April 13, 2021

Easy Vegan Recipes

Eat Vegan – Eat Well

How to Cook Quinoa

5 min read

This tutorial will show you how to cook perfect quinoa, every time! My easy method works for both sweet and savory recipes, with all varieties of quinoa.

Bowl of Red Quinoa with a Spoon

Quinoa is a pantry staple that I like to keep on hand at all times. It’s so versatile!

But cooking perfect quinoa can be tricky, and those instructions on the back of the package don’t always work for all types of recipes. So I developed my own method.

What is Quinoa?

Pot of Quinoa with Napkin and Wooden Spoon

Most folks think of quinoa as a grain, but it’s actually a seed! Sometimes you’ll hear it referred to as a pseudograin.

Quinoa has a plump, grainy texture, and a mild nutty flavor.

Quinoa comes in different colors! You’ll see it sold in red, black, and white varieties (or as a mix of the three). There’s no real difference in taste, texture, or cooking method among these types though. I usually choose based on how the color looks with the particular dish I’m making.

Three Bowls Containing Red, White, and Black Quinoa on a Marble Surface

How to Use Quinoa

Overhead View of a Bowl of One-Pot Quinoa Chili Topped with Avocado and Jalapeno Slices

Quinoa can be used in lots of ways, but if you’re a total beginner, try subbing it for rice alongside a curry or stir-fry.

When you’re ready to get more adventurous, try using quinoa in a few of these ways:

How to Cook Quinoa


Water Rinsing Quinoa in a Mesh Strainer

Quinoa naturally has a bitter coating called saponin. Many commercial varieties are pre-rinsed to remove this, but not all of them. I always give my quinoa a good rinsing unless the package specifically states that this has already been done.

To rinse your quinoa, simply place it in a fine mesh strainer and run cold water over the grains for about 2 minutes. Gently shake the strainer from side to side to work out any excess water when you’re done.

Add Liquid

Collage Showing First Two Steps for Cooking Quinoa: Add Liquid and Bring to Simmer

Place your rinsed quinoa into a small pot or saucepan and add some liquid. I generally add one of two liquid types:

  • Broth. This helps add extra flavor if I’m using my quinoa in a savory recipe.
  • Water. Water works for just about every kind of recipe, both sweet and savory. While broth is generally preferred for savory dishes, water works just fine if you don’t have any on hand.

How much liquid should I use? That depends! I go with a ratio anywhere between 1 to 2 and 1 to 1.5.

  • For recipes where big, moist, plump grains are needed, like baked goods, go with a 1 to 2 ratio of quinoa to liquid. So for every cup of quinoa, use 2 cups of liquid.
  • For recipes where you’d like a little more graininess to the quinoa, such as quinoa fried rice, go with a 1 to 1.5 ratio. So for every cup of quinoa, use 1.5 cups of liquid.
  • When in doubt, go with a 1 to 1.75 ratio of quinoa to water. For every cup of quinoa, use 1.75 cups of liquid.

Simmer & Steam

Collage Showing Steps 3 and 4 for Cooking Quinoa: Simmer Covered, and Remove Lid

Place your saucepan over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Stir the pot every so often as it heats up.

Once the liquid boils, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Preferably use a clear lid so you can keep an eye on the quinoa while it cooks.

Let your quinoa simmer for 20 minutes, keeping the lid on the pot the whole time. If you used a clear lid and are able to peek, you should see that all the liquid has been absorbed by now.

When the quinoa has finished simmering, take the pot off of the burner and let it sit with the lid on for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, fluff your quinoa, and use it as you please!

Quinoa in a Pot with Wooden Spoon

Quinoa Cooking Tips & FAQ

  • I cooked the quinoa as instructed, but there was still water in the pot after 20 minutes. What gives? You may need to turn up the heat just a tad. If the pot isn’t actually simmering, the quinoa will cook very slowly. This is why I recommend covering your pot with a clear lid that lets you see what’s going on, at least until you get a feel for the cooking process.
  • Some of my quinoa burned. Why? In this case you may have the heat too high. You want it simmering, but not at a rolling boil. Also be sure to give the pot a stir just before placing the lid on it, and scrape any stray pieces of quinoa from the sides of the pot above the water line, as these are prone to burning.
  • Leftovers & storage: Leftover quinoa will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months.
  • Is quinoa  gluten-free? It is!

Close Up of Cooked Quinoa in a Bowl

Like this recipe? If so, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, or subscribe to my newsletter. And please stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you make it!

Bowl of Red Quinoa with a Spoon


This tutorial will show you how to cook perfect quinoa, every time! My easy method works for both sweet and savory recipes, with all varieties of quinoa.

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 30 minutes

Servings 4

Calories 157 kcal

Author Alissa Saenz


  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups water (or vegetable broth)


  1. Unless the quinoa is pre-rinsed, place it into a fine mesh strainer. Hold the strainer under the sink and rinse the quinoa with cold water for 2 full minutes.

  2. Transfer the quinoa to a small pot or saucepan and add 1 3/4 cups water.

  3. Place the pot over high heat. Heat the water, stirring occasionally, until it boils.

  4. Lower the heat until the liquid is at a low simmer. Cover the pot.

  5. Allow the quinoa to simmer for about 20 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

  6. Remove the pot from heat and let it sit with the lid on for 10 minutes.

  7. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Serve.

Nutrition Facts


Amount Per Serving (1 cup)

Calories 157 Calories from Fat 23

% Daily Value*

Fat 2.6g4%

Saturated Fat 0.3g2%

Sodium 2mg0%

Potassium 239mg7%

Carbohydrates 27.3g9%

Fiber 3g12%

Protein 6g12%

Calcium 20mg2%

Iron 2mg11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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