Healthy Quinoa Spanish Rice Recipe

Quinoa is all the rage right now, and for good reason! And if you find yourself craving a new meal drawing on this ever-popular replacement for more traditional carbs, whether you've had it before or not, wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn has you covered with a delicious quinoa Spanish rice recipe. Even better, this recipe doesn't take an all-star chef to perfect, meaning it's approachable for home cooks no matter where they're at in their cooking journey. "This is super easy in terms of difficulty level," Hahn said.

Not only will this recipe satisfy your cravings, but quinoa is also packed with a plethora of health benefits. "I love using quinoa because it is high in vitamins and minerals and doesn't weigh you down," Hahn said. "As a wellness coach, I am always looking for dishes that are nutrient-dense and versatile."

This quinoa Spanish rice recipe certainly fits that description, and it can go from stove to table in under 30 minutes. When you're ready, read on to learn how to make this savory dish in the comfort of your home.

Gather the ingredients

First, you'll need to gather the ingredients. You'll need oil, a red pepper, onion, garlic, quinoa, vegetable broth, and chunky red salsa. You'll also need oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Lastly, you'll need lime and cilantro for garnishing, if you choose to garnish the finished quinoa Spanish rice.

If you haven't done so already, you'll want to take this time to dice the onion and the red pepper, as well as mince the garlic. You'll also want to rinse the quinoa using a fine mesh strainer. "Quinoa has a mild toxin on it and you need to rinse this off before using," says Hahn. "However, some brands do this for you." That mild toxin is a substance called saponin, a natural coating that coats the quinoa seed. It won't make you ill if you consume it, at least not in these quantities, but the saponin can taste bitter. Rinsing off that coating ensures your quinoa won't be bitter.

Warm up the saucepan and add the ingredients

First, you'll need to add the oil to a medium saucepan and turn on the stove to medium-high heat. Once the oil has come up to that heat, you'll then add the diced onion, minced garlic, and diced red pepper to the saucepan. Cook these ingredients for about 5 minutes, until the onions have begun to soften.

You'll also want to be sure that the mixture is getting fragrant, though that probably won't be an issue here. As is typically the case when cooking a combination of aromatics like onion, garlic, and red pepper, you should get ready for the ensuing aroma to take over your kitchen in all the right ways.

Continue to add the ingredients to the saucepan

After about 5 minutes of cooking time has passed, you'll then add the rinsed quinoa, vegetable broth, salsa, and spices to the saucepan. Give everything a good mix to ensure that all of these ingredients are fully incorporated.  You'll then bring this mixture to a boil. 

Once all of the ingredients have reached this boiling stage, you will then cover the saucepan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let everything cook for 15 minutes. Over this time, the quinoa should absorb most of the liquid, leaving behind a relatively light but highly flavorful mix. If the quinoa is still fairly wet, give it a few more minutes, but be sure to keep checking in on the mixture to ensure that nothing burns or overcooks in the meantime.

Garnish and serve the final dish

After the 15 minutes of simmering have passed, the quinoa Spanish rice recipe is done cooking. The final step is to garnish the dish with some chopped cilantro and a couple of lime slices, if you so choose. Then, it's time to serve and enjoy this meal!

As a friendly reminder, this recipe is intended to serve 4 people. That said, we won't blame you if you decide to have it all yourself! And, of course, leftovers are always an option, making this an especially attractive option for those of you who are looking to plan out meals ahead of time. "This also holds up great as a leftover," Hahn said. "I just reheat in the oven." Be sure to store the remaining quinoa Spanish rice in an airtight container in the fridge for the best results and longest freshness.

How to serve healthy quinoa Spanish rice

This finished dish works just fine on its own as a main meal, but it doesn't have to play alone. If you're looking to pair this quinoa Spanish rice with a side, we've got you covered, too. "I love to serve this when I am making homemade chipotle or Buddha bowls," Hahn said. 

It pairs especially well with Mexican-inspired dishes, like tacos or burritos, says Hahn. "Sometimes we add black beans and make burritos out of it." You could even use this quinoa Spanish rice as the base for a do-it-yourself burrito bowl, she notes. "I usually put this out with black beans, pinto beans, guacamole, salsa verde, corn, fresh tomatoes, and chopped lettuce –– and everyone can make their own bowl."

Healthy Quinoa Spanish Rice Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
This easy, delicious, and healthy quinoa Spanish rice recipe can go from stove to table in under 30 minutes. Even better, it's great for beginner cooks, too!
Prep Time
Cook Time
Quinoa Spanish rice meal in white serving dish
Total time: 25 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • ¼ cup red pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup chunky red salsa
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
Optional Ingredients
  • Lime slices
  • Chopped cilantro
  1. Add the oil to a medium saucepan and turn the stove to medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and red pepper to the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, salsa, and spices to the saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil. Then cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with lime slices and cilantro, if using, then serve.
Calories per Serving 188
Total Fat 3.9 g
Saturated Fat 0.4 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 31.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.2 g
Total Sugars 2.2 g
Sodium 400.8 mg
Protein 6.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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