Quinoa Pudding is a creamy, decadent, healthy breakfast or dessert that tastes like a cross between rice pudding and tapioca but stars nutritious superfood quinoa!
I'm quickly discovering that January is a month of multiple personalities when it comes to food blogging. First of all, after a holiday season filled with rich, indulgent foods, everyone is resolute to start off the year on a healthy foot. Thus, enter the lightened up, nutritious recipes. Then there's the fact that January is one of the coldest months, so everyone is craving cozy soups and comfort food via their effortless crock pots. With Super Bowl right around the corner, some folks are trying to plan out their game-watching (or at least their commercial-watching) appetizers and snacks. And finally, Valentine's Day is on the horizon, so that means decadent desserts and lots and lots of chocolate!
But today we're not delving into football-friendly fare or recipes incorporating hearts and copious amounts of butter. Rather, Quinoa Pudding is a sweet treat that's actually wholesome and comforting at the same time. And since that covers most, but not quite all, of the January food blogging bases, I suppose you could also eat this dish while watching a football game. 😉
So did you ever jump on the quinoa bandwagon? This gluten-free, high fiber, complete protein of a grain has become mainstream and quite popular over the last number of years, and rightfully so. Nevertheless, it was a later addition to my family's menu plan, and initially, I primarily relegated it to the savory side dish category as a replacement for rice or pasta.
Well, all of that changed in 2014 when I first came up with this Quinoa Pudding. I was determined to incorporate quinoa into our diet, both more regularly and in unique ways. So when it struck me that it just might make a tasty and healthy pseudo-rice pudding, I got to experimenting.
I ended up making this recipe multiple times in different variations to determine my favorite combination of ingredients. After trying several versions, I think I came up with a perfect formula for Quinoa Pudding. My family goes crazy over this and I think yours will, too!
- Quinoa. I always start with organic white quinoa. And it must be well-rinsed! More info on that under the next heading...
- Milk. This recipe is pretty forgiving when it comes to using your preferred type of milk. I have made it with unsweetened coconut milk (the kind that comes in a ½-gallon carton in the refrigerated section), unsweetened almond milk, and regular whole milk. All of these options result in creamy, luxurious pudding. That being said, Quinoa Pudding could be made with just about any variety of milk you like as long as you keep in mind that the ultimate flavor and texture of the pudding could be slightly affected by your milk choice (for example, using skim milk could result in a less decadent flavor and a thinner final texture).
- Maple syrup. My preferred all-natural sweetener, but scroll down for additional options!
- Pure vanilla extract.
- Cinnamon. I love cinnamon in my rice pudding but I didn't know if it would overpower the rest of the flavors, so I experimented with making this pudding with and without. I have to say, I really enjoyed the version in which cinnamon was added to the pudding while cooking. I was afraid it might overwhelm the vanilla, but instead, I found the non-cinnamon version to be a little bland. But certainly feel free to leave it out -- or simply sprinkle it on the top -- if you're more of a no-cinnamon-in-your-pudding purist.
How to Make It
The first step in making any quinoa recipe is to very thoroughly rinse and drain your quinoa. Quinoa grains are naturally coated with a compound called saponin, and if it's not washed off, your cooked quinoa will come out tasting bitter and unappetizing. So...
- Place your quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse it under cold running water until the water draining from it runs clear.
- Drain the quinoa well and dump it into a pot that has a capacity of at least 3 quarts. The Quinoa Pudding will bubble and splatter and rise while it cooks, so you want to be sure your pot is large enough.
- Measure milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt into the pot and stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to a low simmer.
- Cover the pot, leaving the lid cracked so that some steam may escape. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring about every five minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue simmering for five more minutes or until the Quinoa Pudding has thickened and the quinoa has absorbed most (but not all) of the milk.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Pour the pudding into bowls and allow to cool for a few minutes...it will continue to thicken as it cools. Serve with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon if you like. Regular raisins, golden raisins, dried cranberries, or fresh berries also make a yummy garnish!
Amount of Milk + Cooking Time
The first time I made this recipe, I started with 3 cups of milk. After about 20 minutes of cooking time, the quinoa had absorbed all of it. The final dish had the texture of a thick oatmeal and the quinoa still had an al dente bite. It was delicious, but a tad thicker than I had hoped it would be.
So the next time, I started with 4 cups of milk. As a result, the cooking time naturally increased, but I actually preferred the resulting quinoa, which was more tender and milder in flavor. Plus I loved that the pudding was creamy and almost tapioca-like in texture, with quinoa grains floating in a pool of thick vanilla cream.
To sum it up? More milk and longer cooking time is definitely my preference here.
Options for Sweetening Quinoa Pudding
I've made this Quinoa Pudding recipe with either maple syrup or granulated sugar. Both work and I don't really notice a difference in the resulting flavor or sweetness level.
Since this quinoa recipe originated in the name of health, however, I lean towards sweetening it with pure maple syrup, which is at least a natural, unrefined sweetener. Just know that plain ol' white sugar will work just fine as well if that's your preference or what you have on hand.
Some commenters over the years have reported success with substituting honey for the maple syrup or even leaving out any the sweetener altogether! They've said that the vanilla and cinnamon lend enough flavor that a sweetener is unnecessary. I'll leave that up to you! 😉
So there you have it! Warm, dreamy Quinoa Pudding is a healthy version of comfort food! It tastes like a decadent treat but it's brimming with nutrition. And it's equally delicious and nourishing as either breakfast, a snack, or dessert!
Whether you've been wanting to try quinoa or you're already a quinoa veteran, this recipe is a winner. I can't wait for y'all to try it!
P.S. Call me a redneck, but while I logically know that quinoa is pronounced "KEEN-wah," every time I read it or write it, I can't help but sound it out in my head as "kwin-OH-uh." Please tell me I'm not the only one...ha.
More Wholesome Breakfast Ideas
- Wholesome Breakfast Cookies
- Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal
- Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars
- Soft-Baked Banana Oatmeal Bars
- Crunchy Slow Cooker Granola
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 cups milk, such as unsweetened coconut milk, unsweetened almond milk, or whole milk
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place quinoa in a mesh colander. Rinse thoroughly with cold water (until the water runs clear) and allow to drain.
- In a medium (at least 3-quart) pot, combine the quinoa, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover, leaving the lid cracked so that some steam may escape. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring about every 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue simmering for 5 more minutes or until the pudding has thickened and the quinoa has absorbed most (but not all) of the milk. Remove from heat.
- Pour into bowls and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving (pudding will continue to thicken as it cools). Sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired.
- This recipe may be enjoyed warm or chilled.
- Thoroughly rinsing the quinoa is an important step in order to remove any potential bitter residue.
- I used the kind of coconut milk beverage that is sold in a ½-gallon carton in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Canned coconut milk would probably work as well and result in even creamier/richer pudding with a stronger coconut flavor.
- Watch carefully that your milk doesn't foam, rise, and overflow. Also, it is normal for dairy milk to form a skin on the surface as the pudding cooks. Simply stir it back into the pudding and it will dissolve.
- You may use white sugar in lieu of the maple syrup.
- You may stir regular or golden raisins into the pudding if you wish.
- Estimated nutrition information has been calculated for one of six servings if recipe was made with whole milk.
Post originally shared on January 11, 2014, and updated on February 23, 2020, and January 17, 2023.
Have you ever used left over quinoa(already cooked) to make this?
I have not tried that, Kim. I think the cooking process of the quinoa is necessary for the liquid to reduce and thicken.
Sharon Lee Papadopolos
Can I make this in my rice cooker?
Hi Sharon! I haven't tested that and I honestly don't even own a rice cooker, so I'm sorry to say that I can't advise. But good luck if you decide to give it a go!
This pudding is incredibly good! So creamy and healthy too. A winner!
I love sweet breakfasts and puddings so I knew I had to give this recipe a try immediately and I loved it a lot!!
I used cow’s milk and added no salt because I was afraid it would turn out salty (has always happened with me #trauma) and it was still soooo good. I’m gonna try meal-prepping this 😋 thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Samantha!
Oh my gosh, the recipe of my dreams! Such a great and tasty way to start our day. We like it for dessert, too!