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What to Serve with Quinoa

What to Serve with Quinoa: 15 Delicious and Nutritious Side Dishes

Quinoa is one of my favorite healthy grains to cook with. This ancient superfood is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. However, eating a bowl of plain quinoa by itself can get boring pretty quick. That’s why it’s important to serve quinoa with delicious, nutritious side dishes to liven up the meal.

In this article, I’ll share 15 of the best side dishes to serve with quinoa to make your meal perfectly balanced and flavorful. I’ve included vegetarian, vegan and meat-based options to appeal to any diet. The sides range from hearty and comforting to light and refreshing.

Let’s start with why it’s important to add side dishes when eating quinoa before jumping into the recipes!

Why Serve Sides with Your Quinoa

While quinoa itself is incredibly nutritious, pairing it with complementary side dishes can take your meal to the next level. Here are some of the key benefits of serving sides with quinoa:

  • Adds variety – Having different flavors, textures and colors makes eating more enjoyable and satisfying.
  • Provides balanced nutrition – Quinoa lacks certain nutrients like calcium that sides can provide.
  • Enhances flavor – Herbs, spices and sauces from the sides jazz up boring quinoa.
  • Creates texture contrast – Enjoy the fluffy quinoa with crunchy veggies or creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Brings visual appeal – Vibrantly colored fruits and veggies make the plate pop.
  • Increases appetite appeal – A beautiful, thought-out plate is always more appetizing.

Now let’s look at 15 of the very best side dishes to serve with quinoa to hit all of the above benefits!

15 Best Side Dishes to Serve with Quinoa

1. Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Up first is a side of roasted Brussels sprouts, one of my favorite ways to enjoy this underrated veggie. To make them, simply toss halved sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400°F until deeply caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. The nutty, slightly charred flavor pairs perfectly with mild, fluffy quinoa. For extra flavor, toss the sprouts with balsamic vinegar or crispy bacon bits.

2. Avocado and Tomato Salad

A simple avocado and tomato salad is a refreshing, bright-tasting accompaniment for quinoa. To make it, dice some ripe avocados and juicy cherry tomatoes. Toss them in a lemony vinaigrette and finish with red onion, cilantro and a pinch of chili powder. The cool avocado and tomatoes contrast nicely with warm quinoa. Grill up some shrimp or chicken to make it a complete meal.

3. Grilled Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are the ultimate easy side dish when quinoa is on the menu. Pick your favorite in-season produce like zucchini, bell peppers, asparagus or eggplant. Toss the veggies in olive oil, crushed garlic and Italian seasoning. Grill until tender with nice char marks. The smoky flavor and crisp-tender texture pairs wonderfully with fluffy quinoa.

4. Mashed Cauliflower

For a lighter, low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Simply steam cauliflower florets until very soft, then mash with butter, cream cheese, garlic and herbs. The smooth, creamy cauliflower makes the perfect blank canvas for stir-ins like cheddar cheese, crispy bacon bits or chives. Serve alongside herb-seasoned quinoa for a mouthwatering meal.

5. Sautéed Kale

Sautéed kale is a simple, nutritious side dish that complements quinoa’s fluffy texture. To make it, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook briefly until fragrant. Then add chopped kale and sauté until just wilted. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. The garlicky kale pairs perfectly with quinoa’s subtle flavor.

6. Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

Nothing says comfort food more than ooey, gooey broccoli and cheese casserole. This side dish bakes up creamy, cheesy and irresistible every time. Simply combine steamed broccoli, cheddar cheese, eggs, cracker crumbs and cream to make the base. Pour into a baking dish, top with more cheese and bake until bubbling and golden on top. It’s the ultimate partner for simply seasoned chicken or fish.

7. Vegetable Soup

A bowl of hearty vegetable soup makes for an easy, nourishing accompaniment for quinoa. Build your soup base with veggie stock, tomatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. Then add any vegetables you want like cauliflower, kale, potatoes or zucchini. Simmer until all the veggies are fork-tender. Ladle the chunky soup alongside quinoa bowls for a simple, satisfying meal.

8. Veggie Egg Scramble

Make breakfast more filling by pairing quinoa with a hearty veggie egg scramble. Sauté your choice of vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil and seasonings. Then lightly beat some eggs and scramble everything together over medium heat. The eggs provide extra protein to balance the quinoa. Garnish with avocado, cheese, hot sauce or salsa.

9. Roasted Beets

Few side dishes are as crowd-pleasing as roasted beets. Their natural sweetness intensifies when roasted. Simply trim beets, drizzle with olive oil and roast at 400°F until easily pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly, then peel and slice or quarter to serve. Drizzle with balsamic reduction or goat cheese. The tangy, earthy beets pair wonderfully with mild quinoa.

10. Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

Take quinoa to the next level by stuffing it into vibrant bell peppers. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Then mix with black beans, corn, salsa and cheese. Stuff the mixture into halved, seeded red, orange or yellow bell peppers. Bake at 375°F until the peppers are tender and filling is hot. The peppers add great texture, flavor and color contrast to the quinoa.

11. Baked Sweet Potatoes

Warm, fluffy baked sweet potatoes make the ultimate base for loaded quinoa bowls. Simply scrub potatoes, poke holes with a fork, drizzle with oil and bake at 400°F for 45-60 minutes until tender. Slice open and top with quinoa, broccoli, black beans, salsa, cheese and Greek yogurt or sour cream. The sweet potatoes pair nicely with quinoa’s mild nuttiness.

12. Spanish Rice and Beans

For a Mexican-inspired side, whip up some Spanish rice and beans. Simply cook white rice with tomato sauce, onions, garlic, and spices like cumin and oregano. Then mix in black beans and corn and heat through. The rice and beans provide a protein boost and the classic Mexican flavors enhance any Tex-Mex style main course like fajitas, nachos or taco salad.

13. Vegetarian Chili

Warm up with a big bowl of hearty vegetarian chili next to quinoa bowls. Sauté aromatics like onions and garlic. Then add beans, corn, diced tomatoes and chili powder. Let simmer before mixing in Beyond Meat crumbles or sautéed mushrooms and peppers for texture. The savory, protein-rich chili perfectly balances lighter quinoa dishes. Top with cheddar cheese and green onion.

14. Roasted Carrots with Honey Garlic Sauce

Roasted carrots made even tastier with a honey garlic sauce can’t be beat as a quinoa side. Peel and trim carrots, then roast with olive oil until caramelized and tender. While roasting, whisk together Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and honey. Toss the roasted carrots in the creamy sauce before serving. The natural sweetness of the carrots pairs perfectly with nutty quinoa.

15. Caprese Roasted Asparagus

Finally, try caprese roasted asparagus for an easy veggie side dish. Toss asparagus spears in olive oil and roast at 400°F until tender with charred bits. Transfer to a platter and top with diced fresh mozzarella, torn basil leaves, balsamic reduction and flaky salt. The fresh mozzarella and basil nicely cut through the earthy taste of asparagus and quinoa.


While quinoa is incredibly healthy on its own, taking the time to make delicious, nutritious side dishes alongside it can take your meal to the next level. Side dishes provide flavor, texture, visual appeal, balanced nutrition and most importantly – variety!

Some fantastic options include roasted veggies, bright salads, hearty casseroles, flavorful rice dishes and more. So next time you make quinoa, try out one of these 15 side dish recipes for the perfect complement. Your tastebuds and your health will thank you!

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