This Crispy Quinoa Recipe Might Just Become Your New Favorite Protein-Packed Salad Topper

Food blogger Justine Doiron says she puts it on everything—and, honestly, we get it.

a recipe photo of the Baked Kale Salad with Crispy Quinoa
Photo: Photographer: Brie Goldman Food Stylist: Annie Probst Prop Stylist: Gabe Greco

Quinoa is one pantry staple we really can't get enough of. The versatile whole grain appears in plenty of our favorite recipes, from cozy casseroles to fresh and flavorful salads, and for good reason. Those tender grains are quick-cooking and chock-full of fiber and protein to make your meal easy and filling.

Pictured Recipe: Baked Kale Salad with Crispy Quinoa

That's why we're a little obsessed with this recipe for crispy quinoa from Justine Doiron, the recipe blogger behind @justine_snacks on Instagram. Doiron is constantly posting mouthwatering recipes, and this one is no exception. "Have you heard of crispy quinoa?," Doiron asks in a video posted to Instagram. "Well, you might have, because I put it on everything. Sometimes under some things, on soups, on salads, it's everywhere."

The quinoa in Doiron's clip is a caramelly brown color that sprinkles and scatters over various dishes like buttery breadcrumbs. She adds the crispy bits to a kale salad, a creamy soup and even serves her salmon over them. The best part is that the formula for making them is pretty darn easy. First, you'll need some cooked quinoa—if you've never made it before, look to our Basic Quinoa recipe for guidance. You'll also need a source of fat, whether you choose a neutral oil like avocado or opt for something flavorful, like an infused olive oil or even some of your favorite chili crisp. Optionally, you can also snag your favorite seasonings or a different sauce to add some flavor to your quinoa, including anything from simple salt and pepper to a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

With those ingredients gathered, you're all set to try this recipe for yourself. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the cooked quinoa over it in a thin layer. Drizzle your chosen fat over the quinoa, using about 2 tablespoons for every cup of quinoa you're toasting. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper if you like, then start your toasting. Bake the quinoa at 375°F for 30 minutes, stirring the quinoa every 10 minutes or so. For the last 10 minutes, Doiron recommends adding in the last of your flavoring agents, be they balsamic, hot honey, lemon juice or something else with fun flavor. When your quinoa is crisp and warm brown in color, it can come out of the oven and be used however you see fit.

We love that this take on quinoa can help you add healthy whole grains to recipes that might not have them otherwise. A big salad, like maybe our Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Burrata, would suddenly have a little more fiber to offer if you sprinkled on some toasted quinoa cooked with balsamic glaze and olive oil. The same could be said of another classic, like our Cobb Salad with Herb-Rubbed Chicken, or honestly any of your favorite go-to salads, from Caesar to chef's. Plus, if you're the kind of person who always has quinoa on hand, this is a good recipe to bring out when you're craving some crunch and there are no croutons to be found.

Plus, this recipe is such a blank canvas, you could make it work with whatever's on the dinner menu tonight. Add lime juice and zest for the last part of the bake, toss with cilantro and make it a topping for Taco Soup. Use a garlic-infused oil and some dried Italian seasoning to serve with a simple skillet meal like this Creamy Chicken & Mushrooms, or sprinkle it atop One-Pan Chicken Parmesan Pasta. Or even add some zip to a recipe like our Chicken Cutlets with Creamy Pesto Sauce by adding red pepper flakes and a pinch of dried basil to your quinoa crispies.

In any case, the benefits of adding more whole grains to your diet are not to be missed. Everybody needs a healthy balance of fiber in their routine—after all, neglecting your fiber intake can leave you feeling pretty lousy. But only about 5% of folks are eating their recommended 28 to 34 grams of fiber each day. If you're part of that 95% percent, try reaching for a bag of quinoa the next time you want to add something special to a dinner recipe. You might just find a new go-to side or condiment.

Up Next: 6 Sneaky Signs You're Not Eating Enough Fiber, According to a Dietitian

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