10 Surprising Ways to Use Quinoa: Dessert, Burgers and More!

Not too long ago, quinoa was only found in health food stores. Now, the grain-like seed is popping up in supermarkets and all kinds of dishes. Quinoa’s rise to fame can be credited to its impressive versatility, plus the fact that it is gluten-free and high in protein and fiber. In fact, it’s so nutritious that NASA considers it a good candidate crop to eventually be grown in space colonies. Here on earth, though, you can still eat quinoa to your heart’s content with these 10 ideas.


Fluffy quinoa is a surprising and healthy alternative to sushi rice. This homemade sushi is fun to make and chock full of fresh vegetables – plus, you can use any combination of white, black or red quinoa that you’d like. 


You’re probably familiar with traditional Italian gnocchi: small, chewy potato dumplings. These squash, quinoa and hazelnut gnocchi are a little different with their bright orange color and hearty flavor. Tossed with a little browned butter, sage and toasted hazelnuts, they make a fantastic autumn dish.

Pie crust

For a tasty, allergy-friendly pie crust, quinoa flour does the trick. This chocolate tart has a quinoa and almond crust, and it’s so decadent you won’t believe it’s dairy- and gluten-free. 


Breadcrumbs give meatballs body and keep them from being too dense. Substituting cooked quinoa yields the same results, but with an additional kick of protein. Try this recipe for quinoa meatballs with linguine and tomato sauce. 

Gluten-free cakes

Yet another reason to love quinoa: it’s gluten-free, and quinoa flour can easily replace regular flour. Whether or not you’re allergy-conscious, give these light-as-air, citrusy pudding cakes a try. 

Stuffed peppers

Quinoa is a great substitute for rice and couscous, and it’s the perfect blank canvas for any number of tasty ingredients. Just one example: add some onion, garlic, walnuts and seasonings, stuff the mixture into bell peppers, and top with bubbly provolone cheese for a light but satisfying meal. Use this recipe for Stuffed Red Peppers with Quinoa and Provolone.

Versatile cookies

Looking for a healthy snack that doesn’t come in a package? Look no further than these quick almond-cranberry quinoa cookies. Quinoa, oats, dried cranberries and almonds come together to form a great power snack, dessert or even breakfast. They’re low in sodium and calories too – so you can leave the vending machine behind for good. 


Mix quinoa into burger meat for an extra layer of texture. Try this recipe for quinoa-salmon burgers – with a light texture afnd citrusy flavor, they could be your new favorite patties.  

Breakfast Bars

Uncooked quinoa adds a nice crunchiness to these breakfast bars. Use hazelnuts, coconut and chocolate chips as suggested or create your own mixture of tasty additions. 

Dinner Bake

Quinoa’s protein powers are especially handy around dinner time, and this casserole is quick and satisfying. Mixed with cottage cheese and eggs, quinoa becomes the perfect base for a flavorful bake. Try this version with spinach for starters. 

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