The very best quinoa substitutes to use in any cooking or baking recipe are shared here so that you can make wonderful dishes every time (with or without quinoa)! No matter if you've run out of quinoa, or simply don't have it on hand, your recipe will turn out perfectly!
The Best Quinoa Substitutes — Our Top 5 Picks
As one of the world’s most popular health foods, quinoa is an excellent source of protein and fiber. The sheer versatility of quinoa means that it can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from breakfast bowls to salads to veggie burgers.
But what if you’re trying to cut down on your quinoa intake? Or what if you’re simply looking for a change of pace?
In this article, we’ll take a look at the best quinoa substitutes, including other grains, pseudo-grains, and even vegetables. Keep reading to find the perfect quinoa alternative for your next meal!
Before we dive into our list of substitutes, let’s quickly review what quinoa is.
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a small, round grain that originates from South America. It was an important crop for the Inca Empire and has been cultivated in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years.
Nowadays, quinoa is grown all over the world and is enjoyed by people of all cultures. In fact, 2013 was declared the "International Year of Quinoa" by the United Nations.
Quinoa is classified as a pseudo-grain, which means that it’s not technically a grain but shares many of the same characteristics. Like other grains, quinoa is relatively high in carbs and low in fat.
Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of quinoa let’s take a look at the best substitutes for this healthy grain.
1. Cooked Rice
If you’re looking for a simple and familiar quinoa substitute, cooked rice is a great option. Rice is a staple in many cuisines, and it can be used in a variety of dishes. Like quinoa, rice is a high-carbohydrate food that is low in fat. It’s also a good source of protein and fiber.
Rice comes in many different varieties, including white, brown, black, and red. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiled, steamed, or microwaved.
When choosing rice as a quinoa substitute, keep in mind that different types of rice have different cooking times. For example, brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. You can use cooked rice in Quinoa recipes such as Quinoa Fried Rice, Quinoa and Black Bean Burritos, and One-Pot Quinoa and Chicken.
Packed with vitamins and nutrients, barley is another excellent grain to use as a quinoa substitute. This whole grain is a good source of fiber, protein, and vitamins B1 and B3. It also contains minerals such as copper, selenium, and manganese.
Barley can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and sides. It can also be ground into flour and used to make bread or pasta. When substituting barley for quinoa, keep in mind that this grain has a chewy texture and nutty flavor.
Barley is available in several forms, including pearled, hulled, flaked, and shredded. Additionally, you can cook it in a variety of ways, such as boiling, baking, or simmering.
3. Cauliflower Rice
Looking for a low-carb quinoa substitute? Cauliflower rice is a great option. This grain-free alternative is made by grating or processing cauliflower into small rice-sized pieces. It can then be cooked and used in the same way as regular rice.
Cauliflower rice is a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as fiber and potassium. It’s also low in calories and carbs. When substituting cauliflower rice for quinoa, keep in mind that this vegetable has a milder flavor than quinoa.
Cauliflower rice is available pre-riced, or you can make it at home using a food processor or grater. It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, stir-frying, or microwaving.
Anything Italian is delicious, and that includes couscous. This dish is made from durum wheat semolina, which is a type of flour. Couscous is similar to quinoa in terms of nutrition, as it’s a good source of carbs and protein. It’s also low in fat and calories.
Couscous can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, soups, and sides. It can also be flavored with herbs or spices. When substituting couscous for quinoa, keep in mind that this grain has a slightly chewy texture.
Couscous is healthier than quinoa because it’s made from whole wheat flour. It’s also low in calories and fat. Couscous is available in a variety of sizes, including fine, regular, and large. You can find it in the international aisle of most grocery stores.
5. Red Beans
Red beans are synonymous with Mexican cuisine. They’re a staple ingredient in dishes such as red beans and rice, jambalaya, and gumbo. Like quinoa, red beans are a good source of protein, fiber, and carbs. They’re also a good source of iron, potassium, and magnesium.
Red beans can be used as a replacement for quinoa in any dish. When substituting red beans for quinoa, keep in mind that these beans have a slightly sweet flavor.
Red beans are available dried or canned. If you use dried beans, make sure to soak them overnight before cooking. Canned beans can be used without soaking, but they will need to be rinsed before use.
Southwestern cuisine wouldn’t be the same without grits. This dish is made from ground corn and is a staple ingredient in many southern recipes. Grits are similar to quinoa in terms of nutrition, as they’re a good source of carbs and protein. They’re also high in fiber and minerals like iron and magnesium.
Grits can be enjoyed as a hot cereal, side dish, or even as a main course. One of the best things about grits is that they’re very versatile and can be flavored in many different ways. You can add cheese, bacon, vegetables, or even seafood to them.
If you're looking to add some grittiness to your meals, grits are the way to go. In terms of the dishes you can make with them, the sky's the limit.
While Quinoa is undoubtedly a superfood, there are plenty of other grains and beans that can take its place. The next time you’re looking for a quinoa substitute, consider one of the options on this list. Their nutritional value is on par with quinoa, and they can be used in a variety of dishes.