Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

Food

Try Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf — we roast veggies and quinoa all on two sheet pans and then toss it all together with an irresistible balsamic dressing!

We love quinoa recipes — try our favorite Quinoa Salad or these simple slow cooker Quinoa Tacos next!

Overhead view of the sheet pan Quinoa Pilaf on a sheet pan

Overhead view of the sheet pan Quinoa Pilaf on a sheet pan

Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

Remember when we cooked rice on a sheet pan in this One Pan Jambalaya or this Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli, and Rice? Packaged rice made that dinner prep ridiculously easy and the clean-up even faster.

So why not take the same concept — roasting rice on a sheet pan — and apply that to quinoa? Well, we’ve gone there and I’m personally never looking back. This Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf is ridiculously tasty, robustly flavored, and the cleanup is kept to a minimum!

And while this recipe is vegetarian, it actually has a good amount of plant-based protein, thanks to the quinoa and chickpeas — more on this below.

Ingredient shot: main ingredients in this recipe

Ingredient shot: main ingredients in this recipe

Recipe Process Overview

Below is a quick overview of how to make Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf — you’ll need two large sheet pans for this recipe!

  • Start by prepping the veggies: chop the sweet potatoes, red onion, and beets. Add beets to one pan with olive oil, salt, & pepper. Add sweet potato and onion to the other pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast.
  • Meanwhile, drain, rinse, and dry the chickpeas.
  • We toss the beets and return them to the oven. We stir the sweet potatoes and onion, add the chickpeas and return to the oven. Continue roasting and use this time to prepare the dressing — add everything to a jar and shake to combine!
  • Remove both sheet pans again and test for doneness on the beets; if they aren’t quite tender, return them to the oven. On the other sheet pan, add the quinoa, almonds, and dried cherries (or cranberries). Roast this pan for just a few more minutes to warm the quinoa, get the cherries tender, and slightly toast the almonds.
  • Remove both sheet pans from the oven, add the beets to the other sheet pan and drizzle the dressing on everything. Toss and add any desired toppings.
  • And that’s it! You’ve got your veggies and quinoa all deliciously seasoned in one sheet pan and in under an hour of time!

Process shots: adding ingredients to the pans and roasting

Process shots: adding ingredients to the pans and roasting

You Can Cook Quinoa On A Sheet Pan?!

Yes! With a store-bought shortcut, we can have perfectly cooked quinoa in a matter of minutes! 

In order for Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf to work, we need Microwaveable Packaged Quinoa. Microwaveable quinoa is already cooked and just needs to be heated. Instead of microwaving it, though, we add it on the sheet pan with the veggies and roast it — easy, quick, and convenient!

This type of packaged quinoa is typically found among other types of pre-cooked quinoa, rice, and grains in the grocery store. There are lots of different flavors, so be sure to grab the plain (sea salt) quinoa so flavors aren’t competing. 

The only “prep” required for this type of quinoa is kneading the quinoa in the packet before opening it. This helps break apart the clumps of quinoa so it comes out in individual grains.

QUICK TIP

You can also use leftover cooked and cooled quinoa instead of the microwaveable type in this recipe! Just make sure it’s fully cooked before using.

Adding ingredients to the roasting pans

Adding ingredients to the roasting pans

Adding Protein To Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

While it may seem that this pilaf is missing protein, it’s actually got a good amount of it, thanks to the quinoa and chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). Both are excellent sources of plant-based protein. Plus, when you pair the protein with the good-for-you fats (olive oil in the dressing and avocado), and complex carbs (sweet potatoes) you’ll be amazed how satiating this dish is!

That said, this pilaf lends well to additional protein being added; I’d recommend a side of grilled chicken!

Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf Toppings

Feel free to get creative on toppings for this pilaf. Here are our favorites:

  • Sliced almonds. The almonds add a nice crunch; pecans or pistachios would also be delicious!
  • Dried cherries. We love dried tart cherries, but dried cranberries also work nicely in this recipe.
  • Avocado. A perfectly ripe avocado adds an amazing creaminess. 
  • Goat cheese. In my book, there are few combos as amazing as roasted beets, avocado, and goat cheese! If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese, try Parmesan or feta cheese.
  • Fresh parsley. A touch of fresh herbs adds a nice freshness and vibrancy to the dish. Fresh thyme would also be nice here!

Process shots: adding quinoa, almonds and cherries to the pan and continuing to roast.

Process shots: adding quinoa, almonds and cherries to the pan and continuing to roast.

Balsamic-Clementine Dressing

This sweet-tart dressing is the perfect finishing touch for Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf. We use clementines — both the zest and juice to infuse the dressing with a lovely orange flavor. It’s so quick to make — simply add everything to a jar and shake to combine! A few notes on the dressing:

  • Use kitchen tools to make the dressing preparation easier. Use a microplane (like this one) to zest only the very outside bright orange part of the clementine. Avoid the white pith below the peel. This citrus juicer makes juicing the clementines a breeze!
  • Make sure to use Dijon mustard, not yellow. There’s a big flavor difference.
  • Use good quality, extra virgin olive oil: The better your olive oil, the better the flavor of the dressing (and roasted veggies) will be. Here are a few tips when trying to find good olive oil and a list of chefs’ favorite olive oils. Cobram Estate® Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a current favorite of mine in this dressing.

Process shots: creating the dressing and adding it to the pan, along with toppings for this Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

Process shots: creating the dressing and adding it to the pan, along with toppings for this Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf Tips

  • Use a LARGE sheet pan. The more space the vegetables have (aka the less crowded they are) the better they roast. When vegetables are overlapping or crowded onto a sheet pan, they end up steaming instead of roasting. This greatly affects the end taste and texture. We use this 15×21 inch sheet pan and I can’t recommend it enough. You’ll get perfectly caramelized roasted veggies every time! See the “quick tip” box below.
  • Cut vegetables into roughly equal sizes. This ensures even roasting so there aren’t some under-cooked veggies and some over-cooked. Pay attention to the specific sizes outlined in the recipe card to ensure the veggies are large or small enough to roast properly in the indicated times.
  • Thoroughly dry the chickpeas before roasting. Wet chickpeas will end up steaming more than roasting. I like to add the rinsed and drained chickpeas to a salad spinner and thoroughly dry before adding to the sheet pan.

QUICK TIP

If you aren’t using an extra-large sheet pan, you’ll need to increase the cooking time more than the recipe indicates. When the veggies have plenty of room to roast, they’ll develop beautiful, caramelized edges and cook faster.

More Sheet Pan Recipes

Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

Try Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf — we roast veggies and quinoa all on two sheet pans and then toss everything together with an irresistible balsamic dressing!

Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf

Try Sheet Pan Quinoa Pilaf — we roast veggies and quinoa all on two sheet pans and then toss everything together with an irresistible balsamic dressing!

Ingredients

Sheet Pan

  • 2-1/3 cups (12 oz.; 320g) red beets, tops removed, peeled, 1/2-inch dice (~3 beets)
  • 3 cups (13 oz.; 385g) sweet potatoes peeled, 1/2-inch dice (~2 potatoes)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, halved, & 1-inch dice
  • Extra virgin olive oil, fine sea salt, and pepper, for roasting
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.; 439g) chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 2 packets (8 oz.; 227g EACH) microwave packet quinoa Note 1
  • 1/3 cup (42g) dried tart cherries (or dried cranberries)
  • 1/3 cup (34g) sliced almonds
  • Optional: goat or feta cheese, fresh parsley, 1 large Hass avocado, diced

Dressing

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons (31g) balsamic vinegar
  • 2 clementines (or 1 orange) (1 tsp zest, 2 tbsp (30g) juice)
  • 1 tablespoon (20g) honey use agave nectar for vegan
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (9g) Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup (61g) extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Set out 2 large sheet pans (I use two, 15×21-inch sheet pans). Peel the beets and cut into small 1/2 inch cubes, cut the red onion into 1-inch chunks, peel the sweet potatoes and cut into small 1/2 inch cubes. (Recipe timing depends on veggies cut to these sizes.) Rinse, thoroughly drain, and dry chickpeas. (I put them in a salad spinner to thoroughly dry.)

  • BEETS: On the first sheet pan, add beet cubes. Drizzle on 1 tablespoon oil (13g) and salt & pepper to taste. (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper– add to taste preference (See Note 2).) With your hands, toss to generously coat and then spread in an even layer, leaving plenty of space for the veggies to roast. If they’re overlapping they will steam instead of roast and take a lot longer to cook.

  • SWEET POTATOES AND ONION: On the second sheet pan, add the sweet potatoes and onion. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil (22g) 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; spread out in one layer. Again, toss to coat and space in one even layer. Put both sheet pans in the oven — beets on top. Roast for 15 minutes and then remove both sheet pans.

  • CHICKPEAS: Toss the beets and space out again. On the other sheet pan with the sweet potatoes, add the chickpeas and toss, being sure to space out again. Return both trays to the oven, beets still on the top shelf. Roast for another 15 minutes and remove both sheet pans. Test beets; if tender, set aside. If not return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. On the other sheet pan, add the 2 packets of quinoa, dried cherries, and sliced almonds. Toss everything together and space in one even layer. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until veggies are tender.

  • DRESSING: While the vegetables roast, prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a jar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I add 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.) Put on the lid and shake vigorously to combine. If honey settles at the bottom, stir and then re-shake.

  • ASSEMBLY: Remove both trays from the oven. Add beets to the sweet potato tray. Drizzle dressing to taste (we add it all, but you may like less) over everything and toss to coat. Top with fresh chopped parsley, thinly sliced or chopped ripe avocados, and goat or feta cheese. Enjoy immediately!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: We need
Microwaveable Packaged Quinoa for this recipe OR use leftover fully cooked quinoa. Instead of heating it in the microwave, we add it to the sheet pan with the veggies and roast it —no prep needed besides kneading the packet to break apart the quinoa before adding to the sheet pan.

 

Note 2: Instead of adding salt/pepper all at the end, we season each individual component of the dish to end up with the best possible flavor. Note that I’m using 
fine sea salt, not table salt. If using table salt, you’ll want to greatly reduce the amounts.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 598kcal | Carbohydrates: 85g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 105mg | Potassium: 1035mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 17380IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 5mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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