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Lemon Herb Cheesy Quinoa

Cheesy Quinoa is a light, gluten-free nutritious meal option packed with flavor or makes for a great use of leftover quinoa. This Lemon Quinoa Recipe comes together quickly as an easy side or can be a canvas for other additions to serve as a main meal

Garlic quinoa topped with cheese and herbs in blue plate

Are you someone who never knows what to do with leftover quinoa? That used to be me. I was constantly searching for how to make quinoa taste better, especially as boring leftovers.

Then, this lemon quinoa recipe came to me and solved all of those problems.

Easy cheesy quinoa meals also make for busy weeks. Quinoa is such a great option for meal prep because it pairs with so many things, which is why it’s one of my main pantry staples.

And, quinoa with vegetables is one of my easy weeknight meals. Quick meals, like this lemon and herb quinoa, are staples for us!

What You Need for Lemon Herb Quinoa with Cheese

You just need a handful of ingredients for this lemon herb quinoa. Use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand or love! Melted quinoa cheese is the best. 

  • quinoa
  • butter
  • garlic
  • chicken or vegetable broth
  • lemon juice
  • grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • parsley, diced
  • basil, diced
lemon herb cheesy quinoa in blue bowl close up | Bucket List Tummy

How To Make Cheesy Quinoa

Add your clove and butter to a small pot over low heat.

Next, you’ll add in the quinoa, chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring the liquid to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and cover. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes, or until quinoa is soft and fluffy and absorbs water. 

If you’ve never tried cooking quinoa in chicken broth, it’s a great way to spice up quinoa and offers so much flavor. 

Alternatively, if you’re looking to make this a vegan quinoa recipe, go for coconut milk (and substitute the cheese with nutritional yeast).

While the quinoa is cooking, grate your cheese, so once the quinoa is done, you can add in your cheese and herbs. Your quinoa cheese dish is almost ready!

Serving bowl of cheesy quinoa surrounded by fresh herbs

How To Spice Up Quinoa

This is a fantastic quinoa recipe for kids because cheesy quinoa can be enjoyed by all. I may even need to use it as a base for a quinoa casserole or lemon quinoa salad. 

Quinoa can be kind of bland on its own and I’m always wondering what can I add to quinoa for flavor. The lemon juice here works magically because it’s subtle and not too overpowering but enough to notice a difference. 

These are my main suggestions for adding:

  • chicken, vegetable or beef broth for cooking
  • coconut milk for cooking
  • lemon or lemon juice
  • butter
  • cheese
  • season with herbs and spices 

Also, making your quinoa fluffy (and not hard and lifeless) makes a big difference!

Lemon quinoa recipe in blue bowl topped with shredded cheese and herbs

To make this lemon and herb quinoa fluffy, I always bring the water and quinoa (normally, 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa) to a boil slowly, and then turn it down with the top on and let the quinoa absorb the heat.

Watch it though, it can burn quickly. Mine took about 10 minutes. The Pioneer Woman has some other tips!

What Can I Do With Leftover Quinoa?

Leftover cooked quinoa recipes can be lifesavers! Here’s what you can do:

leftover quinoa recipe served with salmon and broccoli

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and is one of few grains that have all the essential amino acids (including leucine), like meat. Quinoa also offers 8 grams of protein per 1 cup.

While it can be a great plant-based protein option, I still recommend pairing it with something else (like beans or lentils) to get sufficient protein in a meal.

Did you know you can also make quinoa in the instant pot? Try this instant pot quinoa with vegetables if you’re curious!

What Kind of Cheese Should You Use For Cheesy Quinoa?

I had bought a block of sharp cheddar cheese because I love snacking on plain cheese.

Cheese is delicious in pretty much anything, so naturally, that made sense for cheesy quinoa.

Cutting board with shredded cheddar cheese to make cheesy quinoa

Other delicious suggestions include mozzarella, parmesan, creamy goat cheese or even feta cheese.

Like I said, this is one of my favorite quinoa recipes for toddlers because most kids love butter and cheese (like mac and cheese). So, this is sort of like a quinoa mac and cheese for kids.. 

I like to make a big batch at the beginning of the week (like 3-4 cups worth), and then just pair it with whatever protein I cook for the week.

Lemon cheese quinoa in a blue bowl with herbs on top
Yield: 3

Lemon Herb Cheesy Quinoa

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

Lemon Herb Cheesy Quinoa is a light, gluten-free nutritious meal option packed with flavor or makes for a great use of leftover quinoa. This Lemon Quinoa Recipe comes together quickly as an easy side or can be a canvas for other additions to serve as a main meal.


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, diced
  • 1 Tbsp basil, diced


  1. Add clove and butter to small pot over low heat.
  2. Add in quinoa, chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring liquid to a boil and then turn heat down to low and cover. Let it cook for 5-10 minutes, or until quinoa is soft and fluffy and absorbs water. 
  3. While quinoa is cooking, grate your cheese. 
  4. Once quinoa is done cooking, add cheese and stir in herbs. If desired, add extra cheese and herbs to top. 
  5. Enjoy!

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 332Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 1019mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 17g

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Lemon Quinoa in blue bowl with text overlay
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  1. Great to hear all is well with the you and baby…Any day now…..You, hubby and Tater must be so excited to meet her :-).
    I adore quinoa and cook quite a bit of it. Using stock instead of water is the best! Thanks for the lovely recipe, it sounds really good and so tasty. Take care and have a great weekend.

  2. Hey Sarah!
    So glad the OB visit went well. I know a few New Englanders who cannot wait to meet Baby!!

    I love quinoa as well. But I recently made a batch with chicken broth and accidentally left a good portion of leftovers out of the refrigerator overnight. It killed me to throw it out, but that was probably the best move, right?

    Hope you continue to feel well these last few weeks. Hang in there!!

    1. Thank you Bridget 🙂 We are counting down the days until she arrives, and then we’ll be excited to meet two more next!

      Hmm, I probably would have done the same thing. It may not have all been spoiled, but when it comes to food safety, better safe than sorry! I hate wasting food, too.

  3. I’m often too lazy to use chicken stock to cook my grains, but there’s really no reason not to. I’m sure it would add so much wonderful flavor.

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