How to Cook Quinoa

Everyone loves this protein-rich superfood. But do you know how to cook quinoa so it turns out light and fluffy? We'll teach you!

What’s not to love about quinoa? This super grain is not only nutty and textured, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse. (Did you know it’s a complete protein, providing all nine essential amino acids our body needs?) It makes an incredible base for hearty dinner bowls, healthy 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 Do You Make Quinoa Taste Better?

It starts with rinsing the grains in a fine mesh sieve under cold, running water. The extra step removes the saponin (quinoa’s natural coating), which not only tastes bitter but also prevents the grain from expanding as it cooks.

You can also toast quinoa after rinsing to deepen its flavor. Just add the quinoa to a large nonstick skillet and cook over medium heat, shaking the pan from time to time. You know it’s done when it starts to make popping sounds.

Finally, using vegetable or chicken broth instead of water is a great way to add flavor to your quinoa. 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.

Ingredients

Yield: about 3 cups

Step 1: Simmer the liquid first

Unlike rice, you won’t want to 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: practicing 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 and enjoy!

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.