Skip to Content

Easy Coconut Quinoa with Lime Zest (3-Ingredient Side Dish!)

Just 3 ingredients and insanely easy prep (use your rice cooker or Instant Pot) make this delicious coconut quinoa with lime zest recipe a go-to side dish or breakfast option… Total winner!

coconut quinoa with lime zest in a bowl with limes and cilantro

Coconut Quinoa with Lime Zest

I’m all about simple healthy side dishes that pack a ton of flavor — and this easy coconut quinoa totally delivers! We’re talking virtually hands off cooking here, folks…

Basically, it’s a riff on our favorite (and very popular) coconut milk rice recipe, substituting quinoa for the basmati rice. Sounds good, hmm?

And it’s good for you, too! Not only is quinoa high in protein, it’s also packed full of antioxidants, high in fiber, AND naturally gluten free. So many benefits wrapped up in one delicious, versatile and incredibly easy to prepare grain!


lime quinoa with coconut milk recipe ingredients

3-Ingredient Coconut Milk Quinoa

With just three real ingredients (because salt and water don’t count, right?), this coconut milk quinoa recipe is a cinch to prepare, especially when you use my easy quinoa in rice cooker method. Yes, really… You CAN make quinoa in your rice cooker!

Just a word on coconut milk… While you could probably use your favorite coconut milk beverage in this recipe, I prefer to use canned coconut milk when cooking. It provides loads more flavor and a richer consistency.

But if you wish to opt for the coconut milk beverage, quinoa is always cooked at a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid. So you’d omit the water and use 2 cups of coconut milk beverage in lieu of the canned coconut milk and water in my recipe. You could also substitute coconut water using this same method.

quinoa and coconut milk for coconut quinoa with lime zest recipe

By the way, my favorite brand of canned coconut milk is Thai Kitchen — organic if I can find it, but the regular variety will do, as well. I stock up via my monthly Subscribe & Save order so I always have some in my pantry (because we make this yummy quinoa and coconut milk recipe often).

Although I’ve been finding it for a great price at Costco lately, too. So if you’re a big Costco fan (like me!), look for it there.

coconut lime quinoa in a bowl with limes

Coconut Milk Quinoa in Your Rice Cooker or Instant Pot

How you prepare this coconut quinoa is totally up to you. You CAN choose to make it on the stovetop (instructions below) — it’s actually slightly quicker. But it’s just so darn insanely easy to make it in a rice cooker. Simply dump the quinoa, coconut milk, water, and salt in, and push the start button. Then you’re free to throw together the rest of your meal while it cooks.

I have a fancy Zojirushi model, but a bargain rice cooker, like this uber budget-friendly model, will more than suffice. For about $16, you’ll adore the overall time savings!

Instant Pot Quinoa: I’ve recently been experimenting with making this recipe in my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker — and it’s even faster! Like just one minute at pressure fast…

I alternate between methods depending whether I’m meal prepping or preparing it for dinner alongside a longer cooking dish. Instructions for both methods can be found in the recipe card.

coconut milk quinoa with lime zest in a bowl with limes and a fork

Not only is this coconut lime quinoa a versatile side dish (served alongside chicken, in burritos, in salads, mix in fresh veggies, basically any way you’d normally use rice), the mild flavor with just a hint of sweetness means that it’s perfect for breakfast applications, as well. Topped with coconut flakes, fresh blueberries, toasted pecans, and a dollop of vanilla yogurt, it makes for a surprisingly delicious breakfast bowl!


coconut lime quinoa in a persimmon bowl with limes

Coconut Quinoa w/ Lime Zest

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Just 3 ingredients and insanely easy prep (use your rice cooker or Instant Pot) make this delicious coconut quinoa with lime zest recipe a go-to side dish or breakfast option… Total winner!


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary
  • 1 (13.66-oz.) can of coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small lime, zested and juiced


  1. Check the quinoa package to see if your quinoa needs rinsed. If it does, pour 1 cup of quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
  2. Place quinoa, canned coconut milk, water, and salt into the rice cooker.
  3. I select the quick cook setting on my rice cooker, and then press the start button to start the cooking process. For a standard rice cooker without all of the bells and whistles, one cooking cycle should be enough to do it.
  4. The rice cooker will beep after about 30 minutes to indicate that it's done cooking. Let the quinoa set for about 4-5 minutes after it's done cooking, and then fluff it with a fork.
  5. Stir in the zest and juice of one small lime, season with additional salt to taste, and it's ready to serve.

Instant Pot Coconut Quinoa: To cook quinoa in your Instant Pot, simply follow the instructions for rinsing the quinoa, and place all of the ingredients in the instant pot liner. Use the manual setting to cook it for one minute at high pressure (really!) and then allow it to natural pressure release for up to 10 minutes. Fluff and stir in the lime zest and juice as indicated above.

Stovetop Coconut Quinoa: To cook quinoa on your stovetop, simply follow the instructions for rinsing and place all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover with a lid, and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Let the quinoa set for about 4-5 minutes after it's done cooking. Fluff and stir in the lime zest and juice as indicated above.


Substituting Coconut Milk Beverage or Coconut Water

To substitute coconut milk beverage or coconut water for the canned coconut milk, use 2 cups of either and omit the water in the recipe.

Note: I've had a few people remark on Pinterest that they thought their coconut lime quinoa turned out bland. This is why seasoning to taste is SO important, folks! Season with additional salt after cooking, and add more lime juice until you're satisfied with the flavor.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 149.4Total Fat: 12.5gSaturated Fat: 10.4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 106mgCarbohydrates: 7.4gFiber: 0.5gSugar: 1gProtein: 1.9g

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!

Three healthy chicken recipes to try with coconut quinoa:

  • This balsamic grilled chicken recipe makes the most juicy and succulent boneless skinless breasts EVER! Made with an easy balsamic chicken marinade that requires just 4 ingredients and 10 minutes of marinating time. AND it’s Whole30 compliant…
  • With just 4 ingredients and only 30-minutes of baking, these amazing baked boneless skinless chicken thighs are sure to become a weeknight staple. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!
  • This delicious spicy shredded Instant Pot salsa chicken recipe is equally perfect for weeknight dinners and weekend meal prep! It’s easy to prepare, super versatile, and freezes well. Just 4 ingredients and under 40 minutes prep to table!

If you love this coconut quinoa, I think you’ll also love this cilantro lime cauliflower rice! It’s a delicious, light, and healthy low carb side dish.

I’d love to see how your coconut lime quinoa turns out… Tag me @Unsophisticook on Instagram or use the hashtag #Unsophisticook so I can check it out. Enjoy!


Sunday 13th of November 2022

This came out like soup. Not like a little watery, literally like soup, and i even had the foresight to not use the water because it already looked like too much liquid. I cooked for another ten minutes- still soup. Will try again with half the can of coconut milk.


Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

This is such a GOOD recipe and my go-to when I make quinoa. We love it and it goes well with pretty much anything! The coconut milk adds so much to it. You can really add it to any dish, salad, meat and add your own other seasonings. Thank you!

Tara Kuczykowski

Thursday 23rd of September 2021

So happy to hear how much you love it, Jackie!


Saturday 25th of May 2019

Can u use Coucous or Amaranth in lieu of Quinoa??

Tara Kuczykowski

Saturday 25th of May 2019

Hi Jennifer! I've not tried either, but I don't see why you couldn't -- with some modifications. Quinoa cooks at a 1:2 ratio of grains to liquid, whereas couscous is a 1:1 and amaranth a 1:3. So I would substitute the quinoa for either 2 cups of couscous or 2/3 cup of amaranth and leave the remaining ingredients as is, if you'd like to try it. I'd love to hear your results if you do!

Experienced Cook

Thursday 31st of January 2019

This was...interesting. I prepared it on the stove top and followed the directions exactly (it's pretty simple). There was way too much liquid leftover, so I had to drain it. My family thought it tasted good - for limey, milky quinoa. Not sure I'd make it again but it was definitely worth a try. Thanks for the recipe.

Tara Kuczykowski

Saturday 25th of May 2019

Sorry I missed your comment previously. It sounds like it probably just needed to sit a little while longer to allow the liquid to absorb. Also, if you used a quinoa that needed to be rinsed before cooking, you might need to use a bit less water because it will retain some of the rinse water. I'll add a note about this to the recipe. Thanks!


Thursday 10th of January 2019

Never thought to use coconut milk! I bet that give it such a great flavor and goes perfectly with that lime zest!!!! :)

Skip to Recipe