Looking for ways to make quinoa taste good? Try this gluten free Cilantro Lime Quinoa; it’s the ideal sidekick for healthy dinner options and nutritious salads. Quinoa seeds are boiled in vegetable stock and infused with cilantro, zesty lime and garlic to create a flavorful, light and nutritious quinoa recipe. Vegan, diabetes diet friendly and heart healthy.

perspective shot of a bowl of cooked quinoa topped with lime wedges with some herbs hanging over the top.

I’ll admit it, I’m a quinoa fanatic, y’all. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, quinoa is one of my go-to’s. That’s because it’s not only a complete protein but also packed with dietary fibre and other nutrients like magnesium. To be honest, I find any excuse to chuck it into healthy dinner salads. Plus, it’s the perfect fluffy quinoa recipe to go with my pan fried basa fillet recipe on a bed of grilled vegetables or served alongside my vegan tikka masala. Lip-smacking!

These last few years, I’ve been experimenting with quinoa quite a bit. Honestly, it took a bit of practice to master how to cook quinoa in a pot — quickly (with flavour!). In today’s recipe instalment, I’ll also offer tips on how to prepare quinoa, so it isn’t bitter.

When it comes to cooking quinoa, there are two methods that work like a charm every time:

  1. The first method is to simmer quinoa in water or vegetable broth on the stovetop until it’s fully cooked (fluffy quinoa at its best!).
  2. The second method is to cook quinoa in a rice cooker. While this method doesn’t require as much attention, I find that stovetop quinoa always turns out considerably fluffier.
a close up shot of a fork of cooked quinoa with a bowl of cooked quinoa in the background.

Cooking quinoa: Ways to make quinoa taste good

Whether you’re cooking quinoa on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, there are key tips to follow to ensure your quinoa is extra flavourful and turns out light and fluffy. Here’s how to make quinoa taste good:

  • Rinse the quinoa: Quinoa has a bitter outer coating called saponin. To avoid a bitter quinoa taste, it’s best to rinse the quinoa several times under cold water before cooking. I usually do this in a fine mesh sieve.
  • Toast the quinoa: This step is optional (I didn’t do it this time), but toasting the quinoa before cooking adds an extra layer of flavour. To toast, heat the quinoa in a dry pan over medium heat for a few minutes until it’s fragrant.
  • If you’re wondering how to season quinoa, well, there are plenty of vibrant ideas. For example, you can add flavour boosters like fried garlic, fresh lime juice, cilantro and vegetables. Additionally, adding fresh or dried herbs and spices like chilli flakes, curry powder or turmeric work wonders. These are all worthy options.
  • Add coconut, nuts and dried fruits to bring flavour and crunch to create healthy sweet recipes.

How to cook quinoa

The quinoa to water ratio is a frequent topic of discussion. Yes, having the correct proportion of quinoa and water is key if you want your recipe to work. However, when I tried a 1:2 ratio (1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water) at home – nothing but mushy quinoa resulted. But if you use 1.5 cups quinoa to 2 cups water, it is superb!

However, I must emphasize that cooking quinoa successfully is influenced by a wide range of factors: the type of quinoa you’re using, the heat, your cooking pot and so on.

Here’s how to make my favourite quinoa – with cilantro and lime.

Cilantro lime quinoa – an easy quinoa recipe

Ingredients

graphic showing food ingredients such as a bowl of quinoa, broth, herbs, oil and lime segments.
  • Quinoa: regular yellow quinoa in my recipes.
  • Garlic: I love how garlic infuses the quinoa with oomph.
  • Olive oil: because it’s a heart healthy cooking oil and perfect for frying garlic.
  • Stock: vegetable stock adds even more flavour to the quinoa.
  • Cilantro: this herb brightens up any dish and is the perfect garnish and flavour booster!
  • Lime juice: for a bit of acidity and much-needed tang.

Step by step

  1. Begin by preparing quinoa for cooking: rinse it several times with water. Then drain any excess water and set it aside (step 1).
  2. Next, heat a pot on medium heat, add oil and fry the garlic (step 2).
  3. Once the garlic turns golden and releases its aroma, add the stock (step 3) and bring it to a boil.
  4. Then, add the quinoa and bring it to a boil (step 4).
  5. It’s time to cover and cook the quinoa on high heat for 8 minutes. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 additional minutes (step 5).
  6. At this point, you want to switch off the heat and let the quinoa sit (covered!) for 5 minutes.
  7. Garnish the quinoa with lime juice and cilantro (steps 6-7).
  8. Finish by using a fork to separate the quinoa seeds and mix gently (step 8). Serve warm.
a bowl of cooked yellow quinoa topped with lime wedges and cilantro leaves. There are some greens blurred in the foreground and a hand holding a bottle of water and pouring it into a glass.

What should I serve with quinoa?

Matchmaking quinoa with the right foods will take your meal to new heights. Here are some of my favourite ways to turn quinoa into a wholesome meal:

Tips

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water several times
  • Make sure you measure the ingredients and avoid improvising.
  • Use a good quality vegetable stock to bring oodles of flavour to your quinoa recipes.
  • Stick to fresh herbs and fresh lime, which help to enhance the flavour.
  • Allow the quinoa to stand after turning off the heat for a few minutes before diving in with your fork (I understand how tempting it is!)

Storage suggestions

Leftover quinoa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you want to reheat it, simply add a splash of water and heat in the microwave or stovetop. And remember to fluff the quinoa with a fork before serving.

Do I have to rinse quinoa?

Some people think you should rinse the quinoa thoroughly to eliminate the natural bitter coating. It’s a matter of personal taste, I believe. I’ve done it both ways, and while the seeds are more firm with unwashed quinoa, I didn’t find the taste to be any different.

a close up of cooked quinoa with some greens embedded in it.

Quinoa nutrition facts

There’s no doubt about it – quinoa is a nutritional dynamo!

In fact, quinoa is a rich source of essential fatty acids, minerals (copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc), vitamins, dietary fibres, and carbohydrates – with beneficial blood sugar lowering benefits.

Plus, because of the absence of gluten, quinoa is suitable for folks with celiac or gluten-related sensitivities.

Here are some of the key nutrients you’ll find in one cup of cooked quinoa:

Nutrient and caloriesAmount%DV
Calcium31.4 mg2%
Choline42.6 mg8%
Copper0.4 mg39%
Dietary Fiber5.2 g19%
Fat3.6 g5%
Folate/Folic Acid77.7 mcg19%
Iron2.8 mg15%
Magnesium118 mg28%
Manganese1.2 mg51%
Niacin0.8 mg5%
Phosphorus281 mg22%
Potassium318 mg7%
Protein8.1 g16%
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)0.2 mg16%
Saturated fat0.4 g2%
Selenium5.2 mcg9%
Sodium13 mg1%
Thiamin (vitamin B1)0.2 mg17%
Total carbohydrate39.4 g14%
Vitamin B60.3 mg13%
Vitamin E1.2 mg8%
Zinc2 mg18%
Calories222 kcal

Quinoa protein

Quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods that contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Just one cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein.

The protein in quinoa can help to:

It isn’t about the quantity of protein either – quinoa is tagged as a high-quality protein source. This means it contains a good balance of the essential amino acids your body needs to perform optimally. This well-balanced amino acid profile is superior to wheat, barley, and soybeans. 

In addition to being a complete protein, quinoa is also a rich source of lysine. This amino acid (a building block of protein) helps the body absorb calcium and has been shown to promote tissue growth and repair.

Interestingly, quinoa has also been suggested as an alternative to dairy products due to its high protein and compelling profile.

Nutrition highlights per serving

One serving of this Lime Cilantro quinoa recipe provides 9 g of protein and is:

  • Low in saturated fat
  • A high source of dietary fibre
  • A decent source of iron

*Nutrient claims based on a 2000-calorie diet.

Looking for more quinoa recipes?

a bowl of cooked yellow quinoa topped with lime wedges and cilantro leaves. There are some greens blurred in the foreground and a glass of water in the background.

If you like this lime cilantro quinoa recipe, you might also enjoy these other delicious quinoa recipes:

  1. Kale and Quinoa Salad
  2. Quinoa Pilau
  3. Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
  4. Homemade Protein Shake – Without Protein Powder

What are your favourite quinoa recipes? Share in the comment section below!

Desi~liciously Yours, Shahzadi

Hungry for more?

If you try this easy quinoa recipe, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment, rate it, or share a photo and hashtag with #desiliciousrd on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Can’t wait to see your photos.

RD Approved Badge - Anti Inflammatory
RD Approved Badge - Gut Healthy
a bowl of cooked yellow quinoa topped with lime wedges and cilantro leaves. There are some greens blurred in the foreground.
5 stars (1 review)

Get the Recipe:

How To Make Quinoa Taste Good + Easy Recipe

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Resting Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Yield: 4 people
Looking for ways to make quinoa taste good? Try this gluten free Cilantro Lime Quinoa; it's the ideal sidekick for healthy dinner options and nutritious salads. Quinoa seeds are boiled in vegetable stock and infused with cilantro, zesty lime and garlic to create a flavourful, light and nutritious quinoa recipe. Vegan, diabetes diet friendly and heart healthy.

Ingredients
 

  • cups quinoa, washed and drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 2 tsp garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, unsalted
  • 1 cup cilantro, washed, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juice

Instructions
 

  • In a medium pot, on medium heat, begin by frying the garlic in oil
  • Once the garlic turns golden and releases its aroma, add the stock and bring it to a boil
  • Add the washed and drained quinoa to the pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook on high heat for 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for 2 additional minutes
  • Switch off the heat and let the quinoa sit (covered!) for 5 minutes.
  • Add the lime juice along with the cilantro
  • Using a fork, separate the quinoa seeds and mix gently. Serve warm

Notes

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water several times
  • Make sure you measure the ingredients and avoid improvising.
  • Use a good quality vegetable stock to bring oodles of flavour to your quinoa recipes.
  • Stick to fresh herbs and fresh lime, which help to enhance the flavour.
  • Allow the quinoa to stand after turning off the heat for a few minutes before diving in with your fork (I understand how tempting it is!

Nutrition Information:

Calories: 279kcal (14%)Carbohydrates: 45g (15%)Protein: 9g (18%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 1g (5%)Sodium: 476mg (20%)Potassium: 397mg (11%)Fiber: 5g (20%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 520IU (10%)Vitamin C: 6mg (7%)Calcium: 41mg (4%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Keep in mind that the nutritional values provided are approximations and suggestions. This nutrition facts table cannot account for your individual needs. Your body — including your hunger and satiety cues — change daily. It’s perfectly fine to eat more or less on different days. Instead of letting food guilt take over, consider mindful eating.

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cuisine: American, Western
Course: Side
Did you make this recipe?Mention @desiliciousrd on Instagram or tag #desiliciousrd.

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