These Crispy Quinoa Cakes are flavored with fresh herbs, garlic, and parmesan cheese, then pan-fried in olive oil until golden brown and crispy on each side. It’s a great side dish for dinner!
If you’ve got leftover quinoa that you don’t know what to do with, this is a great way to use it up.
Quinoa has a reputation as one of those expensive trendy healthy foods, but I have to say that I really love it.
Some grains can be relatively flavorless granules of starch, but quinoa has a really nice nuttiness and flavor to it, and has a wonderful fluff in its texture.
And, it can also be mega crispy if you toast it or fry it in some olive oil. A local chocolate shop a couple blocks from my apartment has an award-winning quinoa chocolate bar, where the toasted quinoa gives it a Crunch-bar-like texture comparable to crispy rice!
These crispy parmesan quinoa cakes give you the best of both worlds in quinoa — that crispy, crunchy golden brown top, and a fluffy quinoa exterior. This is one of my favorite recipes!
My favorite part about these crispy quinoa patties has to be the versatility. I have made these many, many times, and each time I make it the mix-ins are slightly different. Give it any flavor theme you want, and use your favorite herbs and cheeses.
Though this rendition has a parmesan herb theme, a Greek-style quinoa cake with feta, olives, and tomatoes is a close second.
You can really play around with the ingredients, and it’s truly an easy recipe with a relatively simple cooking process.
Step by Step Overview:
First you need some cooked quinoa, and it does not matter if you use a white quinoa or a tricolor mix.
You can either use leftover quinoa from another meal (I love making big batches for meal prep!), or take 15 minutes to cook some fresh.
How to Cook Quinoa
To cook the quinoa, rinse it well in a strainer with cold running water for a minute, then place in a saucepan with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover with a lid, reduce to a simmer over medium low heat, and cook for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork or spatula, and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
While the quinoa cools, we’re going to prep a few mix-in ingredients.
A scallion, parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, fresh oregano, and fresh garlic cloves:
Add those to the quinoa. I do this right in the pan since there’s room, but you can also do this in a large bowl.
Then stir in panko bread crumbs, sea salt, and black pepper:
Finally, add 4 beaten eggs to the mix:
Stir this all together until the quinoa is evenly moistened:
Pack the quinoa mixture into a 1/4 cup measuring cup very firmly, then tap it on a flat surface to release each cake:
These are relatively thick patties height-wise (1.5 inches), and I recommend you don’t go thicker than this, or they will be too tedious to flip. Little patties no more than a couple inches wide are also easier to maneuver.
Also, if you want really perfect quinoa patties, make sure to compact the mixture very firmly with your fingers. Go overboard with it!
In a large skillet (I recommend nonstick), pan-fry the quinoa cakes in olive oil for 5 minutes on each side over medium heat, until golden brown and crispy:
Feel free to adjust the heat as necessary to control the browning (some stoves may need to cook over medium-high heat, while some may brown too much at that setting).
If you need to keep the cooked patties warm in between batches, place on a baking sheet and keep in a 250F oven while you cook the remaining patties.
If the patties seem greasy on the bottom, drain on paper towels before plating.
I also recommend these 15-minute Zucchini Fritters which are similar to these, or this wonderful Mediterranean Quinoa Salad.
These are also great to accompany a meat main course like Roasted Pork Tenderloin or Reverse Sear Prime Rib, or they can be enjoyed on their own as a light meal. Enjoy!
Recipe FAQ and Tips
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Yes, keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Heat in a 300F oven or toaster oven for 15 minutes, until warmed through. You can also microwave in 30-second intervals until warm, but this will give you more soggy results.
This is a great recipe for switching up the ingredients used. Add the ingredients to the uncooked quinoa mixture, before shaping and pan-frying.
Greek-style – Add chopped sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and mint leaves to the mix instead of the parmesan and parsley. Feta cheese is also a great addition.
Herbs – Try fresh chives, basil, or sage instead of the parsley.
Citrus – Try adding lemon zest, or even a squeeze of lemon juice to the cooked quinoa before mixing and shaping the patties.
Sauce – Pair with a Roasted Red Pepper Sauce for a delicious flavor and creamy sauce that isn’t too heavy.
Did you enjoy the recipe? Please leave a 5-star rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page.
Crispy Parmesan Quinoa Cakes
- 1.5 cups raw quinoa*
- 1 scallion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp fresh chopped oregano
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 4 large eggs beaten
- olive oil for pan frying
- black pepper
- To cook the quinoa, rinse it well in a strainer with cold running water for a minute, then place in a saucepan with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, reduce to a simmer over medium low heat, and cook for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Fluff the quinoa with a fork or spatula, and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
- Add the scallion, garlic, parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, and panko bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper to the quinoa, and toss to combine. Then add the beaten eggs, and stir until the quinoa is moistened.
- Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pack the quinoa mixture very firmly into the cup, then tap the cup on a flat surface to get the quinoa cake to release. Repeat with the remaining quinoa mixture.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium heat, then fry the quinoa cakes for 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove the quinoa cakes to a paper towel to drain. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated August 2018 with re-edited photos, more writing, and new tips. Originally published February 2016.
39 Comments on “Quinoa Cakes”
Wow wow wow, these are goooooood! Literally my new favorite quinoa recipe! I added maybe 2 tbsp finely minced sautéed red bell pepper just for some color. Made these for an appetizer party – I topped them with a lemon crema and cucumber/olive relish. Can’t wait to make them again -thank you for sharing!
Really great. I had some tri color quinoa that no one was really digging. I used it & instant potato flakes instead of Panko. I also just dumped it into my waffle iron. I wondered if they needed oil after I had closed the lid but they turned out so crispy and crusty with out oil. It is a delicious recipe. I always make quinoa cakes just winging it. These were far better. The herbs and cheese. Yum yum yum.
Loved this recipe. I am not a fan of frying, so baked them at 350 degrees for 40 minutes flipping them over every 10 minutes. Next time I will raise the oven temp. to see if they can bake up more quickly. They were delicious.
PS. I didn’t have scallions so used chopped onion; didn’t have fresh parsley or oregano, so used dried oregano and basil. The recipe is so flexible – looking forward to trying different cheeses. Thank you.
Amazing! We found that 4 eggs was a bit too much, so we used 3. We also really like scallions, so we used 2 instead of 1, and we used 2/3 cup Cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan. We’ve made this a few times already and will definitely make it again!
Love your recipes, this one was easy and delicious,thank you for your time and
Perfect with some minor changes. My wife does not like parsley so I used fresh basil. Other than that I followed the recipe to the letter. You need to use either two pans or complete the recipe in batches. The recipe calls for firmly pressing a 1/4 cup. FIRMLY press, it makes for a perfect round cake. I served it with a salad and tzatziki on the side. Wonderful recipe.
Great presentation and easy recipe. I followed to the letter and will definitely make again as I always make too much quinoa and have leftovers. Just curious, mine were ever so bland (for me), any suggestions for an easy sauce/topping?
I like to serve these with a roasted red pepper sauce. Simply drain & whirl roasted red peppers or piquillo with fresh garlic, olive oil, black pepper, salt & perhaps a splash of red or balsamic vinegar in your blender till smooth. Spoon a little bed of that on your serving plates & top with the quinoa cakes. It’s perfect & your guests can dip & swirl in however much of the sauce they enjoy as they eat.
They were pretty good, but I made a Huge mess making them. When I first started forming them, they wouldn’t stick together so I had to reform them once releasing, and about halfway through they starting sticking and not coming out so I again had to reform them. They cooked nicely but then when trying to eat them they fell apart. They tasted pretty good, just a little dry so I added katchup. They were just So messy to make and eat!
What is the conversion from raw to cooked quinoa? I have extra cooked quinoa but they expand after cooking, yes?
Thank you for sharing this recipe! Can these be frozen and then re-heated? How long do they last in the fridge? Thanks!
I haven’t tried freezing them, so unfortunately not sure on that one. They last the typical leftover time in the fridge, 4-5 days.
I love this recipe! However, I have made some changes such as, I make the mixture creamier and coat it with flour, egg, and panko. I top it with an egg and drizzle it with chipotle hollandaise sauce. Deeelish!
THAT sounds awesome – will try it with leftover quinoa – after making 5 times too much for a little nutroast, DUUUHHH