doesn’t release starch throughout in the same way throughout the cooking process, but the resulting riff on risotto is equally delicious.

And this recipe is smart to include other ingredients that will help create a thick, rich texture like mushrooms, peas, and Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

451

Calories

20 g

Protein

51 g

Carbs

17 g

Fat

Ingredients

1/2 yellow onion, diced

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped button mushrooms

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup white wine

1 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed well

2 cups vegetable broth

1/8 tsp. dried thyme

3 cups fresh spinach

1 cup green peas

1/2 cup (2 oz.) shredded Parmesan

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Red Quinoa Tabbouleh with Labne

Serves 4

Tabbouleh may sound new to you, but it’s a traditional Middle Eastern dish that likely dates back several millennia to before the Ottoman Empire. Since then, it has spread throughout the Mediterranean and been adapted in a wide variety of ways.

It’s usually made with bulgar, but it’s just as easy to make it with quinoa. And although tomatoes are thought of as standard now, the plant didn’t arrive in the region until the 1800s. Switching out one red fruit for another – pomegranate – is actually more authentic.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

346

Calories

10 g

Protein

37 g

Carbs

19 g

Fat

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked red quinoa

1 1/4 cups water

1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)

8 oz. labne

1 large English cucumber, cut into 1/4” pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 large tomato)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tsp. lemon zest

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

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