Quinoa Nuggets

Quinoa nuggets are a must try— crispy, wholesome, and adorably snack-sized. These plant-based protein nuggets are a flavorful twist on a classic favorite. Perfect with your favorite dipping sauce!
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Vegan quinoa nuggets stacked on a plate of greens.
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Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and a breeze to whip up—these chickpea nuggets are the ultimate tasty plant-based snack or savory side dish. They’re unbelievably easy to make, packed with nutrition, and loved by kids and adults alike!

These crispy quinoa bites are also a fresh way to add protein to your diet, since quinoa is a a fantastic source of protein. With just a few ingredients and three straightforward steps, you can make a homemade snack that’s both yummy and good for you. Think of them as a more mature version of tater tots—with a lot more going for them than just taste!

Quinoa bites on a plate of greens, served with sliced lemon.

Why You Must Make These Delicious Quinoa Bites

Quinoa nuggets are fantastic—crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and a breeze to whip up. Packed with the goodness of quinoa, they’re a flavorful and nutritious twist to your snacking routine. Not quite convinced? Here are even more reasons why these tasty quinoa snacks are so awesome:

  • A healthier alternative to chicken nuggets: If you loved chicken nuggets as a kid, these are an excellent better-for-you substitute. Crispy, flavorful, and all-around appealing in flavor and texture.
  • Simple and Wholesome Ingredients: No fancy ingredients here! Just a staple whole grain, herbs, and spices. You probably already have them in your pantry.
  • Incredibly Satisfying: Just a few of these plant-based protein nuggets are more than enough to make you feel nourished and satisfied. Pair them with your favorite dipping sauce or sliced veggies and you’ve got yourself a well-balanced mini-meal.
  • Perfect for Meal Prep: Put together a batch on the weekend and have a quick and crispy side ready for basically any meal. Choose from pan frying, air-frying, or even baking in the oven. They’re really versatile!
  • Family Friendly Treat: This recipe totally makes you feel like you’re indulging in fast food, but you’re not. The nuggets are way more nutritious than any take out treats and they’re perfect for little hands!

Key Ingredients

Because this recipe has such few ingredients, each one of them has an important part to play. For maximum enjoyment, devour the finished nuggets right away while warm and toasty. If you have to wait, you can always pop them in the oven or air-fryer to crisp back up.

Gathered ingredients for quinoa nuggets with text labels.

Quinoa: Can you believe that you can choose from red, black, white, or tri-color/rainbow quinoa? White is the least bitter, red has the chewiest texture, and black has the most nutrition, but they all taste delicious. The most important thing to remember is to rinse your quinoa well before cooking. You’ll want to release as much of the saponins (the shell that protects them from pests and type of fungus) as you can for a less bitter aftertaste.

Quinoa in a saucepan.

Onion: Chopped onion adds such a great flavor to the quinoa. Scallions, red onion, shallots, or leeks would work well, too.

Chives: If the flavor of chives is not your favorite, how about using garlic or parsley instead? Remember to chop finely for best results.

Flour: All-purpose flour helps to give a crispy and crunchy texture to the nuggets. If you’ve run out of flour or are sensitive to gluten, feel free to use cornstarch instead. Use a quarter cup of cornstarch in place of the half cup of flour. If you’d rather use gluten-free flour, choose a type that is 1-to-1 and use the same amount.

Lemon Juice: This ingredient adds not only moisture to the mixture but also a little acidic zing. An unflavored vinegar can also be used (or even lime juice) in a pinch.

How To Make Quinoa Nuggets

Cooking up a batch of vegan quinoa nuggets is simple and fun to do. As soon as you roll up the balls, you’re more than halfway there! They’re a great snack or mini-meal to prep ahead of time. When you’re ready to enjoy, all you need to do is fry them up! Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Mix together the quinoa, onion, chives, flour, salt, and red chili pepper flakes. Moisten with the water and lemon juice.

The mixed up quinoa nuggets batter in a mixing bowl with a spoon.

Step 2: Make 1-inch balls out of the quinoa mixture, squeezing firmly so that the balls form a dough. Put the finished balls into the freezer for 5 minutes. (You can also chill them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.)

Finally, Step 3: Cook the nuggets a few at a time in an oil-coated pan over medium-high heat. Free free to press on each one to flatten them a little. It helps to oil the spatula to prevent sticking. Fry the nuggets for 5 minutes until the bottom of each nugget is golden and then flip. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes more.

How To Make the Best Quinoa

Quinoa in a saucepan.

Not sure how to make quinoa? Here’s an easy recipe to follow that’s pretty much foolproof:

Rinse ⅔ cup of dry quinoa in cold water using a fine-mesh strainer. Add the quinoa and 1⅓ cups of water to a medium pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. Cover with the lid and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before using in this quinoa recipe.

Serving Tips and Suggestions

These yummy quinoa bites are so much fun to eat! Sure, you can simply eat them plain right off a plate, but that’s pretty boring. Here are a few tasty and tempting ideas for bumping up your bites a notch!

  • Dive into Dips & Dressings: Ketchup is always a popular choice, but how about some thousand island, dill, vegan aioli, french, or barbecue instead? You can never go wrong with a bit of sriracha or creamy hummus on the side!
  • Serve as a Savory Side: These crispy little protein tots pair well with a vegan burger, fresh salad, or a bowl of crudités (such as broccoli, bell pepper, baby carrots, cucumber, and celery). Drizzle with vegan mayo, lime juice, or hot sauce for even more fabulous flavor.
  • Creative Cooking Methods: If you’d like to go easy on the oil or fried foods, how about using the oven or air-fryer instead? For oven baking, place the nuggets on a greased nonstick baking pan and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway. Be sure to flatten them before baking. If you wish to use an air-fryer instead, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F (about 5 minutes). While the fryer is heating, coat the nuggets in panko bread crumbs. Lightly spray the nuggets and the fryer basket with vegetable oil spray and cook for 10 minutes.
A plate of quinoa nugget bites served over a bed of arugula and served with sliced lemons.

Recipe Q+A

Can I use pre-made quinoa out of a package instead of cooking mine at home?

Definitely! If the quinoa is frozen and needs to be heated up first, just remember to let it cool before trying to form the balls. They’ll stay together much easier if the ingredients are chilled.

How do I store any leftover quinoa bites?

Simply place any remaining quinoa nuggets into a sealed container and store in the fridge for around 3-5 days. You can also add them to a freezer-safe bag or container for at least 3 months and up to 5-6 months in the freezer. To reheat, you can air-fry them for a few minutes or bake them in the oven for about 8 minutes at 400 degrees F.

How do you keep quinoa from getting mushy?

Make sure to drain any excess liquid after cooking and let it sit for at least a few minutes before serving. If you have a fine-mesh sieve, add the finished cooked quinoa and press down on it gently to remove extra moisture.

How can I make these gluten-free?

There’s no problem making these tasty little nuggets gluten-free. All you need to do is substitute gluten-free, all-purpose flour for the regular flour in the recipe. If you use a 1-to-1 version, such as King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill, it should be a super easy swap.

A hand holding up a quinoa nugget.

This fun and flavorful recipe is inspired by a recipe in The Friendly Vegan Cookbook. If you haven’t already added this cookbook to your vegan cookbook collection, it’s a must!

Quinoa Nuggets

5 from 7 votes
These chewy, seasoned snacks are packed with plant-based protein and tasty to boot. Quinoa nuggets will remind you of the tots you used to have as a kid. Pair with your favorite dip for a delicious and nutritious snack!
Vegan quinoa nuggets stacked on a plate of greens.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 16 nuggets

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
  • ½ cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup chives, finely chopped
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • vegetable oil, for pan frying
  • vegetable oil spray, for air-fryer option
  • panko bread crumbs, for air-fryer option

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the quinoa, onion, chives, flour, salt, and red chili pepper flakes. Mix in the water and lemon juice.
  • Using your hands, roll the quinoa mixture into 1-inch balls, squeezing tightly in your hands as you go to get the air bubble out and form a dough. Place the balls on a tray or plate. Put them in the freezer for 5 minutes. (If you don't have room in your freezer, you can chill them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.)
  • Coat a large frying pan with vegetable oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the nuggets in batches and lightly press on each of them with a spatula to flatten them a little. If necessary, oil the spatula to prevent sticking. Cook the nuggets for 5 minutes until the bottom is golden brown and appears gently fried, and then flip them over. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 5 more minutes.

Notes

Air-Fryer Option: 

Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F (about 5 minutes). While the fryer is heating, coat the nuggets in panko bread crumbs. Lightly spray the nuggets and the fryer basket with vegetable oil spray and cook for 10 minutes.

Oven Baking:

Bake the nuggets on a greased nonstick baking pan at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway. Be sure to flatten them before baking. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 45kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 47IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Appetizer or Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword quinoa bites, quinoa nuggets, quinoa tots
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Recipe Rating




8 comments
  1. 5 stars
    Your Quinoa Nuggets recipe was a delightful surprise! The savory flavor and perfect crunch made them an instant hit in my kitchen. I appreciate the clear instructions and handy tips, which made the whole cooking process a breeze. These nuggets are definitely going to be a regular snack in my home.

  2. 5 stars
    These quinoa nuggets are so good … love this recipe!

    • The nutrition information is based on one serving, which in this would be one nugget 🙂 Hope you enjoy this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    Totally obsessed with these little nuggets. The taste and texture are incredible!

  4. 5 stars
    Love these savory, crispy, protein packed little nuggets. Great for snacking.

  5. Andrea White says:

    5 stars
    My kind of nuggs! So tasty!

  6. 5 stars
    I’m obsessed with these quinoa nuggets! They are so easy to make and perfect for meal prep.

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