Cilantro lime quinoa is an easy healthy side dish that can be made on the stove top, in the instant pot, or with pre-made quinoa. It’s great for meal prep and can even be frozen for healthy freezer meals.
When I shared the below meal prep photo on Facebook and Instagram, I asked which recipe y’all wanted first: the sheet pan fajita vegetables, the taco turkey meat, the Instant Pot cilantro lime quinoa, or the chocolate peanut butter banana overnight chia oats. The top request was the cilantro lime quinoa, so here we are! Except I got multiple requests for a non-Instant Pot version, too, so I’ve got you covered there as well.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Quinoa
The beauty of this cilantro lime quinoa recipe lies in its simplicity. All you do is take cooked quinoa and add in a few ingredients like fresh cilantro, lime juice and zest, and coconut oil. And when it comes to cooking the quinoa, you can do whatever works for you!
- Instant Pot: Combine two cups water and one cup dry quinoa in the Instant Pot. Seal, set to high pressure for five minutes, then do a quick release. Fluff your quinoa then add the cilantro lime flavorings!
- Stove Top: Bring two cups of water to a boil, then add one cup of dry quinoa. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, until quinoa is cooked through. Fluff your quinoa then add the cilantro lime flavorings!
- Pre-Made Quinoa: Some stores and brands sell pre-made quinoa, either in packages like the microwave instant rice, or in the freezer section. If you like to batch cook, you can even freeze your own quinoa ahead of time. Then just thaw and heat, either in the microwave or the stove top. If you’re using a pan with direct heat on the stove top to reheat, you may need to add a couple teaspoons of water to help keep the quinoa moist.
Cilantro Lime Quinoa Questions
Q: I’m allergic to coconuts, can I use another oil instead of coconut oil?
A: Absolutely. The coconut oil provides a tiny bit of flavor and a little fat to help keep the quinoa tender and not dry out. You can substitute extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
Q: Can I cook my quinoa in bone broth or stock?
A: Sure! I just tested this recipe with water since it’s something everyone making this will have access to. Cooking your quinoa in some vegetable stock or bone broth will add a little more flavor, but will also alter the nutrition facts, too. Unless you’re using an unsalted broth, it will definitely add sodium and potentially add some protein and fat as well – it will all vary based on what you use.
Q: Do I have to use a whole bunch of cilantro?
A: Nope! I used a whole bunch to add more flavor. If you only have half a bunch on hand, that will work, too, but I wouldn’t use any less or the flavor will be too subtle.
Q: When I’m chopping cilantro, do I need to remove every single leaf from each stem?
A: Not unless you really want to! I chop the bottom part of the stems off, but leave all the more tender stems the leaves are attached to. They’re tender enough and add more flavor. They also add a tiny little but more crunch, but if you chop it finely enough, I doubt you’ll notice.
Q: Do I need to rinse my quinoa before cooking?
A: Many packages of quinoa state to rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under running water before cooking. This is done to remove the natural coating (called saponins) from the dry quinoa, which can contribute to a slightly bitter taste to those sensitive.
That said, many boxed/ packaged quinoa sold in stores is already pre-rinsed. Personally, I usually don’t rinse, because I only have a tiny mesh sieve and it’s just a pain to do. I have rinsed my quinoa on multiple occasions though, and honestly, I never really notice a difference, especially one to make the minor annoyance of rinsing worth it.
How to Meal Prep and Freeze Cilantro Lime Quinoa
I’m a big fan of batch cooking, meal prepping, and using my freezer to help automate meal times, have plenty of healthy options on hand, and just make healthy eating even easier.
As seen in an earlier picture, you can make a batch of this quinoa and add to meal prepped lunches and dinners to just grab and go.
If I’m making this for dinner and only using a couple portions, sometimes I like to freeze the leftovers, usually in individual servings. This is great, because if I need a whole grain/ complex carb to round out a meal, I can quickly thaw and reheat just what I need for my meal.
More Nutrition to Fit Quinoa Recipes
If you’re a fan of quinoa, check out some more popular Nutrition to Fit quinoa recipes:
- Pizza Quinoa Casserole with Chicken
- Vegetable Herb Quinoa Pilaf with Roasted Turmeric Chickpeas
- 5-Minute Broccoli Kale Quinoa Salad
- Chicken Philly Quinoa Bowl
- Fruity Quinoa Salad
- Banana Quinoa Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
If you make any of these recipes, be sure to comment and rate the recipe below. Sharing to social media? Tag #nutritiontofit so I can see your creations! Live well!
Cilantro Lime Quinoa
free from: wheat/ gluten, dairy, soy, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water or broth
- 1 lime (juice and zest)
- 1 bunch cilantro (leaves only, finely chopped)
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- salt to taste (if cooking in water)
Using the Instant Pot:
- Add two cups of water and one cup quinoa to the Instant Pot. Seal the vent and set to high pressure for 5 minutes. When done, do a quick release and fluff quinoa with a fork. Stir in lime zest and juice, coconut oil, and chopped cilantro. Salt to taste (if needed).
Using the Stove Top:
- Bring two cups of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cup of quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 15-20 minutes (until water has totally evaporated and quinoa is cooked completely). When done, do a quick release and fluff quinoa with a fork. Stir in lime zest and juice, coconut oil, and chopped cilantro. Salt to taste (if needed).
Freezing & Reheating Instructions:
- Freeze in either a large portion you need or in small, half cup portions for easy complex carbohydrate whole grain components for meals. To thaw and heat a single serving, microwave on high for 60-90 seconds. Alternatively, you can thaw and reheat in a pan on the stovetop. If going this route, you may need to add 1-2 tsp water to help keep quinoa moist.