Toasted Quinoa for Salads

Toasted quinoa elevates the taste of anything it’s added to and is especially delicious in salads. This toasted quinoa recipe is easy to put together and only needs a few steps plus it’s a healthy addition to any diet.

Toasted Quinoa Recipe for Salads

What is Toasted Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) originates from South America and has been part of the diet for hundreds of years.

Quinoa is one of the most popular health foods in the world and is a common replacement for grains in recipes.

Toasted quinoa is quinoa that is toasted in a skillet or roasted in the oven to intensify the flavor of the grain (technically quinoa is a seed).

There are three types of quinoa – white, red, and black.

Why Toast Quinoa?

Toasting quinoa increases the depth of flavor and provides a delightful texture to an otherwise bland dish.

You don’t have to toast quinoa but if you like variety, you can give it a try the next time you cook quinoa.

Does Toasting Quinoa Remove Nutrients?

Quinoa’s health and nutritional benefits hold up very well to toasting, boiling, and steaming.

None of these activities will remove the nutrients in quinoa and will only enhance the taste so toast away!

Is Toasted Quinoa Gluten-Free?

Yes, toasted quinoa is gluten-free. Quinoa is cooked after toasting and remains gluten-free in both forms.

Toasted Quinoa Nutrition

Quinoa provides a lot of health benefits. It’s full of fiber and flavonoids and is a complete source of protein containing all 9 essential amino acids.

It’s a great source of plant-based protein, has a low glycemic index, and supports metabolic health.

Additional benefits include calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, and vitamin E.

Quinoa is also great for weight loss. Its high protein and fiber content increases metabolism and helps you feel fuller for longer.

1 cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Toasted quinoa is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.

For more on the benefits of adding quinoa to your diet, read A Breakdown of the Superfood Quinoa.

Toasted Quinoa Cooking Instructions

You only need a skillet, bowl, whisk, and 1 cup quinoa for this toasted quinoa recipe. I like using tricolor quinoa because it’s so beautiful.

Toasted Quinoa Recipe 1

Step 1 – Rinse Quinoa

Unless you’re buying pre-rinsed quinoa like Ancient Harvest Pre-rinsed Quinoa, pour the quinoa into a bowl and cover it with cold water. 

The reason for this is because quinoa is coated in saponin which has a bitter soapy taste so best to get rid of it by rinsing the quinoa.

The saponin is a natural coating and protects the plant while it’s growing. It’s not harmful but the taste is gross if you don’t rinse the quinoa.

Step 2 – Let Quinoa Soak

Leave the quinoa to soak for about half an hour then agitate thoroughly with the whisk.

You will see a soapy residue rise to the top of the bowl. Whisk again then strain the quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer.

Toasted Quinoa Step 2

Step 3 – Rinse Quinoa Again

Rinse the quinoa again while it’s in the mesh strainer then set aside to drain excess water while you prepare the skillet.

Toasted Quinoa Step 3

Step 4 – Toast Quinoa

Place a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour the wet quinoa into the skillet and start toasting.

Do not overcrowd the skillet otherwise the quinoa won’t toast properly. Move the quinoa around with the whisk every 10 minutes or so.

Toasted Quinoa Step 4

The quinoa is done when you start to hear popping sounds and a delicious toasty smell fills the kitchen.

This process can take anything from 20 – 30 minutes depending on heat level and skillet size.

Check to make sure the grains are all dried out before you remove the skillet from the stove and pour the toasted quinoa into an airtight container like this one.

Wait for the toasted quinoa to cool down then seal the container and store it in the fridge.

Some people add olive oil to the skillet before toasting quinoa but I don’t recommend that. It changes the taste of the quinoa.

Toasted Quinoa Step 6

How to Use Toasted Quinoa

Toasted quinoa is so versatile and works with a wide variety of dishes. Below are 6 different ways to eat toasted quinoa.

1. Salad topping

Use toasted quinoa as a crunchy salad topping. Just add 1 – 2 tablespoons to any salad.

If you want to use toasted quinoa as a salad topping, add a few spices such as cinnamon and black pepper when toasting.

Crunchy quinoa is a great alternative to croutons, wonton strips, and noodles in salads.

2. Add to Salad

Cook the toasted quinoa and add to a salad for added fiber and texture. I add 2 – 3 tablespoons to my quinoa and arugula salad.

You can make just a quinoa salad and have quinoa be the star of the dish instead of greens.

Quinoa and Arugula Salad

3. Oatmeal and Smoothie Topping

Add toasted quinoa to your morning oatmeal or smoothie bowl as a topping.

4. Granola Bars

Toasted quinoa is great in homemade granola bars.

5. Sprinkle on Soups

Sprinkle a little bit of toasted quinoa on soups and broths for a great crunch and added nutrition. Toasted quinoa can also thicken soups and stews.

6. Add to Casseroles

A few tablespoons of toasted quinoa can be added to just about every kind of casserole dish.

Where to Buy Toasted Quinoa?

Any commercial toasted quinoa you find will likely have other additives in there. You’re better off buying quinoa and then toasting for your needs.

Some great quinoa recommendations include:-

Ancient Harvest Pre-rinsed Quinoa

Equipment Used in this Recipe

Toasted Quinoa Step 6

How To Make Toasted Quinoa

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Toasted quinoa elevates the taste of anything it’s added to and is especially delicious in salads. This toasted quinoa recipe is easy to put together and only needs a few steps plus it’s a healthy addition to any diet. 



  1. Measure the quinoa into a bowl and cover it with lukewarm water.
  2. Leave quinoa to soak for about half an hour then agitate thoroughly with the wire whisk. 
  3. Strain quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer and rinse again in the strainer. Set aside to drain excess water. 
  4. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour the wet quinoa into the skillet.  
  5. Move the quinoa around with the wire whisk every 10 minutes or so. 
  6. Quinoa will start popping and emanating a toasty smell. 
  7. Once quinoa grains are all dried, your toasted quinoa is ready. 
  8. Remove skillet from stovetop and leave to cool. 
  9. Once cool, pour toasted quinoa into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. 

Toasted Quinoa Step 6


  • Do not add oil to the skillet before toasting. Dry toasting is better plus oil changes the nutrition and flavor profile.
  • You can make more than 1 cup at a time so you have toasted quinoa always available in the fridge. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 44Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 14mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 2g

This is only approximate and will change depending on amount added to recipes and the way the toasted quinoa is used.

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