Learn how to cook perfect quinoa every time with my tried & true method. Then, use it in bowls, salads, or one of my 17 favorite quinoa recipes below!
Reading: how to make boiled quinoa
You can find it in a variety of colors, like black, red, white, or a mix of all three, but each variety cooks in the same way. Lighter varieties have the mildest flavor, so if you’re trying it for the first time, I recommend starting with white before venturing on to red or black.
And one final note before you cook: Quinoa is coated in naturally occurring insecticides called saponins. They can give the grain a bitter taste and make it difficult to digest, so make sure to rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before putting it on the stove. Once you’ve rinsed it, you’re ready to cook!
How to Cook Quinoa
When I cook rice, I add oil and salt to the pot, but cooking quinoa is even simpler. All you need is quinoa and water! If you look at different methods for how to cook quinoa, you’ll find a range of water ratios. Some recipes call for as high as a 2:1 water to grain ratio, while others go as low as 1 1/2:1. In my experience, the sweet spot for light, fluffy quinoa is right in the middle. I use 1 3/4 cups water for every cup of quinoa. Any more water, and the quinoa gets mushy. Any less, and it’s too dry.
Once you’ve measured both, follow these easy steps:
- Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes more.
- Then, remove the lid and fluff with a fork!
Now, your quinoa is cooked to fluffy perfection, but it’s plain on its own. If you’re serving it as a simple side, season it first. At the very least, toss it with salt, pepper, lemon or lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. To kick it up another notch, stir in chopped herbs, minced garlic, toasted nuts, or crumbled feta cheese, or use it in one of the quinoa recipes below!
17 Favorite Quinoa Recipes
Once you’ve made a batch of quinoa, you have endless options for using it. Make it the base of your next grain bowl, toss it into a salad, or stuff it into squash or sweet potatoes. It’s also at home in soups & wraps, and it pairs nicely with sweet flavors as well as savory. Try topping it with cinnamon and fresh fruit in the morning, or mix it into a batch of breakfast cookies! Here are a few of my favorite quinoa recipes to get you started:
- Cinnamon Spiced Breakfast Bowl
- Carrot Breakfast Cookies
- Vegan Seven Layer Dip
- Kale Quesadillas
- Tomato & Kale Salad Wrap
- Best Black Bean Burger
- Big Green Kale Salad
- Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad
- Kale Pesto Mushroom Bowl
- Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl
- Simple Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl
- Taco Bowl with Jalapeño Ranch
- Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Butternut Squash & Kale Stew
- White Bean Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
- Spinach Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash
Love quinoa recipes?
Try making any of these basic grain recipes next:
- How to Cook Farro
- Cilantro Lime Rice
- Rice Pilaf with Pomegranate Arils
- Cauliflower Rice
- Lemon Herb Couscous