How To Cook Quinoa

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Learn how to cook quinoa with helpful techniques for making it on the stovetop perfectly light and tender every time. This superfood seed contains all nine essential amino acids for a high-quality protein-packed side dish. A healthy gluten-free and vegetarian option to accompany any meal.

Metal spoon holding up a scoop of cooked quinoa

Quinoa is a superfood king that has found a special place in many kitchens as it has grown in popularity over the years. It’s not a surprise because this pseudocereal has numerous health benefits when incorporated into diets, for most people. It’s somewhat of an acquired taste and texture, as the spherical seeds have a nutty flavor, earthy flavor, and slight bitterness.

It’s a straightforward method to cook quinoa correctly. However, there are some critical preparation steps that you don’t want to skip before the cooking even begins. Learn how to prepare quinoa so that the eating experience is positive, maximizing the nutritional goldmine by incorporating it as a side dish or into various recipes.

Water from a faucet cleaning quinoa in a colander

How to Cook Quinoa

Cooking quinoa is very similar to preparing rice in that it uses the simmering method. Here are the keys steps to making quinoa on the stovetop that is light, fluffy and tastes good.

Soak and rinse

Unless it’s marked as rinsed on the bag, you’ll want to cover it in a bowl of cold water for 2 minutes to remove the outer shell. Then rinse quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer with cool water for 30 seconds. Drain the excess water and transfer quinoa to a cooking pot.

Simmer

Add a liquid of choice and some salt to the pot with the rinsed quinoa–about 2 cups for every one cup of dry quinoa. Bring the water (or stock, for more flavor) to a boil in a saucepan. Cover the pan and reduce heat to medium-low heat, so the liquid simmers. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, and check to see if all the water has absorbed and the grain is translucent and tender. If so, you’re finished. If not, keep it on low heat until all the water (or liquid) is absorbed.

Sit and separate

Turn off the heat and allow the cooked quinoa to sit and stay covered for at least 5 minutes. This step enables the last bits of water to be absorbed and let the steam and heat generated in the closed pot to finish the cooking process. This will ensure that the seeds are cooked through and become translucent in appearance. Use a fork to separate and fluff up the quinoa right before serving.

Cooked quinoa in a saucepan

More quinoa recipes

Always rinse the quinoa

No matter if the quinoa is labeled as “prewashed” you want to give it a quick rinse under cold water. This is because the seeds have a coating called saponin that has a bitter flavor. Most of the coating is removed when processed before packaging, but the extra steps ensure that the bitterness is minimized.

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How To Cook Quinoa

How to cook quinoa with helpful techniques for making it perfectly light and tender every time. A healthy gluten-free and vegetarian option to accompany any meal.
Pin Print Review
4.06 from 35 votes
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine Argentinian

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions 

  • Place quinoa in a medium-sized bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 2 minutes.
  • Transfer soaked quinoa to a fine-mesh strainer or seive. Rinse quinoa under cold running water for 30 seconds until water runs clear.
  • Shake the sieve to remove excess water.
  • Transfer to a medium-sized pot fitted with a lid.
  • Add 2 cups of cold water and salt to the pot.
  • Bring water to a boil over high heat.
  • Once the water boils, immediately reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Cover pot and simmer until quinoa absorbs all of the water and is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the quinoa still looks wet, continue to cook, checking every 5 minutes. 
  • Turn off heat and let stand, covered 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork to separate the grains.

Notes

  • Toasting Option: Once quinoa is rinsed, it can be sauteed in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes before adding in water add salt. This will accentuate the slightly bitter and nutty flavors of the quinoa.
  • Chicken, beef or vegetable stock or broth can be substituted for water to add more flavor the quinoa.

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Nutrition Facts
How To Cook Quinoa
Amount Per Serving
Calories 182 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Sodium 303mg13%
Carbohydrates 32g11%
Fiber 3g12%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 6g12%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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34 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Ankita says

    Thanks a lot, Jessica. It helps me understand that cooking Quinoa is not really difficult. I will surely try making some soon!!

    • Arlene says

      Thanks Jessica my first time making it and with your instruction it turn out absolutely delicious I love it and enjoying it. Love eating healthy my husband and I are in our 60 he’s 70. Thank you!!!

  2. Anne May says

    I am making a Quioa Three Bean Salad.
    Served cold or room temperature . Good for Pot locks . Using Vegetable stock for cooking .
    This is a Vegan Pot Luck.

  3. Myra says

    I don’t cook much. But I’d love to get into it more. I found your site by googling how to cook quinoa. Thanks for your insight. 🤗

  4. Renee says

    I’m going to turn it into a dessert by adding organic stevia, nutmeg and almond milk. I’ll let you know. Thanks for showing how easy to cook.

  5. Andy Dray says

    Yes, came out great. I added pesto, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and Chic peas. Then chilled. AWESOME….. Thanks Jessica

  6. Normajean says

    I cook quinoa with broth usually and add to meatless tacos, beans and salads. Thinking about using a fruit juice as liquid and adding fruit like an oatmeal breakfast replacement option at times. Also add toasted nuts to the quinoa dishes. Usually cook it in the pressure cooker but not always.

  7. Marilea says

    Hi Jessica, we have met before. I was looking for instructions on how to cook quinoa without realizing it was from your site. I was reading through reviews and I’m glad to have known this quinoa cooking procedure was from you .
    Marilea

  8. Mary says

    I received a package of tri-colored quinoa as a Christmas gift. Thank you for your directions on how to cook quinoa. I’m going to try it tonight.

  9. Colleen Hardy says

    I googled how to cook quinoa and your site seemed the best. I am using it in crockpot soup with vegetable and chicken broth, great northern beans, tomatoes and tons of spices. Cant wait to see how the quinoa in it tastes. My home is smelling wonderfully!

  10. Charlaine says

    I followed your directions tonight. It’s the first time I’ve made quinoa. My question to you is can you overcook it?? My grains seem to stick together in clumps and it seems a little mushy. Is this normal? I did follow your directions to the tee but it did take more than 20 minutes to cook off the water. 🤷‍♀️ Please help!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Charlaine- Was heat turned down to a simmer? The quinoa slightly sticks together once fully cooked, but shouldn’t be mushy. Sometimes too much water or cooking it a little too high for the heat during the simmering process might make it mushy. I found that keeping it covered for the 5 to 10 minutes off the heat helps with absorbing the water and keeping the quinoa fluffy.

  11. Betty Cammarata says

    Your recipe is the first one that makes what I consider edible quinoa. Thanks very much for helping me include this healthy option in my family’s diet.

  12. Donna H says

    I’ve used your recipe several times. After cooking, I freeze it in 1/4 cup muffin tins and then I can throw one or two into oatmeal, etc.

  13. LNdA says

    Glad you’re teaching people that cooking quinoa is easy! However, 2 cups of water plus the retained water from rinsing to 1 cup quinoa will result in a mushy batch of quinoa. Unless you’re simmering the quinoa with the lid off and thus evaporating more water quinoa should should be cooked at 1.5 cups water to 1 cup quinoa.

  14. G says

    I have great luck using 1 C Quinoa and 1 3/4 C liquid.
    After rinsing, I saute´ the quinoa for 5 minutes w/ Macadamia oil, then add liquid.

    Helps keep from being mushy.

  15. Barrett Chambers says

    This recipe worked perfectly. I added herbs, seasoning, and salt to the water. Delicious.

  16. Lesa says

    Thank you, this did the trick, I have always rinses for several mins. but the pre-soak before rinse, (I ended up with longer than 2 mins.) before the rinsing, and starting with cold water made all the difference, It really got rid of the bitter taste, it’s fluffy and nutty, and ready to use in my stuffed cabbage and mushrooms. Thanks so much~! Lesa

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