Quinoa is a delicious and versatile gluten-free seed. It’s incredibly easy to make and can be made into tons of different recipes, both savory and sweet. I’ll show you how to cook quinoa so it’s perfect every time!
I like to think of myself as a bit of quinoa expert at this point. As soon as I learned of the benefits, I’ve been making it non-stop. I’ve had my fair share of failed attempts and mushy bowls, so I’m here to share everything I’ve learned over the years with you!
What exactly is quinoa?
Quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) is my favorite. Though commonly served grain style, it 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, and other recipes where a grain would typically be present.
It is a complete source of plant based protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. It’s naturally gluten free so it’s great for all types of eaters. Plus, with my easy method, you’ll have perfectly fluffy quinoa in just about 15 minutes!
STEP 1: First things first, measure the quinoa. I use these dry measuring cups so the measurement is as exact as possible.
STEP 2: Next, rinse. 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 it taste a little funky. Rinse it for about 1 minute using a fine mesh strainer.
STEP 3: Once rinsed, add 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, you’ll want to use 2 cups of water. If you’re cooking ½ cup dry, use 1 cup of water and so on.
STEP 4: Bring 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 and let simmer over low heat, uncovered, until all of the water is absorbed.
STEP 7: Cover 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 and not mushy!
STEP 8: After about 10 minutes, it will be done, so fluff it with a fork and serve!
Why did it turn out mushy?
One reason people end up with mushy quinoa is because they follow the directions on the back of the 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 it covered. This method isn’t necessarily bad but it will generally cause it to be mushy instead of fluffy.
Second, 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.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, you can absolutely freeze quinoa. Once cooked, it will keep in the fridge for 5-7 days or in the freezer for 3 months.
Be sure to let it 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.
Quinoa vs. 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 and flavors
Quinoa has a slightly nuttier flavor, whereas rice is more mild. The textures also vary quite a bit, but if you cook quinoa properly, it can be just as fluffy as fresh rice.
How much does it yield?
While cooking, quinoa expands by about 3 times. So, 1 cup of dry will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa. ½ cup of dry will yield 1 ½ cups cooked 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
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 it in vegetable or chicken 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.
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.
Try these recipes!
- Tabbouleh Salad
- Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Breakfast Bowl
- Thai Vegan Salad
- Kale & Quinoa Salad With Lemon Tahini Dressing
- Vegan Buddha Bowl
- 30 Minute Quinoa “Fried Rice”
- Vegan Slow Cooker Bean and Quinoa Chili
How To Cook Quinoa
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups water (or vegetable/chicken broth)
- Pinch of salt
- Rinse the quinoa and add to a pot with the water and salt.
- Bring to a rapid boil.
- Reduce heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- After about 15 minutes or when the liquid is absorbed, remove from the heat and cover.
- Let steam for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.
- Fluff with a fork and enjoy!