How to Cook Quinoa

Ever wondered how to cook quinoa so it’s perfectly fluffy and delicious? This post is here to help! I’ve compiled all my best quinoa tips and tricks in this easy peasy tutorial.

Quinoa is one of those pantry staples I get super excited about and cook with often.

It’s light and fluffy, amazingly versatile, and downright tasty!

Cooked quinoa makes a baller base for grain bowls and salads and it can even be subbed in for rice in a variety of dishes. I’ve even started adding it to my vegetarian chili recipes and LOVE the added texture it provides.

This post is fully loaded with all my tips and tricks for cooking fluffy quinoa along with some of my favorite recipes to make with it. Let’s do this!

Uses for Quinoa

Quinoa is oh so versatile and adds that little something extra to so many dishes.

Use it as a base for veggies with a light dressing to make an epic quinoa salad.

Swirl it into soups and chilis for extra texture and fiber.

Whip it up a few cups as a base for a grain bowl or burrito bowl or simply try it as a swap for rice to pair with your favorite grilled veggies or protein.

Top Quinoa Recipes

  1. Quinoa Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing
  2. Vegetarian Quinoa Fried Rice with Broccoli, Peas, and Carrots
  3. Quinoa Black Bean Veggie Burgers
  4. Healthy Chicken Shawarma Quinoa Bowls
  5. Greek Quinoa Bowls
  6. Tomato Quinoa Salad
  7. Cranberry Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts

Quinoa is great for meal prep!

By cooking a small batch for the week, I can ensure its appearance on my plate over and over again. The quinoa lasts around four days in the fridge and stays light and fluffy. You can even freeze quinoa in an airtight container for up to a month!

Simply cook, fluff, season, and allow quinoa to cool completely. Then transfer to a lidded container in the fridge or freezer.

Quinoa doesn’t become dried out like rice or soggy like lettuce when dressing is added, meaning you can prep your favorite quinoa salads or grain bowls in advance, dressing and all, and keep it in the fridge for later. It’s FANTASTIC!

Types of Quinoa

When searching for quinoa in the grocery store, you’ll find it near the rice and grains or sometimes even in the bulk bins of nuts and grains. These are the three types you’ll see most often:

  • white quinoa
  • red quinoa
  • black quinoa
  • tri-color quinoa

White quinoa is the most common and has a fluffy texture when cooked. I use this for grain bowls, quinoa salads, veggie burgers, and as a rice substitute.

Red quinoa and black quinoa are a little chewier in texture. It’s great in hearty salads alongside vegetables and kale.

Tri-color quinoa is a mix of red, white, and black quinoa. I love using this in veggie chili recipes!

How to Cook Quinoa

1. Rinse and strain quinoa using a mesh sieve or strainer before even attempting to cook the stuff. Rinsing is helpful because quinoa has a slightly bitter coating on it. A quick rinse removes the coating.

2. Toss the drained quinoa straight in the pot without water and allow to toast on medium-high heat for a few minutes while you stir often. You don’t quite want to brown it, but instead want to kick that little extra moisture that the quinoa might be holding on to. Sometimes I skip this step but I try to lightly toast it if I have a couple minutes to spare since it adds a light nuttiness to the quinoa.

3. Ignore the package and nix the rice ratio of 1:2 (1 cup rice to 2 cups water) and instead do a 1:1.5 ratio for quinoa. That measures up to 1 cup dry quinoa per 1.5 cups of water. You can even use use vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor.

4. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to low.

5. Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar to vent (I get the fluffiest results doing this) and simmer for approx. 12-13 minutes.

6. At the 12 minute mark, check the quinoa. If it’s still a bit wet, add an additional 2-3 minutes of cook time until it’s nice and fluffy. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and season with salt and pepper.

Make extra so you can toss it in pasta dishes to bulk them up, in salads for extra protein and texture, and anything else you can think of! Now that i’m not drowning my quinoa in that extra 1/2 cup of liquid it comes out fluffier and tastier than ever.  Which means when I make Quinoa Fried Rice, its EXTRA magical.

Of course I don’t expect you to memorize this blog post right off the bat. Snag the printable recipe card below and get ready to quinoa your face off!

If you have any questions, I’m here to help! Simply leave me a comment at the bottom of this post.

How to Cook Quinoa

How to Cook Quinoa

Ever wondered how to cook quinoa so it's perfectly fluffy and delicious? This post is here to help! I've compiled all my best quinoa tips and tricks in this easy peasy tutorial.
5 from 2 votes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Keyword: how to cook quinoa, quinoa tutorial
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Jenn Laughlin – Peas and Crayons

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups water or vegetable broth

Instructions

  • Rinse and strain quinoa using a mesh sieve or strainer before even attempting to cook the stuff. Rinsing is helpful because quinoa has a slightly bitter coating on it. A quick rinse removes the coating.
  • Toss the drained quinoa straight in the pot without water and allow to toast on medium-high heat for a few minutes while you stir often. You don’t quite want to brown it, but instead want to kick that little extra moisture that the quinoa might be holding on to. Sometimes I skip this step but I try to lightly toast it if I have a couple minutes to spare since it adds a light nuttiness to the quinoa.
  • Ignore the package and nix the rice ratio of 1:2 (1 cup rice to 2 cups water) and instead do a 1:1.5 ratio for quinoa. That measures up to 1 cup dry quinoa per 1.5 cups of water. You can even use use vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor.
  • Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat to low.
  • Cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar to vent (I get the fluffiest results doing this) and simmer for approx. 12-13 minutes.
  • At the 12 minute mark, check the quinoa. If it’s still a bit wet, add an additional 2-3 minutes of cook time until it’s nice and fluffy. Remove lid, fluff with a fork, and season with salt and pepper.

Notes

Nutrition Facts below are estimated per cup of cooked quinoa using an online recipe nutrition calculator. Adjust as needed and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 209kcal, Carbohydrates: 36g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 9mg, Potassium: 319mg, Fiber: 4g, Vitamin A: 8IU, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 3mg

Crazy for quinoa?

  1. Szechuan Shrimp and Broccoli – this is fantastic over a bed of quinoa!
  2. Quinoa Pumpkin Veggie Burgers
  3. Sweet Potato Quinoa with Lemon Feta Vinaigrette
  4. Black Bean Quinoa Tacos via The Schmidty Wife
  5. NEW! Chicken Quinoa Fried Rice
  6. Veggie Quinoa with Zucchini and Corn

Cooking quinoa is oh so easy to do! If you get a chance to try this fluffy quinoa technique, let me know! You can leave me a comment here (LOVE checking those daily!) or tag @PEASandCRAYONS on Instagram so I can happy dance over your creations. I can’t wait to see what you whip up!

Jenn Laughlin Headshot Photo - About the Author
About The Author:

Jenn Laughlin

Jenn Laughlin founded Peas and Crayons in 2009 after graduating with B.S. in Dietetics from Florida State University and working as a Nutrition Educator for WIC. The goal was simple: create and share delicious tested and perfected recipes with vegetables as the star! Peas and Crayons is know for veggie forward recipes that are colorful and crave-able.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I appreciate the help with quinoa. I’ve made it before but not rinsed it. I wish I had seen your post sooner. Now I’ll do better. Thanks!