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Easy Coconut Quinoa

This coconut quinoa pairs nicely with any Asian-inspired dish. It comes together in 30 minutes and is packed with coconut flavor!

overhead shot of coconut quinoa with green onions and black sesame seeds

Creating This Coconut Quinoa Recipe

When we made our 15 things in 2015 list, Logan added try new foods. One of his “new foods” being couscous. The night he asked me to make it I actually didn’t have any, but I figured quinoa was close enough. Who was I to deny him an opportunity to willingly try something new?

I made a basic quinoa without much added, just some salt and olive oil. And for some reason that is still a mystery to me, both kids liked it. Specifically, Logan said “quinoa is way better than rice, which tastes like nothing.”

Ok then. I guess we will be eating a lot of quinoa this next year.

The problem is I don’t super love quinoa plain on its own. I like it in these Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers, or Shredded Beef, Black Bean and Quinoa Stuffed Poblanos or Butternut Squash and Kale Quinoa Stuffing.

But on its own? Cooked only in water? And with nothing else added? I’ll pass.

That first night I had actually made a crockpot cajun sausage dish that I served on top of my quinoa. The kids kept their’s separated. The kids have a harder time with multiple textures all mixed together.

I was trying to figure out how to serve up quinoa with some extra flavor to it, but without chopped up veggies or things like that, to go with an Asian-inspired recipe for an Orange Marmalade Baked Chicken recipe I was experimenting with.

Normally I would have probably served coconut rice alongside the chicken, so I thought it was feasible to try that with quinoa instead. This is what I came up with for a Coconut Quinoa that has a more flavor than plain quinoa, tastes good on its own, and doesn’t have a bunch of other stuff mixed in it.  

uncooked quinoa in a jar

Click HERE to save this recipe for Coconut Quinoa!

Coconut Quinoa Ingredients

For this coconut milk quinoa recipe, you’ll need:

  • Coconut oil
  • Quinoa
  • Water
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Sugar
  • Salt

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

Is Quinoa Gluten-Free?

Yes, quinoa is naturally gluten-free. However, cross-contamination can occur so you should still look for certified gluten-free quinoa if you have an intolerance.

How to Prepare Coconut Quinoa

To make this coconut quinoa, you first need to toast the quinoa in melted coconut oil for about 5 minutes. Then, add the remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it rest for another 15 minutes (this helps it become nice and fluffy).

The above is simply a quick summary of this recipe. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

Tips for Making the Best Coconut Quinoa

When making the quinoa, be sure to thoroughly rinse it before adding it to the saucepan. If you don’t rinse the quinoa, it tends to taste quite bitter.

Did you know you can quickly cook quinoa in an Instant Pot when you’re preparing this Coconut Quinoa? Head over to my post: How to Make Quinoa in the Instant Pot for all the details!

I highly recommend garnishing this coconut milk quinoa with sliced green onions or chopped cilantro. It makes for a great base to serve with Asian-inspired recipes as an alternative to rice.

For an extra boost of coconut, you can try using toasted coconut. Don’t know how to toast coconut? Check out this post on how to toast coconut flakes 3 ways (they’re all super easy!), how to store toasted coconut, how long toasted coconut lasts, and the many different ways you can use this fun, tasty ingredient!

coconut milk in a can with coconuts in the background

Do I Have to Use Coconut Oil?

If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, you can use a neutral-flavored oil in its place. Coconut oil adds a subtle sweetness to the dish, but your coconut quinoa will still taste good without it.

How to Store Quinoa

Let the coconut milk quinoa cool to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for a few days and is easily reheated in a saucepan with a little extra water to prevent it from drying out. Coconut quinoa is also delicious cold atop salads.

More Quinoa Dishes:

This Chicken, Beet, and Arugula Quinoa Bowl is topped with a homemade sherry molasses vinaigrette. This is a protein-packed meal that will keep you full!

I love making these Rainbow Quinoa Bowls with winter produce like pomegranate seeds, delicata squash, and Brussels sprouts. This recipe is so easy to make, but so hearty.

Tired of the same boring salads you’ve been making for months? Shake things up with this Winter Spinach Chicken Salad Quinoa Bowl. It’s a filling salad that you won’t get tired of!

These Black Bean Quinoa Burgers are packed with Latin flavors. They’re a great alternative to regular hamburgers and can be frozen for later.

Looking for another unique quinoa recipe? Make this Roasted Poblano Cilantro Quinoa. It’s a great side for any Mexican-inspired meal.

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What’s your favorite way to enjoy quinoa?

Coconut Quinoa

Coconut Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This coconut quinoa pairs nicely with any Asian-inspired dish. It comes together in 30 minutes and is packed with coconut flavor!


  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed and drained according to package instructions
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste


    1. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a medium sized saucepan. Add the quinoa to the saucepan and cook, stirring often, until the quinoa is golden, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
    3. After 15 minutes, turn the heat off but leave the lid on and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.


Garnish with sliced green onions or chopped cilantro. This is a great base to serve with Asian inspired recipes as an alternative to rice.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 219Total Fat 18gSaturated Fat 15gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 279mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 3g offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

Did you make this recipe?

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Tag @goodlifeeats and include the hashtag #goodlifeeatsrecipes so I can see what you’re cooking up in YOUR kitchen!

Click HERE to save this recipe for Coconut Quinoa!


Tuesday 1st of March 2022

worked perfectly! thank you. i used it as a base for black bean bowl

Mia Vazquez

Monday 26th of July 2021

Should I use full fat Coconut milk?

Katie | Good Life Eats

Thursday 11th of November 2021

@Mia Vazquez, Yes I used full fat coconut milk in this recipe, but light also works fine.

Allison Ruth

Wednesday 8th of July 2015

Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious!

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