Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa


Gluten-free Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa is an easy side dish that’s packed with protein and crowd-pleasing flavors.

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats |

Oh my gosh I am so tired!

Not because of this monkey, whose 6 month pictures I finally got around to taking, uh, a week before he turned 7 months old (better late than never?!)


Our little prince is snoozing just fine. Mom and Dad, however, are willingly keeping themselves up at night to feed their Breaking Bad addiction. Have you seen it? AMC? Bueller?

I heard all about how awesome this show was during its 5 year run but resisted tuning in because, I don’t know… Well actually I do know – it’s about meth! I’m sure my Dad is having a heart attack reading this, what with me mentioning illicit drugs so close to his youngest grandson’s picture, but, well, this is happening.

Anyway, Ben’s the finder of all good shows that I resist watching then end up proclaiming my new favorite thing EVER! The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Girls (which I got so hooked on that I cheated and watched a full season without him in like, a day. I know.) and now, Breaking Bad. He’d been trying to get me to watch on Netflix for months and I finally caved. Wished I hadn’t waited so long!

The acting is incredible. You hate the people you should love and love the people you should hate…I can’t get enough! We’ve watched two seasons in nearly as many weeks, and are still going strong. I need an intervention! Or a book…

There’s no point to this story except to tell you that Breaking Bad is really good, and I don’t have an exciting nor relevant story to lead into a side dish I want to share with you today, mmkay? Are you still reading? Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa? Bueller? When will people stop understanding what Bueller means?

This is the last time I drink Starbucks in the afternoon!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats |

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa is the answer to your what to serve with dinner prayers. This dish takes 5 minutes to prep, cooks for 15 more minutes, then is ready to serve. Perfectly garlicky, creamy, and parmesan-y. Plus quinoa is packed with protein so it’s a side dish with staying power!

This dish isn’t a direct rip-off of those pasta side packets I like to makeover, like Creamy Garlic Shells and Creamy Chicken Pasta, as none of them use quinoa, but my gosh is it good.

Quinoa is quickly toasted in garlic-infused oil then cooked in chicken broth before being combined with salty parmesan cheese. Fast. Quick. Flavorful. Try this!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats |

You’ll only need 5 kitchen staples to whip up Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa: Quinoa, of course, chicken broth, garlic, parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Yes!

Start by rinsing 1 cup quinoa under cold running water in a fine mesh sieve. I got this one at my grocery store for like $2.99. Oh, and I also got the measuring cups from Target on clearance recently. They’re from Giada di Laurentiis’ line and I just love them! A couple people asked the last time I showed them so I thought I’d share.

Let the quinoa drain while you heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 3 cloves minced garlic. I bought a garlic press from IKEA the last time I was there and I swear to you it was the best $3 I have ever spent. I usually loathe unitaskers in the kitchen, but I’m making a hearty exception for the garlic press.

Let the garlic saute for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring constantly, until it’s light golden brown. It will go from golden brown to burnt very quickly, so keep an eye on it.

Add the drained quinoa then stir for 1 minute to let it lightly toast, and then add 1-3/4 cup gluten-free chicken broth (or vegetable broth.) Turn the heat up to bring to a boil then place a lid on top, turn the heat back down to medium-low, and then cook until the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.

By the way, a lot of people ask me how to avoid mushy quinoa and the answer is, you want the ratio of quinoa to liquid to be around 1:1.75. Or however you would write that. Point being, you want less than double the amount of liquid to quinoa!

Finally, stir in 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese. That’s it!

Let the quinoa cool for 10 minutes before serving so you really get the parmesan-garlic flavor to come through, vs singeing the bejeebers out of your tongue. As with most things in life, it’s worth the wait!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats |

Gluten-free Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa

serves 4


Gluten-free Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa is an easy side dish that's packed with protein and crowd-pleasing flavors.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1-3/4 cups gluten-free chicken broth (could use vegetable broth)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. Rinse quinoa very well under cold running water in a fine mesh sieve then drain well and set aside.
  2. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat then add garlic and saute until barely golden brown, stirring constantly (watch closely as it can go from golden brown to burnt very quickly!) Add quinoa then toast for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add chicken broth then turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Place a lid on top then turn heat down to medium-low and cook until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in parmesan cheese then serve.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats |

I served my Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa with chicken breasts marinated in BBQ sauce then sauteed (OH how I wish they were grilled instead…soon!) and steamed broccoli. Whatever you choose to pair it with…enjoy!

Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa #sidedish @IowaGirlEats |

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  1. My hubby and I just started Breaking Bad too! We are already on Season 4…and just started watching 2 weeks ago. Addicted. It’s SO GOOD!
    I love this quinoa! I’m still trying to learn to love quinoa. But…adding cheese makes everything better! Pinned!

  2. Chicago Jogger 03.05.2014

    Delicious :) I never think to add cheese to my quinoa. Will definitely be trying this one!

  3. Amber 03.05.2014

    My boyfriend and I watched 5 seasons of Breaking Bad in under a month. The last season wasn’t available on Netflix but now that it is our time will be dedicated to watching as much as we can. It is so addicting!

    At work we use Skype to ask questions and share issues. I asked about a client and after no response I asked Bueller? Bueller? The response from 3 different people: “I can’t find a client called Bueller”

    WHAT?!?!? I think I died a little inside.

  4. Talk about perfect timing! My cousin called me last week looking for Quinoa ideas so I went to experimenting in the kitchen with it. It’s been a long while since I’ve cooked Quinoa. I definitely will be trying this recipe! So simple. Thanks again for the recipe Kristin!

  5. Julie 03.05.2014

    I just finished binging on House of Cards and want to watch Breaking Bad but Spring is coming and I have to leave the house sometime. :) I have a feeling I’m going to cave in soon.

  6. I watched the first season of Breaking Bad when it first came out and I could not get into it! I have no idea why! And this looks awesome! I can’t wait to make it for a side dish!

  7. I’m pretty sure Parmesan cheese has magical powers! It makes everything taste 10x better. :) Will definitely be making this soon.

  8. Kristin 03.05.2014

    I had to respond, I have been reading your blog for awhile now and tried alot of great recipes :) but Breaking Bad is amazing! If you have downtime I highly suggest Homeland, and Sons of Anarchy. Ohh, did I mention Game of Thrones? Ok, at some point it will get nice out again and tv will be a thing of the past.

    P.S Your son, is adorable! Every picture I just want to reach into the computer and pick him up. Such a beautiful baby! It’s making me have baby fever, almost. :) (no kids yet)

  9. Gabby Deitsch 03.05.2014

    Breaking Bad is THE BEST! We watched it and caught up when the final season was going on so we could watch the finale live with the rest of the world. YOU. JUST. WAIT.

    PS – watch House of Cards next. You’ll thank me.

  10. Whitney 03.05.2014

    I love that you put your quinoa in a Mason jar – mine is still camped out in the bag from the bulk bin, and no matter what I do to keep it from escaping the bag, I still have random pieces of rogue quinoa stuck to my socks every time I enter my kitchen. Buying several Mason jars NOW!

  11. Clem 03.05.2014

    That is a cute baby and a cute side dish. Netflix is a problem but I love binging on shows!

  12. Melissa 03.05.2014

    Could you do this with couscous???

  13. crystal 03.05.2014

    after you finish Breaking Bad, you might as well add House of Cards to the list :)

  14. Maureen Gribble 03.05.2014

    Breaking Bad is so good, glad you are watching & loving it. I think a recipe idea would be to figure out how to replicate Pollo’s Hermanos chicken, ok? thanks! :)

  15. I love Breaking Bad! Such a good series! So is Modern Family. After you finish BB, you may be interested in The Following. It is kind of scary but very addictive.

  16. Loooved Breaking Bad. It was so addictive! I was so nervous watching it, though, that I used to yell at the TV.

  17. Melissa 03.05.2014

    Yes tobreaking bad!!!! I have like more episodes- totally addicting- like meth – (from what i hear- no meth for me) and i should cut down on my morning coffee! And yes to this dish! Awesome- needed a good quinoa

  18. Yvonnelaura 03.05.2014

    Looks delicious! Going to try that out!

  19. When you’re done with Breaking Bad, check out Sons of Anarchy. It’s my current addiction. I’ve totally confused Amazon Prime on what to recommend for me. First Downton Abbey and now Sons of Anarchy. Polar opposites.

  20. 58Teresa 03.05.2014

    wait – wait – is that what I think?

    Barbeque? oh – spring where are you?????

  21. Cristal 03.05.2014

    My husband got me addicted to Dexter this summer. When that ended in the fall, we started watching Breaking Bad. We finished it about a month ago and I still think about it! There is something about Aaron Paul :)

  22. Tracy 03.05.2014

    Not to add to your addiction, but have you watched Homeland or House of Cards?? Both are so so good!! You should watch them next!

    • Kristin 03.05.2014

      Not yet – Ben’s bugging me to watch that next! :)

  23. Stephanie Hanson 03.05.2014

    OMGeeeeeeeeeeeeeee we are addicted to Breaking Bad too. It’s insane. We watch it every night and just started the fifth season last night. Holy guacamole it is SO GOOD. Anyway, I want this quinoa in my belly right now! What a fantastically easy side dish with items I have in my cupboard right now. I am always searching for an easy side dish that isn’t in a box…THIS IS IT!

  24. Lauren 03.05.2014

    Hi there. This looks delicious. I think i’ll use cous-cous instead though. Question:
    In the picture of your son.. Where did you get the curtains? LOVE THEM!

  25. heather 03.05.2014

    If you’re not in love with Aaron Paul yet, be prepared. It’s gonna hit you like a ton of bricks.
    oh, and ::adjusts tie::.

  26. Oh yum, this looks delicious! I make a similar version but with cream cheese too so it’s extra creamy.

  27. Sara 03.05.2014

    I eat quinoa every single day, I try new recipes all the time. My latest one is quinoa with greek calamata olives, olive oil, garlic, lemon, cucumbers (no skin) and a pinch of salt. I will try this tomorrow but i hate Parmesan so i’ll try to use an alternative cheese instead. Thanks for the recipe, and great photographs.

  28. Jennifer 03.05.2014

    Hi! I love reading your blog – I found it through Carrots n Cake. I was so excited to learn that you TOO have a baby boy named LINCOLN! I think they were born a week apart! We named him after my husband and grandfather. His grandfather was born on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday so his parents gave him Lincoln as a middle name. How did you choose the name? I hope motherhood is treating you well! It looks like Lincoln is a very healthy boy AND is super adorable too :)

  29. Tans 03.05.2014

    I completely get it. I’m binge watching Mad Men on Netflix right now, and have gone through 6 seasons in a month. I’m ready for the April premiere!

  30. Hannah 03.05.2014


    you are so hilarous! I have to start Breaking Bad asap! Right now, I am really addicted to Orange is the new black, have you ever watched it?
    I just had Baked Pesto Chicken Parmesan with pasta for dinner – heavenly and soooo simple! What would dinner be without your delicious recipes?
    Lincoln is adorable!

    • Kristin 03.05.2014

      I want to watch OITNB so bad – it’s definitely on our list! :)

  31. Jennifer 03.05.2014

    Yay Science! I, for the same reason, avoided Breaking Bad while it was on tv. Finally, out of curiosity and boredom, began watching it a few weeks ago and I haven’t looked back since. I’m on season 3 now and trying to pace myself. Ugh, love it. Other Netflix series I love : House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy (can’t believe how much I love), and New Girl. When spring arrives I might have to force myself outside… ;)

  32. Betsy 03.05.2014

    I hope we can keep saying Bueller forever! When you’re done with Breaking Bad, you should check out House of Cards if you haven’t yet, its addicting!

  33. Sandy w 03.05.2014

    Never write in, but first of all, Lincoln makes me smile each time I see him. And my husband and I just finished watching Breaking Bad, and I pretty much felt like I was addicted to meth. Some nights we would watch four episodes. Now we are watching House of Cards. It is very good ,too. And we are grandparents with no young kids around. Not sure how you young people do it. Enjoy! At the end, will be interested who you still like???

  34. Trisha 03.05.2014

    You know, I drool over all sorts of cheesy quinoa recipes, but for some reason I never get around to making them. This looks like perfection!
    And speaking of perfection, I can so relate to the Breaking Bad obsession. We totally binged watched, completed the entire series in a month or so, and were seriously depressed when it was over. I heart Jesse Pinkman.

  35. I love that you’re always cooking with quinoa! It’s so nutritious and tasty…thanks for all the great ideas!

    And I’m going to have to start watching Breaking Bad, I think. It’s been on my husband and my’s list for awhile, but I just convinced him to move it to the top of our queue. :)

  36. Oh my goodness!! I just happened to stumble across your page today and you sold me with your post on this– Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa!! I cannot wait to make it for myself and my Mother! I’m a total Garlic fan and Quinoa is so awesome being that I had 80% of my stomach removed due to infection so I cannot eat rice or pasta well.. along with the nutrients, it’s just so great. Thank you for sharing this! I must follow along now and see what other goodies that you post. PS- what a cutie pie your Baby is..

  37. Amanda 03.05.2014

    Love your recipes and your site! Sometimes it is like reading my thoughts, I seriously think, “Did I write that?” “How did she know?” Or other times, I think, “Parmesan in quinoa?! But of course! Why didn’t I think of that?!” My husband and I often sit at the dinner table enjoying your recipes and “Thank you, Iowa Girl!” is a common phrase used in my household.

    In addition to making my life more delicious, thank you so much for outing yourself on being sleep deprived because of an addictive TV show! I did it to myself with The Good Wife and now I am doing it again with House of Lies (Don Cheadle is uh-maze-ing). I thought it was my own little secret problem to choose TV (really compelling, fabulous acting and writing TV) over sleep, so thank you for letting me know I am not alone!

    One other aside, I am a psychologist and run a group with teens/young adults. I just said “Bueller?” last week in our group and they asked what I was talking about. So, it is happening.

    Well, it’s late and I’m tired, so gotta go watch another episode of House of Lies. Breaking Bad is next on my list.

  38. Joanna 03.05.2014

    People will always know what Beuller… means!! LOL I have yet to try quinoa, but this sounds like a wonderful way to try it out!! Btw, your little guy is the cutest!! ;) xo

  39. cheri 03.05.2014

    Grandparents are the best. Quinoa is the best base, love it!

  40. That looks amazing! I love Parmesan cheese on quinoa!

    What you said about Bueller just scared the hell out of me by the way. I wonder if teenagers know what it means?!? It’s crazy that people won’t get that in just a few years…!!

  41. cheri 03.06.2014

    I have prepared quinoa so many different ways, but never with cheese. That’s changing the next time for sure. Thanks for sharing!

  42. Love this idea! I adore quinoa, but usually throw in so many things – I really like the simplicity here. Garlic is sometimes all you really need. Wonderful job, I will definitely be trying this :)

  43. kayla 03.06.2014

    SERIOUSLY! Everywhere I go I see the 1:2 quinoa to liquid ratio. THIS IS NOT RIGHT. 1:1.75 is correct. Thank you :P

    Also, this dish looks deceptively simple. I will love having this in my arsenal.

  44. Aggie 03.06.2014

    My husband was hooked on that show! I watched toward the end, it kind of stressed me out, I think I’m in the minority :)

    Loving this quinoa dish!! And the bowl ;)

    • Arvie 03.06.2014

      I couldn’t agree more. I feel SO WEIRD when we’re watching this show:/ Just last night, my husband and I decided “NO, this is not for us” And because of all the hype — I REALLY wanted to be in the hip group, but alas, Downton Abbey is more my speed!! :) Glad I’m not alone!

  45. Kit Temple 03.06.2014

    I’m from central NY and quinoa is hard to find here (this is actually a cop-out. It’s probably right in front of my nose in the store I use, but I’m lazy) so I substituted Royal Blend Whole Grain rice from Rice Select and increased the broth to 2 cups and the simmer time to 45 minutes. The rest was the same except that I didn’t pre-wash the rice. The result… OY! A most delicious lunch today. But I promise to look closer for quinoa the next time I’m in the store (really, I will).

    Also, I’m no spring chicken any more (trust me) but reading your recipes, seeing the photo of your adorable son, and the comments from you and your readers about current TV shows makes me feel like it. So thanks for keeping me young as well as well-rounded in the culinary department.

  46. Julie 03.06.2014

    OMG!! I too have become addicted to Breaking Bad, I started watching 3 weeks ago and I’m at Season 4, can’t stop watching. Bryan Cranston was interviewed on Howard Stern this morning, he is opening in a play on Broadway tonight!! I will have to try try again to cook Quinoa, each time it does not cook, I don’t think I’m adding enough liquid. Thanks for the recipe and pictures of little Lincoln!

  47. SaraJ 03.06.2014

    Love that show!! I just finished watching the last season a week ago. Have you watched Dexter? I watched that in record time!!

  48. Jerri 03.06.2014

    you are too funny! Your blog is my favorite!! I have made so many of your recipes! Just had to say “keep up the great work”

  49. kate 03.06.2014

    This quinoa is fab, I’m sure, but what I really want to know about is the garlic press! I have contemplated asking for a long time if you had an easy way to chop garlic (I kind of hate the sticky little buggers!). Are you able to put the clove in the press with the skin on? Do you use it any time a recipe calls for chopped/minced garlic? I, like you, have resisted buying because of it’s 1 function.

    • Kristin 03.07.2014

      Yes! I’d finally had it with those sticky little garlic pieces, and I don’t like the taste of pre-chopped, so I bought the press and have never looked back. I use it whenever a recipe calls for chopped or minced garlic. You still need to peel the clove, and occasionally cut it into quarters if it’s large, but oh my gosh it is such a time saver!

      • Jean Johnson 03.07.2014

        Pampered Chef’s garlic press allows you to put the whole garlic clove in, skin and all, and it does its thing with ease. It comes with a handy cleaner to get out the skin, too. Just in case you didn’t know.

        Lincoln is growing fast and just ADORABLE!! Keep the pics coming. Love the blog :)

  50. Jean 03.06.2014

    Tried this tonight and it will become a regular!!! Thanks for the great recipe – as usual. My son always asks when I try something new “is this the Iowa girl’s?” LOL! You’re famous in my house!

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