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The Amazing Multipurpose Quinoa Topping That You Can Use on Anything

Forget croutons, this crispy quinoa topping is going to be your new way of adding crunch to salads, soups and more.

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Every chef knows that a great meal isn’t only about flavor, but texture is also key: a mixture of soft and crunchy textures keeps things interesting and makes for an elevated meal. We all know and love the amazing crunch that classic croutons can impart to a soup or a salad. And while we would never say goodbye to croutons forever, there are tastier, healthier options out there such as this multipurpose, crispy Quinoa Topper. 

Why quinoa?

Quinoa is unique in that it’s a plant-based food that contains all nine essential amino acids, the protein-building amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own and, therefore, need to be consumed (1 cup of quinoa contains 8 g of plant-based protein). Quinoa is an ancient grain, meaning that its composition has remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. Botanically speaking, quinoa is classified as a pseudo-cereal, or a non-grassy plant, but nutritionally speaking, quinoa is considered a whole grain because it contains the entire intact grain seed

Quinoa is also gluten-free, which makes this a versatile topping for those on restricted diets. 

Quickest quinoa use

It’s surprisingly quick and easy to transform cooked quinoa into this crispy topper. You simply cook up your quinoa and then broil it, stirring halfway, until browned and crispy. Our recipe includes the instructions for making basic quinoa, but you can also use leftover quinoa or purchase cooked quinoa and skip the first step. If you’re starting with cooked quinoa, you’ll need about 1.5 cups.

5 ways to use this quinoa topping

Once you’ve made this crispy quinoa topping, we assure you that you’ll want to put it on everything. Here are our favorite uses:

  1. Sprinkle it over salads
  2. Stir it into soups
  3. Pile it over a bowl of yogurt with fruit 
  4. Spoon over a saucy sheet pan meal
  5. Top a protein bowl with it  

Crispy Quinoa Topping

Prep Time
5 min
30 min


½ cup red or black quinoa


1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook until no liquid remains and quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes. Spread quinoa on a baking sheet and let cool, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, arrange an oven rack in top third of oven and preheat broiler to high. Broil quinoa, rotating pan halfway through, until browned and crispy, 5 to 7 minutes, watching quinoa carefully to avoid burning. Let cool completely.