A foolproof recipe for making perfect, fluffy quinoa for adding to salads, stir-fries, bowls, and even breakfast dishes and so much more.
How To Cook Quinoa
If you’ve ever tried cooking quinoa and it wound up soggy and not fluffy, this recipe is for you! This ancient grain is a fantastic addition to your kitchen repertoire. It’s not just a ‘health food’ ingredient for vegans and gluten-free diets; it’s a delicious, versatile grain that can be used as a foundation in salads, bowls, stir-fries, and even breakfast dishes. Some of my favorite quinoa salads are Mediterranean Quinoa Salad and Avocado Quinoa Salad. If you have an Instant Pot, you might also like this Instant Pot Quinoa.
What is Quinoa
Quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a protein packed ancient seed from South America, similar to the texture of brown rice when cooked with a nutty flavor. Loved for its versatility, packed with protein and gluten-free, this ancient grain has grown in popularity over the past decade. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, lysine, phosphorous, copper, iron and magnesium and it is easy to make. It’s not truly a grain, it’s actually a relative of spinach. It comes in many varieties, including white, red, and black. But regardless of the type you choose, the cooking method remains the same. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 3/4 cups water or broth
- Salt to taste (optional)
How To Make Quinoa
- Rinse Thoroughly: Begin by thoroughly rinsing the seeds under cool water. This step is crucial in removing the natural coating, called saponin, which can impart a bitter or soapy taste if left unwashed. A fine-mesh strainer works wonders for this process.
- Toast It (Optional): Toasting is not necessary, but it adds a delightful, nutty flavor that can elevate your dishes. Just heat a bit of olive oil or butter over medium heat, add your drained quinoa, and cook, stirring, for about 1-2 minutes. It will start to smell fragrant when it’s ready.
- Boil: Combine the quinoa and water and salt, to taste (or broth if you prefer a deeper flavor) in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Simmer: Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover the lid, letting it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- The Resting Period: When all the liquid is absorbed, remove the pot from heat and let it sit, covered, for about 5 to 10 minutes. This step might seem unnecessary, but it’s an essential one that allows it to steam and become even fluffier.
- Fluff: After it has rested, uncover and fluff it gently with a fork to separate the grains.
- Let cool: Let it cool and add to your favorite recipes.
Ways To Use
- Use it to grain bowls with vegetables, sweet potatoes, and beans.
- Substitute it for cereal grains in breakfast bowls with cinnamon, honey and fresh fruit.
- Add it to salads with cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon juice and feta cheese.
- Use it in place of rice or couscous.
- Add it to your meatloaf or meatballs as a binder.
- Use it to crust fish.
- Add it to soups
How to Take the Bitterness Out
To make it taste better, rinse it well with water to remove its natural coating, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter or soapy. Some brands comes pre-rinsed. However, it doesn’t hurt to rinse the seeds again.
What is healthier, quinoa or rice?
Quinoa has several advantages over rice:
- Complete Protein: It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
- More Fiber: It has nearly twice the fiber of most grains, aiding digestion.
- Rich in Nutrients: It’s richer in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B, E, and other antioxidants that can help fight against aging and numerous diseases. It is also rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc.
- Lower Glycemic Index: It causes a slower rise in blood sugar levels, beneficial for those with diabetes.
- High in Antioxidants: It has more antioxidants, promoting overall health.
- Gluten-Free: Like rice, it’s great for people with celiac disease or those following a gluten-free diet.
What is the ratio of water to quinoa?
The ideal water ratio is essential to cooking perfectly fluffy quinoa. Generally, the directions on a box recommends adding more water than is necessary. The ideal ratio is 1 3/4 cups of liquid to 1 cup of quinoa.
Why is my quinoa soggy and not fluffy?
If the texture is mushy and undesirable, it may be because you’re using too much liquid. I have been making this for years and always use less water than the package instructs. The ideal ratio is 1 3/4 cups of liquid to 1 cup of quinoa. Cook it, covered until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes, then let it rest 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.
What type of quinoa is best?
There are different types of quinoa available on the grocery store. Tricolor, black and red are my favorite colors to add to quinoa salads and bowls, as the texture is firmer and has more of a bite. White gives it more of a rice texture, perfect for using in place of rice like this enchilada bake, quinoa fried rice and cilantro lime version.
Best Quinoa Recipes
- Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Avocado Quinoa Salad
- Rainbow Quinoa Salad
- Southwestern Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad
- Spinach and Quinoa Patties
Basic Quinoa Recipe
- 1 cup quinoa, tricolor, red, white or black
- 1 3/4 cups water, vegetable broth or chicken broth
- salt , optional to taste
- Rinse the quinoa: Put the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cool water. While rinsing, rub the quinoa with your hands. This step is to remove the natural coating of quinoa, called saponin, which can make it taste bitter or soapy.
- Toast the quinoa (optional): You can toast the quinoa in a skillet for a few minutes before cooking it to get a nuttier flavor. Heat a bit of olive oil or butter over medium heat, then add your drained quinoa. Cook, stirring, for about 1-2 minutes, until it starts to smell fragrant.
- Cook the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa, water and salt (or broth). Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover. Let it simmer 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Check it occasionally to prevent burning and add more water if needed.
- Let it rest: Once the quinoa has absorbed all the water and it's cooked, remove the pot from heat and let it sit, covered, for about 5 to 10 minutes. This step allows the quinoa to steam and makes it fluffier.
- Fluff it with a fork: After it's rested, uncover and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork to separate the grains.