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? It seems to be having its moment, in American cuisine at least. According to some, quinoa (pronounced 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 perfect 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 quinoa to water ratio and method for how to make quinoa that works every time! Here we are in our kitchen showing you how to cook this fluffy quinoa recipe: and we’ve thrown in another recipe for how to use it: our Loaded Quinoa Tacos.

Tips on how to cook perfect quinoa

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

  • 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. What is the quinoa to water ratio? 1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water.
  • 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 to make it fluffy.
  • No water should be left in the pot—To test whether it’s 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 to 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!

Got more questions? Scroll down to our Quinoa FAQ below.

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.

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

How to Make Quinoa


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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

Description

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!


Scale

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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

Is quinoa gluten free?

Yes! Quinoa is a gluten free grain (it’s actually a seed…see below).

Is quinoa a grain? What is quinoa made of?

Though often referred to as a grain due to its similar properties, quinoa is a seed, not a grain. It’s harvested from a plant that is a relative of spinach, beets and chard.

How to pronounce quinoa?

Quinoa is pronounced KEEN-wah.

Is quinoa keto?

No. Due to the high amount of carbs in quinoa, even though it’s not technically a grain, it’s not considered keto.

Is quinoa healthy?

Yes! Quinoa has a whole host of nutritional benefits, including being a complete protein.

Can dogs eat quinoa?

Yes, dogs can eat quinoa! Start with a small amount and if your dog reacts adversely, do not continue to feed them quinoa.

How much protein in quinoa?

A 3/4 cup serving of cooked quinoa has 6 grams of protein or 12% of your daily intake.

What does quinoa taste like?

Quinoa is a very small grain that turns out fluffy when cooked; the flavor is somewhat nutty. It can be slightly bitter plain, so make sure to season it when cooking.

Where to buy quinoa?

Quinoa is available in most standard grocery stores in the US near the rice and other grains. If you can’t find it, here’s where to find it online.

How to rinse quinoa?

To rinse quinoa, place it in a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water, then shake it dry.

How to season quinoa?

Some easy ways are to drizzle with olive oil (or add butter) and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. A few other ways: add some lemon or fresh herbs. Or, try our Pesto Quinoa.

Is quinoa a complete protein?

Yes! This means that it contains all nine essential amino acids.

How to cook red quinoa?

It’s actually the same method as white quinoa: follow the recipe above!

Where is quinoa from?

Quinoa is an Andean plant that originated in Peru and Bolivia.

Is quinoa better than rice?

Not necessarily! But we love using it for variety as a rice substitute.

How to make quinoa salad?

Try our Mediterranean Quinoa Salad or Summer Quinoa Salad with Corn.

What is the quinoa to water ratio?

1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water

How long does cooked quinoa last?

Cooked quinoa lasts for 3 to 5 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

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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.

12 Comments

  • 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
      Molly
      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
    Mary
    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
      Alex
      September 18, 2011 at 10:18 pm

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

  • Reply
    incrediblecrunchyflavor
    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
    Ashley
    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
      Alex
      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
    Anonymous
    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
    Melissa
    August 5, 2012 at 11:48 am

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

  • Reply
    Nadine
    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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