How To Cook Quinoa

Quinoa is an edible seed that is cooked similarly to rice, simmered in broth or water, until it transforms into a fluffy grain that’s perfect for bowls, salads, and more! Quinoa is incredibly nutrient-packed, boasting fiber, protein, and antioxidants, and can be eaten hot or cold. It has a mild nutty flavor, a little bit of chew, and works well in a variety of meals in the kitchen. Here’s how you cook it!

Are there different colors or varieties of quinoa?

The most common variety of quinoa is white. It has the most mild flavor and also the fluffiest texture. There are also red and black varieties. Both of these tend to have a slightly stronger flavor and a little bit more chew.

What are the health benefits of quinoa?

It has a mild, nutty flavor and it’s very good for you!  Quinoa has a higher protein content than any other grain, and it’s complete protein, meaning that it provides 9 essential amino acids.  It’s also rich in fiber, and low on the glycemic index.  It’s especially great for those who eat gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian diets because it is such a great source of nutrients, including both calcium, iron, and protein.

Where I can I buy quinoa?

As quinoa is becoming more and more popular, it is fairly easy to find it in a normal grocery store.  It’s stocked near the dry rice and couscous.  Also, check stores that carry grain in bulk.  I buy quinoa from a bulk bin where I get a much better price than from a box.  You can also find large bags in most Costco stores.

How do I cook quinoa?

It’s cooked much like rice. It can also be cooked in a rice cooker, but I use the stove top method most often.

  1. Soak: Most boxed varieties of quinoa come “pre-rinsed” but I always rinse mine regardless.  It helps remove any lingering saponins (a coating the grains have in their natural state that can make the finished product a little bitter if not rinsed off) and it helps soften the outer shell and also remove any dust particles. 
  2. Drain the quinoa to remove water from soaking and place grains in a small pot with a lid.  Make sure your pot is large enough for the amount to triple in volume.  Remember the basic ratio for quinoa is 1 part dry quinoa to 2 parts water or broth and it will yield triple the amount.
  3. Cook the quinoa by simmering  for about 15 15 minutes or until all the water is used up.  Remove pan from heat.  I let mine sit on the stovetop (off of the heating element) for 5-10 minutes before taking the lid off.
  4. Fluff the quinoa and eat.

How to use quinoa

Quinoa can be used in a variety of ways. Try it as a substitute for rice, couscous, or orzo in recipes you already make!  Here’s a few to try:

Coconut Almond Breakfast Quinoa
Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad
Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad

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quinoa cooked in a bowl

How to Cook Quinoa

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Yields: about 2 C cooked quinoa


2/3 C dry quinoa
1  1/3 cups water or broth (chicken, vegetable, or beef)
1 pinch salt


Place quinoa in a bowl and cover with 1 inch of water.  Gently stir and carefully pour out excess water.  Add water again until it covers quinoa by 1 inch.  Let sit for 5 minutes. Drain.

Place rinsed and drained quinoa in a pot with 1 1/3 cups water or broth, and pinch of salt, and bring to a simmer on the stovetop.  Place tight-fitting lid on pot and simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the water is evaporated.  Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.

  • Prep Time: 7
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Method: stove top

Sara Wells
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. My husband and I went on the Sonoma Diet a few years ago and she has a great recipe for quinoa pilaf using chicken stock and roasted red bell peppers. Delicious! Thanks for reminding me how good quinoa is!

  2. I’m so excited for the recipe, I purchased some Quinoa awhile ago, made the recipe I bought it for and have the rest waiting for something amazing to happen to it!

  3. LOVE LOVE LOVE QUINOA! Costco selling Quinoa in a HUGE 5lb bag! Don’t think you’ll use it?! It lasts forever! And it’s maybe $10, versus the $5.00 for a small box at grocery stores!

    1. quinoa is great and we eat it a lot. I love to make it for breakfast with milk and chocolate chips. I’ve never rinsed mine and I have no problem with the taste, but next time I will try rinsing it to see if it makes a difference. It’s shelf life is 1-2 years if stored in a cool DRY place. We store ours in the freezer since it is a little bit more pricey than other grains and I’d hate to waste the money on it going bad.

  4. I think I had an unfair advantage having seen your writing in so many autographed cookbooks now, it was extremely easy for me to pick which handwriting was yours.
    So, can we add some chocolate frosting to the quinoa? Just wondering 🙂

  5. I prefer the red quinoa, the flavor is milder. I make Quinoa Stew with Potatoes, Spinach, and Chard from “Love Soup” by Anna Thomas, and it is my favorite soup. I also have a recipe for Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa that I’m trying next week. My husband won’t eat it because it looks too weird with the little piece that pops out like it’s going to sprout!

  6. I’m so excited about this! I stared at the grocery store for a good five minutes yesterday– both in shock that my sort of-really podunk grocery store now carried it and indifference because I’m afraid it’s just different enough that my family won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. I’m definitely picking it up next time!!

  7. Never heard of it, but now I’m very curious to try it! Do they sell it at walmart or regular grocery stores? I love rice and pasta but I would be willing to give it a try, especially if it’s healthier for you. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Unfortunately the only quinoa I can find at our grocery store is a pre-packed blend with other grains. Maybe one day!

  9. Woohoo! This is so timely- I am making quinoa tonight for dinner! I have enjoyed it when other people have made it in the past, but never done it myself. I am throwing in grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumber and feta and serving it over spinach. I am excited to see what my kids think. Thanks for the how to!

  10. Costco carries quinoa too. Personally I don’t like it plain, I usually cook mine with chicken stock instead of water.

  11. I made quinoa once, a while ago. I remember it tasted ok, but looked kinda weird. Maybe I’ll give it another try.

  12. I love quinoa in a tabbouleh salad. Throw together your quinoa, some olive oil, lemon juice, tomato, cucumber, parsley and green or red onion and salt. Let it marinate for a while. Very healthy and very yummy.

  13. We have recently been turned on to Quinoa and I bought the Quinoa cookbook at Costco. The cold salads in it are delicious. We love them and eat them 3 or 4 times a week. So good for you too! We love your blog as well!

  14. My baby loves loves LOVES quinoa with black beans and avocado. Or plain. Or with cottage cheese. Basically, he is a fan, and we are too. 🙂 Had a great cold quinoa salad a couple of years ago (southwestern–beans, corn, cilantro, red bell peppers, etc). I have never heard of/thought of having it for breakfast like oatmeal. I will be experimenting! And looking forward to your recipe 🙂 Thanks for a great blog!

  15. Love quinoa, its fantastic in a wrap with hummus and veggies, perfect with fish, chicken, etc. Quinoa salad with mint, parsley & cranberies is super yummy as well. I havent tried it as a breakfast food, I love my oatmeal, but maybe that will be this weekends project! Looking forward to seeing the recipe that you post

  16. I actually bought some quinoa last week but have not gotten around to trying it. Can’t wait for a quinoa specific recipe!

  17. I lone quinoa! I am gluten & wheat free among other things and this is a delicious alternative to pasta in some dishes and a healthier alternative to rice! Great tutorial! First time I made it, I didn’t know to rinse it. Let’s just say that mistake won’t happen again!

  18. I love to toast the quinoa before cooking it. It gives it more of a rich nutty flavor. You just put it in a dry pan on medium heat and stir it constantly. When the grains start to pop and you can smell the flavor, it is done. Then cook it like you normally would.

    1. I cook rice that way Lori, but I’ve never thought to do it with Quinoa- I’m totally going to try it next time!

    2. I made something similar to this the other night. I was really pleased. It is a great base for adding different herbs to change the flavor. I can see lots of possibilities for many different dishes.

  19. Interesting, I’ll have to add that to my grocery list. I’ve only heard of- quinoa like two

    1. Sorry, technical difficulties with a baby on my lap while typing. 🙂
      ANYway, I’ve only heard of quinoa maybe two or three times, really new to me. Your info on the nutritional value of quinoa got my attention so I’ll be giving it a try.

  20. At our Enrichment night last month, this grain was talked about the most. It tastes good also. I love Orzo, but might have to try incorporating this grain instead. Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

  21. Thank you. I just discovered Quinoa and have been wondering how to use it. I have used it in salads only so far. Thanks again for your wonderful blog. I really enjoy following along.

  22. Quinoa cooks really well in the rice cooker too! I just do 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water/broth and turn it on =)

  23. I can’t say that I have heard of Quinoa before but it sounds great with all of its nutrients. I just want you to know that I think that you ladies do a great job of posting delicious, healthy recipes. I am also in agreement that all things should be eaten and done in moderation. People that spend their life dieting but don’t exercise drive me nuts! My opinion is that you can’t complain unless you are doing all you can to be healthy. Sorry about the tangent, you ladies are GREAT! Thank you for helping me provide great meals for my family.

  24. I made Quinoa last night and I cooked it in Thai coconut curry culinary Broth by College Inn, it’s just flavored chicken broth I got at Publix. it was yummmmmmy.

  25. LOVE quinoa! My favorite breakfast- quinoa with chopped mango, toasted coconut and toasted slivered almonds. Yum!

  26. LOVE quinoa! I make it in the rice cooker lots of times. Just be sure to stop it after 15 minutes or so because for some reason it doesn’t “pop”like it does with rice.

  27. Weird!!! Was just reading about this today and wondered it was?? Thank you for educating me! And for the proper pronunciation. Let’s not discuss how I was butchering that! Lol!

    Can’t wait for your recipe! 🙂

  28. Because it’s low on the glycemic index, quinoa also a good option for diabetics too. I hope I’m not jumping the gun here, but I like to chop up veggies (like carrots, eggplant, broccoli and green onions) into tiny little bits and cook it with the quinoa. I might add some spices too, like cumin. Mmm…you’re making me crave some quinoa now! 🙂

  29. Thank you so much! I have experimented a little with quinoa but am looking forward to your recipe.