How to cook fluffy quinoa. The two fail-proof methods. White quinoa, red quinoa, and black quinoa, plus 5 healthy quinoa recipes.
What is quinoa?
Quinoa is an edible seed rich in protein and fiber that originates in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. There is white quinoa (the most popular), red quinoa, and black quinoa (the most expensive).
Once cooked, it has a nutty taste with the darker quinoa seeds also having an earthy taste to them and a soft rice-like texture.
Is Quinoa Gluten-Free?
Since quinoa isn’t a grain but a seed, it is naturally gluten-free.
However, it is considered a high-risk food for people with celiac disease. So while technically gluten-free it could cause inflammation for people with gluten sensitivities.
Is Quinoa Healthy?
Quinoa is a nutrition powerhouse! 1 cup cooked quinoa has over 8 grams of protein and provides a lot of minerals, such as calcium, iron, and potassium.
I believe quinoa, as well as brown rice and wild rice, are one of the best carbohydrates to add to your meals.
The best part about quinoa is that it cooks very fast and holds well in the fridge and freezer. It is an excellent meal prep carb because of that.
Quinoa To Water Ratio
The quinoa to water ratio is the number 1 question when people figure out how to cook quinoa. And the answer is: it depends!
It is quite silly that many packages suggest a specific quinoa to water ratio without taking into consideration what tools are used to cook it in.
The smaller the circumference of the pot and the tighter the lid sits on the pot, the less water is needed. Large pots with lids that have a hole in them, for example, might need as much as double the amount of water.
In an environment in which no water evaporates, such as in a pressure cooker, a 1:1 quinoa to water ratio is perfect.
The same ratio is needed with my stove-top cooking method and it yields the best results.
How to Cook Quinoa – 2 Different Cooking Methods
Instant Pot Quinoa
The absolute failproof method of cooking quinoa is in the Instant Pot. It’s perfect every time because it’s a controlled environment.
Add a 1:1 quinoa to water ratio, a little sea salt if desired, put on the lid and seal it. White quinoa has to cook for only 1 minute on high pressure. Red quinoa has to cook for 2 minutes on high pressure. And black quinoa has to cook 3 minutes on high pressure.
After the high-pressure cooking time, allow for natural pressure release. This means, do NOT touch the sealing valve at all. Let the pot depressurize all on it’s own. This can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the quinoa volume inside. When the safety pin drops, it’s safe to open the pot, fluff the quinoa with a fork and serve.
To get the same results as with the Instant Pot, make sure to use a pot with a small circumference (8 inches in diameter or less) that has a tight-fitting lid without a hole in it. You want as little water as possible to evaporate during the cooking process so you can still use the 1:1 quinoa to water ratio that yields the best results.
Bring water, quinoa, and a little sea salt to a boil over high heat. Do NOT walk away from the stove and closely watch the water. As soon as the very first bubbles burst in the water it’s time to immediately put on the lid and reduce the heat to low.
The quinoa has to simmer on the lowest heat for 15-20 minutes (15 for white quinoa, 20 for red and black quinoa). Once the time is up, do NOT lift the lid. Leave the lid on and just remove the quinoa from the stove-top and set aside for an extra 10 minutes for the quinoa to continue steaming.
Fluff with a for and serve.
To Rinse Or Not To Rinse Quinoa
Most packaging suggests you rinse quinoa before cooking to remove impurities and saponins, which “can” make the quinoa taste bitter and soapy.
However, that being said, I don’t do this most of the time. I do not find quinoa to taste bitter at all, regardless of if I rinse it or not. Absolutely nothing happens if you don’t rinse your quinoa, it just changes the taste ever so slightly.
In the video, I show how to best rinse the quinoa.
How To Store Quinoa
Store leftover quinoa in airtight containers in the refrigerator or in an airtight freezer bag in the freezer.
Here are some affiliate links for great storage containers:
My favorite containers for storing quinoa in the refrigerator are glass containers with a clip-on lid or stainless steel containers with clip-on lids. My favorite container for freezing are these reusable silicone bags.
How Long Does Quinoa Last In The refrigerator
Properly sealed quinoa lasts for 3-5 days.
Can You Freeze Quinoa?
Absolutely! In a small over-the-fridge freezer, it keeps well for 1-3 months and in a deep chest freezer for 8-12 months.
The Best Quinoa Recipes
The most popular way to eat quinoa in North America is in the form of a Quinoa Salad.
Many restaurants offer at least one colorful Quinoa Bowl, too.
You can even have a Quinoa Breakfast of champions if you with.
Or more creative ways, such as in a Quinoa Crust.
My personal all-time favorite is as Black Quinoa Risotto a.k.a Quinotto.
How To Cook Quinoa
- 1 cup quinoa white, red, or black
- 1-2 cups water or broth
- sea salt
- Add quinoa to a sieve and rinse under running water until the water runs clear.
- Instant Pot Quinoa: Add 1:1 ratio of quinoa and liquid to Instant Pot plus sea salt. Put on the lid and set to high pressure (HP) for x minutes + full natural pressure release (NPR).White Quinoa: 1 minute HP + NPRRed Quinoa: 2 minutes HP + NPRBlack Quinoa: 3 minutes HP + NPRStovetop Quinoa: Add 1:1 or 1:1.5 ratio of quinoa and liquid plus sea salt to your pot. The amount of liquid will depend on the circumference of the pot and how tight the lid sits on the pot. For a 7-inch or smaller pot with a super tight-fitting lid 1:1 works great. For a 10-inch pot with a tight-fitting lid 1:1.5 works great. For a pot that has a not so tight-fitting lid or even a lid with a hole in it, 1:2 is often necessary to account for all the evaporation.Bring to the boil uncovered over high heat while closely watching and as soon as the first bubbles burst IMMEDIATELY put on the lid and reduce the heat to low. Set a timer for 15 minutes (white quinoa) or 20 minutes (red and black quinoa) and let simmer. Once the timer goes off, remove the pot from heat (do NOT peek, leave the lid on), and set the timer for another 10 minutes. Then it's time to lift the lid.
- Use a fork to fluff up the quinoa and serve.