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How to Cook Quinoa (VIDEO)

Learn how to cook perfect quinoa. Quinoa is very light in taste and texture and it’s so versatile and easy to cook. Watch the video tutorial and you’ll be on your way to making the best-tasting fluffy quinoa.

Quinoa cooked in large saucepan

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There are so many great ways to serve quinoa. Serve it as a side dish instead of White Rice or Creamy Mashed Potatoes or used as an ingredient in salads, soups, or pilafs. It’s also easy to cook.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is actually a seed and not a true grain even though it’s referred to as the “Mother Grain” in South America. Quinoa is pronounced “keen-wa” and was cultivated hundreds of years ago in the Andes mountains by Incan farmers. There are several varieties of quinoa and all will work in this recipe.

Quinoa is considered to be healthier than other grains because it’s higher in fiber and protein and lower in carbs, plus it’s naturally gluten-free.

We love quinoa in soups and put it into our Sauerkraut Soup as well as our Superfood Borscht. It’s also delicious in Chicken Quinoa Lettuce Wraps.

Uncooked quinoa in bag

How to Cook Quinoa Video

Watch Natasha make this easy fluffy quinoa. It’s very similar to rice and is surprisingly easy to make.

Ingredients

  • Quinoa – we use white quinoa because it has the mildest flavor, but different varieties will cook the same way.
  • Butter – we add a pat of unsalted butter but you can substitute with light olive oil to toast the quinoa.
  • Filtered water – since the quinoa absorbs the water, using filtered water is a good idea
  • Fine sea salt – you can use whatever salt you like, just add it to taste (use more if it’s course grain salt and a little less if it’s table salt)

The Secret to the Best Quinoa

The key is to toast the quinoa before boiling it. It’s an easy step that takes a few extra minutes and I just toast it in the same saucepan it’s cooked in so it’s really worth the teensy bit of extra effort. The texture is also better – the kernels are more defined and the quinoa turns out less mushy. 

UP close quinoa cooked on the stove

How to Make Quinoa

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve for at least 30 seconds then drain well. 
  2. Toast quinoa – place a large saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp butter or oil. Add drained quinoa and stir until toasted and the grains separate and turn golden (3 minutes). 
  3. Simmer – Add water and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, 13-15 minutes. Check with a fork to the bottom of the pot to ensure the water has evaporated.
  4. Rest – Remove from heat and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. 
step by step how to cook quinoa

Pro Tip: Letting the pot rest for 5 minutes is important for perfectly done quinoa. It allows the quinoa to absorb some residual steam so you don’t end up with partially cooked or crunchy quinoa.

Perfectly fluffy cooked quinoa with serving spoon

Common Questions

Does quinoa have to be toasted? 

Quinoa does not require toasting but you will have the best flavor if you toast the grains in butter or oil. You can also toast on a dry skillet without oil or butter to cut calories.

Why does my quinoa taste bitter?

Quinoa has a naturally occurring bitter coating called saponins. Rinsing the quinoa ensures your quinoa won’t taste bitter after it is cooked. If you have had bitter-tasting quinoa, it’s because it was not rinsed before cooking. 

Can I cut the recipe in half?

Yes, but keep in mind the quinoa will cook and absorb all of the water a little faster. 

Can I double the recipe?

You can easily double the recipe following the guideline of 1 part quinoa to 2 cups water, but keep in mind, that a larger amount of quinoa will take longer to cook and absorb all of the water. 

How to Tell when quinoa is done?

When quinoa is done cooking, you will see tiny spirals (the germ) curl around the seeds.

up close cooked quinoa with tiny spirals

Serve Quinoa with

We love to serve this as a healthy side dish and it pairs well with just about any protein or vegetables.

Make-Ahead

Cooked quinoa is perfect for easy meal prep throughout the week.

  • To Refrigerate: once quinoa has cooled, store it in an airtight or tightly sealed container for up to 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezing: store cooled quinoa in a freezer-safe zip-top bag or Tupperware for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw: set the quinoa in the refrigerator overnight or quick-thaw on the counter at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • To Reheat: you can microwave or use the stovetop. To microwave – sprinkle thawed quinoa with a little water then heat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, stirring halfway. For the stovetop – place a skillet over medium heat and melt some butter. Add quinoa and stir until heated through.

This is our go-to method for how to cook quinoa. Do you love quinoa? I’d love to hear your favorite way to serve it up in the comments below.

How to Cook Quinoa

5 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Cooked quinoa in blue pot
This is our go-to method for how to cook perfect and fluffy quinoa. The proportions for quinoa are the same as for white rice: 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. You can easily scale up or down as needed.
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $2-$3
Keyword: how to cook quinoa, quinoa
Cuisine: South American
Course: Side Dish
Calories: 181
Servings: 4 people (makes 3 cups cooked quinoa)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp butter or extra light olive oil
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve for at least 30 seconds then drain well.

  2. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp butter or oil. Add drained quinoa and stir constantly until quinoa is toasted, the grains separate and turn golden, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 13-15 minutes. When it’s done, you’ll see tiny spirals curl around the seeds and check with a fork to ensure the water has evaporated all the way down to the bottom of the pot.

  4. Remove from heat and let it rest covered for another 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.
Nutrition Facts
How to Cook Quinoa
Amount Per Serving
Calories 181 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Trans Fat 0.1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 8mg3%
Sodium 321mg14%
Potassium 240mg7%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 0.003g0%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 93IU2%
Calcium 25mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Tanya
    September 12, 2022

    Hello Natasha!
    Thank you for the recipe!
    Can I cook quinoa in the rice cooker?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 12, 2022

      Hi Tanya. Yes, it is possible to cook Quinoa in the rice cooker. I do not have a recipe with instructions for this but generally, the ratio is one part Quinoa to two parts liquid.

      Reply

  • Leonor
    September 11, 2022

    I never had quinoa and it looks easy to make. Can I add chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 11, 2022

      Hi Leonor, I honestly haven’t tested that to advise. If you do an experiment, please update us on how it goes!

      Reply

  • Darina
    September 9, 2022

    I also like quinoa for breakfast. I add crushed walnuts, raisins, and honey. Yummy!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 9, 2022

      Sounds like a great combination. 🙂

      Reply

  • Diana Koziol
    September 4, 2022

    Hi Natasha,
    Quinoa is quite bland so how can I jazz it up?
    Thank you.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 4, 2022

      Hi Diana, you may add more salt or another seasoning to taste.

      Reply

  • Jessica
    September 4, 2022

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve always wanted to make it at home but wasn’t sure how… and this was so easy to follow.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 4, 2022

      I’m glad you found and loved this recipe, Jessica!

      Reply

  • Sallie Morrill
    September 4, 2022

    Hi Natasha! Thank you posting this recipe. I have never heard of this before. Excited to try it soon. Love the work you & Vadim have done on your website & YT channel! You guys are amazing, & your recipes are delicious! God bless.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      September 4, 2022

      Hello Sallie, great to hear from you, and thanks so much for your kind words. I hope you’ll enjoy the recipes that you will try!

      Reply

  • Kara
    September 3, 2022

    Toasting the quinoa first adds such great flavor – thanks for the tip!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 3, 2022

      It really does! 🙂

      Reply

      • Teri Nelson
        September 3, 2022

        toasting all grains and dried beans (all types) is a must for great flavor.

        Reply

  • Samantha
    September 2, 2022

    I love quinoa and this recipe was amazing! Super easy and fast to make.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 2, 2022

      So glad you enjoy this recipe, Samantha!

      Reply

  • Patricia
    September 2, 2022

    I have always wanted to know how to make this.
    Any more healthy quinoa recipes would be great.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 2, 2022

      Thank you so much for that suggestion, Patricia!

      Reply

  • Joyce Johnson
    September 2, 2022

    We eat alot of Quinoa. Even my dog loves it. Before cooking I add
    fresh squeezed lemon and dry mint flakes. Shuttle taste and very good.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      September 2, 2022

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Joyce! That sounds delicious!

      Reply

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