How to Make Quinoa

This step-by-step recipe explains how to make quinoa perfectly every time. Great on its own as a side dish, tossed into salads, and more!

How to make quinoa perfectly

Do you love quinoa? Quinoa seems to be having its moment, in American cuisine at least. According to some, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is one of the world’s most perfect foods, due to its high nutritional content. 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. Here at A Couple Cooks, we love quinoa and have used it in many of our recipes! It’s also great as a side dish, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. Here’s our master recipe for how to make quinoa: complete with a video of us making quinoa in our kitchen!

Related: Try our Instant Pot quinoa method!

Watch how to make quinoa

Quinoa is very easy to prepare, but Alex and I have 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 for how to make quinoa that works every time! Here we are in our kitchen showing you how to cook quinoa: and we’ve thrown in another recipe for how to use it: our Loaded Quinoa Tacos.

Tips on how to cook quinoa perfectly

Wondering how to make quinoa? Making perfect quinoa every time is super easy, but there are a few things you should keep in mind to prevent the quinoa from becoming too watery or too dry.

  • Add dry quinoa to cool water—Unlike pasta, quinoa shouldn’t be added to water once it’s boiling. Instead, you need to bring the dry quinoa to a boil with the water to make sure it cooks through properly.
  • Put a lid on it—Once the quinoa has been brought to a boil, turn the heat down and put a lid on the pot to make sure none of the steam escapes. This will help the quinoa absorb the water more easily and will steam the quinoa near the end of the cooking time. This will make the quinoa extra fluffy!
  • Let the cooked quinoa rest in the pot—Once the quinoa has cooked through, turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit in the pot with the lid on. Again, this steams the quinoa and helps it fluff up.
  • No water should be left in the pot—To test whether or not the quinoa is done cooking, pull back the quinoa along the edge of the pot to see if there’s any water still sitting at the bottom. If there is, the quinoa needs to be cooked for longer.
How to make quinoa perfectly

How long should you cook quinoa?

Cook times for how to make quinoa will vary depending on the type of stove you’re using, whether or not the heat is up high enough, etc. But we’ve found that perfect quinoa is ready in 15 to 20 minutes. Once the quinoa has cooked, we then let it steam for another 5 minutes before serving. So your quinoa should be done in 20 to 25 minutes!

How to make quinoa perfectly

Looking for more quinoa recipes? 

After mastering how to make quinoa, looking for a few ways to use it? Here are some of our favorite ways to use quinoa:

How to make quinoa perfectly

This recipe is…

Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and plant-based.

Instant Pot quinoa | Quinoa pressure cooker | How to cook quinoa in an instant pot | Vegan instant pot recipes

How to Make Quinoa Perfectly

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups cooked 1x


This step-by-step recipe explains how to make quinoa perfectly every time. Great on its own as a side dish, tossed into salads, and more!



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


  1. Rinse 2 cups quinoa using a fine mesh strainer, then 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.
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: perfect quinoa, how to cook quinoa perfectly, quinoa cooking instructions, how long to cook quinoa

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.


  • 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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