This Quinoa Fried “Rice” is a healthy take on everyone’s favorite Chinese takeout! It’s easy to prepare, and every bit as delicious as the original! Serve with chicken, shrimp, and just as it is.
Quinoa Fried “Rice”
This recipe was first published in January 2015.
I’ve wanted to share this recipe for a while, but thought I might be overloading you with too many healthy recipes – and if you’re anything like me, you can’t eat super healthy every single day. Who can???
So after a slightly indulgent intermission of vegetarian but not-super-healthy-for-you baked rigatoni, I thought it would be a good idea to balance life out with something you can feel really good about eating. Life is all about balance after all, right?
I adore fried rice, and am actually super picky about it (ummm I can’t even count how many horrible take-out versions I’ve had). This version, I can confidently say without hesitation, is every bit as delicious as the original, and I promise you won’t miss the white rice.
Instead of using white rice, I swapped in heart-healthy quinoa, and let me tell you, I don’t know which I like better now! This version is studded with tons of the classic – peas, carrots, and plenty of onion and garlic. My perfect version of fried rice also includes lots of fried, scrambled egg, so you’ll see plenty of that.
Secrets to perfect Quinoa Fried Rice
- Use leftover, cool quinoa! I like to use leftover quinoa that’s been stored in the fridge overnight, because if you freshly cooked quinoa, it has a tendency to get sort of mushy, and the individual particles of quinoa don’t separate like they do in the traditional version of fried rice. Starting with cooled quinoa allows each grain to “fry” and soak up all the sauce to mimic rice a little bit more. It’s actually a trick I also use when cooking traditional fried rice – cold rice tends to crisp up a bit more, and I just adore the texture.
- Rinse your quinoa before cooking. Quinoa if left un-rinsed is innately bitter. Rinsing the quinoa several times helps to get any bitterness out, and leaves you with fluffy, nutty rice.
- You don’t need as much soy sauce as you’d think! A little goes a long way, trust me.
If I don’t have time to let the quinoa cool or I don’t have any left over, I’ll cook the quinoa, spread it on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and then pop it in the freezer until it’s chilled while I cut up all the vegetables.
My favorite thing about this recipe? It’s totally customizable. If you want to add chicken, go for it. Shrimp? Go ahead. I tend to stick with a classic combination of onion, garlic, peas, carrots and scrambled egg, but occasionally I’ll throw in some crispy water chestnuts, baby corn or snow peas in the mix – anything goes!
The Best Way to Cook Quinoa
- Rinse your rise. Several times. This is such an important step because quinoa can be bitter without rinsing. This will also help to mimic the taste of rice more!
- Season the cooking liquid. The is also so important! Quinoa, while more flavorful than plain rice, still doesn’t have much flavor on its own. Seasoning the cooking liquid ensure the quinoa will also have little bit of flavor prior to adding the soy sauce.
- Use an equal amount of quinoa to liquid. So one cup of liquid for every one cup of quinoa. Also, I like to use low-sodium chicken stock to up the flavor even more.
- Cook on a low heat. You barely want the quinoa to be simmering, otherwise it could turn mushy.
- Don’t overcook! Once the quinoa is fluffy, remove it from the heat. Fluff with a fork.
How to make Quinoa Fried Rice
- Cook quinoa and fluff with a fork
- Transfer to a large plate and pop in the fridge or freezer to chill completely.
- Mix soy sauce and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about two minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another two minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes.
- Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble. Throw in peas, then toss everything together until the peas are warmed through, add remaining scallion and serve.
Can quinoa fried rice be made ahead of time?
YES and please do make this ahead of time. This is SO good the next day, and the next, and so on. Cool completely after making its, then store in an airtight container. Reheat in the microwave with a damp towel over the rice.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Work quickly! Even a non-stick pan has a tendency to stick if you don’t work quickly and move the rice around.
- Make sure the skillet is super hot! Sprinkle a little bit of water over the skillet, and if it sizzles and spits right away, it’s hot enough.
- Add in chicken, shrimp, or crab for a little extra protein.
- Add in your favorite vegetables! Mushrooms, water chestnuts or baby corn would be great additions.
What to serve with quinoa fried rice?
This Crispy Honey Beef with Snow Peas, would be the perfect entree for quinoa fried rice, these Peanut Chicken Lettuce Wraps would also be delicious, and if you want a little sweet with your savory, this Sweet and Sour Baked Salmon would accompany it perfectly.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock
- ¼ small onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 scallions, sliced and divided
- 3 large garlic cloves
- ½ tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 ½ Tbsp. teriyaki sauce
- ¾ tsp. sesame oil
- 2 large eggs, whisked in a small bowl
- ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
- Non-stick skillet
- Rinse quinoa a few times in cold water.
- Bring quinoa and water or chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer. Season with salt.Simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.Transfer to a large plate and pop in the fridge or freezer to chill completely.
- Mix soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about two minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another two minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble with a wooden spoon or chopsticks. Toss together and then throw in peas. Toss everything together until the peas are warmed through. Add remaining scallion and serve. Season with salt and pepper.