Let me start by saying this: quinoa bowls are a gift. Not only are they packed with nutrients, but they’re the perfect canvas for your toppings of choice. Craving a mix of hearty root vegetables? You got it. In the mood for fresh, crisp veggies? Can do. Looking to load your breakfast with nutrition? Also possible. Quinoa bowls can truly do it all, which is why we’ve rounded up our picks for easy quinoa bowl recipes that are ready to make your lunch or dinner a breeze.
Whether or not you’re still riding the quinoa train, there’s no denying that it’s a powerhouse ingredient. But before we dive into its nutritional benefits, let’s discuss quinoa’s versatility. Quinoa goes well with just about anything, from this Quinoa Cake with Smashed Avocado Sauce, to this Roasted Vegetable Salad with Crispy Quinoa, and even this Mocha Coconut Quinoa Bark (yes, it can go in desserts, too!).
One of my favorite things about quinoa is that you can make a big batch on Sunday to use for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners throughout the week. To gear up for the easy quinoa bowl recipes below, let’s start with some basics, from the best way to cook quinoa to ways to storage tips that keep your quinoa fresh.
Featured image by Lily Young.
Is quinoa good for you?
Quinoa is a whole grain that provides us with eight grams of protein and five grams of fiber per cup, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. It’s also full of magnesium, folate, thiamin, manganese, and many more vitamins/minerals that support optimal health. Quinoa is a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, and—unlike other plant proteins—quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it fosters all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own. Lastly, quinoa is a naturally gluten-free grain, so people following a gluten-free diet can enjoy it without hesitation.
How to Cook Quinoa
There are several ways to cook quinoa that result in light, fluffy grains primed and ready to enhance any of the easy quinoa bowl recipes you’ve got your eye on.
How to cook quinoa on the stove
- You’ll want to use a 2:1 ratio of quinoa and water. In a pot or saucepan, start by bringing water, a little olive oil, and a heavy pinch of sea salt to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the quinoa and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- Halfway through, uncover and fluff your quinoa with a fork to ensure it isn’t sticking to the bottom.
- Once cooked, remove from heat and serve immediately and enjoy or allow to cool and refrigerate.
For more flavor, you can cook your quinoa in vegetable or chicken broth, add lime zest to the cooked mixture, or stir in a pat of butter at the end.
How to cook quinoa in the microwave
- Using a 2:1 water-to-quinoa ratio, add water, quinoa, a little olive oil, and pinch of salt to a microwave-safe bowl.
- Cover with a plate large enough to cover the bowl.
- Microwave for 6 minutes on high, remove bowl from microwave and stir.
- Microwave for 4 more minutes on high and remove bowl when finished.
- Based on your microwave strength, you may need to add an extra minute depending on whether or not the quinoa is fully cooked.
- Let quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes to fully absorb all liquids. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately or allow to cool and refrigerate.
You might be wondering: does quinoa need to be rinsed? Well, that’s up to you! Raw quinoa is coated with saponin, which is a naturally-occurring pest repellant that can cause quinoa to retain a bitter flavor. While it’s not harmful to ingest, you may want to use rinsed quinoa to avoid any unwanted bitterness.
Now, as I’m sure you’re picturing, most strainers aren’t fine enough to keep those tiny grains from slipping through, which is why buying pre-rinsed quinoa is a clever strategy. Pre-rinsed quinoa will be labeled as such and usually isn’t any more expensive than regular! Thank you, science.
Best Quinoa Type
This may come as a shock (at least I know it did for me), but there are over 120 known varieties of quinoa. From white to tri-colored and everything in between, you may feel overwhelmed when deciding what variety you need.
As a general point of reference, you can compare the texture of quinoa to that of rice.
White and yellow quinoa has the most mild flavor, usually adopting a lighter, fluffier texture, while red and black varieties have a stronger, more earthy flavor that surfaces in a tougher grain structure. The variety that you choose depends on what you want your final product to look and taste like. If you’re wanting your bowl to have a dark, durable quinoa base, choose red or black quinoa. If you’re more partial to soft, neutral-colored quinoa, white and yellow are your friend. Regardless of which type of quinoa you choose, you’ll be able to enjoy all the nutritional benefits and versatility of the grain that does it all.
How to Store Quinoa
Quinoa is incredibly easy to store. All it takes is an airtight container and some refrigerator space to keep quinoa as fresh as if it were just cooked. When cooked and stored properly, you have seven days to enjoy the grain in whatever way you see fit. Ready to dive in? Keep reading for our picks of easy quinoa bowl recipes to make for lunch or dinner.
9 Easy Quinoa Bowl Recipes to Try This Week
Why We Love It: Sweet potato and avocado are loaded with healthy carbohydrates and fats to keep your skin glowy and gut happy. Here at Camille Styles, we’re passionate about nutrient-dense sweet potatoes—and for good reason! Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber, beta-carotene (good for your vision, immune system, and skin), and vitamin A. In this bowl, it joins avocado, marinated kale, roasted broccoli, and crumbled goat cheese or feta to create a hearty and healthy bowl you’ll be making on lazy weeknights. All this goodness is topped with an orange-sesame vinaigrette that’s good enough to drink.
Hero Ingredient: There are few things I despise more than scratchy kale. It ruins the whole vibe of a dish. Here, the kale gets massaged and marinated for 15 minutes to soften all that stalkiness, resulting in flavorful, softer leaves that beautifully complement its bowl-mates.
Why We Love It: A breakfast salad might not strike your fancy, but don’t knock it ’til you try it! This arugula breakfast salad is a great way to fill your morning with healthy ingredients that’ll keep you energized through lunch. It’s light but filling, loaded with nutrition, and super easy to throw together during even the busiest of mornings.
If you’re still not on board, this salad makes a great lunch option and would even be fun to serve for a quick brunch or lunch! It’s stocked with arugula, matchstick radishes, toasted pistachios, and those jammy soft eggs you know and love. And quinoa, of course.
Hero Ingredient: While it’s hard not to go with the soft eggs, but in this recipe, it’s the quinoa for me. As I shared before, if you’re wanting a softer texture, go with white or yellow quinoa. But if you’re looking for a little more bite, tri-color or red quinoa fares well in this salad. To shake things up and bring even more crunch to the party, you can toast your quinoa alongside the pistachios for an extra dose of texture.
Why We Love It: Roasted veggies, avocado, egg, and quinoa get a flavor rebrand under the peppery, smoky notes of harissa. It’s the star of the dish that gives everything around it so much life. While the recipe calls for cauliflower and radishes, you can sub in whatever veggies you have on hand (empty that vegetable drawer, people!) to build this bowl. Some good options to include are carrots, fingerling potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, or squash. You really can’t go wrong.
Hero Ingredient: Arugula adds all kinds of freshness and leafy goodness to the mix.
Why We Love It: That’s right, quinoa for breakfast! In this recipe, it joins steel-cut oats for a bowl that’s sure to fuel your day. It’s packed with fiber to keep you full and also boasts antioxidants thanks to those pomegranate seeds. Again, you can top this bowl with any fruits, nuts, or granola you have on hand, though banana, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and coconut flakes make a pretty great team. This is breakfast, reimagined.
Hero Ingredient: You can’t go wrong with pomegranate seeds as a topping. They’re bursting with flavor.
Why We Love It: Another breakfast superstar, this quinoa breakfast bowl makes waves with its indescribably amazing poached peaches. First, the quinoa is cooked in spiced milk full of warm, carefully crafted flavors that satisfy every breakfast dream. The peaches are poached in a liquid comprised of black tea, maple syrup, cardamom pods, and saffron. It’s a flavor combination you won’t want to miss.
Hero Ingredient: Yes, saffron is very pricey. But I can attest that you won’t regret splurging for these poached peaches. Like the spice, they’re warm, floral, and sweet, making the most enjoyable topping for these breakfast bowls.
Why We Love It: Among our list of easy quinoa bowl recipes, this one serves as the perfect canvas for customization. It’s a template you can use to include pretty much any ingredients you have on hand and craft whatever flavor you’re craving. The recipe calls for quinoa, roasted vegetables, avocado, and egg. If you’re looking for more protein, you can add shredded chicken and top with a salsa verde. Totally up to you! This recipe is a great base for building your easy quinoa bowl dreams.
Hero Ingredient: In a bowl like this, I’m partial to a soft-cooked egg that lends runny yolk to everything around it. An easy way to achieve this? The famed six-minute egg.
Why We Love It: Butternut squash will forever be my ultimate food crush. Like quinoa, it’s incredibly versatile and always seems to complement any dish. In this recipe, it gets roasted until crispy and combined with quinoa, chickpeas, and a mouthwatering currant vinaigrette that brings a floral flavor to the dish. This bowl is definitely carb-forward, which makes it a delicious option for a hearty lunch or dinner.
Hero Ingredient: Scallion, currants, date syrup, and extra virgin olive oil come together to create that tasty currant vinaigrette. The undisputed star of this show.
Why We Love It: Once again, sweet potatoes shine in this quinoa bowl. Here, you’re getting hearty sweet potato, crisp radishes, buttery cashews, and citrusy cilantro, all wrapped up in an orange cashew-ginger dressing that amplifies all the flavors.
Hero Ingredient: Because the bowl is a little heavier, the radish acts as a refreshing palate cleanser that lightens everything up. It brings in an entirely new element that gives this simple dish so much depth.
Why We Love It: There’s a lot of flavor packed into this bowl. First, cumin-scented carrots set the tone that’s followed by stove-fried chickpeas, roasted beets, and an addictive tahini-maple vinaigrette. The chickpeas take on a crouton-like form that brings the crunch, while thick slices of avocado cool everything down. And don’t even get me started on those carrots—they’re smoky and delicious. This bowl is basically everything you could want and more. Be prepared: you might get addicted.
Hero Ingredient: The tahini-maple vinaigrette doubles as an amazing dip for fresh veggies. Be sure to keep some on hand for daily snacking.
What are your favorite easy quinoa bowl recipes?