This Chicken and Quinoa bake is so easy and delicious! Chicken thighs bake in one pan with quinoa, dates and pine nuts! Crispy baked chicken thighs, toasty pine nuts, sweet dates, and zesty lemon add up to the perfect easy weeknight meal! Everyone loves this healthy chicken casserole!
The New Chicken and Rice
One of the first meals I remember cooking over and over again in college is chicken and rice. It was the perfect easy one dish meal. Throw some rice in a 13×9 pan, add some onions, maybe peas, maybe mushrooms. Top with chicken breasts, poor broth or water over it, bake.
When I came across this recipe for chicken baked with quinoa in an old Donna Hay magazine, it reminded me of those chicken and rice recipes. Toss everything in a baking pan, top with chicken and bake – only with a modern spin – quinoa instead of rice!
Is Quinoa Better For You Than Rice? I’m glad you asked that! Yes, it is. It has fewer calories, but the big savings is in carbohydrates. White rice has almost 15 times more carbohydrates than quinoa and quinoa provides more fiber and more protein.
Ingredients in Baked Chicken Thighs with Quinoa
- Quinoa – most quinoa in the stores in pre-rinsed, but I still rinse mine to remove a naturally bitter tasting protective coating. Just put the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and place under running water for a few seconds. Shake it to drain off any excess water.
- Pine Nuts – these can be expensive, I buy them in bulk when they are on sale and store in the freezer. Substitutes for pine nuts – sunflower seeds, walnuts, pistachios, or almonds.
- Chicken Thighs – Skin on and bone in.
- Parsley leaves
How to Make Oven Baked Chicken Thighs with Quinoa
Step 1 – gather your ingredients – quinoa, water, garlic, pine nuts, dates, lemon, salt and black pepper, chicken thighs, olive oil, and parsley. Peel the cloves of garlic and crush them, giving them a good bang with the flat side of your knife. Cut the dates in halves or quarters.
Step 2 – toast the pine nuts. I use a small dry skillet over medium high heat. Keep an eye on them, it only takes a couple of minutes and once they start turning they can go from golden to black quickly!
Step 3 – Place the quinoa, garlic, dates, pine nuts and water in a 9×13 baking dish.
Step 4 – zest one lemon (I use a microplane zester) and zest it directly into the quinoa mixture.
Step 5 – Stir the quinoa mixture.
Step 6 – Rub the chicken with olive oil and salt and pepper both sides. Nestle in the baking pan, Making sure no quinoa floats over on top of the chicken.
Healthy Baked Chicken Thighs with Quinoa
This was so good!! It had the same feeling as the classic chicken and rice, but with a healthier spin. The pine nuts added a nice crunch and the dates added sweetness. The crispy skinned chicken thighs were perfect.
This is such an easy chicken recipe and even easier to modify!
You could replace the dates with roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, mushrooms, feta cheese, the possibilities are endless. Change up the pine nuts for sunflower seeds or almonds.
Looking for other Easy Baked Chicken Recipes
And, if you’re looking for even more chicken recipes, you can check out my Pinterest Chicken Board!
Baked Chicken with Quinoa and Dates
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa dried
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1/2 cup pine nuts toasted
- 3/4 cup dates halved or quartered
- 1 lemon zested
- 8 chicken thighs skin on, bone in
- salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups flat leaf parsley chopped
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Place the quinoa, water, garlic, pine nuts, dates, and lemon zest in a 9x13 inch making dish and stir to combine.
- Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil and salt and pepper on both sides. Add to the baking dish, being careful to keep all of the quinoa submerged.
- Baked for 40-45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve topped with parsley.
To toast the pine nuts. I use a small dry skillet over medium high heat. Keep an eye on them, it only takes a couple of minutes and once they start turning they can go from golden to black quickly!
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