Learn how to cook quinoa to fluffy perfection on the stove top, in a rice cooker, or in a pressure cooker/Instant Pot and get simple quinoa recipes to kick off your cooking.
I grew up eating quinoa in the 90s, when it was decidedly less cool. My parents were big on healthy, natural foods, so we were no strangers to the occasional quinoa salad at supper time.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and suddenly quinoa isn't the weirdo food it was when I was kid. It's as common on menus as rice in a lot of places now!
Cooking quinoa at home is as easy as cooking rice, and there a few different methods that work well. The recipe below outlines how to cook quinoa.
After the recipe, learn some quinoa basics and find easy quinoa recipes to get you cooking!
All about quinoa
It makes sense that as folks become more interested in eating healthy whole foods, quinoa would see a spike in popularity. It's super delicious and super nutritious, too.
If you're new to quinoa, do not be afraid! It's light and fluffy with a slight nutty taste. It's also super easy to make. Think of it as something between brown rice and couscous in texture.
A cup of cooked quinoa contains:
- 8 grams of protein
- 21% of your daily fiber needs
- 15% of your iron
- 19% of your folate
...plus a ton of other vitamins and minerals! Quinoa is also a complete protein that provides trace minerals that fight inflammation.
Fun Fact: Quinoa isn't a grain, though we tend to treat it like one, since it cooks and tastes like one. The edible part of the quinoa plant is technically the seed, and it's related to leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard.
There was a rumor making the rounds -- based on some dicey studies -- that Western quinoa consumption was hurting the Andean farmers who grow it. The good news is, that's not the case!
Your quinoa habit isn't hurting farmers' bottom lines or nutrition. There is one thing to look out for, though: diversity.
Because quinoa consumption has increased so much, farmers are trying to grow more than ever. That is leading to less biodiversity, which isn't great news for the planet.
What you can do is look for different varieties of quinoa to try, and choose organic whenever you can. In the section below, I have suggestions for where to buy quinoa and how to mix up the types that you eat.
Where to buy
Now that quinoa is super popular, you can find it at almost any grocery store alongside other grains, like rice.
If you're looking for a bargain, buying quinoa in bulk is your best option. Natural grocery stores usually stock quinoa in their bulk bins. Since you're paying for the grain and not the packaging, you save some cash this way. You can also stock up on as much or as little as you need.
If you do buy your quinoa in bulk, I'd recommend storing it in an airtight container to keep it fresh. Regular mouth quart-sized mason jars work well, because they hold a lot, are airtight, and are easy to pour from.
I also like mason jars for storing bulk grains because you can see at a glance what's in your pantry.
Having trouble finding quinoa at the store or looking to branch out into some more interesting types? You can shop online for quinoa. Sometimes online prices are better than in-store, and you can find interesting varieties, too!
When you're shopping for quinoa, look for organic and Fair Trade on the labels. Quinoa can be produced very responsibly, and these certifications ensure that the quinoa you're buying is as good for the planet as it is for your body.
If you want to broaden your quinoa horizons, I can't recommend Alter Eco's Rainbow Quinoa enough. It's a blend of white, red, and black quinoa and is lovely in soups, salads, and as the base for grain bowls. The white is mild and chewy, the red has a nutty flavor similar to brown rice, and the black gives this mix just a little bit of crunch.
Recipes to try
Once you have the basics for how to cook quinoa down pat, you're ready to make some tasty quinoa salads and other healthy, satisfying quinoa dishes. Happy cooking!
Vegan quinoa salad with tart, tangy pomegranate seeds, lemony massaged kale, and creamy avocado will have everyone reaching for seconds.
This Fruit & Nut Quinoa Breakfast Bowl is a healthy, satisfying way to start the day. Just simmer everything on the stove for a few minutes, and you’re ready to eat!
Tart dried cranberries and sweet, citrus dressing are the perfect contrast to hearty, nutty quinoa. This salad works great as a side dish or an entree.
Easy, baked quinoa loaf smothered in sweet ketchup glaze. Fix your sides while the loaf bakes, and supper is ready in about an hour and a half.
This simple, tasty quinoa Buddha bowl works well as a hot dish or as a cold salad.
This hearty side dish is simple to make and so, so flavorful. I love a side that covers both the grain and veggie departments. Just add a side of plant-based protein for an easy meal.
How to cook quinoa (3 ways!)
- 1 cup quinoa
- water or vegetable broth - see each method for water amounts
- Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water or broth in a saucepan or Dutch oven.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Your quinoa is ready when all of the water is absorbed.
Rice cooker instructions
- Stir 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water together in your rice cooker, turn it on, and when it pops, you’re ready to eat.
- If your cooker has white and brown rice settings, choose white rice.
Instant Pot/pressure cooker instructions
- Rinse 1 cup of quinoa in a colander, transfer to your cooker, add 1 1/2 cups water or broth, and lock the lid.
- Cook for 5 minutes on high pressure (“manual” on the Instant Pot), then release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes before doing a quick release.