How to Cook Quinoa

Updated: Jun. 02, 2023

Do you love this protein-rich superfood? We'll teach you how to cook quinoa so it turns out light and fluffy.

What’s not to love about quinoa? This super grain is not only nutty and textured, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse and is a great way to get protein into a plant-based diet. It makes an incredible base for healthy dinner bowls, filling breakfasts and fun salads. Plus, learning how to cook quinoa is easy!

How Much Quinoa Does 1 Cup Make?

Because the grain triples in size as it cooks, one cup of raw quinoa should yield about three cups of cooked quinoa. It’ll keep for three to five days in the fridge, or in the freezer for up to two months.

How to Wash Quinoa

Man holding small strainer with raw quinoa seedsdeymos/Getty Images

Quinoa should always be washed before cooking. This extra step will removes the saponin (quinoa’s natural coating), which not only tastes bitter but also prevents the grain from expanding as it cooks. If the packaging for your quinoa says it’s already been pre-washed, washing it again will be up to your own personal preferences.

To wash quinoa, simply rinse the grains in a fine mesh sieve under cold, running water. Using a fine mesh sieve is vital for making sure your seeds won’t fall through the holes. If you don’t have one on hand, you can get creative. Use a straining cloth—like a cheesecloth or nut milk bag—by placing the quinoa on the cloth, wrapping the cloth around the seeds and then rinsing it under cold water. Squeeze any remaining water out and you’re all done. Another alternative is using a clean coffee filter!

How Do You Make Quinoa Taste Better?

Rinsing quinoa will take care of that bitter taste, but adding more flavor to the grain takes a few extra steps.

One way to make it taste better is by toasting your quinoa after rinsing. This will help deepen its flavor. To do so, just add the quinoa to a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan from time to time. You’ll know it’s done when it starts to make popping sounds.

Another great way to add flavor to your quinoa is by using vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. You could also add spices and seasonings to the cooking liquid, or toss the cooked quinoa with dressing while it’s still warm.

How to Cook Quinoa

You can cook quinoa in a rice cooker (or the Instant Pot), but the best way to cook quinoa is actually on the stovetop. Start your quinoa in simmering water to kick-start its blooming and unraveling phase, making it fluffier than you thought possible.


Yield: about 3 cups


Step 1: Simmer the liquid first

Unlike rice, you don’t start quinoa in cold liquid. You don’t want it to absorb any cold water and throw off the water-to-grain ratio, or it will taste soggy. So bring your water or broth to a simmer before stirring in the quinoa. Then, let the mixture come back up to a simmer.

Step 2: Cover and cook

Once the mixture is simmering, reduce the heat to low, cover it and let it cook for 15 minutes. Resist the urge to open the lid and check on the progress! Releasing the steam too early can dry out the quinoa.

Step 3: Let it sit

Here’s the most critical step if you want fluffy quinoa: practice a little patience before you eat it. I know you want to dig right in, but take the pot off the heat and let it sit (covered) for an additional 20 minutes. The cooked quinoa will continue to release steam during this time, which will ensure your grains are light and airy.

Step 4: Fluff with a fork and enjoy!

Don’t use a spoon or spatula. Using a regular old fork to fluff the quinoa keeps the individual grains separate instead of mashing them together.

Once it’s fluffed, serve it up in one of these healthy quinoa recipes and enjoy!

Our Best Quinoa Recipes
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