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Need a quinoa substitute? Whether you don’t have it on hand, can’t find it at the store, or don’t like the taste, try one of these substitutions instead.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is a gluten-free pseudo-grain from South America. It's often referred to as a grain because of how it's prepared even though it's technically a seed. There are several varieties, but white, tricolored, and red are the most popular ones.
Quinoa is very high in protein and has a bit of a nutty flavor profile that’s a cross between brown rice, oatmeal, and couscous in texture. If cooked for too long, it can get really mushy which is the reason many people don't like it.
The Best Quinoa Substitutes
Fonio (sometimes called Findo) is an African ancient grain that's also gluten-free and has a similar texture to quinoa. When cooked, it has a light and fluffy texture with a slightly nutty, earthy flavor. This nutritious grain cooks in a fraction of the time and can be used in a variety of ways such as veggie burgers, oatmeal, bowls, salads, stir-fries, and more.
From a nutritional and flavor perspective, brown rice is probably the closest replacement. But white rice varieties such as jasmine or basmati are also great alternatives to quinoa that work well with various types of cuisines.
Couscous is a light and fluffy grain that's more similar to pasta. It's worth noting that couscous is made from durum wheat so it's not a gluten-free replacement for quinoa. If gluten isn't an issue, this is a really delicious mild-flavored option.
Teff is a small, gluten-free grain, about the size of a poppy seed, that is typically dark brown (but can also be ivory) with an earthy, nutty flavor. Aside from the color and size of the grains, the taste and texture are fairly similar. Plus, it's also gluten-free. Teff is often used to make porridge or ground into flour to make injera (in-yayr-uh), an Ethiopian, spongy flatbread, but works in sweet and savory dishes alike.
Sorghum is another ancient gluten-free grain with a slightly chewy texture and a mild, earthy flavor. It can be subbed 1:1 in most quinoa recipes or popped on the stove similarly to popcorn for a healthy snack.
Like quinoa, millet is an ancient gluten-free pseudo-grain, that's actually a seed with a similar texture to couscous. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor. It's a great quinoa equivalent in salads, stir-fries, bowls, and pilafs.
Polenta originated in northern Italy and is made from coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, making it another great gluten-free quinoa substitute.
Recipes With Quinoa
- Toasted Quinoa
- Baby Kale Salad With Crispy Quinoa & Squash
- Quinoa Veggie Burgers
- Southwest Quinoa Salad