23 Great Substitutes for Quinoa

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Wondering what substitutes can be used to replace Quinoa? 

Here are some super alternatives to Quinoa for you to consider.

23 Best Substitutes for Quinoa

1. Rice

This is the best, most accessible, and cheap substitute you can find for Quinoa.

The best part is that you probably already have it.

Brown rice is a closer alternative than white rice for quinoa because its health benefits are much higher.  

How to Substitute

You can replace cooked quinoa with cooked rice in a 1:1 ratio, but it might not work that well for recipes like salads.    

Here’s how to cook with Rice –

2. Couscous

Couscous is the easiest, most suitable alternative to Quinoa in any recipe.   

It has a subtle, nutty taste that adapts well with any flavor you choose. Couscous, however, is not gluten-free like quinoa and is quite like a pasta.

How to Substitute

Since the taste is quite similar, you can use a 1:1 ratio for replacement. 

Here’s how to cook with Couscous –

3. Barley

Barley is one of the most popular grains in the world and is an amazing alternative to quinoa.

While it has a similar taste to quinoa, it’s a lot chewier and not fluffy like quinoa is. Barely can also be used as a thickening agent.  

How to Substitute

You can use a 1:1 ratio here but make sure to adjust the cooking time as barley takes longer to cook through. 

Here’s how to cook with Barley:

4. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a popular grocery item in many vegan households and, as it turns out, an excellent replacement for quinoa too.

This gluten-free has a subtle, nutty flavor and is packed with protein. Canned chickpeas can be used directly, but dried ones require soaking before cooking.  

How to Substitute

Feel free to use equal amounts for a replacement here. 

Here’s how to cook with Chickpeas:

5. Cauliflower

For those who live a low-carb lifestyle, you’ve probably used cauliflower as a substitute for ice.

But turns out that it can work for quinoa too.  

This unique taste might not match quinoa, but when cooked right, cauliflower rice can have a magically similar texture. 

How to Substitute

Use a 1:1 ratio here for replacement but be careful not to overcook your Cauliflower.

Here’s how to cook with Cauliflower:

6. Millets

We ought to eat Millets more often. So what better reason to include it in this list? 

This is a grain that can be cooked to match different textures.

Adding less water gives a fluffy texture while adding more can give a creamy texture.

How to Substitute

A 1:1 ratio can work here but cook your millet according to the need of your recipe.     

Here’s how to cook with Millet:

7. Broccoli

This is another vegetable that can be turned into an easy, suitable replacement for quinoa.  

Fresh broccoli would need to be used in this case as it gives a crunchier texture and a fresher taste.

How to Substitute

Cut off the topmost part of your broccoli. Once you obtain this rubble, use it in any recipe as a fill-in for quinoa, and you will see great results.  

Here’s how to cook with Broccoli:

8. Nuts

Before you get weirded out by this substitute, let me explain just how well these can replace quinoa.  

Nuts do not require any cooking time and can add a nice, crunchy texture to your recipes.

Plus, you get the same protein from them as you would from quinoa. 

How to Substitute

Nuts are healthy, tasty, and a great replacement for any salad recipe that calls for a salad. Use as much or as little as you want but make sure to not go overboard. 

Here’s how to cook with Nuts:

9. Roasted Vegetables

Like Cauliflower and Broccoli, a lot of roasted veggies can be your go-to replacement for quinoa. 

Every vegetable has a different flavor, but they can add the same texture that quinoa would. Plus, salads are never harmed by adding more veggies. 

How to Substitute

The ratio of substitution can’t be defined here as it would depend on which vegetable you are using.

10. Kamut

Though not very well known, Kamut is an older version of wheat and tastes like brown Basmati Rice. 

As such, it has a similar mild flavour and texture that can absorb flavours really well, much like quinoa. Kamut is also much higher in protein.  

How to Substitute

This superfood can replace quinoa in equal amounts.

Here’s how to cook with Kamut:

11. Grits

This is a popular food in America and is usually served in a porridge consistency with meat or eggs. 

Though grits might not be the same as quinoa, they’re a great base for many recipes and can be paired well with some of the flavors you’d use for quinoa.

How to Substitute

You can use a 1:1 ratio here but be careful as to what recipe you choose. Another tip is that grits pair well with fatty, creamy ingredients. 

Here’s how to cook with Grits:

12. Lentils

These are extremely popular in Indian Cuisine, can be helpful in whipping up a quick healthy dinner, and also serve as a replacement for quinoa.  

Lentils have a buttery, nutty taste and a soft texture when cooked.  They go great in salads and stews.

How to Substitute

This substitution will work best when the lentils are cooked right. Not too soft, and not too firm. Use a 1:1 ratio.

Here’s how to cook with Lentils:

13. Red Beans

Like lentils, these are a great, easy way to replace Quinoa in many of your dishes. 

Red beans are easy to find. They have a nutty, creamy taste and are a loved food throughout the world.   

How to Substitute

Again, the trick of substitution lies in cooking. Make sure you know how to cook your beans to the desired texture. A 1:1 ratio might be too much in this case. 

Here’s how to cook with Red Beans:

14. Legumes

Another great, healthy, cheap, and easily accessible alternative for quinoa is legumes.

Legumes come in many different sizes and colors so you can choose the ones you like to work with.   

How to Substitute

Depending on which legume you use, you can surely use a 1:1 ratio for replacement. However, the taste might not be the same for every option and is better suited to other recipes.

Here’s how to cook with Legumes:

15. Freekeh

This is another superfood that comes under the category of grains. Freekeh can replace quinoa in a heartbeat.   

It has about four times more fibre than any other grain, and the taste is a lot similar to barley.  

How to Substitute

You may use equal amounts for replacement here but add in lots of flavors, so the recipe doesn’t turn out bland. Salads work best for this substitution.  

Here’s how to cook with Freekeh:

16. Teff

While this isn’t exactly a popular grain, it’s literally quinoa’s twin. 

Teff actually cooks much faster than quinoa and is gluten-free as well. Seriously, you won’t find a better substitute than this.

How to Substitute

This is definitely an option that works beautifully in a 1:1 ratio.  

Here’s how to cook with Teff:

17. Bulgur

If you’ve never heard of bulgur, let me explain. This is basically like another version of Oats.

Bulgur is not gluten-free, but it does have a lot of health benefits. It tastes bland on its own like oast but can absorb flavor well.     

How to Substitute

Cook with less water or more water according to the consistency you need and then use a 1:1 ratio.

Here’s how to cook with Bulgur:

18. Buckwheat

Although this might not sound intuitional because of the word ‘wheat’, Buckwheat is actually gluten-free.   

This is a great alternative to Quinoa because of its mild taste and popular use in making healthier loaves of bread or pancakes.

How to Substitute

A 1:1 ratio can work here but you will need to add extra flavor. 

19. Fonio

Though extremely unpopular, Fonio, according to the Doongs of Mali, is said to have started the universe.   

This grain is one of the healthiest grains out there and will no doubt replace quinoa in your recipe perfectly well.

How to Substitute

A 1:1 ratio works here too. Try to include it in your salads more. 

Here’s how to cook with Fonio:

20. Polenta

Polenta is much like Grits, in the sense that it has a creamy texture and pairs well with fatty flavours. 

You can also use firm Polenta and sear it to a nice, brown color on each side for an easy side dish as well.

How to Substitute

A 1:1 ratio could work here but be sure to use the kind of Polenta that would suit your dish best. Polenta needs to be served alongside something else.

Here’s how to cook with Polenta:

21. Sorghum

If you’re thinking of a sticky, thick, brown, liquid substance that looks like molasses, then let me tell you, that’s not the only way Sorghum is used.  

It can be ground into flour for baked goods, baked for granolas, or even popped like popcorn.

How to Substitute

A 1:1 ratio could work here too. Make sure you cook Sorghum the way you would cook quinoa in hot water to get the best results.

22. Amaranth

This is technically a seed but is better known as an ancient, South American, and gluten-free grain.   

While Quinoa is mild in taste, Amaranth is not. It has a grassy scent and sweet, nutty flavour.

How to Substitute

Equal amounts can be used for replacement but keep in mind that this substitution may not work for every recipe because of the varying taste. 

Here’s how to cook with Amaranth:

23. Farro

Farro is an old, ancient grain and is popularly used as a substitute for rice.  

Also known as Spelt, Einkorn, or Emmer, this grain might contain a little bit of wheat, is chewier than quinoa, and has a slightly nutty flavour.

How to Substitute

Equal amounts can be used for replacement but cook your Farro like rice or like pasta depending on your needs. 

FAQs

Can I use Brown Rice instead of Quinoa?

Absolutely. As stated above, Brown Rice is the most suitable alternative for quinoa in terms of taste and texture. The taste is mild and can absorb many flavors.

The texture is soft but not too soft. It still has a firmness to it that you can bite into.

The health benefits differ, however, because brown rice is much lower in protein content. But both quinoa and brown rice are gluten-free foods.

Are Quinoa and Barley the same?

No, they are not. Quinoa is neither a grain nor a cereal and is scientifically said to be closer to the spinach family. Barely, on the other hand, is a grain.

It’s used to make beer and many other malted drinks. Barley also contains gluten and Quinoa does not. In terms of cooking, Quinoa cooks much faster than Barley and has a milder flavor than Barley.

The nutritional values also differ quite a bit which you can read all about on the internet.    

Bottom Line

I hope this article has helped you choose the right substitute for Quinoa

Do share this article with your family and friends as I’m sure it’ll help them if it has helped you! 


References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice
https://www.britannica.com/plant/rice
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Couscous
https://www.britannica.com/topic/couscous#:~:text=Today%20couscous%20may%20also%20be,or%20as%20a%20breakfast%20porridge.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barley
https://www.britannica.com/plant/barley-cereal
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickpea
https://www.britannica.com/plant/chickpea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cauliflower
https://www.britannica.com/plant/cauliflower
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millet
https://www.britannica.com/plant/millet-plant
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broccoli
https://www.britannica.com/plant/broccoli
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nut_(fruit)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roasting
https://www.britannica.com/topic/roasting-cooking
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khorasan_wheat
https://www.britannica.com/place/Kamet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lentil
https://www.britannica.com/plant/lentil-plant
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grits
https://www.britannica.com/topic/grits
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_bean
https://www.britannica.com/plant/kidney-bean
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legume
https://www.britannica.com/science/legume
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freekeh
https://www.britannica.com/quiz/grains-and-pseudograins
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teff
https://www.britannica.com/plant/teff
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgur
https://www.britannica.com/topic/bulgur
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckwheat
https://www.britannica.com/plant/buckwheat
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fonio
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polenta
https://www.britannica.com/topic/polenta
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorghum
https://www.britannica.com/plant/sorghum-grain
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranth
https://www.britannica.com/plant/Amaranthus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farro


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About Tammy J

Tammy is currently studying in college. While attending, she has broadened her horizons by experimenting with food from all over the world, but she has a special love for Mexican and Indian cuisine. She loves traveling with her friends, and enjoys nothing more than packing up a few backpacks and hitting the open road to explore natural beauty.

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