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Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa

Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa

Quin-o-what? If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably already familiar with this tasty grain (actually truly a seed, but who’s counting?). But while it’s gaining popularity, it’s not so much of a household word quite yet…though hopefully someday it will be!

According to some, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is one of the world’s most perfect foods, due to its high nutritional content. Compared to other vegetables, it’s high in protein, calcium, Vitamin B, and iron. It’s also gluten-free. And — fun fact — apparently the Incas thought it was sacred, because eating it regularly appeared to provide a long, healthy life.

Whatever the case, it’s also a delicious way to get those nutrients your body needs. We love incorporating it in recipes (like salads), but it’s a great side dish option. It can be prepared in about 20 minutes and tastes wonderful with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Quinoa is very easy to prepare, but we’ve had some issues with it being too watery when cooked according to the package instructions. We did a little research and came up with a revised method that works every time! (At least, it hasn’t failed yet…) Give it a try for a quick, healthy side, or try quinoa in one of these recipes:

Black Bean and Quinoa Bowl with Peach Salsa
Quinoa Salad with Snap Peas
Roasted Harvest Vegetables with Quinoa


Master Recipe: Perfect Quinoa

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Yield: 6 cups cooked


  • 2 cups quinoa (white, red, or mixed)
  • 4 cups water
  • Kosher salt


  1. Rinse 2 cups quinoa and drain completely.
  2. Place quinoa in a saucepan with 4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.)
  3. Turn off the heat and let sit with the lid on to steam for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. If desired, add additional kosher salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a side with a bit of olive oil and some herbs or spices.

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  • Reply
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
    September 15, 2011 at 9:49 am

    My Quinoa did not work last time I cooked it. I will use this and try again – Thanks!

    • Reply
      April 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Best quinoa recipe I’ve used. Fluffiest batch to date! Thanks.

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum
    September 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Great post – quinoa is kind of annoying to make but awesome to eat! I have to admit… I always make mine in the rice cooker and I love how easy it is! :D And it always turns out great!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I enjoy quinoa but have never cooked it this way. Next time :-). I am new to your blog so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I’m so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your users and I’ll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    • Reply
      September 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad you are enjoying the site :)

  • Reply
    September 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    interesting… my quinoa always comes out either too wet or overcooked. i will try your technique. thanks!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    This is almost exactly how I cook quinoa, and you’re right, it is perrrfect! I use 1:2 ratio of quinoa:liquid and cook for 15min. :) SO fluffy! This works for millet too! [cook time is about 20min though]

    • Reply
      September 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Thanks for the tip, we’ll have to add millet to our list of go to grains!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2012 at 5:49 am

    This really does make the best, most perfect, fluffy quinoa.

    I used to make perfect quinoa but recently I lost my touch and it’s been turning out wrong every time. I then tried many variations with cooking time and water ratio. But none have been this good. I was getting frustrated and stopped cooking quinoa until now :-)

    Thank you for giving me back quinoa.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Love this recipe, this is my go to for quinoa!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2014 at 2:35 am

    Finally!! A recipe that works…i have tried so many, but this is the best. Light and fluffy quinoa. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    September 8, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Yep, I’ve had the most success cooking quinoa this way as well, using way less water than the package directions call for and letting it fluff up covered off the heat. Glad to know this has been tested and is true for others as well. And I’ve found rinsing is necessary when the package directions call for it. I think some companies pre-rinse their quinoa (i.e. Costco brand?) while other companies don’t.

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