10 Best Substitutes For Quinoa


Since I started watching over my health, I have come across quinoa as the best supplement for a healthy diet. For real, it helps me become fuller and pairs up really well with any type of vegetable and meat. Out of all the grains that are available in the market, quinoa has the highest protein making it a top choice for most healthy eaters.

However, quinoa can be expensive compared to other grains and might be unavailable to some locations.

You can simply substitute Quinoa with brown rice, couscous, barley, chickpeas, red beans, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts, legumes, and roasted vegetables.

Choosing a healthy diet is more exciting as we uncover what we can substitute when we don’t have quinoa available.

Quinoa Substitutes

1. Brown Rice

Brown Rice

Instead of using the white counterpart of rice, brown rice is rather a perfect substitute for quinoa. I personally take turns between brown rice and quinoa from time to time. Brown rice just has that unique effect when paired with savory meats like chicken breasts and fish. Plus, it has lesser carbs and calories but offers high fiber instead.

2. Couscous


This Italian grain is perfect when you crave something creamy or lunch or dinner. Couscous is a type of grain that resembles rice in taste and the shape of quinoa. It goes really well with vegetables and meat with a creamy sauce concoction. If you’re tired of your daily quinoa salad, opt for a healthier but savory bowl of couscous. 

3. Barley


Barley is another great option that you can pick. Also packed with nutrients and vitamins that you will surely appreciate. If you’re a fan of oats, barley offers the same texture and taste. You can prep it either as a breakfast meal or for a quick lunch. Either sweet or savory, you choose whatever you prefer.

Barley unlike other grains can help you feel fuller throughout the day which saves you from the urge of constant hunger and unhealthy snacking. That’s one of the reasons why a generous bowl of barley mixed with fruits will help you get through a groggy morning and help you feel productive at work or in school.

4. Chickpeas


If you can’t compromise the enormous amount of protein that quinoa has, why not opt for chickpeas instead? You can either get fresh ones or canned chickpeas whichever is available in the market.

It’s so nutritious and filling at the same time that you won’t have to need another grain alternative. It goes well with any type of sauce, meat, or vegetable pairing. You can also process chickpeas as a healthy snack dip, that turns into delicious hummus.

5. Red Beans

Red beans

When I don’t have grains left in the pantry, my go-to healthy filling meal would be red beans. Either canned or boiled fresh, they’re both the best. You can also pick pinto or black beans as another alternative as well.

It has the same taste as chickpeas and is also packed with proteins and other health benefits. If your diet is more focused on eating healthy proteins and staying away from carbs and sugar like the keto diet, red beans are a great addition.

6. Cauliflower


One of the greatest discoveries of replacing grains for a healthier substitute would be cauliflower. Instead of cooking it as a regular roasted vegetable side or stir-fried, cook it how you would with rice.

All you have to do is grate the cauliflower and press the extra juices, then steam it until soft. It’s one of my favorite ingredients for healthy bowls when I don’t have quinoa. It’s low in calories but packed with essential nutrients. Just make sure though that you have some time to do some prepping.

7. Broccoli


No quinoa, grains, or beans? There’s nothing to be concerned about! If you have broccoli in the fridge, you’ll be just fine. You can still prepare a healthy but filling meal at the same time with broccoli.

I personally do this when I’m trying to cut away extra calories from my diet. Although quinoa is healthy, it has more calories than a cup of broccoli. So if you’re really strict about losing weight without having to compromise how much you eat, broccoli is a perfect balance in your diet.

8. Nuts


Change up your regular bowl of salad by adding some crunchy texture to it. Nuts would be your best bet as it offers the same protein offering that your quinoa does. Plus, no prepping needed. All you need to do is add it directly to your salad and voila! A healthy and filling dish indeed. You can choose whatever kind of nut you prefer but I highly recommend almonds and walnuts as a go-to salad ingredient.

9. Legumes


Another healthy substitute that you should consider for switching quinoa is legumes. You can find a variety of legumes in the market that ranges in different colors and shapes. Legumes are those edible seeds from the plant that helps you achieve your daily protein needs.

One of the common ones you can get is lentils and peas. It’s best enjoyed when steamed and then mix in with your salads or healthy bowls. It’s also a great snack seasoned with garlic salt or chili salt.

10. Roasted Vegetables 

The crucial thing about meal prep is knowing that you have a balanced diet. If you see that you already have too much protein on your plate, why not ditch quinoa and instead use roasted vegetables? A mix of roasted vegetables is a great side dish for meats to add some crunch, nutrients and make it more like a filling dish.

My go-to vegetable mix is carrots, Brussel sprouts, and onions seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s easy to prepare and doesn’t need too much prep. You can also opt to have it stir-fried or steamed, whichever you prefer.


Is quinoa better than rice?

When it comes to taste and health benefits, yes! Quinoa has a more nutty and mealy taste. It also offers more protein and fiber compared to rice.

Is quinoa a carb?

Yes, it is. In fact, it has more than 35 grams of carbohydrates per serving. So if you’re looking for a low-carb diet, make sure you consume quinoa in healthy amounts.

What can you eat with quinoa?

Quinoa works great with almost any food. You can mix it with vegetables and meats as a savory meal. You can have it as a salad filling. One of my favorites is making a healthy burger patty out of quinoa.

How long can cooked quinoa last in the fridge?

Cooked quinoa can be stored in the fridge for 7 days. If stored in the freezer, it can last for about 8 months.

Sure quinoa is a superfood and there’s no argument that should be opened about it. But if you’re looking to spice up your daily healthy meals, trying other substitutes will help you stick to your health goals.

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