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Looking for easy side dish recipes? This Pesto Quinoa is a delicious vegetarian and gluten free side dish recipe made in under 30 minutes.

Pesto quinoa recipe

As much as we cook, it’s actually difficult for us to find staple, simple side dish recipes. So when Alex and I “discovered” this one, it became a family favorite. It’s not rocket science either. Pesto quinoa. Simply cook up a pot of quinoa, then swirl in pesto. Is it life changing? Not to the extent that some of our recipes are. But is it extraordinarily useful on a weeknight? Absolutely. Keep reading for how to make pesto quinoa.

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

How to make pesto quinoa

Quinoa is actually a deceptively hard ingredient to get right. Alex and I have actually changed our method throughout the years to make sure it was repeatable. The water to quinoa ratio we use now is 2 to 1, and we simmer the quinoa uncovered. Make sure that you watch the heat to make sure the quinoa does not boil! Cooking the quinoa too hot makes the water boil out and leaves the grains too chewy. A gentle simmer is just what is needed for perfect quinoa. Once the cooking is done, we cover the pot and steam the quinoa for 5 minutes so that it becomes fluffy and moist.

Once the quinoa is done, simply stir in the desired amount of pesto. If we have basil on hand, we love making our Simple Basil Walnut Pesto or Vegan Cashew Pesto. Or, you can simply buy store bought pesto! There are many high quality pesto brands offered in most grocery stores.

Love pesto? Try our best recipes with pesto.

Pesto quinoa recipe

How to serve pesto quinoa

We love to serve this pesto quinoa as a side dish, especially with skewers! You can use this pesto quinoa recipe for our Greek Grilled Veggie SkewersGrilled Shrimp Skewers, or Grilled Teriyaki Mango Skewers. It’s also great as an easy side dish for salmon, like our Easy Baked Salmon. It could even be a stand-in for a nourish bowl, like our Chickpea Couscous Bowls with Tahini Sauce: just substitute the pesto quinoa for the couscous, which makes it gluten free!

Looking for more easy pesto recipes?

This recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free. For vegan, use our Vegan Cashew Pesto.

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Recipes with pesto

Pesto Quinoa Recipe

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Looking for easy side dish recipes? This Pesto Quinoa is a delicious vegetarian and gluten free side dish recipe made in under 30 minutes.




  1. Cook the quinoa (or use our Instant Pot quinoa method): Use a strainer to rinse the quinoa in cold water and shake it dry. Then place the quinoa in a saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 17 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.) If necessary, stir once to incorporate any uncooked grains on the top.
  2. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit with the lid on to steam for 5 minutes. Then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Stir in the pesto and kosher salt, to taste.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Pesto, Quinoa, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Healthy, Healthy Side Dish, Pesto Quinoa,

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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