Zesty quinoa cakes

Let’s ignore the fact that these little crispy cakes are pan fried and focus on the fact that they’re made with a SUPERFOOD!

I mean that totally negates the pan frying, right?


If you’ve ever had chicken piccata and loved it in all it’s salty, lemony glory, you will love these.

The secret?


I get excited about these little balls. But this is coming from someone who could eat a whole jar of Spanish olives by herself. It’s weird because I don’t crave salty things that often.

Potato chips? Ehh. Give me cake.

But capers are like a salty, earthy bite in all the best ways possible. I love how tiny they are compared to their flavor profile.

Good things come in small packages. (twss)

For all the salt the capers bring, the lemon zest and juice balances it out nicely so you’re left with the best of both worlds.

Topped with a dollop of a sour cream, lemon juice and avocado dip, they’re perfect. A perfect side to a bigger dinner, a perfect topping to a lunch time salad or, a perfect snack straight out of the toaster oven the next day.

This is a fried dish I can get behind.

4.6 from 7 reviews

Zesty Quinoa Cakes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Crispy quinoa cakes filled with big flavor from lemon & capers.
Recipe type: side dish
Serves: 10 cakes
  • 1⅓ cups cooked quinoa
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons AP flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl and mix until fully combined.
  2. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  3. In quarter cup scoops, form the quinoa mixture into patties.
  4. Place patties in skillet and pan fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown, adding additional olive oil as needed.
  5. Serve with additional lemon or a dip made with sour cream, lemon juice and avocado if desired.


share it on →
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email Stumbleupon


  1. 1

    this is AWESOME! i love that it looks like crab cakes but it’s healthier and with quinoa..love love! i’ve never had quinoa before — i know, SAD! but i will have to try it soon and i love your rendition of it with the zesty lemon & capers! yum!

  2. 2

    Fried healthy stuff? Love it!
    Must try this one.

    Happy Friday
    : ))

  3. 3

    Yum! Just from the pic, I thought these were crab cakes at first! I love how well they hold together– I guess that’s a benefit of frying, huh? :-)

  4. 4

    these look like crab or salmon cakes, sans fish. And great job on the photos on an item that for me, would be super tricky to make look pretty but you succeeded! yum :)

  5. 5

    I’ve seen a few recipes for quinoa cakes floating around and I can’t wait to try some. I used to be a huge caper and olive hater… but I am a total convert.

  6. 6

    Yum! Wish I had seen that recipe earlier this week when I cooked up a half bag of quinoa! They remind me of crab cakes, I bet I could throw in some canned crab to beef them up as a main dish.

  7. 7

    I love capers!!! I need to use them more often.

  8. 8

    These sound great gina! I don’t go out of my way to get capers but they are always a nice surprise on a salad or in a dish when I’m eating out. I defintely have the salty tooth that you lack!

  9. 9

    These look soooo good! Think I can take out the parm and they’d be just as delish?
    Definitely going to try these. I’ve got capers in my fridge right now!

  10. 11

    I’ve only tried to make quinoa once and completely butchered it. It was so dry! I’m thinking that it might be better in cake form though. Let’s be honest, isn’t everything? These look great :) Question, though: where might one find capers in the grocery store? (can you tell I’m not a chef?)

    • 12
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      They’re usually in the same aisle as olives and jarred artichokes and stuff like that. Usually a small thin jar like pictured in this post. Good luck!

  11. 13

    i want these in my belly. pronto!

  12. 15

    I need to make some quinoa, like right now. I’ve seen a few different quinoa cakes in the last little while and I’m totally craving some now :D I loooove how golden yours are.

  13. 16

    I love the word “zesty” is that weird? I think it may be.

  14. 17

    These look freaking delicious. I crave salt all the time because I’m not supposed to have it.

  15. 18

    These look amazing, such a great idea! I never buy capers though, I’ll have to hunt some down. They’d be a whole meal with some tuna added, too.

  16. 19

    Those look amazing. They remind me of crab cakes and being from Maryland thats a very good thing!! Will be trying these out soon since my daughter LOVES quinoa!

  17. 20

    Can you get capers at a regular grocery store? What exactly are they? Do they taste like pickles? So glad i found your website you have some fun and unique ides :)

    • 21
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Yes, you can definitely find them in the regular grocery store. Usually in the same aisle as olives and artichokes and other jarred things like red peppers, etc. They’re usually in a small thin jar or just a small regular jar. They’re actually flower buds of the caper bush. They taste salty because they’re packed in a brine usually. I don’t believe the caper itself is actually salty. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. 22

    Mmm, you had me at piccata. that is my absolute favorite flavor – the lemon and the capers together.

    and you know I love me some super quinoa! :D pinned, tagged, starred, bookmarked = making!

  19. 23

    Those sound so great! I bet the capers give a nice punch of flavor when you take a bite!

  20. 24

    I love capers & chicken picata! I think this is a great idea!

  21. 25

    I am so happy to have found your blog! I have a huge tupperware of quinoa sitting in the fridge! This is just what I needed thanks :)

  22. 26

    My first attempt at quinoa cakes was not long after I took the vegan plunge, and they were just OK. This inspires me to revisit the procedure and make them better!!

  23. 27

    This sounds amazing! I love these kind of cakes, reminds me of my Mom, she used to make then, but not with Quinoa and she’d put sour cream over the top. I will give them a try!

  24. 28

    just made these for lunch today. so delicious!

  25. 29

    These look delicious Want to make these for sure
    What variety of quinoa would work the best?

  26. 31

    I just made this and all I have to say is…. it is delightful! Thank you for sharing.

  27. 33

    Sounds delicious, you had me at zesty.
    As a vegetarian and gluten-free I’m always looking for creative main dishes, this is on the short list for dinner ideas. Any idea what I could substitute instead of the AP flour? I assume I need some sort of binder. Almond flour, Brown Rice flour with some Xantham Gum?

    • 34
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      I think any gluten free flour would work. I’d probably try brown rice flour first. We’re only talking 2T so it shouldn’t make that big of a difference :) Let me know how they come out if you do make them that way.

      • 35

        I made these guys tonight-yum! This is going in the “dinner staples” recipe binder.
        I used Brown Rice Flour instead of AP. They were tricky to work with but kept their form. I also used my 1/4 cup measuring cup to form a small patties, this seemed to help.
        Next time I may try adding two eggs and see if they are easier to work with.

  28. 37

    Made these tonight and they tasted fabulous!! I did not use any flour and although it was not easy to flip them it worked fine. (I did use a ring staight in the frying pan to make each patty instead of shaping them by hand) Also I used two egg whites instead of one egg. I served them with salmon cakes (salmon cubed finely, egg white, lemon zest, little rice flour, salt pepper) and steamed green beans. What a lovely meal. I will be making these again – thank you so much!

  29. 38

    I took a stab at these this weekend and they far exceeded my expectations! Absolutely delicious. More capers!


    • 39
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      Yay, so glad you liked them! I always forget about that little caper jar in the fridge. I need to remember to use them more often!

  30. 40

    These were lovely. My girlfriend and housemates all loved them. The flavor and texture reminded me of tuna or fish cakes.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    • 41
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      So glad you liked them! A lot of people said they reminded them of crab cakes which I didn’t even think of at the time, but they definitely do!

  31. 42

    Ok, my mouth is officially watering. I love the salty brininess of capers, but I’m with ya on the pass-on-chips-give-me-cake deal.

  32. 43

    Yum…I just saw these on another blog and came here to get the recipe. I LOVE capers. How did you make the sour cream/lemon/avocado dip? Did I miss a recipe for that?

    • 44
      Running to the Kitchen says:

      I didn’t write out the exact recipe, just mentioned it in the text at the end. I don’t remember the ratios to be honest but just mix those few ingredients together until it looks good and you’ll be fine. It’s just a dip so specifics aren’t that important ;)

  33. 45

    Made this recipe tonight tonight for dinner. Upped the capers and removed the cheese. Used whole wheat flour to bind and added some slivered almonds and allspice. Came out with a really great recipe that the boyfriend might even enjoy (and he hates quinoa). Thanks

  34. 46

    As someone who is obsessed with quinoa, I can tell you this is one of the tastiest recipes I have come across. I am always searching for new ways to use this amazing ingredients, and these are a must try! There are so many different flavor profiles you could use. I love the capers and cheese! Scrumptious. I have made many different cakes using quinoa, but never a plain quinoa one. Can’t wait to make these :)

  35. 47

    I used red quinoa, a little more egg to help stick the patties together, and coated the patties with flour prior to frying. I also used plain yogurt instead of sour cream in the dip. The end result was DIVINE! Thanks for this excellent recipe!

  36. 50

    I am always a lurker on blogs. Love to read them, just never feel like sharing…These were fabulous! Yum. Hubbo and I both were really impressed. Definitely important to keep them small and brown them well. I am so glad I bookmarked this . Thanks!

  37. 52

    Yummy, I have never had capers but have seen them in the store. Might be time for getting out of the old comfort zone and making these :)

  38. 53

    This does look like a cool little starter, and lots of people have had success with it. Thanks for pointing me to it in your one year post! My entire family likes capers- aren’t I lucky? I can add them to whatever I want– and often do. They’re great for perking up a pasta dish

  39. 54
    katherine says:

    This sounds great, think I might try it! Has anyone tried to bake them instead?

    • 55
      katherine says:

      Ok, so I made them both ways. The skillet and the oven and OMG they are so amazing! I am so glad I found your webiste! Happy girl!!

  40. 56
    Michele says:

    The taste was fine but it was NOT easy to form these into patties nor did they stay together well when I flipped them.

  41. 57

    Great texture, but I found it to be a little lemmony for my tastes. I also think I’ll try cooking the quinoa in a little veg broth next time.


  1. [...] found this recipe only two days ago, that is how excited I was to make it. I usually like to follow the original [...]

  2. [...] didn't you know?). Win-win. Crispy Quinoa Cakes with Sriracha-Mayo (quinoa cakes recipe from Running To The Kitchen) (sriracha-mayo recipe from White on Rice Couple) Quinoa Cakes Ingredients 1 1/3 cups cooked [...]

  3. [...] prepared dinner so that I could make it to yoga after work and still eat before 9 p.m. The recipe? Quinoa Cakes courtesy of my favorite food blogger Running to the [...]

  4. [...] Quinoa Cakes with Capers and Lemon Zest, Adapted from Running to the Kitchen [...]

  5. [...] has a crunch.  I guess the key is to add lots of flavour.  Now I can’t wait to try out this recipe for zesty quinoa [...]

Speak Your Mind


Rate this recipe: