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Quinoa Spanish Rice

Quinoa Spanish Rice is a quick, easy and grain free alternative to traditional Spanish rice! It’s healthy, vegan, and a perfect side for all of your favorite Mexican dishes! Includes stovetop and Instant Pot methods.

up close, side angle view of healthy quinoa Spanish rice in a serving bowl.

Like Spanish rice, but with a twist!

This quinoa Spanish rice is a new favorite and great option for a grain-free, filling side dish that can easily be customized for just about anyone!

Why We Love This Recipe!

  • It uses minimal ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand.
  • It cooks in one pot on the stove or in an Instant Pot for ease and easy cleanup.
  • It’s full of healthy fiber and protein.
  • It’s versatile and goes with just about all of your favorite Mexican dishes.
  • It’s simple, healthy, and delicious!

So without further ado, let’s get cooking!

top down view of ingredients used to make quinoa Spanish rice.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Here is what you’ll need to make this tasty Spanish quinoa rice recipe, plus ideas for substituting ingredients:

  • onion – any color will work, use whatever you have on hand
  • garlic – if you don’t have fresh on hand, sub with garlic powder
  • quinoa – white or tri-color (I used half and half of each)
  • tomato paste – can sub with diced tomatoes (or use both), which also adds more texture and bits of color
  • green bell pepper – can be optional
  • oregano – dried or fresh
  • vegetable broth – my favorite is using about 1/2 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon veg paste (affiliate link) with the amount of liquid called for
  • salt + pepper – to taste
  • cilantro – adds a pop of color as garnish and it takes great, but can be optional
side by side photos showing the process of making quinoa Spanish rice.

How To Make Quinoa Spanish Rice

Here is a quick look at the stovetop version. You can find the Instant Pot instructions, along with the full printable recipe with instructions for both cooking methods at the bottom of this post.

  • Saute + Toast: In medium size pan or skillet, heat oil over medium high heat, add onion and cook for 3 minutes, add quinoa and garlic, cook another 5 minutes or so stirring frequently until quinoa starts to get toasty and turn slightly golden.
  • Simmer: Add vegetable broth, tomato paste (I combined the two), oregano, salt + pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, covered.
  • Let rest: When done, remove cover, fluff with a fork, and let rest for 10 minutes to absorb the rest of the liquids (shown below). Taste for seasonings.

And now my quinoa loving friends, you’re ready to enjoy this healthy side dish!

Top Tips

  • Add bell pepper. Toss in a small, finely diced green bell pepper for color and texture.
  • Add cumin. If you want to add a boost of flavor, try adding 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cumin for another layer of flavor.
  • Use pico de gallo. For a quick short cut, use at 1 – 2 cups of store bought or homemade Pico de Gallo. Skip the saute, toast the quinoa, add the pico with the broth.
  • Use tomato sauce. If you don’t have tomato paste on hand, add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, but reduce the liquids by the same.
  • Recipe is easily customizable. You will find this recipe can be changed up to suit just about anyone’s taste. If you don’t care for the added bell pepper or tomatoes, you can omit them and still have a fantastic Spanish quinoa rice!

top down view of pot with freshly made quinoa Spanish rice with wooden spoon.

Storing + Reheating

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored in a covered container.
  • Freezer: This quinoa Spanish rice is freezer friendly and freezes well for up to 4 – 6 months. To freeze, let cool completely and store in freezer safe containers (affiliate link). You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock bags (remove as much air as possible before zip locking and label the bags). Let thaw before cooking on the stovetop. Cook from thawed and frozen in the microwave.
  • How to reheat quinoa spanish rice: Simply re-warm on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through, adding a little water as needed so the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Alternatively, reheat in the microwave using 30 – 60 second intervals, stirring after each, until warm.

What To Serve with Quinoa Spanish Rice

This savory side dish can be served with any of the following, or your favorite Mexican meals.

side angle view of healthy quinoa Spanish rice in a serving bowl.

More Tex-Mex Recipes!

Let me know if you try this easy quinoa recipe or have a question! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.

Print

QUINOA SPANISH RICE

Spanish Quinoa Rice is a quick, easy and healthy alternative to traditional Spanish rice! It’s grain free, vegan, and a perfect side to all your favorite Mexican dishes! Includes stovetop and Instant Pot methods.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 – 6 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: saute, simmer
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex, Mexican
  • Diet: Vegan

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely diced (optional)
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste and/or 1 cup diced tomatoes (if using canned, drained)
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH garlic + onion powder (for good measure, but optional)
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • fresh chopped cilantro, to serve (optional)

Instructions

Stovetop:

  • Saute + Toast: In medium size pan or skillet, heat oil/water over medium high heat, add onion, optional bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes, add quinoa and garlic, cook another 5 minutes or so stirring frequently until quinoa starts to get toasty and turn slightly golden.
  • Simmer: Add veg broth, tomato paste, oregano, salt + pepper, give a good stir, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 – 17 minutes.
  • Let rest: When done, remove cover, fluff with a fork, and let set for 15 minutes to absorb the rest of the liquids. Taste for seasoning.

Instant Pot:

  • Set Instant Pot to saute for 7 minutes, add oil/water, onion and optional bell pepper, saute for 3 minutes, add quinoa and garlic, cook, stirring frequently for remaining 4 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, just shy of 2 cups of vegetable broth, tomatoes, oregano, salt & pepper. Attach lid and turn to lock. Turn the valve to SEALING. Manually set to HIGH pressure and cook for 1 minute.
  • Turn valve to VENTING for quick release (or let natural release for 5 minutes), remove lid, turn off heat, fluff with fork and let rest for 10 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve with chopped cilantro overtop for a pop of color and flavor.

Serves 4 – 6

Notes

Add cumin. If you would like to add more flavor, try adding a 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cumin for another layer of flavor.

Use pico de gallo. For a quick short cut, use at 1 – 2 cups of store bought or homemade Pico de Gallo. Skip the saute, toast the quinoa, add the pico with the broth.

Use tomato sauce. If you don’t have tomato paste on hand, add 1/4 cup of tomato sauce, reduce the liquids to 1 3/4 cups water.

Using water: If using water instead of vegetable broth, be sure to add 1 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder for maximum flavor.

If using canned tomatoes, drain, but don’t rinse. Rinsing will wash the flavor away (that was my experience).

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: I use this Instant Pot, and for storing and keeping warm this glass instant pot lid is perfect (affiliate links). For more of my favorite cooking tools, shop my kitchen essentials.

FOLLOW TSV on FacebookInstagramPinterest, or RSS for more updates and inspiration!

17 Comments

  1. Omg super super yummy recipe. Had it for dinner with a salad and it turned out really well!! Right amount of flavour, will definitely be adding this to my recipe book :)

  2. I made this for dinner and it was great! It was so easy and all of the ingredients are accessible from your average supermarket. Looking forward to browsing your site for more recipes!

  3. Quinoa has a bitter coating which requires rinsing. Since this step is not in the instructions, I assume the dish tastes fine anyway?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Yes, it tastes fine. Honestly, I never rinse my quinoa unless I buy it in bulk (which I haven’t done in ages). Packaged typically tends to be pre-rinsed, but I will add a note as it doesn’t hurt to rinse even if using packaged. Thank you for asking and pointing that out! You can read the taste test done by The Kitchn and test for yourself.

      1. It is very important to rinse your quinoa every time to remove saponin from it! :)

  4. We make this almost weekly, we do a mix of quinoa and brown rice and at the end add a can of corn and a can of rinsed black beans.
    To say we love it is an understatement! Thank you for the recipe!

  5. Hi,
    Can you tell me the serving size so I know the amount of carbohydrates and calories per serving.

    Thanks,
    Judy

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      I would say since 1 cup of uncooked quinoa expands 3 – 4 times it’s size, each serving size is about 3/4 cup. Hope that helps!

  6. Wonderful flavor! I made this in the Instant Pot with red quinoa since that’s all that I had on hand, and it turned out quite watery. It looked more like a stew than Spanish quinoa, but the flavor was absolutely on-point and I can’t wait to make it again.

    How should I adjust the recipe to have a less watery consistency less time? I used drained canned diced tomatoes.

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Glad the flavor was great, sorry it was a bit watery. Red quinoa takes a few minutes longer to cook than white or tri-color, so that may have been the issue. If using red quinoa again, cook another 2 minutes. Or if the texture was good, you might try just reducing the water by about 1/4 – 1/3 cup to see if that does the trick. Hope that helps for next time. Thank you for the feedback, Lisa!

  7. when am i supposed to add the veg broth?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      For the stovetop method, add it where it says water when you get to the simmer line. The Instant Pot method says veg broth. I’ll fix the stovetop version to include the ‘broth’ specifically. Do let us know how you liked it, it’s super helpful for others. Enjoy!

      1. quick, easy, and flavorful recipe! it was still yummy with a few substitutions for ingredients I didn’t have on hand, thank you!

  8. Hi there, how much oregano for the recipe? It’s in the instructions but not in the ingredients list. Thank you so much! Looking forward to trying this x

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      It’s 1/2 teaspoon, I’ve added it to the ingredients. Thank you for pointing that out! Enjoy :)

  9. I made this with a slight variation of what I had available at home and it was amazing :))

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Thanks for sharing, Rachel! Cheers :)

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