A baby and kid-friendly comfort meal you don't want to miss! This chicken quinoa casserole with spinach and black beans is super easy to make and loaded with iron and protein.
Why you're going to love this casserole
- With a little prep work beforehand, this dish will come together so easily
- Highly customizable
- Makes a lot so you'll have plenty of leftovers to enjoy later in the week or freeze
- LOADED with iron, an essential nutrient for babies and toddlers
Best Iron Rich Foods for Babies and Toddlers
Chicken - feel free to use breast or thigh meat. Can use store-bought rotisserie chicken as well.
How to cook chicken PERFECTLY for babies and toddlers
Quinoa - While you can use other variety, I recommend yellow quinoa for this recipe.
Vegetables - Sweet potatoes for flavor and texture (You can mash and combine it with other ingredients for baby. Helps prevent tiny quinoa from flying everywhere. Can we say amen to less mess?)
Serving spinach to babies can be tricky. Adding it to casseroles works great!
Black Beans - Look for low or no-salt-added. Rinsing will also help get rid of a lot of sodium. You may also be interested in this creamy Greek yogurt black bean dip!
Related: Serving Beans to Babies
Sauce - Refer to the FAQ section below
- Cook onion.
- Cook garlic, tomato paste, and cumin
- Cook sweet potatoes until softened
- Add the rest of the ingredients
- Transfer to a baking dish and top with cheese. Leave it out completely or add a little bit to baby's portion.
Tips for Success
- If able, I highly recommend that you cook the chicken and quinoa ahead of time. That way you can whip up this quinoa casserole easily on the day of. As for chicken, make a big batch so you can enjoy throughout the week in sandwiches, lentils, oatmeal, toast, etc!
- Sweet potatoes - Cooking in water along with the aromatics will not only help build flavor but will ensure they won't be crunchy once baked. Be sure to cook until softened not mushy since they will go into the oven to cook more.
A note about cheese
This is one of the best "tricks" to making a casserole for the ENTIRE family, including your baby. I like to load up on cheese, but that's not ideal for babies as their kidneys cannot handle too much sodium.
So leave it out for baby's portion (can add a little bit, if you wish) and add as much as your heart desires to the rest.
Related Post: Salt/Sodium for babies
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. If freezing, Transfer to freezer-safe container and store for up to 3 months. I like to freeze in individual portions.
When reheating a small portion, microwave in 30-60 second increments until warmed to your liking. For larger portions, place casserole in a small dish and heat at 350°F.
It's absolutely delicious cold too!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! Combine all the ingredients minus the cheese and store in the refrigerator. When ready to enjoy, simply transfer to the baking dish, top with cheese, and bake!
You can try this with any cooked grain, such as barley, rice, millet or small pasta like couscous. You may need to adjust the baking time.
I like to use frozen spinach for convenience but fresh ones will most certainly work! Add 3-4 heaping handfuls.
You bet! You can leave out the chicken completely.
Between black beans and quinoa, there's plenty of protein and iron. You can also add tofu, if you wish!
Just like how I suggest for younger babies, you can leave out the cheese completely or substitute with other non-dairy alternatives.
You can use either homemade or store-bought. If going with the latter, look for one with the lowest amount of sodium. I personally like Rao's. This is really good with my hidden veggie pasta sauce! The recipe makes a lot so you can totally freeze and use it for this casserole.
And if you'd like to add a little Mexican flare, try it with salsa, too!
Quinoa Casserole for Babies
For 6-8 month old:
Finely chop the chicken and mash the beans and sweet potatoes. Serve with mashed avocado or yogurt to not only boost nutrition but also to make it easier for baby to scoop with their hands or to preload onto a spoon.
This one is my absolute favorite for this age!
Less is also more at this age as seeing too much food can be overwhelming for them. You can always serve more following your baby's lead.
For 9+ month old:
Finely chop chicken. There's no need to mash anything.
Related Post: Baby led weaning - how to serve the right food size and texture
More Baby and Kid-friendly Quinoa Recipes
- Vegan vegetable quinoa muffins
- Roasted cauliflower lasagna
- Overnight oats or quinoa
- Healthy Korean Ground Beef and Broccoli
- Baked Quinoa and Mushroom Beef Meatballs
- Loaded Southwestern Quinoa Sweet Potatoes
Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and let me know how you liked the recipe! Your feedback means so much to me!
Chicken Spinach Quinoa Casserole
- 1 cup (195g) uncooked quinoa , yields about 3 cups cooked
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 medium (about 350g) sweet potato, peeled and diced into ½ inch pieces (see note)
- ½ cup water or broth of choice
- 15 ounce can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups (235g) cooked shredded chicken
- 10 ounce frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 ½ cups tomato sauce, see note
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or more depending on preference)
- Toppings: fresh herbs, lime juice, avocado, yogurt or sour cream
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and drain. Combine quinoa and water in a medium pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let it stand for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat and add onion. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Lower the heat to medium and add garlic, tomato paste, and cumin. Cook for 1-2 minutes until well-incorporated.
- Add sweet potatoes and water (or broth). Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft (but not mushy!)
- Add in the cooked quinoa, chicken, beans, spinach, and sauce. Stir to combine.
- Spread into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with cheese (can leave out for baby’s portion).
- Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is melted and sweet potatoes are soft.
- Enjoy with toppings of choice!
- I like to keep the sweet potato pieces a bit larger for texture. If you’d like to dice into small pieces then reduce cooking time in step 4.
- For tomato sauce, feel free to use store-bought or homemade. You can also use pasta sauce or even salsa for a Mexican flare.
- Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. If freezing, Transfer to freezer-safe container and store for up to 3 months. I like to freeze in individual portions.
- When reheating a small portion, microwave in 30-60 second increments until warmed to your liking. For larger portions, place casserole in a small dish and heat at 350°F.
- It's absolutely delicious cold too!