Gluten-Free/ Grains/ Vegetarian & Vegan

Garlic Tri-Color Quinoa Recipe

Quick and easy to cook, this tri-color quinoa is a great healthy side dish. Flavored with browned garlic, it's a tasty alternative to rice.
A bowl of tricolor quinoa garnished with fresh parsley.

Last Updated on February 8, 2022 by Betty Davies

Mix up your weeknight sides with this healthy and delicious tri-color quinoa recipe. Simple to make and ready to serve in 20 minutes, this wholegrain black, red and white quinoa is mildly flavored with fresh garlic for a versatile side dish for so many main meals.

Garlic tri-color quinoa in a white bowl next to a blue and white cloth.

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If you’re bored of rice, then quinoa is a great healthy alternative that’s packed full of goodness.

Tri-color quinoa is made of a mix of white, black and red quinoa seeds so it’s more flavorful and has more texture compared to just regular white quinoa. When mixed with a little sautéed garlic and butter, things get really tasty!

Perfect to serve in place of rice, it sits wonderfully with curries, stir fries, stews and pretty much most dinners. This tri-color quinoa recipe is a great way to mix things up and get some healthy on your plate!

Be sure to try my Garlic Parmesan Rice and Air Fryer Roasted Garlic too!

Why you will love this recipe!

  • Quick and easy: This recipe is ready to serve in 20 minutes and it comes together easily in one pan. If you can cook rice, quinoa is just as simple!
  • Healthy: Quinoa is a great source of plant protein and fiber and will keep you feeling full. It’s also a great source of antioxidants, vitamin E, iron and folate. Quinoa also has a natural insect repellent, so farmers do not need to use pesticides on the crops.
  • Make ahead: Tri-color quinoa is great for weekly meal prep and is easily reheated.
  • Simple ingredients: You only need three ingredients to make this recipe, so you have no excuses!
  • Dietary info: As well as being a super healthy wholegrain, this tri-color quinoa recipe is also gluten-free and vegetarian.
Close of of garlic quinoa in a white bowl.

Ingredients

  • Tri-color quinoa: Because of the variety of seeds, this mixed quinoa has a more nutty flavor and more interesting texture.
  • Butter: Butter adds a nice richness to the grains.
  • Garlic: Diced garlic is browned in the butter before being mixed with the cooked quinoa. It adds a mild garlicky flavor.
  • Seasoning: Salt and pepper added to taste.

How to cook garlic tri-color quinoa

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Cook the quinoa in water (photo 1).
  • Brown the diced garlic in butter (photo 2).
  • Combine the butter and garlic with the cooked quinoa to serve (photo 3).
Three step by step photos to show how to make the recipe.

Recipe Variations

It’s easy to adapt this tri-color quinoa recipe to suit your tastes. To make it vegan, simply swap the butter for some oil to brown the garlic. I like to garnish this with some fresh parsley, but you cold also stir in some fresh herbs just before serving. Try adding in a quirt of lemon or lime juice or stir in some freshly grated parm.

The garlic flavor in this side dish is pretty mild. For a stronger flavor, don’t brown the garlic as much and you can easily add more in if you like. Try adding a little garlic powder to amp up the taste if you like.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make this with regular quinoa?

Sure! The different textures in tri-color quinoa add some interest, but you can easily make this with plain white quinoa too. The recipe remains exactly the same.

What is the water ratio when cooking quinoa?

The ratio of water to quinoa is 2:1, so for one cup of quinoa add two cups of water to the pot. This ratio remains the same, so it’s easy to double or half the amounts.

One cup of dry quinoa makes 3 cups of cooked and a serving of cooked quinoa is around 1 to 1 1/2 cups fo cooked. This recipe will serve 3, or 2 hungry people!

How long does it take to cook quinoa?

It takes about 15 minutes to cook quinoa on the stovetop, so it’s a great option for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Check out these other methods of cooking:
Instant Pot Quinoa
Slow Cooker Quinoa
Microwave Quinoa

Overhead shot of garlic tricolor quinoa in a serving bowl.

Serving Suggestions

This garlic tri-color quinoa is great to serve as part of an easy weeknight meal in place of rice, it’s also great cold and added to salads. Try it with some of these favorite recipes:

Make ahead, storage and reheating

Quinoa has a great shelf life. Once cooked, allow it to cool fully before storing in an air tight container in the fridge. It will keep well for up to 7 days. It also freezes well and will keep for up to 3 months.

You can enjoy cooked quinoa cold in salads, or reheat it in the microwave with a couple of tablespoons of water in 30 second increments til hot. You can also heat it through in a pan on the stovetop or toss it straight in to hot stews or soups.

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water before cooking it. This will remove the natural casing which can have a bitter taste to it.
  • Don’t stray form the 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. This results in perfectly fluffy quinoa every single time.
  • Start the quinoa in cold water, don’t add it to water that is already boiling.
  • For more flavor, try swapping the water for broth.
  • For a stronger garlic flavor, just soften the garlic rather than brown it. You can also stir in a little garlic powder if you like or increase the amount of added garlic.
A bowl of tri-color quinoa next to fresh parsley sprigs.

This tri-color quinoa recipe is perfect in it’s simplicity! It makes a great healthier alternative to rice or pasta and it comes together so easily. I’m pretty sure that this will be on your weekly meal rota!

More Grain Side Dishes

If you’ve tried this recipe, be sure to leave a star rating and a comment below!

A bowl of tricolor quinoa garnished with fresh parsley.

Tri-color Quinoa Recipe with Garlic

Quick and easy to cook, this tri-color quinoa is a great healthy side dish. Flavored with browned garlic, it's a tasty alternative to rice.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 246kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa (185g)
  • 2 cups water (475ml)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely diced)

Instructions

  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold water.
  • Add the quinoa and water to a small pot and place on a high heat.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook for 12 to 15 minutes til all of the water has been absorbed.
  • Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place the sieve to one side.
  • Put the pot back on the stovetop and add the butter and diced garlic. Turn the heat up slightly and brown the garlic.
  • Add the quinoa back to the pot and stir to combine.

Notes

  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve under cold running water before cooking it. This will remove the natural casing which can have a bitter taste to it.
  • Don’t stray form the 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. This results in perfectly fluffy quinoa every single time.
  • Start the quinoa in cold water, don’t add it to water that is already boiling.
  • For more flavor, try swapping the water for broth.
  • For a stronger garlic flavor, just soften the garlic rather than brown it. You can also stir in a little garlic powder if you like or increase the amount of added garlic.

Nutrition

Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 332mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 125IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 3mg

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