What Are Quinoa Muffins?

A.M. Boyle

Quinoa muffins are single-portion, cupcake-shaped baked goods that contain certain seeds known as quinoa. Bakers make these muffins using a flour made from ground-up quinoa seeds, or sometimes they add the quinoa in whole. Given the versatility of quinoa muffins, bakers use a variety of tasty ingredients to enhance the flavor.

Blueberries, which can be included in quinoa muffins.
Blueberries, which can be included in quinoa muffins.

Although often referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a small seed harvested from a leafy green plant known as the goosefoot. The seeds are high in protein and contain B vitamins along with minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and manganese. They also contain no gluten, and people who are on gluten-free diets use quinoa as a substitute for wheat and other gluten-laden grains.

Raisins can add to the sweetness of quinoa muffins.
Raisins can add to the sweetness of quinoa muffins.

Bakers who make quinoa muffins sometimes add the seeds whole into a recipe containing wheat flour, giving the muffins a hearty, grainy texture. Due to the fact that the seeds have a natural bitter coating, cooks must thoroughly rinse them prior to use. This can be tricky because the seeds are so tiny. For this process, in order to avoid washing them down the drain, experts recommend using a cheesecloth rather than a sieve or strainer. Some manufacturers sell quinoa that has already been prepared, meaning that the seeds have been prewashed to remove the bitter flavor.

Quinoa muffins made with whole seeds often have gritty textures, similar to corn muffins, and certain people might be turned off by the consistency. For those who want the nutrition of quinoa without the grain-like feel, they can choose muffins made with quinoa flour instead of whole quinoa. The flour generally has all the nutrition of quinoa and can be used as an addition to, or in place of, wheat flour. Due to the fact that quinoa flour contains no gluten, using it as a substitute for wheat flour might also prove to be the perfect option for those individuals who cannot eat gluten but who still want to enjoy a nutritious muffin.

For the most part, quinoa muffins can be rather bland tasting. Some people might prefer this taste, especially if they intend to spread the muffins with jams, honey, or other toppings. Other people prefer adding various ingredients into the batter to give the muffins more flavor.

Due to the versatility of quinoa muffins, chefs can add any number of tasty tidbits to provide a flavor boost. For instance, adding dried fruit such as raisins, dates, or coconut to the batter can give the muffins a burst of sweetness and a whole new personality. Many bakers prefer using fresh fruit, such as mashed bananas or blueberries, to give their muffins an interesting twist. Nuts and spices, such as walnuts and cinnamon, are popular choices for adding a luscious spark of flavor, while coating the muffin tops with a sprinkling of brown sugar or a light glaze can also enhance the taste. Recipes abound on the Internet, and the variations used to create unique quinoa muffins are limited only by the cook's imagination.

Quinoa seeds can be made into flour for muffins or used whole.
Quinoa seeds can be made into flour for muffins or used whole.

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