Instant Pot Saffron Quinoa with Cashews & Raisins

Here’s an easy side dish for the holidays- Saffron Quinoa with Cashews, Raisins & Dried Cranberries.

Made in the Instant Pot, this aromatic dish is vegan and gluten-free.

The holidays will be looking so different this year. Here in Washington state, a lockdown was announced again this week.

Indoor gatherings are banned and one is supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving with their immediate family only. I can only imagine how hard it must be for so many.

So many travels during this time to be with their families, definitely a time of the year everyone looks forward to. But this year everything is different.

But I am sure that even though things are different, the festive spirit will remain the same. We will still have fun, be thankful, and enjoy good food.

Talking about food, I have got a super easy and flavorful vegan side dish to share with you guys today.

You guys know how much I like experimenting with quinoa. I mean all the recipes on the blog are proof of that. So this time around I added saffron to it and made Saffron Quinoa.

After that, I added nuts, raisins, and cranberries to make it festive and perfect for the holidays!

This Saffron Quinoa

✔is easy to make in the Instant Pot.

✔makes a great vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.

✔is wonderfully fragrant from the spices.

✔one-pot dish and also gluten-free.

This recipe uses a lot of spices which makes it very fragrant. Add to it the crunch from the cashews and the sweetness from the raisins and cranberries and you have got yourself a very aromatic side dish.

Let’s see what all goes into this recipe.

Quinoa: starting with quinoa, of course, I have used white quinoa here. You can use any quinoa you want.

I like to rinse the quinoa using a strainer for 1-2 minutes.

Saffron: the next important ingredient in this recipe is saffron which gives the dish that wonderful yellow color and also a nice aroma and taste.

Use good quality saffron for that nice color and flavor. I have used Spanish saffron for this recipe. The saffron is added to warm water so that its color comes out nicely and it’s then added to the dish.

Whole spices: I have used a lot of whole spices in this recipe like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom.

These spices give the dish a wonderful aroma.

Nuts & Raisins: for the nuts, I have used cashews. You can use almonds too, they will work great.

For that sweetness, I have used golden raisins and dried cranberries. You can use only raisins or only cranberries as well.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this as a side dish for the Holidays!

I ate it as such, didn’t need anything else to go with it. But it will pair well with a side of cranberry chutney, apple chutney.


1- Heat 1/4 cup (2 oz) water in a pan, there’s no need to boil it but just warm it up. Then add 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands to it. Let it sit like that while you do the other steps. This will bring out the color of the saffron nicely.

Also, rinse quinoa under a strainer for 1-2 minutes.

2- Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Once it displays hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and then add cashews, raisins, and cranberries to the pot.

Cook until cashews start turning light golden brown and raisins and cranberries plump up, stir often. This takes around 1-2 minutes.

3- Remove the roasted nuts and raisins in a bowl and set aside.

4- To the pot, now add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and then add the whole spices- cinnamon stick, bay leaf, green cardamom pods, and cloves. Saute few seconds until the spices are fragrant.

5- Then add the chopped onion and cook 2 minutes until onions softened.

6- Add the rinsed quinoa, the remaining 3/4 cup (6 oz) water, and the 1/4 cup (2 oz) prepared saffron water. The total liquid is 1 cup (8 oz). Add salt and stir.

7- Close the pot with the lid and press the manual or pressure cook button. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.

8- Open the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Transfer saffron quinoa to a serving plate. Top with the fried cashews, raisins, cranberries and serve!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *