Learn how to cook quinoa that comes out fluffy and delicious! Cooked quinoa is gluten-free and the perfect base for easy and healthy balanced meals. It’s a nutritious grain that is great in salads, quinoa bowls but also in one-pan dinners.
Below you’ll also find some tasty quinoa recipes, the best quinoa to water ratio for cooking, how long to boil your quinoa and pretty much everything else you need to know about quinoa.
How To Cook Quinoa: The Basic Recipe
Follow these steps to turn a cup of dry quinoa into 3 cups of cooked quinoa!
Step 1: Rinse quinoa
Always, always, always rinse your quinoa. I have made the mistake of skipping this step a few times in the past and the result is – having a bitter meal with quinoa for dinner or lunch.
Apparently, it’s because of certain phytochemicals called saponins, which act as natural pest control and are produced by the quinoa plant itself in order to keep humans and animals from eating it. Well, that didn’t work. We figured it out. Again.
So, when you do cook quinoa, simply rinse those saponins out. I also find that rinsing quinoa with hot water rather than cold water works much better in removing those saponins and their bitterness.
To do this I boil some water in a kettle, pour it over the quinoa, stir for a few seconds with a fork so that the water gets to each and every single seed. That water will change color and look pretty dirty. Discard it and move on to the next step.
Step 2: boil quinoa
Once you rinse and drain the quinoa, add it to a cooking pot and then add filtered water to it*. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat once boiling. Let simmer with the lid on for around 7-8 more minutes.
*You could also add salt or other ingredients to your quinoa, but I like to keep mine neutral in order to use it in sweet and savory dishes.
Step 3: Let sit
This is the step that will make your quinoa fluffy and delicious. Once there’s no more water in the pot, turn the heat off and let the quinoa sit with the lid on for around 10 minutes. This will help the quinoa steam and absorb more of the water and really get that fluffy texture.
Step 4: Fluff it
Use a fork to fluff up your quinoa. Then use it in your favorite dishes.
The Perfect Quinoa To Water Ratio
I’ve cooked quinoa many many times by now and I found it needs a bit less water than rice. Most recipes say the perfect ratio is 1:2, but in my experience, you need a little less than 2 cups of water to cook 1 cup of quinoa. Following the steps above, use 1 3/4 cup of water per cup of quinoa.
How Long To Boil Quinoa
Cooking quinoa usually takes around 20 minutes. 5 minutes to boil, 5-6 more minutes to simmer and the rest to let the quinoa sit and think about the purpose of life. Of course this can vary with different varieties of quinoa and with the equipment you use.
In general, the rule is: bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until you don’t have any more water in the pot, then turn off the heat and let sit to get fluffy.
How To Store Cooked Quinoa
Whenever I cook quinoa, I usually cook more of it using the very basic recipe I shared above and then store it in the fridge in an airtight container. A large glass jar or meal prep containers work perfectly here. Use the cooked quinoa within the next 3-4 days, first 2 days for salads and then in one-pan meals like the ones below.
Quinoa Recipes To Try
Quinoa is the perfect ingredient for healthy, balanced meals. It is very versatile and it can pretty much be used just like rice (exception in my experience: sushi, as it doesn’t stick together).
You can use quinoa in salads, one-pot meals or for breakfast. Here are some of my favorite quinoa recipes for you to try as well:
- Quinoa Fried Rice
- Tomato Basil Quinoa Risotto
- 15-Minute Spicy Shrimp And Quinoa
- The Best Avocado Quinoa Salad
- One-Pan Seafood Quinoa Recipe
- Cinnamon Apple Quinoa Oatmeal Breakfast Bars
- Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies
- Quinoa, Roasted Vegetables And Feta Salad
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Ground Beef and Broccoli Fried Quinoa
- Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Recipe
- Healthy Egg Scramble With Quinoa
- Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
How To SEASON Quinoa, So That It Tastes Good
When cooked right, quinoa is pretty neutral and therefore quite versatile. You can use it for breakfast bowls with dairy-free milk, almond butter and fruit.
Another way to use it is to make a recipe very similar to fried rice (check out this vegetarian version and this version with chicken).
Or cook it with some cheese, garlic and herbs to make it more like risotto (check out this vegetarian and this chicken recipe).
A very tasty and super healthy option is to add cooked quinoa to your salads. The quinoa will make them more filling and perfect for lunch without the need for fancy dressings. Simply add some fresh herbs, olives, feta cheese (or none if dairy-free), some avocado and you’ll be surprised at how fresh and good a quinoa salad can taste!
Is Quinoa Healthier Than Rice • Quinoa Nutrition
Just like rice, quinoa is a great food to eat on a gluten-free diet. Quinoa is more nutritious than white rice, with similar nutrition to brown rice.
However, quinoa does cook faster than brown rice. In my opinion, this makes quinoa a better option than rice for a quick healthy meal on busy weeknights.
Quinoa is a great source of fiber, minerals, plant protein and some antioxidants.
I hope you learned how to cook perfect quinoa, so you can use it in your favorite recipes!
How To Cook Quinoa
Learn how to cook quinoa, so that it comes out fluffy and delicious! Cooked quinoa is the perfect base for easy and healthy meals like quinoa salads, bowls, quinoa fried rice and more.
- 1 cup quinoa, dry
- 1 cup and 3/4 filtered water
- Rinse quinoa with some hot water to remove the bitter saponins and to remove anti-nutrients. To do this I boil water in an electric kettle and pour it over the quinoa or let the quinoa boil at high for about 30 sec on the stove. Then discard the water. You can use an appropriate mesh strainer to do this.
- Add the quinoa to a saucepan and add the filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat once the quinoa is boiling.
- Let the quinoa simmer with lid on for 7-8 more minutes.
- Once you see no more water in the pan, turn the heat off and let the quinoa sit with the lid on for about 8-10 minutes. This time is crucial to help your quinoa get fluffy.
- Ready! Fluff up your quinoa with a fork and use it in your favorite meals or let it cool off, pack it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Nutrition InformationYield 3 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 74Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 0mgSodium 7mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 2gSugar 1gProtein 3g
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Originally published in December 2020, updated in August 2022.