How to Cook Quinoa – These simple stovetop directions for cooking quinoa make it easy to cook perfect, fluffy quinoa every time. (Scroll down for a how-to video + some of my favorite quinoa recipes!)

Quinoa is kind of a health food joke now, sort of like kale. It’s been used and talked about in All The Things! I’d never tried it growing up (before it came into popularity), but it quickly became a staple in our household when we went gluten free. We’ve used it in all sorts of ways here on the blog over the years, from salads and soups to meal prep favorites, burrito bowls, and more.

Today, I wanted to spotlight how to cook quinoa on the stovetop. Spoiler alert: it’s easy. Keep reading for my 2 favorite methods for getting perfectly cooked, fluffy quinoa every time (including an energy-saving method that’s a bit more hands-off!).

Let’s get to it!

Quinoa: The Basics

How to say it + what it is: First, a few things about quinoa. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah, not kwih-NOAH) is a seed that we treat like a grain. It’s naturally gluten free, very versatile, and can easily be used as a substitute for rice or couscous. You can even use it as a breakfast cereal served warm with honey and milk or your favorite oatmeal toppings. People toss it into granola, bake cakes with it, and more. It’s everywhere!

There are different kinds. Similar to rice, quinoa comes in different varieties. Some of the most common varieties and mixtures sold are white, red, and tri-color blends. I haven’t noticed any real taste difference between white and tri-color, though to me the red is slightly more nutty (not in a bad way).

It packs a lot of protein. Quinoa has all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. In one cup of cooked quinoa, there are about 8 grams of protein, which is especially good news for those who follow plant-based diets. Yay protein!

How to Cook Quinoa

Now that we know what it is (and how to say it–ha!), here are some of my best tips for cooking quinoa.

How to Use Quinoa:

As I mentioned above, there are LOTS of ways to eat quinoa. Some of my favorites are to…

Easy Ways to Add Flavor to Your Quinoa

Add some flavor while you cook! There are a few easy ways to coax the best flavor out of your quinoa.

Or add some mix-ins for an easy side dish! Some of my favorites:

Notes for How to Cook Quinoa + FAQ

Do you need to rinse quinoa before cooking? Yes. Quinoa is coated with a bitter coating called saponin that smells strong and tastes bitter or soapy. (I didn’t know this when I first started cooking quinoa.) Rinsing removes the saponin and gives you a much more neutral, nutty flavor. I use a fine mesh sieve and it works like a charm. (Colanders have too-large holes and won’t work.)

Do you cook white and red quinoa the same? Yep! Rainbow/tri-color quinoa, white quinoa, and red quinoa will all cook in about the same amount of time (unlike different kinds of rice). These directions will work for any variety of quinoa you choose.

Can you freeze cooked quinoa? Yes! Quinoa re-heats really well and holds its shape when thawed, which means it’s GREAT for making ahead of time. To freeze, I wait till the quinoa has cooled, then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag and lay flat to freeze. (When you freeze it in a thin layer, it’ll thaw faster!). You can also use an airtight container if you prefer. Well covered, frozen quinoa will keep for around 2 months or so.

How much cooked quinoa will 1 cup of uncooked quinoa make? Much like rice, quinoa absorbs liquid and gets larger when cooked. You can expect it to roughly triple when cooked, so 1 cup uncooked quinoa will make about 3 cups cooked quinoa.

  • Author: Emily
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (about 3 cups cooked quinoa)
  • Category: Side dish, grains
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

How to Cook Quinoa – These easy stovetop directions for cooking quinoa make it easy to cook perfect, fluffy quinoa every time! 


Energy Saver Instructions:

Traditional Stovetop Instructions:

Cooked quinoa will keep about 1 week in the refrigerator.

Keywords: quinoa, how to cook quinoa, stovetop directions for quinoa, how to cook quinoa on the stovetop

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