Once you know how to cook quinoa, you’ll find so many ways to use this ancient superfood. You’ll love its nutty flavor and fluffy texture. It’s fabulous in place of rice, couscous, or pasta and in your favorite soups and salads.

I’m in love with the amazing, easy-to-cook quinoa, and you will be, too. It’s gluten-free, and adds some serious texture and nutrition to all your favorite recipes.

Cooking quinoa for a dinner party? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa, (pronounced keen-wah) is often considered a whole grain, since it’s cooked like one, in water. Quinoa is actually the seed of a plant that is related to leafy greens, similar to spinach and chard.

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Quinoa is also a plant with a fascinating heritage. It comes from the Andes region, and was cultivated in Peru and Bolivia by pre-Columbian civilizations, who used it for thousands of years as a staple in their diet. Quinoa is grown in South America.

It’s still eaten and loved all over the world today, and for good reason. Not only is it delicious, but the health benefits of quinoa are vast and varied.

What does Quinoa taste like?

Quinoa has a mild, creamy, nutty taste that works well in almost any recipe in place of grains, lentils, rice, or couscous.

It’s also fluffy, with just the slightest crunch. I love its interesting texture!

For those of you who have tried quinoa and disliked it, you may want to give it another chance. Quinoa is very bitter if not rinsed properly before cooking, so that may be why you didn’t like it.

Rinsing quinoa removes the saponins on the outside of the seed. Saponins are bitter compounds that are naturally present in quinoa—along with lots of other legumes, vegetables, and herbs. They get their name because they lather up a bit in water, like soap suds.

Boxed quinoa may come pre-rinsed, but it couldn’t hurt to give it an extra rinse, just in case.

Once you rinse those saponins away, you have an amazing, great tasting superfood to add to soups, salads, or anything at all.

How to cook Quinoa:

Quinoa nutrition:

Superfood quinoa is:

Is Quinoa gluten-free?

Yes, all varieties of quinoa are safe for gluten-free diets.

Where to buy Quinoa:

You can find yellow quinoa, the most common variety, in almost all grocery stores these days. If you’re lucky enough to find the red, pink, and black varieties, give them a try—they’re delicious too!

Quinoa flakes, an alternative to oats in hot cereal, are also commonly available.

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Can Quinoa go bad?

Quinoa is a fabulous pantry staple with a long shelf life. Uncooked quinoa lasts between 2 and 3 years beyond the date that is printed on the package. Take that, oatmeal!

Cooked quinoa will last one week stored in the fridge. Stored in the freezer, cooked quinoa will last 8-12 months.

Quinoa can taste really bitter if not adequately rinsed, however, so if your cooked quinoa tastes “off,” don’t throw out the whole package. Just wash the grains diligently the next time you cook them.

How to cook Quinoa in a rice cooker:

Quinoa cooking time is super-fast on the stovetop. But if you’re looking for a totally hands-free way to cook quinoa using that rice cooker you have in the cupboard, here’s how to do it:

How to eat quinoa:

Sweet or savory, there are tons of ways to enjoy quinoa in your recipes.

Can quinoa be eaten raw?

Quinoa can be eaten raw if soaked in water and sprouted, but some experts recommend only eating quinoa cooked. Below there are some other ways to have fun with cooked quinoa.

How to make crispy Quinoa:

Some cooks like to take things a step further and fry the boiled quinoa in olive oil to make it crispy. (Cooking the quinoa in three small batches helps the quinoa to brown and become crispy).

Here’s how to do it:

How to make toasted Quinoa topping:

This is a fun, super-crunchy topping that’s used for making cereal bars, yogurt parfaits, or salads.

How to Cook Quinoa

Once you know how to cook quinoa, you’ll find so many ways to use this ancient superfood. You’ll love its nutty flavor and fluffy texture. It’s fabulous in place of rice, couscous, or pasta and in your favorite soups and salads.

Using a large, fine-mesh sieve, rinse your quinoa thoroughly under cold water first; this gets rid of the bitter taste.

In a large pot, bring 2 cups water and salt (if using) to boil. Stir in quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. 

Remove from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff with a fork. 

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