Quinoa Pilaf is an easy side dish with a savory, nutty flavor—and it’s loaded with protein!

Pilaf goes with so many entrees and it’s easy to mix and match the add-ins based on what’s in your cupboard or on your menu! Swapping out quinoa is a great change from a traditional Rice Pilaf.

Bowl of Quinoa Pilaf with a spoon

What is Quinoa Pilaf?

Pilaf is a dish that has a base of rice (or other grains) cooked in broth with seasonings and veggies. In this case we are using quinoa as the grain.

  • Quinoa tastes delicious and the flavors pair with almost anything.
  • It can easily be enjoyed as a side dish or as a tasty one-pot meal.
  • The veggies and add-ins can be changed to pair with the rest of your meal (or to use up what is on hand).
  • Quinoa pilaf is great for batch cooking or meal prep as it reheats well and can be eaten hot, warm or cold.

ingredients for pilaf labelled on a tray


QUINOA Use red, black, or regular white quinoa. White quinoa has a softer and fluffier texture, and it absorbs other flavors well. The red or black grains have a bit of crunch to them.

VEGETABLES This tasty recipe calls for garlic & onion, celery, carrot, and fresh parsley. It’s colorful and filled with garden-fresh flavor. Add some broccoli florets, spinach, or kale for extra greens!

CRANBERRY & ALMOND These add crunch and a touch of tart sweetness. The perfect backdrop to this nutty and savory combination! Swap them out for any nut or dried fruit.

Rinse & Repeat: Unless you’ve purchased the pre-washed kind, quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking, to get the residue off the grains. Use a mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly, before adding to the pot.


  • Try adding coconut milk in place of half the chicken broth, and sprinkle in some curry powder with the onion mixture. (Substitute yellow or sultana raisins for the cranberries, and leave out the almonds).
  • For a vegan version, replace the butter and chicken broth with olive oil and vegetable broth.
  • Or, try making a quinoa version of this tasty recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice!
  • Meat like chicken or shredded beef can be added to it, or it can be used as the base for a salad bowl meal.

Quinoa pilaf in a pan with parsley

How to Cook Quinoa Pilaf

This dish is super easy & quick to prep. Plus it can easily be made into a full one-pot meal; just sauté some meat or tofu to add in at the end!

  1. Prepare quinoa & chop vegetables.
  2. Cook garlic, onion, & butter, add quinoa, & lightly brown it.
  3. Add broth & all other ingredients except parsley, almonds, & cranberries. Simmer (per the recipe below).
  4. Allow resting time, covered. Mix in parsley, almonds, & cranberries before serving.

Ingredients for Quinoa Pilaf in a pot before stirring


Store leftover quinoa pilaf in a sealed container. It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. If there is meat mixed in, use it up within 4 days.

Quinoa pilaf will freeze nicely! Seal it into dated freezer bags, and store it for up to a year. (The sooner it is used, the fresher and more flavorful it will taste!)

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Did you make this Quinoa Pilaf? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

Quinoa Pilaf in a bowl with a spoon
4.96 from 23 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Quinoa Pilaf

Quinoa pilaf is a high protein dish that's filling & delicious. Add chicken, beef, or tofu for a totally customizable meal!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
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  • 1 ¼ cup quinoa
  • ½ onion finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons carrot shredded
  • 1 tablespoon celery minced
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds toasted


  • Rinse quinoa under cold water and drain.
  • Cook onion, garlic and butter in a medium saucepan until tender.
  • Add quinoa and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Add broth, carrot, & celery. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer covered 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove from the heat and cover. Rest 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and mix in cranberries, parsley, and almonds. Season with salt & pepper to taste.


Unless you’ve purchased the pre-washed kind, quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking, to get the residue off the grains. Use a mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly, before adding to the pot.
Cranberries and almonds and be replaced with any type of nut or dried fruit. For plumper fruit, add to the pot along with the broth and let it simmer.
4.96 from 23 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 314 | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 492mg | Potassium: 496mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1616IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine American
plated Quinoa Pilaf with a title
Quinoa Pilaf in the pot with a title
Quinoa Pilaf in a bowl with writing
ingredients to make Quinoa Pilaf with plated dish and a title



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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. This recipe has nice flavor and is fairly easy to make – just a bunch of steps. I think I would increase the amount of toasted almonds a bit as they kind of got lost.

    Can this recipe be doubled? How does that impact cooking time, if at all? I want to serve it at an upcoming holiday dinner and I need to serve 10-12 adults. Thanks!4 stars

    1. Hi Marlene, this recipe should work well doubled. We would love to hear how it turned out for you!

  2. This is very similar to one of my favorite base quinoa pilafs. I like to add golden raisins with pine nuts, cranberries with pistachios or mixed raisins or diced apricots with walnuts. Each has its own flavor profile and is yummy whichever way you do it. Other good add-ins include shredded Brussels sprouts, apples (also good with walnuts), pomegranate seeds, cashews, dried blueberries and currants work especially well with curry. All very healthy, high in protein and filling.5 stars