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Basic Quinoa Recipe

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A bowl of cooked 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. 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 is recommended that you soak and rinse the seeds well before cooking. Once cooked the seeds expand about 4 times their original size, so 1 cup of uncooked quinoa seeds yields approximately 4 cups cooked quinoa. Preparation is simple, 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water or broth and is done in about 15 minutes.

Basic Quinoa Recipe

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup (cooked)


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water, or broth
  • salt to taste


  • Wash quinoa and add to a medium saucepan.
  • Add water or broth, salt and boil, covered for 15 minutes or until all the water has absorbed.
  • You will know when they are cooked when they are fluffy and you see a small thread.
  • Fluff with a fork and it will be ready to use for other recipes.
  • You can store it in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days and reheat in the microwave.

Last Step:

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1 cup cooked quinoa = 4 ww


Serving: 1 cup (cooked), Calories: 172 kcal, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Protein: 6 g, Fat: 2.8 g, Sodium: 3.4 mg, Fiber: 3 g


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47 comments on “Basic Quinoa Recipe”

  1. I love Quinoa! I buy it at Walmart in a box. It's the kind that doesn't have to be rinsed. Thanks Gina for all the great recipes!!

  2. I am curious. Why do you rinse the Quinoa? I bought a big bag at Costco. It does not say to rinse it in the cooking directions.

  3. I do a ratio of 1:1.25 quinoa to liquid. Bring to simmer and reduce and cover on low 30-35 minutes. let rest and fluff

  4. Something I learned about quinoa – once you rinse it, drain very well and pan toast it (just throw it into whatever pan you're using, no oil) till you hear a few start to pop – makes all the difference! My husband didn't like quinoa, said it tasted "funny" to him, though to me it's a totally neutral flavor. This simple tip has helped me use more quinoa in our diet with fewer objections šŸ™‚

  5. This is a definate try! I make rice for daughter all the time. She does not like brown rice..heck not sure If I am even making it Definately will have to get some. Will use it for my homemade chicken soup she loves. Autum is coming already!

  6. I make mine and add cucumber, lime juice, tomatoes, red pepper and salt/pepper. It's yummy and relatively low in points

  7. Avatar photo

    You must rinse quinoa that you buy in bulk as it has saponins that coat it that are toxic, leaving you with numb lips and tongue. Boxed is already washed off, but not the bulk variety~

  8. I've been using Quinoa for many years. I'm sure Wal-Mart has never heard of it, like the time I asked for hummus and goat cheese, the guy looked at me like I was from Mars. Buy in bulk from health food stores or any large grocery store that has an organic section. Boxed costs more. I don't like the red kind, it's chewier, while the white kind is very soft.
    Anyway, do not soak it. Simply bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup quinoa, and simmer on low for TEN minutes, maybe less. When you see the cute curly cues have popped out of the kernel, it's done.
    Look up Quinoa on Wikipedia. It's the most nutritious grain, highest in protein, and some cultures call it "The Grain of the Gods". It is also less acidic than other grains, gluten-free and easier to digest. I choose it every time.

  9. Avatar photo
    Gina @ Skinnytaste

    Thanks Merrigold! I've never made it in soup, but that sounds like a fantastic idea!!

  10. Quinoa is high in protein & is good as a "rice" replacement or in soups or even in puddings. It takes on the taste of whatever you put it into. We can get it at Costco here in Alberta, Canada.

  11. Avatar photo
    Gina @ Skinnytaste

    Thanks Lynette, I'm one of those people who can only make rice on the stove, but I know a lot of people swear by their rice cooker.

  12. I am excited to find your site and more recipes for Quinoa. My family LOVES it. We use our rice cooker to make it and I do use various broths when I make plain Quinoa depending on the protein I may be serving with it. I also like the red Quinoa variety. We buy it in bulk at our health food store. I am going to try your Quinoa "Fried Rice" recipe.

    On a bit of a side note….For those who want an AWESOME rice cook that makes perfect rice plus other grains in addition it keeps your rice warm when its done cooking… invest in a Zojirushi rice cooker. AND I do mean INVEST!…as it's pricey. My hubby & I about had a divorce when he bought one and I found out how much he paid since I already had a rice cooker that I thought did a good job. This makes amazing rice of all kinds as well as steel cut oats etc. We make our Quinoa in it all the time and it turns out perfect. (Probably more info that you wanted to know…LOL)

  13. Avatar photo
    Gina @ Skinnytaste

    I buy mine in the supermarket, but I think it depends on where you live. Trader Joes sells it, as well as health food stores.

  14. To Make quinoa taste better cook it with broth instead of water and flavor it the same way you would falvor rice. Quinoa cooks just like rice.

    Quick tip – Red quinoa is better for you that regular quinoa. You can buy it at Trader Joes.

  15. I used a rice cooker and it turned out fine except that the bottom layer got browner than the rest. It was tasty, not burnt. Two to one ratio of water and quinoa.

  16. Avatar photo
    Gina @ Skinnytaste

    Good question! I don't use a rice cooker but I'm sure it would work. You may need to add more liquid though, I'm not sure.

  17. I'm very excited to see a quinoa recipe for ww. My partner makes a delicious lemon chicken (tagine) and its great with quinoa. Looks like you have a few things I'm going to need to try!

  18. It looks so nice and fluffy. Can this be found in your average grocery store? Does it have a strong flavor?

  19. I am going to post an easy quinoa risotto recipe using the homemade sauce that will be ready in 5 minutes!

  20. Avatar photo
    Marisa (Trim The Fat)

    I’m gonna try to play with this a little more. I’ve been “scared” of it -lol- but made some quinoa granola the other day that was really tasty!

    Thanks for the background info; never knew it was a relative of spinach!