April 24, 2013

Quinoa Crusted Chicken

Let’s just get this out of the way. Wiener Schnitzel.

(God bless you).

It’s a silly name for a pretty simple dish: veal cutlets, pounded until they are Kate Moss skinny, dipped in egg and seasoned bread crumbs, and fried until golden brown. Because the meat is so thin, they cook up real quick. And because the outer layer is so crispy, they disappear real fast too. Which in my book equals a recipe for happy hosts and happier guests. And explains why this fried meat treat is the national dish of Austria — well done, Austria.

But how do we go from veal cutlets to quinoa, you ask?

The answer lies in three simple reasons: I love the texture of fried food, I hate frying food, and seasoned breadcrumbs contain too much sodium for me and many of you. Which is why I turned my attention to quinoa, the perfect low-sodium AND gluten-free substitution for store-bought crumbs.

While you can always buy no-salt-added bread, toast a few slices, and then crumb them up, using quinoa takes much less time and adds something unique to an otherwise simple dish.

Simply boil the quinoa for about 12 to 15 minutes until the little white tendrils poke out and tell you they are done. Then, your oven will finish the job, toasting the now-cooked quinoa until it has a crunch.

As for the meat, you can use thin cuts of anything — chicken, pork, beef, veal, or hell, even portabellas and tofu. And since we are already going the super healthy route, I decided to skip the whole egg dip thing (you’re welcome, Vegans) and use a mixture of no-salt-added mustard and tomato puree to make a sticky paste.

From there, you dip, you crumb, and you throw it back in the oven. Yes, I said oven. Not pan of hot oil. Because if I can bake it, I will. O course, if you have frying oil around, you’re welcome to use it and bring me a batch.

From there, in just a few snaps of the fingers, you’ve got  a low-sodium take on Wiener Schnitzel. Equally golden. Equally crispy. Equally easy.

Chow on.


adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine’s Quinoa Crusted Chicken


  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa (here’s a helpful “how-to”)
  • 1/4 cup no-salt-added mustard
  • 2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon no-salt-added garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill, thyme, or oregano
  • Pinch red chili pepper flakes
  • 4 skinless, boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • Lemon wedges, fresh herbs optional


Preheat the oven to 300dg F. Spread the cooked quinoa on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the quinoa cool and transfer into a medium-sied bowl. Place a new sheet of parchment on the pan.

Then, increase the oven to 400dg F.

In a large bowl, mix the mustard, ketchup, and all the spices. Place the chicken in the bowl and use a rubber spatula or your hand to mix until the thighs are coated. Then, dip the chicken in the quinoa, covering both sides, and place them on the parchment lined cooking sheet. Give the chicken a glossy coating of cooking spray and bake until just cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs if you have any lying around. Dig in.

+ Sodium Count: Quinoa: 0 to 10mg per serving, depending on brand; Canned tomato puree: 15mg per 1/2 cup, depending on brand; Chicken thigh (with skin): 87mg per 1/4 pound; Chicken breast (with skin): 71mg per 1/4 pound

Tracie Wright April 25, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Sodium Girl, I have just happened upon your blog while googling low sodium recipes. I don’t know much about you or why you do this blog but if I could reach you I would give you a huge hug right now! You have just given hope to a mom struggling with changing my family’s lifestyle to low sodium for the health of one of my little boys. Thank you!

Jerry Simpson April 26, 2013 at 3:56 am

Having had to live a low sodium lifestyle due to kidney problems, I’m always looking for new recipes. I haven’t used quinoa previously but will try to find some. Doesn’t sound common?

Oui, Chef April 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

You are one creative cook, I’ll give you that! Love the idea of baking the cooked quinoa to crunch-it-up….brilliant.

Kristin April 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

This looks so yummy and healthy! I love Quinoa and am always looking for different ways to use it! Thanks for the recipe!

Liz Boyd April 28, 2013 at 4:30 am

What a great idea. I never would have thought to use quinoa in place of bread crumbs.

Quinoa is becoming a bigger part of our meals. Thanks for sharing this.

Kristy April 30, 2013 at 3:22 am

I love coming up with different things to do with quinoa. last night I made a shepard’s pie like meal with quinoa and fresh veggies…tasty.

Keith April 30, 2013 at 4:30 pm

What a great and unique idea to use quinoa for this! Thanks for sharing!

Steve M May 3, 2013 at 5:41 am

Wow, this looks so delicious and savory that I can’t believe it’s actually healthy as well. Definitely a recipe I will note down and use just because it’s so versatile – love the ‘anything’ part of it. Thanks for sharing.

Sergio Anacleto May 3, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Hmm this looks very nice. Wonderful pics with excellent instructions, will surely try this. Thanks a million.

Nate May 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Hi Jessica! This is a great idea. I’d never thought of using quinoa to crust anything, let alone chicken! I’ve usually used parmesan cheese (which I love!). Thanks for the tip.

Jono May 5, 2013 at 9:02 pm

This Weiner Schnitzel substitute looks delicious! Will definitely be giving it a go 🙂

Christina May 6, 2013 at 5:45 am

This is a great recipe! My mom used to make breaded veal cutlets for us all the time, but I haven’ t made them because of the bread crumb issue. I never would have thought of toasting the quinoa in the oven to give it crispy texture. And no frying in addition? Brilliant.

Pamela May 8, 2013 at 1:15 am

I was looking for health related website to review many issue. Now I’ve found your blog site with lots of amazing information. You did really excellent work. I’ll read your blog regular basis.

Willy May 16, 2013 at 5:50 am

Great recipe!

Luv What You Do May 17, 2013 at 8:07 pm

What a great use of quinoa!!!

Max Sebring May 19, 2013 at 2:58 am

Wow! This looks so crispy and delicious. I will share this recipe to my wife. I’m sure she will definitely like this. Thanks for the recipe! 😀

Mike May 19, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Quinoa crusted chicken is a great idea and alternative to my usual (and plain) bread crumb crusted chicken. This is definitely something I plan to make this week! Thanks for the recipe!

Jenny Lo June 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Oh my god Ilove chicken! Looks delicious by the way! Cheers!


Linda July 15, 2013 at 7:16 am

Looks yummy truly a great recipe

Scott August 14, 2013 at 10:44 am

My Neurologist recently told me to limit my sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day because I’m having severe episodes of vertigo. As you might imagine, there just don’t seem to be many good-tasting options out there. I made this dish last night and it was a huge hit! I’ve always considered myself a Grill Master…but my culinary skills in the kitchen are severely lacking. But this was easy to make, and absolutely delicious!

I really appreciate what you’re doing with this website. You’ve given me hope that I can actually enjoy eating again.

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