This zesty cilantro lime quinoa side dish is perfect to pair with any main course. It’s loaded with tangy lime juice and fresh cilantro. Who wants plain quinoa when you can have flavor loaded quinoa?! Vegan & gluten-free.
This cilantro lime quinoa side dish recipe actually came to be because I had a bunch of cilantro that got pushed to the back of the fridge and needed to be used up. I hate food waste more than anything so I just couldn’t bear to throw it away because it was pretty wilted and limp. Just because I couldn’t use it as a garnish didn’t mean that it couldn’t be used in another way.
Note – Do not make this cilantro lime sauce with cilantro that is wet or slimy. That means it has gone bad and you can’t salvage it. You don’t want to risk getting sick by trying to save a few bucks.
How Do You Make Quinoa Taste Good?
I see people ask this question all the time in vegan Facebook groups and it always confuses me! Quinoa is so delicious and so versatile. How can you not like it or think it tastes bad? The only answers that I could come up with are:
- Maybe you aren’t rinsing the quinoa before you cook it so it tastes bitter.*
- You don’t like plain quinoa and you just want more flavor!
If you fall in the second group, then this zesty cilantro lime quinoa side dish is for you! It’s loaded with flavor!
*Some packaged quinoa needs to be rinsed first before you cook it. If you don’t rinse it before you cook it then it will taste very bitter. I use the organic quinoa from Costco (Here’s my vegan Costco shopping list if you need inspiration) and it’s pre-rinsed so I never have to worry about that. It’s very convenient.
How to Make Cilantro Lime Quinoa
The cilantro lime sauce for this savory quinoa side dish is so easy to make! All you have to do is blend one bunch of fresh cilantro (2 cups) with garlic, lime juice, lime zest, water, sea salt, and pepper together until it’s smooth and creamy. Pour the cilantro lime sauce over the hot or cold cooked quinoa and mix it well. That’s it!
The flavor of this cilantro lime quinoa side dish is through the roof, you’ll never want plain quinoa again! The zest and juice from the lime give it that tangy citrus flavor that I adore. Travis and I are both huge cilantro lovers so using an entire bunch of cilantro in the sauce didn’t phase us one bit. It gave the quinoa side dish huge flavor and a striking green color! We especially love to use cilantro lime quinoa instead of brown rice in these sweet potato black bean burritos, it’s so flavorful!
BTW If you’re one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap– this recipe is not for you! Try these delicious Pesto Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes instead.
What Should You Serve With Quinoa?
I served this vegan quinoa side dish with our favorite vegan lentil sloppy joe’s for dinner and it was a hit! The cilantro lime flavors paired really well with the tangy tomato-based lentil sloppy joe’s.
This quinoa side dish also pairs well with:
Tips For Making The Best Quinoa
- Make sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking it if the package doesn’t say that it’s pre-rinsed.
- I’ve seen many different people claiming how to cook the best quinoa (More water, less water, less cook time + higher heat, etc). In my opinion, the best way to cook quinoa is to follow the instructions on the package. Don’t make it complicated when it doesn’t have to be.
- For an extra flavor boost, cook the quinoa in low-sodium vegetable broth instead of water.
- Store the leftover quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or freeze it.
More Vegan Quinoa Recipes You’ll Love
Cilantro Lime Quinoa Side Dish
- 2 cups dry quinoa (Make sure you rinse it if the package instructions say to do so)
- Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Make sure to rinse it if the instructions say to do so. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then fluff it with a fork.
- Add all cilantro lime sauce ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend it on high until smooth and creamy.
- Mix the cilantro lime sauce into the hot or cold cooked quinoa until all of the quinoa has turned green.