What can I substitute for quinoa?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for quinoa?” and elaborate on the possible substituted products for quinoa.

What can I substitute for quinoa?

Quinoa can be best substituted with cooked rice, cooked or canned chickpeas, cooked barley, cooked couscous, nuts, roasted cauliflower, other roasted vegetables, brown rice, broccoli, legumes, and red beans. 

What is quinoa?

Quinoa are tiny seed-like granules that originated from South America. Its flavour can be described as mild nutty and grainy. After properly cooking or roasting, the taste of quinoa is turned chewy, which is quite similar to the cooked barley.

In nutritional content, quinoa has high protein content and is also enriched with fibre. It has less content of glycemic index, which gives a major reason to use quinoa than any other variety of grains.

Substitutes for Quinoa

If while cooking, you have run out of quinoa, then no need to worry, we have prepared a long list of substitutes that you can use as a replacement for quinoa. 

Some of the near to perfect substituted products for quinoa are as follows:

Cooked rice

White rice is one of the easiest recipes which can be replaced with cooked quinoa. But, considering the nutrient profile, brown rice is more preferred than white rice because, otherwise in flavour and taste, brown rice and quinoa are almost similar. 

Unlike quinoa, rice absorbs water when we dip them before cooking, which is the best method for cooking rice to make them tender quickly. 

Drain the dipped water of rice and then boil white rice until it gets softened. 

Cooked couscous

Cooked couscous is another substituted product for quinoa. In appearance, both have almost the same texture. Just couscous miss the curled tail of quinoa. Cooking time will be different for both the quinoa and couscous. 

So, to form couscous a perfect substitute for the quinoa, add the couscous after cooking. Such cooked couscous should be replaced with cooked quinoa.

Cooked barley

Barley is another substituted product for quinoa. Barley is one of the most beloved grain ingredients of the diet. It is larger as compared to the original product quinoa. Barley is also enriched with chew factors.

It is recommended for almost every substituted product, to replace the quinoa with its general form like cooked barley with cooked quinoa and uncooked quinoa should be altered with uncooked barley because time varies for cooking. So, avoid adding barley to the cooking stage of recipes.

Cooked or canned chickpeas 

Chickpeas can be canned or cooked. These are the substituted products that are perfect because it is also good for those who avoid taking gluten products. 

Chickpeas are gluten-free grains. It is an easy cooking ingredient and also consumes no time to cook along with similar content of fibre and protein as compared to quinoa.

Other substitutes of quinoa

Some other substitutes for quinoa which are less in carbs are also recommended in place of quinoa.

Roasted cauliflower

Roasted cauliflower is one of the substitutes for quinoa. It is mostly liked by those who are vegetarian or attract more towards the veggies in their diet. Roasted cauliflower is also recommended for those who want to lose weight due to its low consistency of carbs.

Another roast vegetable

Roasted vegetables other than cauliflower can also be the substituted product for quinoa. These vegetables include eggplant (aubergine), zucchini, and even broccoli can also be a healthier alternative to quinoa.


Nuts are another substitute for quinoa which may include cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts. Nuts can also add an almost similar texture just like the quinoa.


Legumes are healthy substitutes for quinoa. If you are more concerned about a healthy diet then you should go for legumes as a substitute for quinoa. 

The most common and most preferred legumes are peas or lentils. These two legumes are enjoyed often in salads or healthy bowls. Legumes are also used as an evening snack with chilli salt.

We hope that the list above brought additional insight on what to substitute the next time you run out of quinoa. But, if you personally prefer the real thing, that is perfectly fine, too!

How to cook quinoa?

Quinoa can also be cooked in two ways. One is by absorption method until we get tenderness and the second one is to boil the pasta or quinoa in a large pot containing water. As the grains get tendered then remove the water and drain it well. The second one is the most recommended recipe because it is easy to handle.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for quinoa?” and elaborated on the possible substituted products for quinoa.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.