How to Cook Quinoa

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How to cook quinoa on the stove-top with all my tips & tricks to make it light and flavorful every single time!

How to cook quinoa guide: photo shows wooden spoons filled with different varieties of quinoa with text "How To Cook Quinoa : step-by-step guide + quinoa recipes"

Quinoa

If you aren’t familiar with quinoa, it is a naturally gluten-free seed that makes a great substitute for rice and other grains. It’s gaining popularity due to how healthy it is and is even considered a “superfood”.

Quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah” and is so easy to prepare! I’ve been making and experimenting with quinoa for years and it’s one of my family’s favorite grains. I’ve shared dozens of recipes over the years and today I’ll share how to cook quinoa, my go-to quinoa recipe, helpful tools, answer commonly asked quinoa questions, and share links to my other quinoa recipes!

Let’s dive in!

How To Cook Quinoa

Cooking quinoa is very similar to cooking rice. Check out the steps below to make quinoa light, fluffy, and flavorful every single time!

Step One: Measure

Measure out one leveled cup of quinoa. There are over 120 known varieties of quinoa but the most popular varieties are white, red, or black. The photo above is a tri-colored quinoa (combining all three!). So what’s the difference between the varieties?

  • White Quinoa: most common variety available in stores (you’ll often see it just called quinoa)
  • Red Quinoa: holds its shape after cooking a bit better than white quinoa, making it great for cold salads!
  • Black Quinoa: a bit earthier and sweeter in flavor than white quinoa

    Cup of uncooked quinoa

Step Two: Rinse

Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin which can make it taste bitter. Pour the cup of quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly for 30 seconds to one minute.

Even when quinoa says it’s been pre-rinsed, I’ll still give it another quick rinse!

TIP: if you have the extra time/patience, you can soak your cup of quinoa in water for a couple of minutes before rinsing to really ensure that outer coating is really gone.

Rinsing quinoa in a strainer

Step Three: Flavor (optional)

If you’re making quinoa as a stand-alone dish, then I’d recommend adding seasonings to it so it’s more flavorful. However, if you’re using the quinoa in a salad, soup, casserole dish, or any other recipe, then adding seasonings isn’t necessary.

To add seasonings to the quinoa, first add 1 tablespoon oil (extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, etc. – any oil works!) to a pot. Put over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add in 1 teaspoon of spices. Use your favorite spice blend, or a single seasoning. Some of my favorite seasonings to use are tumeric, curry powder, paprika, chili powder, and Italian seasoning. Experiment with different seasonings to find the ones you like the best!

As a substitute for spices you can add a teaspoon of minced garlic.

Once you add the seasonings/garlic to the shimmering oil, stir for about 30 seconds and then add in the rinsed and dried quinoa. 

Toast the quinoa by stirring it frequently in the oil/seasoning mixture over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. 

Oil, seasonings, and quinoa in a pot

Step Four: Cook

Quinoa cooks by boiling, and then simmering, in liquid over the stove. While water works just fine to cook the quinoa in, I prefer to use vegetable or chicken stock for extra flavor.

With the quinoa in a pot, add 1 and 3/4 cup of liquid and bring the quinoa to a boil. Add a bit of salt and pepper at this point to flavor (just a pinch of each if I’m using a stock and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of each if I’m using water). As soon as the quinoa is boiling, cover the pot, and lower the stove to its lowest heat setting. Let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.

The quinoa is done cooking when most of the liquid has been absorbed (the small amount of remaining liquid will absorb after removing from heat). As the quinoa is cooking, try to remove the lid as little as possible (that will become easier as your experience with cooking quinoa grows:)

Adding vegetable stock to a pot to boil quinoa in

 

Step Five: Let Stand and Fluff with a Fork

Remove the pot from the stove and, while keeping the lid on, let it stand off the heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and enjoy!

Fluffing quinoa with a fork

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How to Cook Quinoa

5 from 5 votes
How to cook quinoa on the stovetop and all my tips/tricks to make it light, fluffy, and flavorful every single time!
Print Recipe

How to Cook Quinoa

5 from 5 votes
How to cook quinoa on the stovetop and all my tips/tricks to make it light, fluffy, and flavorful every single time!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword how to cook quinoa
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rest Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 cups cooked quinoa
Calories 249kcal
Author Chelsea

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of your favorite spice or spice blend, optional*
  • 1 and 3/4 cup water, vegetable or chicken stock/broth
  • Kosher salt and pepper (I use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)

Instructions

  • Measure out one leveled cup of quinoa. Pour the cup of quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse for 30 seconds to one minute.
  • If you have the extra time/patience, you can soak your cup of quinoa in water for a couple of minutes before rinsing to really ensure that outer coating is gone.
  • In a small pot, add in 1 tablespoon oil and once the oil is shimmering, add in 1 teaspoon of a spice or spice blend mix. Stir for about 30 seconds and then add in the rinsed and dried quinoa. Toast the quinoa by stirring it frequently over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. 
  • Add 1 and 3/4 cup water, vegetable or chicken stock, or broth and then bring the quinoa to a boil. I also like to add some salt and pepper at this point (just a pinch of each if I'm using a stock and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of each if I'm using water; add to your preference). As soon as the quinoa is boiling, cover the pot, and lower it to your lowest heat setting. Let cook for 15-20 minutes (depending on the actual heat of your stove).
  • Remove the pot from the stove and, while keeping the lid on, let it stand off the heat for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff with a fork, and enjoy. If adding to a salad, let cool completely first.

Recipe Notes

*We like lemon pepper seasoning, tumeric, half chili powder/half paprika, tuscan seasoning blend, etc.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 249kcal

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

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My Favorite Quinoa Recipes:

View ALL of my quinoa recipes here.

Roasted Sweet Potato & Quinoa Salad: roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, spinach, cranberries, and avocado salad topped with a healthy and delicious lemon vinaigrette.

One reader said: “I love this salad a lot! Amazing flavours and it’s my go to for friends lunches! I’m obsessed with the dressing and am actually using it on my green salads too. Perfect excuse to use my stash of herbed mustard jars! Thank you so much for sharing!”

Bruschetta Chicken: balsamic marinated chicken topped with bruschetta and fresh avocado, served over quinoa. This bruschetta chicken is fresh, flavorful, and made with good-for-you ingredients!

One reader said: “By far one of the best dinners I’ve made!! It was a huge family hit”

Quinoa Tacos made in the CROCKPOT

Crockpot Quinoa Tacos: one of the easiest & quickest recipes ever: throw everything (quinoa and veggies) into a crock pot; cover and forget about it. Add your favorite taco toppings and enjoy! 

One reader said: “Oh my goodness, this recipe is so good. I’m not a big fan of quinoa, but I had some in the pantry so I thought I would give this a try. I wasn’t expecting much. We have had it two nights in a row now. Leftovers were just as good as the first day. This will definitely become one of our go so dinners. Thank You!”

Quinoa Salad: an avocado, cucumber, and tomato quinoa salad recipe that is simple to make, kid-friendly, and healthy.

One reader said: “Made this for lunch today, as I had on hand all the ingredients. It was fantastic! My husband loved it. Thank you, for this amazing recipe. I will definitely be making it again in the future, as it was easy, quick and delicious.”

More Quinoa Recipes (& A Detox Quinoa Salad)

One reader said: “I have made this salad 3 times now and it is my all time favourite, easy to make and low in calories. I am taking it to a party Friday night as well.”

*While I have my background in Exercise and Wellness (B.S.), all the content in this post is for informational purposes only. Please consult a doctor or dietician for any specific dietary needs/questions.
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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this! I’ve tried making it before and it just wasn’t right. I feel more confident trying again now.

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