Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots and Pecans

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This quinoa pilaf is gussied up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pecans. It makes an earthy and hearty dish.

Bowl of quinoa pilaf with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and pecans.

This quinoa pilaf is the kind of dish that will remind you that eating healthy doesn’t have to leave you hungry. It’s one of the reasons I love quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). It looks like couscous and eats like a grain but it’s actually the tiny seed of a plant related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.

Quinoa is incredibly high in protein and fiber and contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. What’s more? It’s gluten-free, cooks quickly (just 15 minutes!) and can take on limitless flavors. Here, the quinoa is gussied up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and pecans to make an earthy and hearty dish.

What you’ll need to make Quinoa Pilaf

Pilaf ingredients including thyme, onion, and chicken broth.

One of the secrets to making delicious quinoa is to ignore the instructions on the package, which almost always call for too much liquid and result in mushy quinoa. For quinoa that is light, fluffy and slightly crunchy, the ideal ratio is 1 cup quinoa to 1-2/3 cup liquid.

Quinoa pouring into a pot of broth.
How to make quinoa pilaf

To begin, bring the chicken broth and quinoa to a boil, then cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. It will look like this when it’s done…

Pot of cooked quinoa.

In the meantime, cook the onions gently in olive oil until they start to soften.

Skillet of cooked onions.

Add the diced carrots and thyme and continue to cook until the carrots are just tender.

Carrots, thyme, and onions in a skillet.

Next, stir in the shiitake mushrooms and garlic, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are done.

Mushrooms in a skillet of vegetables.

Finally, stir in the cooked quinoa, pecans, and parsley.

Quinoa in a skillet with vegetables.

That’s all there is to it. Transfer to a serving dish and enjoy as a hearty side or meatless main course.

Bowl of quinoa pilaf with shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and pecans.

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Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots & Pecans

This quinoa pilaf is gussied up with sautéed onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and pecans. It makes an earthy and hearty dish.

Servings: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course


  • 1 cup quinoa, pre-rinsed or rinsed
  • 1⅔ cups low sodium chicken broth (best quality such as Swanson), or vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup chopped pecans, toasted if desired
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Combine quinoa and chicken broth in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low, cover and simmer until quinoa is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots and thyme and cook until the carrots are just tender, 5-7 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil, along with mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are cooked through, a few minutes. Season vegetables with ¼ teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Add cooked quinoa to vegetables and stir in pecans and chopped parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot or warm.
  4. Note: Shiitakes never come in contact with dirt, so the only washing usually necessary is a gentle wipe with a damp cloth or a paper towel. Use a knife to remove the stems where they meet the cap.

Nutrition Information

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  • Serving size: 4 servings
  • Calories: 341
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 35 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 8 g
  • Sodium: 186 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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  • Hi Jenn,

    Can I use mini bell mushrooms instead Shitakes?

    Thank you !

    • — Mlak on April 30, 2024
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on May 1, 2024
      • Reply
  • Easy, delicious, healthy!! Making this again this week but doubling the recipe so it’ll last us two nights.

    • — Millie on April 27, 2024
    • Reply
  • This quinoa pilaf recipe was very good! I actually had a bag of quinoa I had bought quite awhile ago so this was a great way to use up what was sitting in my pantry so it doesn’t expire. I loved the flavor and how quick everything came together. Paired this with Jenn’s Pan Seared Salmon recipe and it made a lovely and impressive weeknight meal, in my opinion!

    • — Lilee on April 15, 2024
    • Reply
  • Best quinoa pilaf recipe I’ve found and it received rave reviews from my dinner guests! Passed along the recipe link and will be making/riffing on this again!

    • — Kris on May 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! The pecans go really well with the other flavors. Will be making again!

    • — CF on March 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Do you think cashews or walnuts would be a good substitute for the pecans? Thank you Chef!

    • — Armand on December 12, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure — either one would be fine. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2022
      • Reply
  • Thank you for this recipe. I made it as you advised it and we really enjoyed it.

    I am looking forward to trying more recipes with quinoa in the future.

    Thank you again.

    • — Eric de Chalon on October 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this yesterday and it’s a keeper! I did add about another teaspoon of salt to the end result. I’m sure the level of salt may depend on the brand of broth used.
    We have a variety of diets in our house and this was a great gluten free, plant based and delicious dish. We paired it with traditional and plant-based sausage. I can see based on others comments that this can easily be adapted with the veggies or mushrooms you have on hand. Thanks Jenn!!

    • — Vicki M on October 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • Would it work to use fresh thyme instead of dried? I have an abundance of it in the garden right now😊!

    • — Ruthie on July 24, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Ruthie, Yes, you can use fresh thyme. You’ll need more; I’d suggest just shy of 1 tablespoon and I’d stir it in with the pecans and parsley. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 25, 2022
      • Reply
  • Can I freeze this recipe? Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitake Mushrooms, Carrots and Pecans

    • Hi Ellen, I’ve never tried freezing it, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

  • I found this recipe by Googling “best quinoa pilaf” or something like that. I did not have fresh shitake mushrooms, so I soaked some dried shitake mushrooms I had nearly forgotten that were at least three years old. I also used dried parsley. I was hesitant about the thyme from the beginning but used it in approximately the proportion called for. Overall, it turned out extremely well. It was easily the best quinoa pilaf I have made. I recommend the dried mushrooms for this dish. While the thyme seemed less appropriate than Chinese five spice when I first tried my pilaf, my leftovers tasted better after forty-some hours in the refrigerator, and I decided that thyme was the right seasoning after all. I did find, however, that, even using the recommended ratio of vegetable broth to quinoa, my doubled batch of quinoa took more like 21 to 25 minutes of simmering, rather than 15, to absorb the liquid. Thank you for posting this.

  • I just made this for my meat eating boyfriend and he LOVED it. I used baby bella mushrooms – 8 oz – and since he isn’t vegan also added a few teaspoons of ghee – and it was delicious and hearty. Thanks, Jenn, for your curated recipes that deliver every time.

  • Hi Jen,

    Happy holidays. Thanks for all your hard work. Greatly appreciated! Would tri-color quinoa work here?



    • Yes, definitely. Happy holidays!

  • Tastes delicious but I think I made a mistake by leaving the quinoa in the pot with the lid on after it was cooked. It ended up to be a bit gummy.

    • — Janis McGladrey
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Thank you for the accompanying photos and tips, especially about cooking quinoa. The only shitaki mushrooms at the store were pre-sliced and too thick, so I sliced them thinner. Made it perfect! I cooked this dish for my sister, she better hurry up and get here.

  • Best quinoa I’ve had. Used sweet potatoes instead of carrots and coriander instead of parsley. Wow!

  • Really good dish. My husband always prefers rice but he really liked this. Will be a keeper for sure. I used cocktail peanuts chopped up as that is all I had on hand. Thanks Jen!

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