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Cilantro Lime Quinoa – Slender Kitchen

Cilantro Lime Quinoa is my new favorite thing to make as a Mexican side dish or as the base for burrito bowls. The lime and cilantro add so much flavor to the quinoa and will have you going back for more.

When I first moved to Los Angeles, Chipotle was the new kid on the block and my old roommate and I were more than happy to make it a regular part of our routine. We would venture over after a particularly long school day, split a burrito and a bag of chips with their infamous guacamole, and sometimes have a beer depending on how hard the day had been. Being broke first year teachers, it felt like such an escape to sit outside and decompress from the day. Plus since it totaled up to around $10, it fit perfectly into our budgets.

Fast forward ten years and I still have the same fondness and love for Chipotle. As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of fast food, I am constantly surprised by how much I still love Chipotle. And one of my favorite things there (outside of the salty limey chips and guac) is their cilantro lime rice. I just love the brightness and zing that the lime and cilantro add to what would normally be boring white or brown rice. For a long time I have been making my own versions at home using white rice, brown rice, and cauliflower rice and recently I started making it with quinoa as well and I love it. The extra protein will keep you full longer and the nutty taste and texture pair perfectly with the cilantro and lime.

I usually serve this as a side dish and then save the extra for lunch time meal prep. It is the perfect base for a lunch time bowl. Just pile on any leftover protein you have around, throw in some fresh veggies, and lunch is ready to go. I made this Rotisserie Chicken Fajita Bowl using this quinoa a few weeks back and it’s the easiest thing to make on Sunday for quick lunches all week.

Keep these things in mind when making this Cilantro Lime Quinoa:

  • Make sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking it. There is a coating on the outside of quinoa called saponin that can sometimes make the quinoa taste bitter or soapy. It can also cause the quinoa to more firm when it is finished cooking.
  • Make sure to use fresh lime juice when making this recipe. Sometimes it may seem easier to reach for bottled lime juice since it’s easy to keep a bottle in the fridge but it will change the flavor. The lime zest also brings a lot of flavor so that’s something you don’t want to skip.
  • If you don’t like cilantro, you could definitely use parsley instead. And if you want to venture outside of the box, switch the lime juice for lemon juice and add fresh basil.


Here are some healthy main dishes to serve with this quinoa:

Here are some tools I used to help prepare this dish:

  • Having a hand zester is a huge help in the kitchen for faster prep. In this recipe I use mine for the lime zest and to quickly grate the garlic since it is faster than taking the time to mince it.
  • I can’t live without my citrus juicer since we put lemon and lime on almost everything. I use this handheld version and its the first one that has held up for years after constant use.

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