Quinoa is a mighty little seed with a whole host of health benefits. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to make and can be made into tons of different recipes, both savory and sweet. In this guide, I’ll show you how to make perfect quinoa so you never end up with a pile of mush ever again.
I like to think of myself as a bit of quinoa expert. As soon as I learned of the health benefits, I’ve been making it non-stop. I’ve had my fair share of failed attempts at making quinoa, so I’m here to share everything I’ve learned over the year with you!
What exactly is quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) is my favorite. Though commonly served grain style, quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain! Along with buckwheat it’s classified as a “pseudo-grain” because it’s not a grain, but people often have it as a breakfast bowl, in sushi, buddha bowls, I think you get the point!
Quinoa is a complete source of plant based protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s an ancient superfood that you should definitely add to your diet!
How to make fluffy quinoa
STEP 1: First things first, measure the quinoa. I use these dry measuring cups so the measurment is as exact as possible.
STEP 2: Next, rinse the quinoa. This is to ensure there are no weird objects straying in the quinoa (it’s happened) and to rinse away the bitter coating that can sometimes make quinoa taste a little funky. Rinse it for about 1 minute using a fine mesh strainer.
STEP 3: Add the rinsed quinoa to a pot with water. You always want to use a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water. So, if you’re cooking 1 cup of dry quinoa, you’ll want to use 2 cups of water. If you’re cooking 1/2 cup dry quinoa, use 1 cup of water and so on.
STEP 4: Bring the quinoa to a low boil.
STEP 5: Add seasonings of choice. I always add salt, but some garlic or onion powder is always delicious.
STEP 6: Stir the quinoa and let it cook over low heat, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed.
STEP 7: Cover the quinoa to let it steam. At this point it will still look slightly undercooked, but it will continue to cook once it is covered, so do not add any extra liquid if you want the quinoa to be fluffy!
STEP 8: After about 10 minutes, the quinoa will be done, so fluff it with a fork and serve!
Why is my quinoa mushy?
One reason people end up with mushy quinoa is because they follow the directions on the back of the quinoa package. You’d think that a package of quinoa would have proper instructions, but low and behold, it doesn’t.
If you follow the instructions on the package, you’ll usually be told to use a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water (which is good!) but you’ll be instructed to cook the quinoa covered. This method isn’t necessarily bad but it will generally cause your quinoa to be mushy instead of fluffy.
Second, to make perfect quinoa, be sure to use a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water. Any more water and you’ll probably end up with a pile of mush instead of nice soft individual kernels of quinoa.
Can you freeze cooked quinoa? How long will it keep in the fridge?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze quinoa. Sometimes, I buy it pre-frozen when I’m feeling lazy. Once cooked, quinoa will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
Be sure to let the quinoa cool down completely before storing it in either the fridge or the freezer. Store it in an air tight container (or even a zip lock bag in the freezer) for best results.
Is quinoa better for you than rice?
Quinoa and rice are often compared because they can be used in place of each other in certain recipes, but they actually have quite different nutrition profiles.
Most people find that quinoa is a bit easier to digest than grains like rice. Quinoa is also lower on the glycemic index than rice so it won’t spike your blood sugar quite the same way rice does (source).
How much cooked quinoa does dry quinoa yield?
While cooking, quinoa expands by about 3 times. So, 1 cup of dry quinoa will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. 1/2 cup of dry quinoa will yield 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa etc.
If you need a certain amount of cooked quinoa for a recipe, divide that number by 3 and that’s approximately how much dry quinoa you will want to cook.
How to add flavor to quinoa so it actually tastes good!
On its own, quinoa has a slightly nutty flavor that some people (like myself) enjoy, but not everyone likes the taste of it! I’ve been obsessed with quinoa for years, so I’ve nailed down a few tips to make your quinoa taste even more delicious!
- Cook the quinoa in vegetable broth: This will infuse the quinoa with onion and garlic and savory flavors to really enhance the taste. If you do use vegetable broth instead of water, still make sure to use a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to liquid. You will cook the quinoa exactly the same way you cook it with water, just with vegetable broth instead. Chicken broth also works if you are not vegan or vegetarian. Obviously don’t do this if you’ll be using the quinoa for a sweet recipe like my quinoa breakfast bowl!
- Add salt and seasonings to the water: I suggest adding salt to the water regardless, but you can also add in some garlic powder, onion powder, dried herbs, or even chili powder or cumin. Totally up to you!
- Add a spoonful of vegetable bouillon to the water: This is similar to using vegetable broth in place of water, but if you don’t have any broth, you can add a spoonful (or a cube) of vegetable bouillon to the water. Add this in at the same time you add the other seasonings.
Don’t know how to use quinoa? Try these 10 perfect quinoa recipes!
- Vegetarian Quinoa Sushi with Miso Tahini Dressing
- Easy Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
- Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- High Protein Quinoa Breakfast Bowl
- Thai Vegan Quinoa Salad
- Kale & Quinoa Salad With Lemon Tahini Dressing
- The Ultimate Vegan Buddha Bowl
- 30 Minute Quinoa “Fried Rice” By Minimalist Baker
- Summer Veggie & Quinoa Buddha Bowl
- Vegan Slow Cooker Bean and Quinoa Chili By From My Bowl
Say goodbye to mushy and bland quinoa! Follow these steps to make perfectly fluffy and flavorful quinoa every time.
- 1 cup dry quinoa (I used tri color quinoa, any variety works well)
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Add the the measured quinoa to a fine mesh strainer and rinse well.
- Add to a pot with water and bring to a low boil.
- Add the salt and any other seasonings of your choice and stir.
- Let simmer on low heat, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Once all the liquid is absorbed, cover and turn off the heat.
- Let steam for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.
- Fluffy the quinoa with a fork and enjoy!
Always use a 1:2 ratio of quinoa to water.
For extra flavor, you can sub the water for equal parts vegetable broth.
Before you cover the quinoa to finish steaming, it will still appear to be slightly undercooked, but it will finish cooking as it steams. Do not add more liquid at this point or it will end up mushy.
Once prepared, the quinoa will store in the fridge for 5 days. You can freeze quinoa as well. It will keep in the freezer for about 3 months.
- Serving Size: 1/2 cup cooked
- Calories: 156
- Sugar: 0g
- Fat: 2.6g
- Carbohydrates: 27g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 6g
Keywords: quinoa, how to cook quinoa, perfect quinoa