Quinoa mac and cheesy

I’ve been really excited about doing this post for awhile now. Not for any particular reason, but because I was kind of using it as motivation to try something new. If you asked me a couple of months ago if I would eat quinoa, I would have laughed in your face. Maybe thrown in a big eye roll for good measure. But not anymore.

Without further ado, I bring to you another recipe installment of WIAW, brought to you by Jenn @Peasandcrayons.


I asked my roommate if we could make this a few weeks ago after seeing it on pinterest and our schedules have just been off-the-chain opposite (that made sense in my head… just go with it). I’m pretty sure her eyes bugged out of her head at the request. I don’t ask to try new foods. I knew that if I made it with her, it wouldn’t seem as “scary” because if I don’t like it, there’s always someone else around for leftovers.

Monday night was the big day. She left me in charge of finding a recipe since I’m much pickier than she is, and I chose one that’s pretty plain. The closer it got to cooking time, the less excited I became. I was getting nervous, which is ridiculous since I had leftover pizza and a burger in the fridge waiting to be eaten as backup. I found this recipe and was instantly re-excited about it. Hellooooo it’s a Rhode Island food blog. What’s not to love? I love everything about RI and I love food so it just started out as a good sign.


  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • Veggies of your choice (optional)
  • Good pinch of salt
  • A few grinds of seasoning salt
  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced (we used garlic paste instead since that’s what we had in the house).
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup soy milk or non-fat milk (we used 2% since that’s what my roommate drinks and therefore what we have in the house).
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling
  • A large handful of skim mozzarella for topping (added by us to make it more “original”…jokes we just wanted more cheese)
  • Optional- Crushed Red Pepper, Panko Bread crumbs for topping
  • Toppings (optional)- salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions


  1. Lightly saute any veggies you would like in this dish.
  2. Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked. (About 15 minutes)
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray (or butter).
  4. Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt.
  5. Transfer to prepared baking dish (we used a brownie pan) and if using Panko Crumbs or Bread crumbs add now and bake 30-35 mins, until bread crumbs are browned.

It came out looking like this:

yes, it was a snapchat to one of our friends

yes, it was a snapchat to one of our friends

I started with a teeny tiny forkful of it on a small plate just to see how I’d like it. I went into it thinking I would absolutely hate it. At first I wasn’t really crazy about the flavor but then I was like… wait, this isn’t so bad. So I went back and got another more sizeable portion and ate that pretty quickly too.


And before you all throw things at me through the screen for using a “baby fork” like Chelsie almost did, hear me out. It began as a joke between my friends and I because I always complained about how big the forks were in the dining halls. I grew up eating with salad forks because my mom just preferred them and I really hate eating with a big fork. I got it for secret psycher or something and I use it occasionally but the majority of the time I eat with a regular sized salad fork since that’s what I’m used to.

I do not use baby silverware to “fill me up” faster or anything like that. It has nothing to do with disordered eating patterns and do not try to tell me otherwise because that is just flat out not the case. 

Whew. Glad I got that off my chest. I just had a feeling that if one person noticed it, others would notice too and get the wrong idea.

I won’t say I absolutely loved it and it certainly doesn’t replace my love for some good old fashioned mac and cheese but I tried it and didn’t hate it. I may even eat it again, who knows? Anyone who says it tastes exactly like the real thing is flat out lying to you but if you don’t really compare them to each other, it ends up being a pretty good meal!


Have you ever tried a recipe that you were really unsure of and ended up loving?

I need some more ideas ;)

About pickyrunner

I'm Sarah, a (mostly) health-crazed 20-year old New Englander living in Baltimore. Taste buds of a 4-year old, joints of a 90 year old, brain of a chemist, appetite of a teenage boy, legs of a runner. Mindset of a Champion. Follow @pickyrunner
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82 Responses to Quinoa mac and cheesy

  1. Greta says:

    Wow! This must be divine, Sarah?!! I really enjoyed reading you mastering the whole thing.
    Me? I never though I was a potato girl. But now I love them in all and any way!

  2. Chelsie S says:

    The reason why I said that I would wait to tell you what I thought of quinoa is because I knew you were SO hesitant about it and I didn’t want to sway you. I honestly thought you would absolutely hate it. I think you proved everyone (but most importantly yourself!) wrong and surprised us all by actually enjoying it!! Sure, it might be a little complicated to make on a regular basis, but it’s always good to know that you have a fall-back dish you could make for potlucks, etc in the future. It’s great that you’ve been stepping out of your comfort zone lately.
    And glad you clarified about the fork, but most of the world probably isn’t as crazy about that stuff as I am. ;)

    • pickyrunner says:

      No I know other people would have said it too :) but I definitely proved myself wrong. And my roommate. And my mom. That was such a good feeling. I knew I would try it but I expected to end up eating something entirely different for my actual meal!

  3. Now you can officially say you’ve tried quinoa and cross it off your list (if you even have one, Ha Ha).

    when i first tried eggplant I was unsure, and now I can’t seem to get enough :)

  4. I am so proud of you girl! And that is not only for trying a new and scary meal but really for asking for support from a friend because you knew she could help you get over the bump! I’m also interested in trying this! I love quinoa I’m sure this is not like Mac n cheese exactly but I bet it is still tasty sometime I think people don’t think before naming recipes. I mean when I here Mac n cheese I think noodle…

    • pickyrunner says:

      It was tasty! But it doesn’t compare to cheesy soaked noodles. It was just very different and incomparable but still really good! It definitely helped having the meal made with my roommate so I didn’t feel like it was all on me to eat it and enjoy it. She can have the leftovers now that I did the taste test :)

  5. I’m glad you tried it (and also that you took out the vegetables). The point I guess (and you said it yourself) is that you did get outside the comfort zone and try it…you have to go through ad things to get to good things…or okay things…I think of it like men…or runs…or life really. Anyways have a great day!

  6. Wow, this looks great! Thanks for sharing the recipe :) It’s nice to try new ideas sometimes. I will have to test this out!

  7. I love this idea!! I’m a big fan of quinoa, and I’m from Wisconsin so I’m also a big fan of I corporating cheese into every possible meal so I’m in :)

  8. Abby says:

    Yay for new things! I love quinoa and I love mac and cheese, and I especially love this healthier take on it! Good for you, girl. Have a great Wednesday!

  9. allisonhayes91 says:

    Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new! This actually looks really good. I’m always down for a new Mac and cheese recipe.

  10. It’s awesome that you tried something new…and even better that you didn’t hate it :-p I’m not the biggest quinoa fan, but prepared right it’s pretty decent. Although really, I think mac and cheese is one of those things that falls into the catagory of “even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.”

    • pickyrunner says:

      I think it was okay because it was baked. When it had just finished cooking in the pot I wasn’t thinking it was going to taste very good. But I totally agree- mac and cheese pretty much always tastes good.

  11. Way to go, Sarah! I like your retelling of the whole adventure. I think you should turn this into a series! “Picky Eater Cooks ____”. Glad you liked it, too. Quinoa is rumored to be good for you. ;)

  12. I wasn’t so sure about using greek yogurt to replace sour cream or mayo in recipes (I LOVE mayo!) but it definitely surprises me how much it actually can taste the same. A scoop of plain chobani on top of chili tastes pretty much exactly like sour cream.

  13. Wahoo! You go girl, way to step out of the comfort zone and try something new. I was skeptical about quinoa at first too. The key is to cook it in a taste that you like-otherwise it is flavorless. :)

  14. carlyjg says:

    YAY for trying new things. Especially when they’re cheese-covered.

    Don’t even worry about your baby fork. I have an issue with the sound of forks/spoons scraping on plates or teeth, so all through high school, I ate most meals with a rubber-coated baby spoon. Super lame. Now, I just eat with plastic cutlery whenever I get a chance.

  15. sorry, it actually made me laugh you justifying the fork. whatever you need to do girl whatever you need to do. i actually hate quinoa, that one thing I just am not a big fan of.

  16. chasingchels says:

    This looks awesome love! Super proud of you for trying something new too! And no worries about the baby stuff either…i end up using them when i’m with the boys since it’s just easier to grab a handful on my way to the table rather than dig in numerous drawers!

  17. Love quinoa! Just found a recipe for spaghetti squash mac n cheese too!! Loving all the variations!

  18. That looks really tasty and good for you for trying something new! When I first tried quinoa, I didn’t like it very much either but it’s grown on me. Maybe it will for you too? I grew up eating on smaller silverware too and I still prefer smaller spoons and forks. For some reason the big ones just seem really big…

  19. Great job pushing yourself to try new foods! I generally will try anything once, and I’ve found that my taste buds definitely evolve and change. In college, I thought I hated sushi. Now it’s pretty much my #1 favorite food!

  20. I love mac and cheese!! Looks amazing

  21. Haha! Oh that Elf quote is absolute brilliance. Love it. And I think it’s great that you branched out and tried something new :) I have to admit that I’m not really the biggest fan of quinoa, and as much as I would love to think that making a mac and cheese version of it would make me like it more, the truth is… I like old school mac and cheese just fine. I really love how you said that whoever tries to convince you that it tastes the same is lying, though… I can’t stand it when people are all like “Omigod this frozen almond milk tastes JUST like ice cream!!!111!!” No. No it doesn’t.

    • pickyrunner says:

      Bahahaha I hate that! The only one I can agree with is the “cauliflower pizza crust” but if you look at it, you can see it and that changes my opinion of it. Sometimes (most of the time) I want the full fat option. Sorry I’m not sorry.

  22. Molly says:

    Everyone is posting about quinoa today! Apparently I’m really missing out on something awesome. Oh, and I thoroughly enjoyed your mini “baby silverware” rant at the end. THANK YOU!

  23. NO WAY! I made this exact same recipe last Saturday! I really enjoyed it, though I think the “mac and cheese” is a bit misleading…it’s really just quinoa and cheese haha. There’s absolutely no macaroni involved. Haha. But whatever! I thought it was a tasty recipe, and I’m glad you were brave enough to try it :)

  24. Brittany says:

    YUMMOO!! I lovee quinoa, it’s such a staple in my diet. I also love making new things and bonus when it tastes grrrrreat!

  25. livliveslife says:

    I’ll have to try quinoa mac and cheese – it sounds amazing. But I do understand what you mean about kinda sorta liking it. I think quinoa is one of those things that needs to be strategically used…if that makes sense. Haha.

    And I don’t like big forks either! I thought I was the only person in the world like that! ;-)

  26. I loveee quinoa but it’s just a party of 1 at our place, Ryan is a bigger risotto fan, so we don’t have it all that often… Meaning, I’ve been holding onto the same 10 pound bag of the stuff since college. True life :P I love it with chicken sausage or a runny egg on top and have been meaning to try it sweet style…

  27. This recipe sounds really good. I have to admit that I’ve tried quinoa once. I didn’t hate or love the taste, but it really really hurt my stomach. I’m not entirely sure why, but it won’t be something that I eat again anytime soon. On the other hand, I love quinoa flakes, but those really don’t taste like quinoa at all, so… I honestly just don’t get the hype. Maybe I had a bad box or something?

    Love the fork disclaimer. Honestly, from reading so many blogs I’ve kind of become immune to all of the weird stuff that people eat with and out of. :D

    • pickyrunner says:

      I’ve heard it doesn’t have much flavor. I don’t think I’d try it plain. I may not even ever have it again but it wasn’t bad, if that makes sense. It’s just not something I’d make for myself. And blogs have some weirdddd shenanigans going on. I didn’t want to get lumped with the crazies ;)

  28. I’ve got to try this. I have made mac n’ cheese from the Trader Joe’s grain mix but not just plain quinoa. Sounds tasty!

  29. I don’t have any foods that are on the “no” list (well, yes, I do, I’m not trying liver or tongue – gross). But I was skeptical on quinoa and now it’s a regular part of our menu. I just have to make it with chicken or veggie stock instead of plain water. But, I have to do that with grits too.

    Now, if I could only get the family to embrace kale. Spinach, yes. Kale, hellz no.

    • pickyrunner says:

      Haha you’re braver than me. Kale and spinach are definitely NOT a part of my daily diet. Quinoa was sort of like pasta so I could handle it. Once we get into leafy greens, that a whole different ball game.

  30. I totally just made this recipe! Added some ground beef to it and tomatoes and hot sauce on top. YUM.

  31. Ellie says:

    My job has these utensils that are compostable and I don’t know why I like them, but sometimes I use them at home instead of metal silverware. I just really like the way they feel in my mouth. If it’s weird, it’s still eco-friendly ;)

  32. Ohhh I have some quinoa that I need to use up…that would be great!!

  33. Trying something new can be intimidating, especially with food! It sounds like
    Quinoa mac and cheesy is a keeper!

    The other night, I was really in the mood for BBQ sauce and got a little creative- I mixed together brown rice with black beans, chicken, plain Greek yogurt, and BBQ sauce. Before I took my first bite, I was definitely hesitant, but then as I continued to eat, I realized I made something I’ll definitely be making again!

    • pickyrunner says:

      It’s a really cool feeling to be able to say that you ate something you hadn’t tried before and enjoyed it! I was legitimately terrified and it turned out to be something I didn’t hate which is a huge success in my book :)

  34. Megan says:

    I’m so proud of you!! Growing up my mom would always make squash whenever my dad made mashed potatoes because she preferred the squash. I am obsessed with my dads mashed potatoes so I always stared angrily at the squash when my mom tried to push it on me. I finally bought and cooked with squash multiple times this past fall and now I love it! Mom is happy to say the least!

    • pickyrunner says:

      I bet she is! That’s really funny actually. My dad would always make us hamburgers when my mom wasn’t home to cook dinner and she used to get so annoyed. If we had potatoes, she’d cook herself rice instead. Ohhh family :)

  35. Kate says:

    I would never think to make mac and cheese with quinoa! but…I eat a TON of quinoa…and I can’t eat normal mac & cheese because I’m gluten intolerant…so it seems like it’d be perfect for me? Anyway I feel like if I can get someone to make and eat this with me I should totally go for it. Proud of you for giving a new recipe a go! :-D

  36. Thanks for sharing lady!
    I have NEVER tried quinoa before – ever, ever! hmmm!!

  37. Kaitlin says:

    Quite proud of ya and can’t wait to make it :) You know I love to experiment with my food on the daily!

  38. P says:

    Mmm, this looks so cheesy and delicious! Quinoa proves itself, yet again!

  39. Pingback: Not part of the club | pickyrunner

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