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Welcome the season change with this warm vegan quinoa casserole packed with Asian-inspired flavors! It’s hearty enough for nonvegans, gluten-free friendly, and cooks hands-free. Save this easy recipe as a yummy, fuss-free dish to serve during the holidays.
This casserole idea is inspired by our Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole and Vegan Arroz Valenciana. We love making these comforting rice-based casseroles during the colder winter months, but we wanted to branch out and try creating a new vegan casserole for you made with quinoa!
Quinoa vs. Rice. What’s the difference?
Quinoa and rice are similarly used ingredients that are widely considered to be grains, although quinoa is technically a seed from the Amaranthaceae family. Quinoa and brown rice, in particular, are also similar when compared nutritionally. They’re naturally gluten-free, loaded with fiber, and contain similar protein levels. Quinoa takes the cake regarding amino acids and is higher in vital nutrients like iron, zinc, and potassium. It’s also much quicker to cook – about half the time compared to brown rice.
If you’re new to plant-based cooking, you can’t go wrong with stocking both quinoa and rice in the pantry. They’re versatile, hearty, and budget-friendly staples that are helpful year-round.
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make this Vegan Fall Quinoa Casserole
- Coconut Milk: We prefer to use a can of full-fat coconut milk to make the baked quinoa extra soft and fluffy. The creamy richness also balances the tangy, umami Asian-inspired flavors.
- Soy sauce: A great source of umami-packed flavor that also adds the perfect saltiness. If you’d like to make this dish gluten-free, opt for tamari.
- Chili Garlic Sauce: Adds a layer of spiciness and depth of flavor. Sub sriracha or an extra pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Oil: We like to use vegetable oil, sesame oil, or avocado oil.
- Onion and Garlic: These simple aromatics are essential to elevating the dish’s flavors.
- Ginger: Helps make the Asian-inspired flavors in this casserole pop! Trust us, you don’t want to skip this ingredient!
- Vegan Chicken: Adding vegan chicken makes this quinoa casserole hearty and is an excellent addition to satisfying nonvegans during the holidays. Several store-bought vegan chicken options are available in stores today, so pick your favorite! Or, sub-pressed extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes.
- Mushrooms: We used sliced shiitake mushrooms in this casserole, but you can use any mushroom of your choice. Chopped portobello mushrooms would be great, too.
- Quinoa: White quinoa is the base of our casserole and cooks entirely in the baking dish. We recommend rinsing it with cold water in a fine-mesh sieve to help eliminate the bitter-tasting saponin compounds naturally occurring in quinoa.
- Vegetables: We opted for sliced carrots, broccoli florets, and julienned red bell pepper as these veggies complement the stir-fry-inspired flavors in the casserole. Use any veggies you’d like.
Additional Ingredients To Consider:
- Sesame oil – for drizzling
- Lime juice – for fresh brightness
- Chopped green onions – We use green and white portions to finish the dish with a pop of additional color.
- 9×9 Baking Dish (or a dish similar in size)
- Non-Stick Pan
- Cutting Board and Knife
- Measuring Spoons and Cups
- Aluminum Foil
How to Make Vegan Quinoa Casserole
- Whisk together liquids. Whisk together the coconut milk, soy sauce, and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl.
- Saute the vegetables and vegan chicken. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Saute the chopped yellow onion with salt for 2-3 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, vegan chicken, chopped mushrooms, and red pepper flakes and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Transfer the sauteed vegetable mixture to the 9×9 baking dish.
- Add the quinoa and remaining vegetables and stir to combine. Finish by pouring the coconut milk evenly over the top. If any quinoa is sticking out of the liquid or stuck to the baking dish’s side, press it down to fully submerge in the liquid. This will ensure it bakes through properly.
- Cover tightly and bake! After 45 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven and let it sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.
- Garnish and serve. We like to mix in a tablespoon of sesame oil, lime juice, and chopped green onions. Serve warm!
*Jump down to the recipe for complete measurements and instructions.
Can I make this casserole with pre-cooked quinoa?
Unfortunately not. This baked vegan casserole is designed to be made with uncooked white quinoa. Using cooked quinoa would require a different liquid ratio and an adjusted cook time.
Would frozen vegetables work in place of fresh ones?
We don’t recommend using frozen vegetables in this baked casserole. Frozen vegetables contain additional moisture content that water down the bold umami-packed flavors and make the quinoa mushy.
I don’t have any aluminum foil. Can I bake this vegan casserole uncovered?
Sorry, this casserole has to be baked covered to help the quinoa steam and absorb the liquid successfully. You may be able to cover it with a silicone baking mat instead, but we cannot guarantee it.
Can I make this casserole oil free?
Yes, it can be. Opt for sauteing the vegetables and aromatics with a splash of water or vegetable broth.
Tips for a perfect casserole
- Take care to cover the baking dish tightly. If the dish bakes loosely covered, steam will escape during the bake time, and the quinoa may be underdone.
- Don’t skip the saute step! Trust us, sauteing the onion, garlic, and ginger before baking is essential to the best flavor-packed casserole. It’s worth the extra effort, I promise!
More recipes you may enjoy:
- Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole (Vegan)
- Vegan Green Bean Casserole with Baked Onions
- Vegan Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Sauce
- Fall Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole
- Easy Vegan Sushi Casserole
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