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 key 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 been 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 lets 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.

More quinoa recipes

Cooked quinoa in a saucepan.

Recipe Science

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.

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.
4.91 from 64 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
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.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 182kcal (9%)Carbohydrates 32g (11%)Protein 6g (12%)Fat 3g (5%)Sodium 303mg (13%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 3g (3%)Calcium 20mg (2%)Iron 1.8mg (10%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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38 Comments Leave a comment or review

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Agreed!I just made quinoa yesterday and it pairs well with various dishes. Let me know if you make some!

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