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How to Cook Quinoa

Created March 7, 2017
how to cook quinoa
Cooking quinoa is tricky. Follow these tips to make the perfect pot.


Ahhh, quinoa. The power-packed ancient grain of Aztec origins. The yummy superfood alternative to rice. The delicious addition to salads, soups and casseroles. The often tricky-to-make pot of sludge.

What? You, too?

Yep. I’m sad to admit that as much as I love the idea of quinoa, actually cooking it can be a real pain. I’ve poured the precious kernels into too many pots of boiling water, only to end with a hunk of porridge.

So, I decided to learn me some learnings. I figured, there had to be some works-everytime tricks to making a perfect pot of quinoa every time. Right?


Prepping a batch of fluffy quinoa isn’t just something the average human can do blindfolded. There is a careful art to cooking the stuff. A simple art, but there are secrets. I’ve rounded them all up so you can cook up a perfect pot of quinoa too.

Here you go!


Step 1: Buy Yourself Some Quinoa

Start by nabbing a heap of uncooked quinoa from your favorite grocery store. You can typically find it near the rice or health foods. Many stores sell it in bulk as well.

Store it in an airtight container and place it in your cupboards. Quinoa doesn’t spoil or go rancid very easily, but if you’re concerned about extreme heat, you can keep uncooked quinoa in an airtight container in the freezer too. Whatever works best for your kitchen will likely be perfect for this sturdy little seed.


Step 2: Gather Your Ingredients

When it comes time to cook, you’ll need a 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio. Easy enough to remember, this is the perfect amount of liquid to cook your quinoa without needing to drain it afterward. 2 cups of water, broth or juice mixed with 1 cup of quinoa makes for a perfect pair.


Step 3: Rinse the Quinoa Before Cooking

Quinoa is coated with a bitter tasting protective layer called saponin. It keeps birds at bay, and it turns out humans don’t take too kindly to this nastyish layer either. So, you’ll want to grab a fine-mesh strainer and rinse the quinoa under cool water. Though most companies “polish” or prewash packaged quinoa, it’s still a good idea to give it a good wash before cooking, just to be sure.


Step 4: Put It In a Pot & Bring to a Boil

Now grab a large pot and add both your quinoa and water, stirring to mix well. Quinoa does not need to be added to boiling water like pasta does. So, mix it together and then turn on that heat, bringing it to a boil.



Step 5: Turn Heat to Low and Simmer for 15 Minutes, Stirring Frequently

Though many cooks prefer to cover the quinoa, allowing it to cook for 15 minutes before straining, I’ve found that I can eliminate the straining step if I cook the quinoa uncovered, stirring and fluffing every 1-2 minutes.


Step 6: Allow Cooked Quinoa to Rest, Then Fluff with a Fork

This is the part so many people forget—and it’s probably the most important! Once your quinoa has cooked for 15 minutes (no longer, lest it get mushy), remove it from the heat and allow the pot to sit uncovered for 15 minutes more. Then fluff with a fork. Doing so allows the seed to soak up any final water, and will give you “pro”-looking fluffy quinoa.


Step 7: Enjoy!

With quinoa cooked, it’s time to eat! Stir it into one of these delicious dinner recipes below or serve it as you would rice. You’ll be getting all sorts of nutrients and health benefits in every delicious bowl of perfectly cooked quinoa.

Don’t Miss These 3 Favorite Quinoa Recipes:

Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Quinoa Skillet

Cheesy Enchilada Quinoa Casserole

Honey-Sriracha Chicken Quinoa Bowl


Brooke blogs at Cheeky Kitchen, where she shares crazy simple, healthy family recipes. She joined Tablespoon to share some of her best, so keep an eye on Brooke's profile to see what she cooks up next!