Crispy Quinoa Cakes

It’s cold today so for dinner I’m going to make lentil soup, with quinoa (keen-wah) cakes and greens. I may add some grilled salmon. Cooking with quinoa is still new to me. Though It was featured in Mothering magazine 15 years ago, I’ve only recently found a quinoa recipe that I love.

It was the same for tofu. I wanted to learn to cook with it, but it took two yeas of buying it and letting it rot in the refrigerator before I did. It takes me time to incorporate some new foods into my diet. Back in the day, we would use tofu to make lasagna and quiches, but I found that I always compared the dish to the original so I like to use tofu and other “new” foods in ways that uniquely suit them.

I’ve eaten quinoa as a side dish like rice, added it to salads, and had quinoa cakes at a local restaurant, but it wasn’t until I made these Crispy Quinoa Pancakes that I began to love quinoa.


  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (any color or mix of colors)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted (optional) sesame oil
  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil (or other cooking oil)



  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced


Whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds, Sriracha and 2 scallions. Set aside.


  • Use quinoa leftover from another meal or cook ahead of time. To cook quinoa, bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup quinoa to a boil in a pan with a tight fitting lid. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes. Let the quinoa set and cool. A variation on this is to cook the quinoa in a mixture of 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock and 1 cup water.
  • Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron pan.
  • Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, cornstarch, sesame oil, and salt. Fold in quinoa and 4 scallions.
  • Once the oil in the cast iron pan is smoking, ad spoonfuls of the quinoa batter, about 4 spoonfuls at a time, depending on the size of your pan. Keep them small. Don’t crowd them. Cook them in batches.
  • Turn heat down to medium high. Press the quinoa cakes down to 1/4 inch thickness. Cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side, on medium high. Drain on paper towel or parchment paper. Serve with dipping sauce.


iStock_000019123987SmallQuinoa is a highly nutritious food. Its nutritional quality has been compared to that of dried whole milk by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Quinoa has more protein than any other grain. A complete protein, Its amino acid content is considered well balanced for human consumption, similar to casein.

Like all grains, quinoa is alkaline forming. It is naturally gluten free, low in calories and has a low glycemic index.

Quinoa or quinua (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) is native to the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Chile, and Peru and has been eaten continuously for 5,000 years by people who live on the mountain plateaus and in the valleys of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Chile. Quinua means “mother grain” in the Inca language.


Unlike most rice, quinoa can be grown in North America. I got USDA certified organic quinoa seeds (Brightest Brilliant Rainbow) from Botanical Interests. The package says that quinoa is an annual that needs full sun. It blooms from late summer to fall and grows four to six feet high. The packages suggests that quinoa be planted a few weeks after the last frost as it likes the soil to be 60 °. I’m excited to try growing quinoa this year. I’m at nearly 8000 feet so I’m encouraged by the fact that it has been grown so successfully at high altitudes, but have no idea how much it will yield. Have any of you grown your own quinoa? Any tips?

PEGGY-headshotPeggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of She founded in 1995 and was its editor-in chief until 2012. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of two.

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Peggy O'Mara

About Peggy O'Mara

Editor and Publisher of Longtime natural living advocate, award winning writer, and independent thinker.

3 thoughts on “Crispy Quinoa Cakes

  1. lauren

    these sound delicious! just want to clarify…did you use 3/4 c of already cooked quinoa, or did you measure 3/4 c dry quinoa then cook it?



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