Easy Quinoa Fried Rice made with precooked quinoa & plenty of mixed vegetables. A perfect & simple dinner for any day! Love the convenience of Fried rice, but looking to spruce up your cooking routine or try something new? Try out this recipe for quinoa fried rice. It’s exactly as the name implies – a fried rice style dish made with the popular quinoa.
But what is quinoa, anyway? And how do you turn it into something even the biggest fried rice fan will enjoy?
What is Quinoa?
While quinoa appears to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed from something called the goosefoot plant (a relative of beets and spinach). Indigenous peoples of the Andes Mountains in South America have cultivated quinoa for at least 5,000 years, with Bolivia and Peru remaining some of the biggest producers to date.
International interest in quinoa began in the 1970s, booming in the late 2000s to early 2010s; the UN dubbed 2013 “The International Year of Quinoa.” Its popularity comes from both how easy it is to grow in tough conditions and the fact that it is one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein.
Complete proteins are made of nine essential amino acids. Animal-based products, like meat or dairy, contain all nine amino acids. Plant-based sources, like beans, often lack several of the amino acids and so must be combined with other foods to form a complete protein.
Quinoa doesn’t have this problem. Not only is it a complete protein, it is loaded with vitamins like B6 and folate, minerals like potassium and magnesium, and lots of fiber – making it perfect for vegetarian and vegan eaters.
About Quinoa Fried Rice
Quinoa? As a substitute for rice? It sounds strange, but quinoa makes a great substitute for many grains – it is especially useful for cooks who need to remain gluten-free.
For cooks looking for a more protein or fiber heavy alternative to rice, quinoa fits the bill. It cooks exactly like the rice in fried rice. Sautéed in a little bit of oil, flavored with soy sauce, punctuated with vegetables and aromatics like chili and garlic, it tastes delicious.
This particular version adds eggs, making it a quinoa egg fried rice. If you or your guests are allergic to eggs or vegan, simply skip adding the eggs. As an alternative, consider adding crumbled paneer if you’re vegetarian or crumbled tofu if vegan. You can alternately pan fry paneer or pressed tofu.
For a perfect non-mushy quinoa fried rice, you need to cook quinoa perfectly so the grains remain separated. If you are a beginner the following section will help you do that perfectly.
How to Cook Quinoa (Stepwise Photos)
Quinoa seeds are covered in a chemical called saponin, which gives the quinoa a bitter taste and protects the seeds from hungry animals. But not humans!
So to get rid of the saponins, it is essential to rinse them well before you cook the quinoa. Pre-rinsed quinoa is also available in the markets. You may use that for convenience if you prefer not to do it.
To rinse quinoa (1 cup for this recipe), put it in a fine mesh strainer. Wash it under cold running water, gently agitating it with your fingers, until the water runs clear. Alternatively, you can add quinoa to a bowl and cover it with cold water. Rub them around with your fingers and discard the water carefully.
The water should change color because of the saponins. Pour off the water and repeat the previous steps until the water runs clear.
When you’re ready to cook the quinoa, add your rinsed quinoa and water or broth to a pot or bowl. You’ll want about 1 ¾ cups of liquid for every 1 cup of dry rinsed quinoa to cook in a pot. To cook in instant pot, you will need 1¼ cups water.
Bring your water or broth to a boil over high heat and then immediately turn the heat down to a simmer. Let the quinoa cook until it absorbs most of the liquid. When you see a few tablespoons of liquid, cover the pot and let cook on the lowest heat for a few more minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
Turn the heat off and let the quinoa steam in the covered pan/pot for 10 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and set it aside to cool while you prepare the ingredients for the quinoa fried rice.
How to Make Quinoa Fried Rice
While the quinoa cooks, prepare your other ingredients. This quinoa fried rice cooks up very quickly, so you’ll want to make sure your vegetables and sauce are ready.
Chop ⅓ cup carrots (1 medium), ⅓ cup green beans (8 to 10), ⅓ cup bell peppers, 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, and one green chili and 3 spring onions, if using. Combine the tablespoon of soya sauce and ½ teaspoon of rice vinegar (optional) in a small bowl. Whisk 2 or 3 eggs, if using, or crumble 125 grams of paneer or tofu if using those instead.
To cook the quinoa fried rice, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Fry the chopped garlic, green chili, and the whites of the spring onions (optional) for a minute or until aromatic, without burning them.
Add the chopped vegetables and ¼ teaspoon salt. (If using mushrooms, cabbage or frozen veggies, avoid salt here).
Stir fry on the highest heat until just tender before reducing the heat to medium.
If you’re adding eggs, move the vegetables to the side and pour them in.
Scramble the eggs until soft.
Don’t overcook them or they’ll be rubbery by the end!
Pour in the cooled quinoa and soya sauce mixture.
Add ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and more salt. Stir fry everything together until the quinoa heats up.
Once the quinoa is hot, add the spring onion greens (optional). Turn off the heat, and season to taste if necessary.
Your quinoa fried rice is ready to serve hot or warm!
Looking for some tips to make the best quinoa fried rice? Here’s some ideas to consider.
- Add extra flavor to the quinoa when you first cook it. Toasting the quinoa before boiling it, or boiling it in broth instead of water, are easy ways to make the cooked quinoa itself much more flavorful.
- Cook the quinoa fully until tender but not mushy.
- Make sure the quinoa is completely cool before stir frying. Quinoa should be cold and dry before you stir fry it in the wok. If it’s warm and damp, it will become mushy and won’t have that fried rice texture. You can use quinoa that’s been cooked and refrigerated a day or two beforehand. But I prefer to cook just 30 mins ahead so it cools down.
- For extra convenience, use prepared frozen vegetables or whatever you have on hand. Frozen vegetables such as peas make excellent additions and don’t require any extra chopping.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vegetables in your quinoa fried rice! Green onions, Cabbage, baby corn & mushrooms go well.
Quinoa Fried Rice Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1 cup quinoa (uncooked quinoa/ or 3 cups cooked)
- ⅓ cup carrots (fine chopped, 1 medium carrot)
- ⅓ cup green beans (or French beans fine chopped, 8 to 10)
- ⅓ cup Bell peppers (chopped, any color)
- 3 sprigs spring onions (optional, whites & greens seperated)
- 1 tablespoon garlic fine chopped (1 to 2 large cloves)
- 1 green chilli chopped, optional
- 2 tablespoons oil (peanut or any cooking oil of choice)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper crushed
- 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Soya Sauce (organic or at least naturally brewed)
- ½ teaspoon rice vinegar (or apple vinegar, optional)
Optional (refer notes)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 125 grams paneer / extra firm pressed tofu (or 6 ounces shrimps or boneless chicken, refer notes)
- 2 to 3 eggs (refer notes)
- Add quinoa to a large bowl and rinse well a couple of times, rubbing well with your fingers. Drain the water completely using a colander.
- Return the quinoa to the bowl and pour 1¾ cups water. Bring it to a rolling boil on a high heat. Once the water begin to boil, lower the flame completely. Cover and cook until the quinoa is cooked to tender (perfectly cooked but not mushy). Turn off the heat.
- Cover and rest for 10 mins. Later fluff up with a fork. Cool the quinoa aside.
- While the quinoa cooks & cools, prepare the veggies. Separate the green and whites of the spring onions.
- Pour the required soya and vinegar to a small bowl. Keep all these aside. If using eggs, break them to a bowl and whisk well with a fork.
How to Make Quinoa Fried Rice
- Heat oil in the wok on a medium high heat and add green chilies, spring onion whites (optional) and garlic. Fry until aromatic without burning, for about a minute.
- Add all the veggies and salt. Stir fry until the veggies are slightly tender but not overcooked. Reduce the heat to medium. (avoid salt here if using frozen veggies, mushrooms or cabbage)
- (Optional, if using eggs) Move the veggies aside in the wok and pour the beaten eggs. Scramble them & cook until soft set. (don't over cook).
- Add cooled quinoa, salt, pour the sauces and add black pepper. Stir fry for a minute or 2 until the quinoa becomes hot.
- Stir in the spring onion greens (optional). Turn off and taste test. Add more salt or soya if you want.
- Serve quinoa fried rice hot or warm.
- To use paneer or tofu, add them to 1 tablespoon hot oil in a wok and fry until golden and crisp. Remove to a plate. Or alternately add crumbled paneer or tofu along with quinoa.
- To use shrimp or chicken, mix together shrimp or chopped chicken ( ½ inch), ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soya sauce, 1 teaspoon ketchup or any hot sauce. Add 1 egg and mix well. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a wok. Add the shrimp or chicken to the hot oil, retain the leftover egg in the bowl. Cook until the chicken or shrimp is almost cooked. Pour the remaining egg all over the meat and cook until fully cooked but not overcooked. Remove to a plate and continue making the quinoa fried rice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Watch Quinoa Fried Rice Video
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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