How to Cook Quinoa (Fluffy & Tasty)

By Jessica Hylton -

Learn how to cook quinoa perfectly every time with these tips! This ancient grain is so easy, you’ll be done with this easy, healthy side dish in just 15 minutes. Great for meal prep, too!

cooked quinoa in a silver saucepan

If you keep up with my blog, you know that I’m a quinoa fanatic. Ever since learning the best way to cook quinoa, I have made my whole family super fans of this magical ancient grain, too! I’ve got all the tips and tricks make perfectly fluffy, flavourful quinoa any night of the week!

I have, however, received many questions from readers as to how to cook their quinoa properly and complaints that theirs was too dry, or too wet, or too bitter, or just undercooked.

I have put together this post as a more in-depth look on how you can become a fan of quinoa and learn how to cook quinoa perfectly every time.

What Is Quinoa?

In short, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a seed that has been around for at least 5,000 years and originated from the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru. Think couscous in texture, or even oats in the way it absorbs the liquid.

Quinoa seeds are actually really really good for you. They contain essential amino acids like lysine and great amounts of calcium, iron and phosphorus. Quinoa is also high in protein AND is gluten free!

An Asian salad with cucumbers, quinoa, edamame, carrots, and red cabbage

What Is the Ratio Of Quinoa To Water?

Whether you’re making a little or a lot of quinoa, the ratio of seeds to water is always the same!

For 1 cup of quinoa, you want 2 cups of water. You can always add a little flavor and use 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup water, and 1 cup broth. Either way, it’s 2:1 liquid to quinoa every time.

If you want to make less, you can easily use 1/2 cup raw quinoa with 1 cup of liquid. When it’s done, 1 cup of quinoa makes about 3 cups of fluffy, cooked quinoa.

Is Quinoa Healthier Than Rice?

To be honest, I don’t like to describe anything as “healthier” than another food — it’s all about moderation!

However, if we’re talking pure nutritional value, quinoa is packed with so many vitamins and essentials for any diet that other grains just can’t give ya.

Compared to white rice, quinoa has twice the protein as the same amount of rice. Plus, it’s got about 5g more fiber and fills you up faster!

Quinoa is a great side dish or salad addition because it can let you eat less and taste great, too.

salad ingredients mixed together with dressing beside it

How To Cook Quinoa

Once you learn how to make quinoa, you’ll make it forever! The rich nuttiness is so much better than brown rice or cauliflower rice.

dry quinoa in a measuring cup with veggie broth being poured in

To cook quinoa perfectly, you want to add the dry quinoa seeds to a pot of water. Bring it all to a boil, then reduce and simmer covered for about 15 minutes. The FULL instructions are below in the recipe card.

cooked quinoa in a silver saucepan

If you’re making red quinoa, it will likely take an extra few minutes to cook. As a general rule of thumb, if the water has evaporated, the quinoa should be done if the ratio was right.

Pro tip: The key is to set the lid slightly to the side so that you allow liquid and steam to escape. When it’s finished, you want to fluff the quinoa with a fork, which gives it a great cloud-like texture!

Tips and FAQs

Quinoa is very versatile and can literally be used in every meal of the day; breakfast, lunch, dinner, in casseroles, in desserts, in salads — the possibilities are endless!

  • Make it in batches. I love to meal prep quinoa for a week of easy lunches. However, cooking a huge pot isn’t the best way to go. I only cook 1 cup of quinoa at a time to keep it from getting mushy in the pot. If you need a ton, make it in batches!
  • Add some flavor. You can make quinoa easily with just water, quinoa, and a pinch of salt. If you wanna add a little extra oomph, use broth or stock! Chicken, veggie, beef — the options are endless for taking this easy side dish from basic to amazing with no extra work.
  • Rinse the quinoa first. If you think quinoa is too bitter, try rinsing it first! This prep step helps remove saponin from it and make the quinoa taste less bitter.
  • Don’t over cook it. Always be sure to set a timer for your quinoa so it doesn’t get over cooked. As a rule of thumb, it’s usually done when the liquid has evaporated. If it’s still crunchy but there’s no water left, add a tablespoon or 2 more and keep cooking.
Two golden brown veggie burgers with avocado, red onion, and lettuce on fluffy vegan buns

Easy Quinoa Recipes You’ll Love

cooked quinoa in a silver saucepan

How to Cook Quinoa

Learn all the tips and tricks to make quinoa perfectly every time! Master the quinoa-to-water ratio and enjoy this simple, healthy side dish every night in just 15 minutes.
by: Jessica in the Kitchen
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 cups
Course Dinner, Salads, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups broth or water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
Instructions

Instructions

  • Wash the quinoa in a mesh strainer rigorously with water for about 2 minutes. You will see a slightly milky-coloured water coming from the quinoa which is the saponin you are washing off. Shake the excess water out of the mesh.
  • In a pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. You're now going to dry the quinoa by adding it to the pan and letting it heat up for about 2 minutes. There should be a slightly sizzling while the water is drying off.
  • This toasting process adds a delicious slightly nutty flavour to the quinoa. Add the broth or water to the pan and the salt.
  • You can add in extra flavours if you want — garlic powder, onion powder, etc. Stir, and bring to a boil.
  • Lower to medium heat and cover, cooking for 15 minutes. Stir once every 5 minutes to ensure all the quinoa is being thoroughly cooked and so none of the quinoa stays on the bottom long enough to be burned.
  • You don’t want to cook quinoa for any less time than this else you will get mushy quinoa, and don’t stir it too often. Just allow it to cook.
  • When all of the water has been absorbed, the quinoa is finished cooking. Your quinoa should look fluffy and the seeds should be puffed up.
  • Remove the quinoa from the heat, and use your fork to fluff the quinoa a bit. This process helps to lighten the quinoa and releases some extra flavour. I like to leave the quinoa in the pot, off of the hot stove top, for about 5-10 minutes since the residual heat of the pot takes out any excess liquid and cools it down a bit.
  • Serve the quinoa and try some delicious quinoa recipes!
NOTES
  • Sometimes red quinoa takes longer than 15 minutes to cook! If it’s not fully cooked after 15 minutes, continue to stir for an extra 5 to 10 minutes until fully cooked.

Nutrition

Calories: 240kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1017mg | Potassium: 319mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 342IU | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 3mg
by Jessica
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Recipe Rating




45 comments

  1. Aminah says:

    Hi Jessica, what brand of Quinoa do you use and where do you purchase? Great post….Thanks!

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Aminah,

      Sorry I’m just seeing your message! I buy Roland Pre-Washed White Quinoa (although I always wash it again) and you can buy it in any supermarket!

  2. Cristina says:

    Uallll … This recipe is incredible. I’ve tried it once but never did it, but with your step by step, I found it easy to do and I’m going to the kitchen today. Thanks for posting this delight. Whenever I can I’m reading recipes here and it’s always a show. Kisses

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hi Christina! We love to see comments like yours over here at JITK! Thank you for reading and trying our recipes. It really means a lot.

  3. I have cooked quinoa several times. It’s so delicious and healthy!!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Hi Natalie it really is! Thanks for reading!

  4. Lauren Berry says:

    5 stars
    Loved it, instructions were so easy to follow! JITK strikes again👏🏽👌🏽🥳🥳

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      We’re so happy that you enjoyed this “how to” Lauren! Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment!

  5. 5 stars
    Tasty and fun. I love your recipe. It is so easy and good. The taste of this dish is excellent. This is my favorite food. It is both delicious and nutritious. I followed your recipe and I’m done fine. I can’t wait to enjoy this. Thanks for the great article. Can you make this with many other flavors?

    • Yay! I am so happy that you enjoyed so much!! Yes you can! I love adding a bit of lime and agave for a vegan version of “honey and lime!”

  6. eric levine says:

    5 stars
    Taught my g-daughter this recipe to teach her how to read a recipe and cook it. Came out delicious.

  7. Marina says:

    5 stars
    I want to diet but don’t know how to start
    Your post inspired me to start with quinoa, thank you Jessica.

    • Gavin | Jessica in the Kitchen says:

      Awesome wow! We’re so happy that this inspired you! Thanks for reviewing!

  8. Sonia says:

    5 stars
    Now it is holiday and I have a lot of time to make whatever I want and the quinoa recipes are always one of my favourite choice! Happy New Year!

  9. Elliott says:

    5 stars
    Great! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, my wife and daughter both liked it, which made me happy. Thanks for your recipe!

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