Zesty Quinoa Cakes

These pan fried zesty quinoa cakes are made with lemon and capers. They’re a great healthy side dish or even party appetizer.

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?

Zesty quinoa cakes


Quinoa cakes

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

The secret?

Quinoa cakes ingredients


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)

Zesty quinoa cakes with sour cream sauce

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.

Quinoa cakes with sour cream topping

This is a fried dish I can get behind.

Yield: 10 servings

Zesty Quinoa Cakes

Zesty Quinoa Cakes

These pan fried zesty quinoa cakes are made with lemon and capers. They're a great healthy side dish or even party appetizer.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1 1/3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons AP flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • juice of 1/2 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.


filed in: Side Dishes
featuring: · · ·


  1. Julie @ Table for Two

    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. Corinne

    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.

  3. katie @KatieDid

    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!

  4. Jenny

    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?)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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!

  5. Jeralyn

    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 :)

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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!

  6. Kristina

    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!

  7. Gena

    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!!

  8. Tonya

    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?

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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.

      1. Tonya

        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.

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  10. Anon

    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!

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    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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!

  12. W&P

    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!

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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!

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  15. Lisa

    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?

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      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 ;)

  16. Stephanie @ Dessert Before Dinner

    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

  17. Alyssa

    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 :)

  18. Andrea

    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!

    1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

      So glad you liked it! I actually like red quinoa better, I think it’s just a visual thing but pretty things taste better, right? ;)

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  21. nutmeg

    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!

  22. Jen

    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 :)

  23. Mary@FitandFed

    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

    1. katherine

      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!!

  24. Michele

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

  25. Chris

    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.

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  27. Jennifer

    I’ve tried other quinoa cake recipes and always come back to this one. I love that it only requires one egg, yet lots of lemon! I’ll never stray. These are the best.

  28. Jennifer

    Oh! And I also found they were so much easier to form if you refrigerate the mix, then just fill a 1/3 measuring cup half full and press it in. Once it’s packed in, give it a hard, solid, upside down tap on a cutting board and it will pop out in the very form you need. Easy!


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