Creamy and hearty quinoa mac and cheese is a delicious twist on a classic mac. Made with quinoa instead of noodles, plenty of cheese, and flavorful add-ins, this is the ultimate comfort food.
Here at Fit Foodie, we love mac and cheese. There’s nothing better than a big bowl of warm, cheesy noodles, especially on chilly days. Our quinoa mac and cheese recipe is a twist on classic mac and cheese recipe and features quinoa instead of noodles.
This quinoa mac and cheese comes together in about an hour on the stovetop with a from-scratch cheese sauce, cooked quinoa, and fresh kale. When testing this recipe, we loved the flavor punch that jalapeños and bacon added, but these are totally optional. It’s just as cheesy, creamy, and comforting as classic mac!
“Big fan! I love that at least if I’m eating an indulgent and cheesy meal, that it sneaks some healthy quinoa and kale in there. Great for a snowy day.”– Elizabeth
What You Need for Quinoa Mac and Cheese
There are 3 parts to homemade quinoa mac and cheese. You’ll need:
Rinsed, uncooked quinoa is the base of this recipe. Combine it with chicken broth (or veggie broth) and cook on the stovetop until all of the broth has absorbed.
The creamy, cheesy sauce comes together with sautéed onion and jalapeños, garlic, flour, milk, plain Greek yogurt, and shredded cheddar cheese.
Mix chopped fresh kale into the quinoa mac and cheese and we love adding a little chopped cooked bacon to each bowl before serving.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese Variations
Follow our recipe as written or try any of these swaps:
Cheese: Instead of cheddar cheese, use your favorite kind of shredded cheese.
Greens: Use spinach instead of kale.
Spiciness: The spiciness is up to you! Remove the seeds from the jalapeños for mild spice or keep some of the seeds in with the peppers for more spice. For no heat, simply omit the jalapeños from the recipe (or use a can of diced green chiles for flavor without much spice).
Vegetarian: Replace the chicken broth with the same amount of vegetable broth and omit the bacon topping.
Gluten Free: Use a 1:1 GF flour blend in place of the white whole wheat flour.
Jalapeños can greatly vary in spice level. Just because you bought a super spicy jalapeño from the grocery store last time doesn’t mean the next one you buy will as spicy. When in doubt, set some of the seeds aside when you cut your jalapeños. Once the mac and cheese is ready, taste it. If it needs a little extra kick, mix in the seeds.
Do you need to rinse the quinoa first?
For best results, we recommend rinsing the quinoa before using in this recipe.
Is this quinoa mac and cheese gluten free?
No, but it easily can be! Simply replace the white whole wheat flour with a 1:1 GF flour blend.
Quinoa mac and cheese is a great recipe to make on the weekend and enjoy as leftovers all week long. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. We don’t recommend freezing quinoa mac and cheese – we find that recipes with a lot of dairy tend to become grainy when frozen, thawed, and reheated.
Reheating Quinoa Mac and Cheese
The quinoa will continue to absorb moisture even after it’s cooked, so the key is to add a little moisture (a splash of milk works great) and to reheat slowly on a low temperature. This prevents the cheese and yogurt from breaking down and changing texture.
For best results, reheat quinoa mac and cheese in the oven. Mix in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time to the leftover quinoa until it thins out a bit. Transfer to an oven-safe baking dish, cover with foil, and heat for 10-20 minutes at 350°F, or until warmed through.
Combine the uncooked quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium/high heat. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until all of the broth has absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the Cheese Sauce
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. When the olive oil is fragrant, add the onion and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Add in the minced jalapeños and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
To the pot with the jalapeños set on medium/high heat, add 1/4 cup of olive oil and sprinkle in the flour. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour until a paste forms. Whisk in the milk and continue to heat over medium/high heat until thickened. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Once the milk is thick, add in the Greek yogurt and whisk. Add in 1/2 cup of cheese at a time and whisk until all of the cheese is melted. Mix in the salt and pepper.
Make the Quinoa Mac and Cheese
Tips & Notes
Storage: Store leftover quinoa mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. We don’t recommend freezing quinoa mac and cheese – we find that recipes with a lot of dairy tend to become grainy when frozen, thawed, and reheated.
Jalapeños: Customize the spiciness of this quinoa mac and cheese to your liking. For a non-spicy version, omit the peppers completely. For a mildly spicy version, use a can of diced green chiles instead of the jalapeños. For a spicer version, add a few jalapeño seeds to the recipe along with the peppers.
Bacon: Totally optional! Feel free to omit completely.
Recipe Update: This recipe was updated on January 26, 2021. For the original recipe CLICK HERE.
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