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How to Cook Quinoa: 3 Easiest Ways of Cooking Quinoa

Spencer Cailas

Spencer Cailas

Learning how to cook quinoa can be daunting in the beginning, but is quick, and easy when you get the hang of it.

When it comes to cooking quinoa, it isn’t dissimilar to cooking rice, other grains and/or seeds which all uses the absorption process.

What is Quinoa? It’s a delicious, nutritious, and a high protein seed known for it’s versatility in both cooking options, and flavoring.

The steps suggested for using a rice cooker, saucepan or instant pot apply regardless if you’re cooking red, white or black quinoa.

What You Need

These instructions and directions explain the easiest ways when cooking quinoa, no reason to over-complicate everything — the items listed are used no matter the cooking process.

Remember that the amount of water used, and the total time cooking greatly affects the final taste but it all makes more sense after you’ve learned how to cook quinoa, much like riding a bike, cooking quinoa does in fact have a learning curve.

Cooking Quinoa In 3 Easy Ways

Listed below are the most common methods in the process of learning how to cook quinoa, as there are lots of ways as the end result of cooked quinoa varies in flavor, and texture. With that said, you will figure your own steps, ingredient amounts, cook time and more to give that unique taste to your liking.

No matter method chosen, always remember to rinse the quinoa using a mesh sieve, very well (it’s an important step).

1. Instant Pot

Using an Instant Pot is the most hands-off way there is of making a perfect fluffy, and flavorful tasting quinoa that’s super easy to prepare, with few different adapted principles from the other methods.

First off, the water ratio is different than the other ways of cooking quinoa, while you generally use 2 cups of water per cup of quinoa, using an instant pot you have to account for less evaporation during the cooking process, so the ratio drops to only 1 1/2 cups of water.

Before dumping the quinoa to the instant pot, add a bit of cooking oil or cooking spray to prevent the quinoa from sticking to the bottom of the pot, it will also help in cutting down the foaming while cooking.

Instructions

  1. Add cooking oil or spray (optional but recommended)
  2. Pour the quinoa in the instant pot.
  3. Add 1 1/2 cup of water per cup of quinoa (1:2 does not apply here)
  4. Put instant pot on high pressure, and cook for 20 minutes.

Technically the quinoa will cook in about 1 minute on high pressure, however for the pressure to build up it takes about 4-7 minutes and then about 10-12 minutes to release, so a total of about 20 minutes from the start to finish.

2. Rice Cooker

Can you cook quinoa in a rice cooker? Yes, although, it’s traditionally cooked using a saucepan.

Using a rice cooker is one of the few simple methods of cooking quinoa. It should be one of your most-used kitchen equipment as it comes with the following benefits we (who own one), have come to appreciate.

  • Scheduled cooking settings
  • Keep warm settings
  • You can use it everywhere there’s an electrical outlet
  • No overcooked thin layer stuck at the bottom of the pot
  • Keep foods warm, and ready to eat anytime

Instructions

  1. Pour the quinoa in the rice cooker.
  2. Add water (1:2).
  3. Set timer to 30 minutes.
  4. Once it’s done cooking, wait a couple of minutes and fluff it with a fork before serving.

Note that unlike white rice, cooking quinoa (pseudo-cereal ) in a rice cooker is a messier, so make sure to clean the rice cooker well. Most people don’t realize that rice cookers are extremely cleaner, and useful far beyond preparing simple grains.

3. Saucepan

The traditional method of cooking quinoa is using a saucepan. It’s not as hands-off as an instant pot or rice cooker considering you can easily burn it, but it cooks twice as fast.

Instructions

  1. Rinse, rinse and rinse using mesh sieve (important)
  2. Dump your quinoa into the pan.
  3. Add water (2x the total amount of quinoa you used)
  4. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to med-low and let it cook for 12-16 minutes.

Don’t stir it, let it cook all the way through until the water has completely evaporated.

Tips To Remember When Cooking Quinoa

Lots of people have enough trouble pronouncing it’s name, let alone cooking quinoa.

So we asked our kitchen team for tips, suggestions and mistakes most people make when learning how to cook quinoa.

1. Flavoring

Quinoa is a food that can be super delicious, or just plain, bland and boring just like any other type of food.

Although it’s up to an individual’s taste, much like many grains, nuts, and seeds, quinoa generally tastes better roasted.

Add fresh herbs, vegetables, chili, cook it with less water to make it less mushy and lighter. It all gives it a different flavor.

Add more flavor to your quinoa by cooking it in vegetable or chicken broth instead of just water.

Personally, it tastes just as great. Go even further without doing anything extra by simply adding herbs and spices, such as thyme, pepper, basil. It’d be nice to have a quinoa rice cooker doing all the work.

2. Rinse

Rinsing quinoa removes it’s natural compound called Saponin, it is found in many plants and can give a soapy or bitter taste if not properly rinsed. It’s what gives quinoa it’s natural earthy, and nutty flavor.

Another interesting fact is that Saponins purpose is to prevent birds, animals and any other living being from eating the quinoa in the wild.

3. 1:2 Rule

If you don’t like your quinoa dry, for every cup being cooked add 2 times the amount of water.

Note: If you’re cooking quinoa following the Instant Pot step don’t use 2 cups of water, add 1 1/2 instead as the evaporation process is different.

Don’t worry if you make more than needed your first time, it makes tasty muesli or porridge for the next morning. 

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