Meet the best quinoa pilaf you’ll ever try! You can serve it as a side dish, or as a vegetarian main entree, since quinoa is a complete source of plant-based protein. It comes together in just one pan!
What makes a pilaf? A pilaf is typically a rice dish that is cooked in broth or stock, along with some veggies, so it’s loaded with flavor. This version is lightly bulked-up with mushrooms and seasoned with thyme, so it goes well as a side dish for practically any main course.
It’s even perfect for a holiday meal!
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in quinoa pilaf?
- Veggie broth
- Onions & garlic
- Salt & pepper
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and high in protein, so it makes the perfect grain (technically, it’s a seed, but it sure feels like a grain) for this dish. And it cooks in just 15 minutes!
I use crimini mushrooms in this recipe because they pair well with thyme, and I can’t tell them apart from the quinoa once you cook them together. If you’re not a mushroom fan, try dicing them into small pieces!
The texture blends right into the quinoa, and you’ll get extra B-vitamins in each bite.
Why You’ll Love It
- All you need is one pan! The veggies and quinoa cook together in a single plan, so you won’t have extra dishes to do later.
- It’s gluten-free. Perfect for those with special dietary needs.
- It’s a complete source of protein. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids your body needs, making it one of the few complete sources of plant-based protein.
- It’s loaded with veggies. I can’t think of a more delicious way to eat veggies! They get extra-tender since they simmer away with the quinoa, so it also tends to appeal to more picky eaters who might not want a lot of “crunch” from their veggies.
- It’s flavorful. The onion, garlic, and thyme will make your home smell like Thanksgiving.
The leftovers are even delicious chilled the next day, for an easy packed lunch!
How to Make It
1. Saute the aromatics. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat, and sauté the onion, celery and mushrooms. Cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes.
Add in the garlic and thyme, and stir for one more minute, just until fragrant.
2. Add the quinoa. Along with the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and cover to cook until the quinoa is fluffy, about 15 minutes.
If the quinoa isn’t totally cooked after 15 minutes, keep it covered but turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 more minutes. This is usually enough time for the rest of the liquid to be absorbed, without anything sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3. Enjoy! Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and adjust any seasoning, as needed. I like to stir in some chopped pecans at this point, for added crunch and texture, then you can serve this warm right away.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Expert Tips & Common Questions
Do you serve it hot or cold? You can go either way with this dish! I usually like to serve it warm the day I make it, but I’ll eat the leftovers cold for lunch the next day.
Do you have to rinse quinoa? I do recommend rinsing quinoa in this recipe, because it can help remove some bitterness. However, some brands may say “pre-rinsed” on the box, and in that case, you can skip it.
Which veggies pair well with quinoa? The mushrooms, garlic, and thyme in this recipe are my favorite, but I’ve also made a version with red bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, and ground cumin instead of the thyme. For the southwest flavor, you can add black beans and avocado on top.
More Quinoa Recipes to Try
Have more quinoa to use up? Try these fan favorites below!
- Instant Pot Quinoa (cooks in a 1-minute cooking cycle!)
- Vegan Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
- Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Kale Quinoa Salad
- Lentil, Kale & Quinoa Stew
Best Quinoa Pilaf
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 2 celery stalks , chopped
- 8 ounces crimini mushrooms , chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 T freshly minced)
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup pecans , chopped (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (that has a lid) over medium-high heat, and add in the onions, celery, and mushrooms. Saute until tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and thyme, and stir just until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
- Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh seive and rinse well, to help remove any bitterness. Pour the drained quinoa into the skillet, along with the broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil.
- When the liquid is boiling, lower the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let it cook until the quinoa is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. If the quinoa isn't totally tender in that amount of time, remove the pan from the heat and keep it covered for 10 more minutes. The quinoa should be tender by then, without anything burning to the bottom.
- Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Adjust any seasoning to taste, and stir in the pecans for added crunch. Serve warm right away. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. (It's delicious cold for lunch the next day, too!)
If you try this Quinoa Pilaf recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!
Reader Feedback: What else do you like to make with quinoa?