Mexican-inspired Instant Pot quinoa is cooked with vegetables and warm spices and topped with fresh cilantro and lime dressing. It’s naturally gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, perfect for dinner or lunch.
This Instant Pot quinoa recipe is an absolute must-try!!! I made it for our #MeatFreeMondays meal and let’s just say. there have been multiple requests to make this on a regular basis.
The quinoa is perfectly (and quickly) pressure-cooked together with gorgeous veggies and Mexican-inspired spices, so it absorbs all those beautiful warm and earthy flavors while still in the pot. As a contrasting and much complimenting addition, the cilantro and lime sauce is drizzled over the top when you serve this dish. All you need is a side salad!
INGREDIENTS FOR MEXICAN QUINOA
Quinoa is a nutritious pseudo-grain – full of protein and amino acids as well as minerals and vitamins – however, due to its popularity, it is becoming less and less sustainable/ethically produced. Make sure to buy fair-trade quinoa, when possible. I like this brand of quinoa, and you can choose any colour you like.
Rice would also work well in this recipe, simply set the cooking time to 5 minutes instead of 1 minute (for white rice). Buckwheat is another gluten-free alternative that you might want to try.
Chipotle chili has that unmistakable smoky aroma and deep flavor. You can get chipotle chili flakes or whole peppers online and in most large supermarkets. Tinned chipotle can also be used.
HOW TO MAKE THIS INSTANT POT QUINOA DISH
You will find the full list of ingredients and instructions, as well as the nutritional breakdown in the recipe card below. The basic steps are:
- Saute the vegetables and stir through the spices to release their aromas.
- Add quinoa and other ingredients and stir.
- Set to Manual/Pressure cook for 1 minute with 5-7 minute natural pressure release. Stir through.
- Process the dressing ingredients until smooth or chop everything finely and whisk.
MAKING CILANTRO DRESSING
The cilantro and lime sauce is made with mayonnaise and a little garlic and pickled jalapeño for an extra kick. For a vegan version, replace the mayonnaise with 3 tablespoons of olive oil or dairy-free yoghurt and a little extra lime juice. I used my mini blender to process the dressing but you can also chop everything up with a knife.
This is a great make-ahead dish as well. Store it in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the Instant Pot on Sauté or in the oven.
Tip: You can spread this quinoa in a casserole dish, top with some salad and sprinkle with grated cheese, then bake for an extra comforting Tex Mex dish.
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Mexican Instant Pot Quinoa With Cilantro & Lime Dressing
- 1 cup dry quinoa any color you like
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 celery stick diced
- 3 large cloves of garlic finely diced
- 1/2 long red chili finely diced (seeds out)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chipotle chili flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup frozen garden peas
- 1/2 cup tinned tomato puree/diced tomatoes/passata
- 1/2 cup water
For cilantro lime dressing
- 2 tbsp cilantro leaves and stalks roughly diced
- 1/2 clove garlic roughly diced
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 small pickled jalapeno slices
- 1 Pinch salt
- Soak the quinoa in 2-3 cups of lightly salted cold water for 10-15 minutes (an hour is even better). Then rinse through a sieve.
- Press the Sauté key on the Instant Pot (it should say Normal, 30 mins). Add olive oil, onions, peppers, celery and half of the salt. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring a few times.
- After 5 minutes, add the garlic, spices and the rest of the salt. Stir through for 10 seconds and then add the quinoa, frozen corn and peas, tinned tomatoes and water. Stir through and press Keep Warm/Cancel key on the Instant Pot.
- Place and lock the lid, making sure the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing. Press Manual, High pressure and set to 1 minute. After 3 beeps the pressure cooker will start going.
- Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release for 5-7 minutes and then, if needed, use the quick release method before opening the lid.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the sauce by placing all of the ingredients in a food processor or a small blender. Process into a smooth sauce (it’s okay if some of the cilantro is not completely ground up). If no food processor is available, use a knife to finely chop the cilantro and jalapeño, grate the garlic, then combine with the other ingredients in a bowl.
- Serve the quinoa in bowls with a few teaspoons of cilantro sauce drizzled over the top. Garnish with extra lime and some chopped scallions.
Excellent recipe!! I was a little nervous to try it after reading the comments, but it went without a hitch in a 6-quart IP-LUX using a 1:1 ratio quinoa to water and subbing black beans for the green peas. I also doubled the sauce, and served it with avocado and corn tortillas, all based on comments here. It was so tasty! I am very glad I used more water than it calls for. (I had decided it would be easier to drain off excess than to deal with an undercooked grain, but there was not a thing to drain off…it was perfect). Definitely will make again, and I’m dreaming of all the things I could do with the sauce.
Hey Kel, thanks so much for your feedback and tips on how you made your version. We will definitely look at amending the recipe slightly based on comments and I might cook it again to double-check that the liquid amounts work perfectly.
I love Quinoa. sometimes I cook it with milk and my favorite is to be served as a salad. Thanks for giving me a new idea. looking yummy
This was GREAT but I would love to add chicken to it. Do you think that’s possible or would it not cook long enough?
Hi Kelly. Yes, you could add chicken. With chicken, I make sure to cook for at least 15 minutes. It should work out fine if you cut the chicken up for a one pot meal!
This recipe is delicious. I added just a bit more water to make sure the quinoa is cooked, and I put frozen veggies in. This has become a household staple.
Margarite, thanks for your feedback! I’m so glad you’re loving this recipe. It’s really lovely, simple, and budget-friendly.
I love this recipe and have made it several times. My favorite modification is to sub black beans for the green peas. Also, I found that I could use pre-washed quinoa, skip the soaking & double the recipe for my family of 5 and it was perfectly delicious. Easy to add a side of chicken to satisfy the meat eaters, and serve with avocado and corn tortillas. Yum!
I am so glad you shared some of your modifications! I’m sure many other people who want to try this recipe will find your suggestions very helpful. You’re right – there are so many ways to make this appealing to any type of eater, and it’s so easy to do. Thanks!!
Should have read reviews first, because now my family is ready for dinner and dinner is not ready! I too am getting the burn message even after adding an additional cup of water! I’m switching it over to stovetop to finish. A let down for sure, but will give it another shot !
Are you using the Ultra? I don’t get the burn notification on my pot when I cook quinoa.
Just made it for the first time and it tastes delicious, but the quinoa is not done, after soaking it for an hour. I reset the normal pressure cook setting for four additional minutes to see if it cooks thoroughly. The sauce is amazing! Definitely make at least double of it!
Hmm, I wonder why! The IP has proven to be finicky with recipes. I’m glad you love the sauce. Perhaps add 3-5 more minutes to cook time for the quinoa.
I am having the same “burn” error as Erin. I followed the recipe precisely. The only difference is that I have the larger 8 quart pot. We kept scraping the bottom and adding water but the “burn” error kept popping up.
Hey Mike, I’m not too sure why you’d get the ‘burn’ error. I’ve adjusted the water amount to 2/3 cups instead of 1/2 for future recipe makers, thinking that perhaps for larger pots you need a little more liquid. Another reason that it could be is if say the carrot and celery sizes were slightly larger and as a result there was more food in the pot to cook, which might have needed more liquid.
Unfortunately we don’t provide nutritional information for our recipes.
This is definitely not working for me and I’m bummed. My IP has gone to “Burn” five tries in a row now. I’ve stirred to remove any burn material from bottom and added veggie broth each time before trying again. Have probably added another 1.5 cups of broth by now. Trying one more time on rice mode and then will move to stove top if that doesn’t work but might be a lost cause at this point. Are others not having issues with the burn warning coming on? 1/2 cup water seems like way too little.
Are you using tinned tomatoes as well? And what about frozen corn and peas? Together with 1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup tinned chopped tomatoes + the liquid that you will get from the frozen peas and corn, you will yield at least a full 1 cup of liquid. Cooking quinoa in IP requires 1:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa, so it should definitely be enough. And especially, if you’re adding even more cups of broth….I am puzzled as to why you would be getting the ‘Burn. Do it ‘burn’ while the pressure cooker is set to Manual, High or while you’re sautéing? The only other thing I can think of is measurement cups for quinoa and water should be the same? So, if say you used a bigger cup for measuring quinoa and a smaller one for water…but still, you did mention that you’ve tried adding more liquid. Sorry, I am out of solutions!
Hi Erin, I did just think of one more thing! Are you by any chance using tomato paste instead of tinned chopped tomatoes? If you are, then that could be the issue as the A) paste is much thicker and won’t add much liquid and B) tomato paste is quite concentrated and can easily burn as tends to caramelise if not enough liquid is present.
I had the same problem. It just sticks to the bottom and I get the “burn” alert. After three or four attempts the quinoa is cooked enough to eat, but clearly I’ve done something wrong. Not sure what? I used enchilada sauce instead of canned tomatoes, otherwise everything was about the same.
Hi Carrie. I might recommend using more water. Increase by 1/2-1 cup for better cooking results.
Looking forward to trying this recipe. Not sure what a “pointy red pepper” is though…? You mention chipotle in your intro. Is that what you mean in the ingredient list?
It’s similar to regular red bell pepper but it’s longer and more pointy in shape. You can use regular bell pepper of any colour. Chipotle refers to the chili you can use for flavorig, but regular caynne or chili flakes will also be fine. Chipotle gives it a little smokey aroma and flavor.
I cook quinoa regular without soaking it, but this was my first time trying it in the instant pot. I didn’t soak it and set the pot for 1 min and same prob – quinoa not at all cooked 🙁 just added some more water and set it for 7 min, we’ll see what happens!
You want to cook it for ten minutes.
Only 1 minute of pressure cooking? My quinoa isn’t even close to done. I’m sure I’ve screwed something up as usual 🙁
If you’re using Instant Pot, it will first build up the pressure, which takes 5 minutes and then it starts the 1-minute on High cooking process. Then it still cooks while the pressure is releasing naturally (we recommend 7 minutes). Also, did you soak the quinoa at all or just put in straight out of the pack? Hope that helps!
Really liked it, but I’d say it’s 2 servings at most. And definitely double the dressing recipe, it made barely enough to drizzle one and a half servings, and I’m a small eater! Otherwise, delish!
Only 1/2 cup water? I thought it was normally more water than grain. I know the veggies have some moisture. Just checking before I try it. Thanks! Looks yummy and really simple.
Hey Linda, yes, that’s correct. You get 1/2 cup of liquid in water, 1/2 cup in tinned tomatoes (which are sort of like liquid) and also the liquid from the frozen veggies as they cook. With quinoa it’s about 1:1 ratio for Instant Pot as they are quite small seeds.
Awesome recipe! Cant wait to try it!
This looks like an amazing recipe. Will have to try as a healthy alternative to rice.
I bave been obsessing with quinoa lately. So I must try and make this at home.
It’s such a fun and versatile food – isn’t it?!
I have never tried a recipe like this. Looks really good. Your pictures are fabulous and you explain everything in detail. That is exactly what I need 🙂
Thanks! Enjoy your Instant Pot. You’re going to love the quinoa with these flavours!
I love the sound of this! It looks so healthy and tasty! Anything that has cilantro and lime is ok by me!
This looks amazing. I love mexican food. however my kids dont really like it. I will have to wait for any visitors at home so I can cook it.
I hope you have guests soon so you can dig into this one!!!
The instructions stated to make Mexican instant Pot Quinoa with Cilantro & Lime Dressing is well stated. Thanks.
wow..this colorful dish looks super tempting. I bet it tastes yummy. Have to try this if i may get all the ingredients here.
It is indeed mouth watering!! I make quinoa in milk mostly but this seems a healthy & filling option:)
I love this! I would take out the mayo to veganize it, but that’s just me! It looks so satisfying! I cannot wait to try the recipe!
It would be just as great! Some coconut yoghurt would be tasty.
This looks so yummy and perfect for a summer day. I think I really need to invest in an instant pot.
I totally think you should!
I’ve never heard of quinoa before our pediatrician said to give it to the baby and now we all eat it! Red and white and always the biological one 🙂
Hope the baby likes it! This is a great recipe to get them used to bold flavours, too.
Mmm, I would really enjoy this! It sounds and looks amazing. I love cilantro.
Me too! It blows me away when people don’t like it or think it tastes like soap – I’m glad I got the good gene 😉
I’ve heard nothing but good things about the InstaPot. This recipe sounds like a perfect one for someone just getting started with one.
That looks absolutely delicious. I am fasting and my mouth was watering as I was looking through the recipe and of course the pictures haha 😀
Sorry for the torture! Something to put on your cooking bucket list 😉