In today’s post I have my easy Quinoa with Lemon recipe! It is made with Meyer lemons (or regular lemons if you don’t have meyer lemons) plus coconut oil, shallot and thyme. And it has a little touch of honey. It’s a quick recipe to get on the stove (only 12 minutes of active time) and it goes so well with so many weeknight meals. 

lemon quinoa with almonds and thyme from the side close up

I originally shared this recipe on January 20, 2015. I have updated the text and added new photographs today. 

Why I Love This Lemon Quinoa Side Dish Recipe

I wanted to make a simple quinoa side dish for pairing with all of the weeknight dinners I have been posting.

But then I decided to add Meyer lemon to this quinoa recipe today because beautiful fresh Meyer lemons caught my eye at the market, and of course I couldn’t resist.

From there, I added in a few more key ingredients. There are certain flavors that go really well with lemons, thyme and honey being two of them, coconut being another. Meyer lemons in particular go well with these ingredients because they are so floral, so I teamed them all up to give this quinoa with lemon recipe a big boost of flavor.

This is a great quinoa side dish recipe to serve with chicken, fish or your favorite protein. Or you can use it as the base of a vegetarian meal. We love it with Pan Seared Salmon with Dill Sauce and Roasted Asparagus.

Ingredients For This Side Dish

ingredients for quinoa with lemon

Coconut oil

I love the additional flavor that coconut oil adds to this quinoa pilaf. It pairs well with the floral notes of the meyer lemon. You can also use extra-virgin olive oil if you prefer 


The shallot is the allium in this recipe. If you can’t find one, you can substitute a quarter cup minced white or red onion. 


The fresh thyme adds a woodsy note. Remove the leaves from the hard stems (the soft stems are okay) and then chop it finely. Measure out two teaspoons. You can sub one teaspoon dry thyme if you do not have fresh. 


For cooking I used water. You can also use vegetable broth instead. If you do, reduce the added salt.

Uncooked Quinoa

If quinoa is on your list of ingredients to try, it really is no big thing. You’ll see it’s just as easy as cooking white rice. Quinoa is a seed and it has a natural coating on it called saponin, which protects it from pests, but it tastes soapy and bitter.

Before cooking, rinse it off by putting the uncooked quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cool running water until the bubbles rinse away. Sometimes you can buy pre-rinsed quinoa, and that is really convenient because you can skip that step.


To season the quinoa, you’ll want to add the salt to the cooking water so that the quinoa is seasoned throughout. Use 3/4 teaspoon regular table salt. If you want to substitute kosher salt, make sure to check the amount according to the brand you buy.

Lemon zest and juice

If Meyer lemons are in season, by all means you can use them here. They add a wonderful floral flavor to this recipe and pair well with the coconut, herbs and almonds. (Meyer lemon also is amazing with maple, so if you have extra lemons on hand try my Maple Meyer Lemon Whiskey Sour!)

If you can’t find them (since they available mostly during winter) you can use regular lemon. You can also use orange zest and juice, but add a splash of red wine vinegar to increase the acidity. 

First zest the lemon and then squeeze out the juice. 


The honey is a nice and unexpected twist to the flavors in this dish. If you can find orange blossom honey (which is my favorite) use that. The flavor will be incredible with these other ingredients. 

Sliced Almonds

You will also need sliced almonds. Toast them to help bring out their flavor. 

How To Make Quinoa with Lemon

  1. Before you add the quinoa to the saucepan, saute the shallot first. This will make the shallot taste less sharp, and mellow and sweeten it. Add in the thyme to bring out the flavor in the oil. 
  2. Add the water, salt and quinoa. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. 

Check if it is done

Because stoves and cooking equipment vary, you’ll need to check in at the end of cooking time so that you get nice fluffy results. If there is too much water remaining, you’ll have wet quinoa.

To check to see if the water is absorbed without stirring, insert a spoon into the quinoa and pull it aside to see down to the pot. If there is still liquid below the surface, it needs to be cooked a little longer.

To Finish The Dish

Step 3. While the quinoa cooks, stir together the lemon zest, lemon juice and honey. This will help the zest distribute evenly and help the honey melt into the quinoa better too. 

Step 4. Once the quinoa is done, stir the lemon juice and zest mixture into the quinoa. Add the toasted almonds too.

lemon quinoa in a pink bowl from overhead

Make Ahead, Meal Prep and Leftovers

To store leftover quinoa, let it first cool to room temperature before sealing it shut. I like glass storage containers best. 

Cooked quinoa will keep for three to five days so you can make this ahead or use it for meal prep. For the best texture, adding the almonds in at the last minute is best.

Serving Ideas

More Easy Quinoa Recipes:

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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overhead view into pink bowl filled with quinoa

Quinoa with Lemon and Almonds {Easy Side Dish}


It only takes about 12 minutes to get this lemon quinoa on to simmer, and it tastes incredible! The flavor of the Meyer lemon goes so well with thyme and coconut and the tiny bit of honey balances the tartness of the lemon. Gluten-free and dairy-free.


Units Scale
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted


  1. Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add shallot and thyme, and cook until the shallot is softened and just starting to brown.
  2. Add water, quinoa and salt, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, medium low to low. Cook until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is starting to burst, 19 to 23 minutes.
  3. Stir lemon zest, lemon juice and honey in a small dish. Stir honey lemon mixture and almonds into the quinoa and serve.


Rinsing Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed and it has a natural coating on it called saponin, which protects it from pests, but it tastes soapy and bitter.

Before cooking, rinse it off by putting the uncooked quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cool running water until the bubbles rinse away. Sometimes you can buy pre-rinsed quinoa, and that is really convenient because you can skip that step.

Meyer Lemon

If you cannot find Meyer lemon, use regular lemon. This recipe is also wonderful with orange zest added. If you use orange instead of lemon, add a splash of red wine vinegar, as the juice of orange is not as acidic as the lemon.

  • Prep Time: 12 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 3/4 cup each
  • Calories: 135
  • Sugar: 3.6 g
  • Sodium: 470 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Fiber: 2.6 g
  • Protein: 4 g

Keywords: lemon quinoa,quinoa with lemon,

These photographs are courtesy Foolproof Living