How to Substitute Quinoa for Breadcrumbs

Use cooked quinoa seeds or quinoa cereal in place of breadcrumbs.
Use cooked quinoa seeds or quinoa cereal in place of breadcrumbs. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Breadcrumbs are commonly used as a binding ingredient for recipes such as meatloaf, meatballs and crab cakes, as well as for breading to coat meats and vegetables before frying. However, breadcrumbs offer no nutritional value and can quickly increase the calorie count of foods. If you're looking for small substitutions to make your food healthier, try substituting quinoa for breadcrumbs. Quinoa, a "pseudograin," is the tiny, round seed of the goosefoot plant -- Chenopodium quinoa -- and is rich in vitamins, minerals and protein.

Things You'll Need

  • Mixing bowl
  • Ground meat
  • Assorted spices
  • Egg (optional)
  • Crab meat
  • Quinoa cereal
  • Plastic bag or food processor
  • Quinoa flour
  • Meat or vegetables
  • Egg
  • Baking pan or skillet

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Mix cooked quinoa with ground meat and your choice of spices until bound together in a uniform mixture. Add about 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa per pound of meat to use it just as you would use breadcrumbs in a meatloaf or meatball recipe. Use up to 2 cups of cooked quinoa per pound of meat if you want the quinoa to take a starring role in the meat mixture. Omit egg if you're using fresh cooked quinoa; add an egg to aid in binding when using day-old quinoa that has dried slightly. Form the mixture into a loaf, patties or balls to make meatloaf, burgers or meatballs.

Mix mushy quinoa with crabmeat, spices and your choice of diced vegetables to make quinoa crab cakes. Quinoa is usually made with 2 cups of water to 1 cup of uncooked quinoa seeds and cooked for 15 to 20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Double the water and increase the cooking time to 30 minutes to cook mushy quinoa; drain any excess liquid after 30 minutes of cooking. The softer, mushy quinoa breaks apart when mixed with the crab meat and becomes almost creamy, so there's no noticeable difference in texture.

Crush quinoa cereal puffs or flakes to the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs, either in a plastic bag or food processor. Dip meat or vegetables in ground quinoa flour, shake off the excess and dip them into a mixture of beaten egg. Allow the excess egg to drip off the meat or vegetables and move the food to the crushed quinoa cereal flakes. Push the meat or vegetables firmly into the cereal until they're well-coated. Pan-fry or bake the food until it's cooked thoroughly. Try this as a breadcrumb substitute for chicken tenders or breaded, fried squash.


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