Learn how to cook quinoa so it’s light and fluffy every time. We’ll show you the perfect method, and how to store it in the fridge to keep it fresh for salads, grain bowls, wraps, and more all week long. 

A pot of cooked quinoa.
Learn how to make quinoa for a healthy carbohydrate source to add to all your favorite meals!

What Is Quinoa, Anyway? 

Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wah”, is a nutritious grain-like seed that is native to the Andean region of South America. Cultivated and consumed for thousands of years, it comes from the Amaranthaceae family and is classified as a pseudocereal. This means it’s not a true grain. However, quinoa is prepared and consumed similarly to other grains like rice and oats.  

Types of Quinoa 

Many different varieties of quinoa exist. However, we’re only covering the three most common types you’ll find in your local grocery today. 

  • White Quinoa – Arguably the most common, white quinoa has the mildest flavor and an extra light and fluffy texture. 
  • Red Quinoa – This is similar in texture to white quinoa but has a much nuttier, earthy taste. As a result, it works well in savory recipes but isn’t great for sweets. 
  • Black Quinoa – The rarest of the three, black quinoa is nearly identical to red quinoa in flavor and has a bold nutty, earthy taste. 
  • Bonus: Tri-Color Quinoa – Not technically its own variety of quinoa, most stores sell packages of tri-color quinoa. This is just a mixture of white, red, and black quinoa. 

Is Quinoa Good for You? 

Yes, quinoa is widely recognized as being an extremely nutritious ingredient. 

For starters, it’s a complete source of protein. This means it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce on our own. This makes it a great option for vegans and vegetarians. 

In addition, it’s a rich source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as:

  • Folate
  • Vitamin B6
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus

What’s the Water Ratio Needed to Cook Quinoa? 

The ratio of water to quinoa varies from person to person and brand to brand. It depends on the type of quinoa, the cooking method, and the desired consistency. 

Some recipes call for a ratio as high as two cups of water for every one cup of quinoa. Meanwhile, others go as low as using one and a half cups of water for every one cup of quinoa.

In general, we recommend using double the amount of water as quinoa. Read the package instructions, and adjust the ratios as needed to achieve your desired consistency.   

How Long Does It Take To Cook Fluffy Quinoa? 

Of course, the time needed to cook quinoa varies. However, on average, you can count on it taking between 15 and 20 minutes to cook completely. Again, check your package instructions, and adjust the cooking time as needed. 

How to Cook Quinoa (3 Ways) 

Because it’s a seed and not a grain, quinoa cooks a little differently than other carbs such as rice or pasta. This is because it absorbs water differently. 

However, once you’ve got the hang of how to cook quinoa, it’s super easy to do! 

No matter which method you choose, you’ll want to rinse and drain your quinoa in a mesh sieve before you begin. 

Side view of a bowl of fluffy cooked quinoa.
Cooked quinoa should be fluffy and soft.

Rice Cooker

*Water Ratio: Use two cups of water for every one cup of quinoa. 

  1. Combine. Add the quinoa and water to the rice cooker pot. 
  2. Cook. Turn on the rice cooker. Cook quinoa in a rice cooker until the liquid absorbs.
  3. Serve. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and enjoy. 

Stovetop 

*Water Ratio: Use two cups of water for every one cup of quinoa. 

  1. Boil. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil on the stove. 
  2. Cook. Simmer the mixture until the water absorbs.
  3. Rest and Fluff. Set the pan aside. Then, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and add it to all your favorite recipes. 

Instant Pot 

*Water Ratio: Use one and a half cups of water for every one cup of quinoa. 

  1. Combine. Add the quinoa and water to the Instant Pot
  2. Cook. Cover, and pressure cook. Then, slow release. 
  3. Serve. Remove the lid, and fluff with a fork or rice paddle before using.

Note: If there is any liquid left in the quinoa transfer it to a fine mesh sieve or fine mesh strainer. Drain the excess liquid before serving. Remove the quinoa with a fork to get all the pieces.

How to Store

Store cooked and cooled quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. Or, freeze it for up to two months. Add a drizzle of olive oil before storing to keep the quinoa moist.

Thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, warm it in the microwave when ready to serve.

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03/13/2024 10:54 pm GMT

Ways to Use Cooked Quinoa 

There are endless ways to use quinoa! It’s a great addition to soups, stews, and salads but you can also use it to make vegetarian burgers and add it to quesadillas. Or, you can add it to grain bowls and even include it in dessert recipes. 

For inspiration, here are some of our favorite recipes that incorporate quinoa:

Common Questions About How to Cook Quinoa

Should you rinse quinoa before cooking?

Yes. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which has a bitter taste. Therefore, rinsing it off can help improve the flavor and texture of your cooked quinoa. 

How can I tell my quinoa is fully cooked? 

You’ll know your quinoa is fully cooked when the water is fully absorbed. In addition, it will be fairly translucent, have a ring around the edge, and will be fluffy in texture. 

Is quinoa gluten-free? 

Yes, quinoa is naturally gluten-free meaning it is suitable for those with Celiac disease or who are following a gluten-free diet. 

A bowl of cooked quinoa with a spoon sticking out.
Prepare quinoa in advance to add to all your meals throughout the week.

More Cooking Guides

Looking for more guidance in the kitchen? We have you covered with these other how-to articles!

How to Cook Quinoa (3 Ways)

5 from 1 vote
Author: Food Dolls
Servings: 6 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Learn how to cook quinoa in the rice cooker, Instant Pot, and on the stovetop so it turns out perfectly fluffy every time!

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup quinoa rinsed and drained
  • 1 ¾ to 2 cups water or broth

Instructions 

Rice Cooker Option:

  • Add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to the rice cooker.
  • Turn on the rice cooker. Most will cook for 30 minutes.
  • Let the quinoa rest for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork.

Stovetop Option:

  • Add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan over high heat.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Simmer for 12 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork.

Instant Pot Option:

  • Add 1 cup of quinoa and 1 ½ cups of water to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
  • Natural release for 10 minutes, and release any remaining pressure.
  • Carefully remove lid once the steam has been fully released.
  • Fluff with a fork.

Equipment

1 Mediuam Saucepan

Notes

Add a pinch of salt to the water for extra flavor. 
Store leftover quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to two months. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 104kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 160mg | Fiber: 2g | Vitamin A: 4IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Welcome to Food Dolls! We’re so glad you found us. We are Alia and Radwa, sisters who want to share simple and easy recipes with you. We hope you find recipes here that you enjoy making as much as we do! Learn more about us!

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