21 quinoa recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Quinoa is high in protein and nutrients, tastes great and is one of the fastest whole grains you can make.
Published 21 January 2018 | Updated 25 October 2022

Quinoa (say ‘keen-wha’) is actually a seed and not a grain. Rich in protein, plus a source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, it’s a popular gluten-free choice. White, black and red quinoa varieties vary in depth of flavour. Quinoa flakes, flour and pastas are also available. Always rinse quinoa before cooking, otherwise it can taste a bit gritty. Quinoa can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Quinoa is an ancient food from high in the Andes, grown by the Incas long before the Spanish arrived on the scene. Quinoa thrives in frigid, desert-like, high-altitude environments — places that would be the death of almost all other grains.

Quinoa has the highest protein content of any grain. Plus, quinoa is a great source of manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc. All that, and quinoa is gluten-free, too!

Quinoa cooks really fast, in just minutes — a great whole grain for busy weeknights.

Quinoa is fairly mild-tasting with a slight nuttiness, maybe even a little grassy like wild rice.

Individual quinoa grains are tiny, smaller than wheat berries, barley, or even millet grains. When cooked, the quinoa germ unfurls to form a small, translucent halo around the grain.

Because quinoa is so high in polyunsaturated fats, it can go rancid rather quickly and should be stored in the fridge for up to 4 months.

Although quinoa flour is by nature gluten-free, it may be processed in a facility that also processes wheat and other gluten-laden grains. If important, check the manufacturer's website to make sure yours is made in a gluten-free facility.

When buying quinoa

You’ll most often find two types of quinoa at the stops: tri-colour or white. Black quinoa is a rarity, usually found only in health-food stores.

Quinoa can also be ground into a flour for use in reduced-gluten or even gluten-free baking and cooking.

How to use quinoa

  • Make quinoa hummus by replacing half the chickpeas in homemade hummus with cooked, chilled quinoa.
  • Use cooked, chilled quinoa in stuffings for chicken, turkey and capsicums.
  • Bulk out mince with cooked quinoa in meatballs, patties and meatloaf.
  • Use it to bulk up and add texture to soups. Add rinsed and drained quinoa 15 minutes before the end of cooking time.
  • Use cooked quinoa instead of breadcrumbs to coat chicken or veal schnitzels.
  • Kick off the day with some quinoa porridge: bring ⅓ cup quinoa and ⅓ cup water to the boil in a small saucepan. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add ⅓ cup skim milk and simmer, covered, for a further 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Serve with fresh or dried fruit, nuts and a little honey if you like it sweeter.