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

Two vegetarian quinoa cakes on a white plate.
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Let’s ignore the fact that these little crispy quinoa 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 its salty, lemony glory, you will love these.

The secret?

Capers being measured out in a spoon for quinoa cakes.


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.

AND if you are a lover of all things quinoa you have to check out these quinoa pancakes too!

Quinoa patty ingredients in a large white mixing bowl.

Vegetarian Quinoa Cakes Ingredient List

  • cooked quinoa – follow the instructions on the packaging, but don’t forget to rinse the quinoa before cooking. If you don’t it will have a bitter taste and the flavor will be a bit nuttier.
  • onion
  • minced garlic
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • capers
  • lemon zest and juice
  • spices: parsley, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (this gives them a little kick, but if you don’t like spice you can leave it out).
  • egg – this helps bind all the ingredients together
  • flour – regular AP flour or even sub a GF flour blend if preferred.
  • olive oil
Zesty quinoa cakes with sour cream sauce.

How to Make Crispy Quinoa Patties

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  2. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large skillet.
  3. Form the quinoa mixture into patties using your hands. You’ll use about 1/4 cup of the mixture for each patty.
  4. Pan fry the quinoa cakes for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until they are golden brown. Add more olive oil if needed between batches.

Serving Quinoa Cakes

While you can eat these patties like they are, they are great with a little dipping sauce.

Topped with a dollop of sour cream, lemon juice, and avocado dip, they’re perfect.

When I make these cheddar spinach quinoa cakes I serve those with a buffalo dip. You can use that dip here too but I prefer the tangy sour cream pairing with the zesty capers in the quinoa cakes.

You can definitely go lighter and pair these cakes with a salad, or go big with a flavorful side dish.


Keep cooked quinoa cakes in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

To reheat, you can warm them back up in a skillet, which will help re-crisp them.

Or, you can also toss them in the air fryer for a few minutes, and get the same crispiness back.

Microwaving will also work, but they may remain soggy after refrigeration.

Quinoa cakes with sour cream topping.

Can you freeze prepared quinoa?

Yes! Oddly enough, cooked quinoa actually stores really well and thaws fairly quickly.

It’s great to make an extra batch if you want to be a step ahead on meal prepping.

Is quinoa healthier than rice?

Quinoa is considered a superfood because of its fiber and protein content.

While a serving still has carbs, it’s a pseudo-grain that also contains all the essential amino acids to be a complete protein. Therefore, it’s often considered more nutritious.

More Vegetarian Recipes You’ll Love:

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Zesty Quinoa Cakes

Servings: 10 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
These pan fried zesty quinoa cakes are made with lemon and capers. They’re a great healthy side dish or even party appetizer.


  • 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 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


  • Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl and mix until fully combined.
  • Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.
  • In quarter cup scoops, form the quinoa mixture into patties.
  • Place patties in skillet and pan fry 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown, adding additional olive oil as needed.
  • Serve with additional lemon or a dip made with sour cream, lemon juice and avocado if desired.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 131kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 4gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 240mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American


Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.