This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure and privacy policy.

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!

quinoa pilaf with pecans and fresh thyme in 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

quinoa pilaf ingredients in glass bowls on white surface

What’s in quinoa pilaf?

  • Quinoa
  • Veggie broth
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions & garlic
  • Thyme
  • 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.

quinoa pilaf in white skillet overhead

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.

Pilaf is typically a side dish, but you can make it a main course by serving it with a soup or salad on the side. It pairs well with Pumpkin Soup or Apple Walnut Salad.

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.

onions mushrooms and celery cooked in white skillet

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.

broth and quinoa added to skillet

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.

cooked quinoa fluffed in 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.

finished quinoa pilaf with wooden serving spoon

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!

finished quinoa pilaf with wooden serving spoon

Best Quinoa Pilaf

5 from 7 votes
This quinoa pilaf is made with mushrooms and thyme, and makes the perfect side dish or vegetarian main course. It's a complete source of plant-based protein!
prep5 mins cook25 mins total30 mins


  • 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!)



Nutrition information is for 1 of 4 servings. If you're serving this as a main course, it may only serve 2 to 3 people. Nutrition information is automatically calculated, and is just an estimate, not a guarantee.
Feel free to swap the veggies for any others that you have on hand.


Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 605mg | Potassium: 648mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 114IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: quinoa pilaf

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?

Megan Gilmore leaning on her white countertop.

Megan Gilmore

Hi, I’m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned best-selling cookbook author. I create healthy recipes made with simple ingredients to make your life easier.

Read More

You May Also LIke

Leave a Review!

I love hearing from you! Submit your question or review below. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*.

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. This recipe sounds delicious and I’m hoping to convert a couple of quinoa haters with it. 😉 I prefer to use a No-Chicken Chicken Broth instead of a traditional vegetable broth for cooking quinoa. Will this alter the flavor balance in this recipe? Thanks much!

  2. This is very good! The seasoning is perfect! I thought it would be too much quinoa but it was just the right amount. I added 1/2 grated carrot for color when I stirred in the quinoa. Mine took 25 minutes to cook, plus the steaming period. Plus I pulsed the pecans with fresh thyme to sprinkle on top when serving. This is delicious, and I don’t even like quinoa!