Mexican Quinoa Dinner

A Zesty  One Pot Mexican Quinoa Dinner

Mexican Quinoa Plate2

The holiday is behind us, we have all loosened our belts, or in some cases poked extra holes in our belts with a paring knife (I’m just guessing). With visions of huge turkey dinners and huge leftover sandwiches dancing in our heads, what do we have for dinner now?

For me, I’m ready for something relatively healthy (compared to what I have eaten for the past several days, what isn’t)?

Mexican Quinoa Ingredients

Just a few months ago I never would have seen myself posting a recipe with not only ground turkey, but definitely not with quinoa. Quinoa? I don’t even know what it is, but I have slowly started to acclimate myself to the evil pseudo grain. And you know, it isn’t bad. I guess too many “healthy” restaurants that serve plain quinoa with steamed kale put the fear in me. But like most things, it can be a tasty treat if served in tasty ways.

Sure, I top it with sour cream and pepper jack with corn chips on the side, buy hey, it could be worse.

I was kind of inspired by Spanish Rice and maybe a little by a certain product that is intended to assist hamburger.

Yes, it still has turkey in it, like you have been eating since Wednesday, but it is ground turkey. You just want to wean yourself off the “bird” a little at a time. Once you have the turkey on your back you don’t want to quit cold, um cold what? Well, I guess that is where the name comes from. Anyway this recipe is intended to get you back to normal.

Diced Onion

But, as I usually caution, do not use ground turkey breast, use ground dark turkey. It took me awhile to get used to ground turkey at all, but ground white turkey, I am not sure if I will ever be OK with that.


And I am starting to warm up to quinoa. It is super fast to cook and takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with, kind of the “tofu theorem”.

To start, in a couple of tablespoons of oil over medium heat, sauté the turkey and onions until the turkey is no longer pink.

Dump in the garlic and continue to sauté for a minute longer.


Now’s the time to introduce a packet of taco seasoning (I always look for one with no MSG) and the quinoa (always make sure to rinse quinoa well before cooking).

Stir and sauté for another minute or so.

Turkey Onion Quinoa

In a measuring cup, pour a can of Ro-Tel (juice and all), or another brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles. Then add enough chicken (or vegetable) broth to make 2 cups.

Add the tomato/broth mixture and stir.

Dump in a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) and a cup of frozen corn (fire roasted corn would probably be nice in this also).

Give the whole kit ‘n’ caboodle a stir and lock the top on the pressure cooker.

Bring to high pressure and set time for 2 minutes.

When time is up, let pressure come down on its own. If pressure is not completely released after 10 minutes, do a quick release.

Let sit another 5 minutes or so to further absorb the liquid.

Serve in bowls or on plates, topped with grated cheese (I like to use pepper-jack), sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Mexican Quinoa Plate

I serve it with corn chips on the side. I usually put them right on top, it provides just the crunch it needs.

Mexican Quinoa Dinner
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
A quick and easy one-pot quinoa dinner.
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • ½ sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 envelope taco seasoning
  • 1 can Ro-Tel (10 oz), juice included (or other brand diced tomatoes with green chiles. If the can is larger than 10 ounces, use only one cup)
  • Chicken Stock (enough to make 2 cups when combined with the tomatoes)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Serve with corn chips
  • Shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro
  1. Over medium heat, sauté the turkey and onion in 2 tablespoons oil
  2. Toss in the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  3. Add the quinoa (make sure that it is rinsed well) and stir together with the turkey mixture
  4. Add in the taco seasoning and sauté for 30 seconds
  5. Pour in the Ro-Tel and chicken stock mixture
  6. Add the black beans and the frozen corn
  7. Give it a stir and lock the top on the pressure cooker
  8. Bring to high pressure for 2 minutes
  9. When time is up, remove from heat (if using electric, make sure it is turned off or unplugged)
  10. Let pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then do a quick release
  11. Let set for a minute or so, then fluff with a fork
  12. Serve on plates or in bowls with cheese, sour cream and cilantro


26 thoughts on “Mexican Quinoa Dinner

  1. I just made this in a rice cooker!!!! It was still pretty liquidy after the cooking cycle but then I left on the keep warm cycle for a good 20 minutes more. Ah-mazing!

    • I have never used the keep warm mode for more than a couple minutes, so I am unable to give you a definite answer. Maybe another reader has some experience with this?

    • The quinoa will get mushy if you leave it for that long. I discovered that on another dish, maybe adding less fluid would prevent that though!?

  2. I just got my instant pot. When you say “Over medium heat, sauté the turkey and onion in 2 tablespoons oil”.. Is the instant pot open… and you saute the turkey/onion in open pot? or do you close pot and set to medium heat… for how long?

    • In the Instant Pot, you would press the “Saute” button at the “normal” setting, which is the default. And the pot is open during the saute step.
      I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.


  3. This did not work for me as written. There wasn’t nearly enough liquid for the quinoa to cook. I had to add quite a bit of liquid and quite a bit of time before it cooked. This, of course, overcooked the turkey. If I ever do it again, I’ll cook the quinoa first and then after everything else is hot, I’ll add the quinoa.

    • I’m sorry to hear the recipe did not work for you. Whenever I have made it, the Rotel plus the chicken stock has always been plenty of liquid.

  4. Recipe appears broken to me. Made exactly according to directions. Natural release for 15 minutes. Quinoa basically raw. Fired for another 5 minutes of pressure, now burnt on bottom and quinoa still not cooked. Waste of time and ingredients.

    • I’m sorry to hear that the recipe didn’t work for you. I made this last night, just to double check if there is a problem with the recipe, but it turned out fine. I plan to update the recipe to be a little more specific. A can of Ro-Tel is 10 ounces, which I didn’t specify so there is a chance that if you use a different brand of diced tomatoes that comes in a larger can there could be issues. Also, I always use white quinoa. It shouldn’t make a difference, but that’s what I have always used, so I will specify that as well.

  5. I made this today and followed the recipe pretty closely. I used white quinoa though I had some mixed colors (I may try next time), I used 1 1/4 # ground turkey, and I added 1/2 cup chopped roasted poblanos. It came out perfectly! The quinoa was tender and all the water absorbed. I served it over chopped greens in bowls, then topped with cilantro, cubed avocado, pepper jack cheese, and a choice of avocado dip/dressing or chipotle ranch dressing. Then corn chips on the top. Everyone in my family loved it, though I think next time I will add a bit more seasoning as it was pretty mild on top of greens (and maybe because I had extra ground turkey). Thank you for this recipe. Its a keeper!

  6. I don’t understand how this recipe couldn’t turn out? I made it tonight but used a can of tomato sauce because halfway through I realized I didn’t have any diced tomatoes on hand. I also omited black beans because I didn’t have those either PLUS I used 2.5 lbs of turkey since I needed to cook it. All those factors against me, it still turned out perfect! Great recipe, easy to adapt when short items! YUM!

  7. This is a great recipe. Thank you for sharing. I’ve made it twice with white quinoa. I just bought wheat Quinoa to use the next time. I’m wondering if it will need a longer cook time? I will say the first time I made it I thought that the Quinoa wasn’t cooked, but it was once I tasted it.

    • I’m sorry to hear the recipe didn’t work out. I know that a couple people have had issues, but others have not had a problem at all. It’s difficult to guess what may have gone wrong.

    • Same. I just made this and at 2 mins, it never came to pressure and the quinoa was uncooked. Trying again for 4 mins. Fingers crossed that I’m not ruining dinner…

    • I’m happy to hear you liked the recipe. Some people have had issues with the quinoa not being done, but it always comes out good for me.

  8. I tried this with ground beef and vegetable stock. Stewed tomatoes and small can of green chilies also. The recipe came out great for us. I did shorten the cooking time because it started to smell hot… as in getting burned. I just let it sit for about 20 minutes and opened up the lid and it was great.

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