How To: Cook Quinoa

If you read our blog regularly, then you should know that we strongly believe in the “everything in moderation” principal.  One of our biggest pet peeves is when people claim we don’t post healthy food, or that they’d love to cook food from our blog but they’re on a diet or trying to eat healthy.  Our blog is FULL of healthy food and also recipes that can be easily adapted to be more healthy.  Our entire approach to cooking is that good-for-you-food doesn’t have to be “diet food”.  We believe that when you eat a balanced diet, and incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, then you can also enjoy a piece of chocolate cake every once and a while.  Or have Cookie Pie for dessert.  Or breakfast.  It’s all about a happy balance and we practice what we preach around here.  So on that note- I’m sharing something extra healthy today.  Even though it’s been around forever,  in recent years Quinoa has become more and more popular- and we’ve had tons of requests for information and recipes with it.  So I thought I’d do a little introduction today and then share a recipe next week!

What is it?
Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wah’) is a grain-like crop that is grown for its seeds.  When cooked in water, it fluffs up sort of like couscous or rice and can be used in a lot of recipes where you would normally use those two things.  You can buy red quinoa, and this lighter colored white quinoa.  I hardly ever see the red in my stores, so I think this light one is more common.

What’s so great about it?
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 can I buy it?
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 it?
It’s cooked much like rice, I’ll outline the steps below.  I’ve heard you can also cook it in a rice cooker with the same measurements and cooking time as rice.  I prefer to just cook a small amount on the stove top.

How to Cook Quinoa:  Step 1 – Soaking
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.  But mostly, it just makes me feel like it’s clean 🙂  Because we’re only soaking for about 5 minutes.

So just place the quinoa in a bowl

and cover with water.  I give it a good stir and then rinse and then pour off the excess and re-fill with water a couple of times.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes.

Step 2:  Cook
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.  Honestly, quinoa doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor on it’s own.  In a lot of recipes I think of it as sort of a healthy “filler”.  It can take on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking.  If you want to add more flavor to the quinoa itself, definitely cook it with broth.  Start with the 2:1 ratio and you can adjust from there.  If I’m making something with a sauce, or added liquid, I use a bit less water for a drier result.

Place the lid on the pot and bring water to a simmer.  Simmer with lid on for about 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.

Step 3:  Fluff and Eat
Yep.  That’s it.  Just fluff with a fork.

And you’re done!  It’s all fluffed up and looks sort of like funky couscous.

At this point it’s ready to use in any sort of recipe you like.

What do I do with it?
Try it as a substitute for rice, couscous, or orzo in recipes you already make!  Many people have said it’s great instead of the rice in these Stuffed Bell Peppers, and I bet it would be great in place of orzo in this Lemon Orzo salad.  If you have the Our Best Bites Cookbook, it would be great in place of couscous in the Greek salad on page 79.  Also, it makes a great high-protein breakfast.  Try it like oatmeal with a little honey and fruit, or with brown sugar and maple syrup.  It’s incredibly versatile.


And as you can probably guess- I have a great quinoa recipe coming up!

Lastly- I’m SO excited to share this with you today!  One thing you may not know about me is that I’m a total font nerd.  I love finding and downloading cool fonts and using them in projects, and my digital scrapbooking, etc.  One of my favorite places for great Handwriting fonts has always been the blog Kevin and Amanda.  Even before I started blogging or really knew what a blog was!  The amazing thing is that Amanda actually takes people’s real handwriting and turns it into a computer font. I have gotten to know and love Amanda and I was beyond excited (like, I almost peed my pants) when she asked if she could turn MY handwriting into a font for a special project.  Eeek!  You guys!  You can actually download my writing, as well as the fonts of some other really awesome bloggers.  It’s all in honor of helping out a great cause.  Check out this post– and see if you can guess which one is mine!


  1. 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! 🙂

  2. 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! 🙂

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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

  11. 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!

  12. 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!

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!!

  18. 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!

  19. 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 🙂

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. Mmm, so good! In sweden we also have black quinoa, which is even better! both kinds soaks up all kinds of flavours so cooking it in broth or such makes it really nice. Just a tip!

  24. I am dying to try quinoa, so thanks for this easy recipe! I’m particularly interested in using it for stuffed peppers, along with veggies and beef… mmm! So many possibilities. Thanks for inspiring me with something new. Have a great weekend! 🙂

  25. I LOVE Quinoa!! A friend of mine adds cooked quinoa to her smoothie in the morning to make it more filling. I tried it and it adds a bit of texture but doesn’t really change the flavor.

    I usually just use it in place of rice.

  26. I love quinoa with black beans and savory garlic dressing. Or just with honey drizzled over it. Looking forward to your next recipe!

  27. I actually just substituted quinoa instead of rice in your southwest stuffed bell peppers recipe last week. Fabulous! I would love to see more recipes using quinoa.

  28. This is a really healthy grain–thanks for posting. I also like the red kind–nuttier flavor and you don’t have to rinse it either.

  29. I have tried quinoa several times and it always gives me a stomach ache. Do you know of any solutions?? Very sad not to be able to enjoy this yummy grain!

  30. I just bought your book, but have just thumbed through it. Didn’t know about your website though. It has been fun taking a few minutes surfing, but got side tracked on the handwriting fonts!

    Too bad my computer at home (is at the repair guy’s house) is a mess, cause I’d love to go come and use some of those awesome fonts on some scrapbooking.

    Can’t scrapbook, but maybe I can do some cooking. Thank you for the recipes!


  31. Lol…too funny! I just bought some yesterday and was going to research how to cook it. Great minds right? Anyway, I bought it at sunflower market in Utah and it’s on sale this week for $2.99/lb but only for the white. They do carry the red though. I wonder if it tastes any different. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  32. I love this site, and I LOVE that your site has an “everything in moderation” feel to it:) Can’t wait to try your Old Fashioned Cake and Frosting Recipe, I will have a slice of that after a healthy helping of quinoa:)!!!

  33. Thanks for the info on quinoa. I had bought some and wasn’t really happy with the taste because it was a little bitter. I will have to try this again and try to soak it first. Thanks!!

  34. I just started cooking with quinoa a few months ago and I LOVE it! It has nearly replaced rice in our house! 🙂
    P.S. I make is using the pineapple rice on your blog which makes it a little more fun sometime!

  35. Ohhhhhh Quinoa. So delicious! I love your site and cookbook.
    We make a quinoa porridge for breakfast that it’s to die for. Would love to share the recipe if you are interested.
    Easiest breakfast, or lunch or dinner for that matter and like you said full of nutrition.
    Thanks for an awesome blog!

  36. I recently went to Mexico and at the resort I stayed at they had a smoothie bar for breakfast and they had a bowl full of something that looked just like this that could be added to your smoothie. I hadn’t ever heard of it so can’t remember if he called it quinoa. Do you think it would have been this stuff?? I know he said it was very good for you. I would think you could put it in a smoothie if it could be eaten like oatmeal?

  37. My plan for work lunches this week is to make a big quinoa & veggie salad. Timely post! By the way, you can also find black quinoa at some specialty stores. Same flavor as regular, but the color is striking on the plate!

    To the people who said they’ve tried quinoa and it’s tasted funny – rinse it really well. One quick rinse is not enough. Soak for a few minutes and then rinse 2-3 times to make sure that coating is completely rinsed off or it will taste bitter and almost chemically.

  38. I am so glad you posted this recipe my husband bought some of this in the bulk food items section and said we should try and replace all of our rice recipes with it. Lack of instruction made it a little difficult. I looked on food network for help but all of the recipes that I saw had it all cooked up.

    Thanks for all your hard work.

  39. My favorite way to eat quinoa is with Heavy Cream (or half and half if you want to be healthier) and brown sugar for breakfast! Oh so delicious!!! Add some berries if you want but I like it plain 🙂

  40. I bought a great quinoa cookbook at Costco last year and it has FANTASTIC recipes for quinoa. One of my faves is a recipe for apple streudal quinoa that uses dried apple slices (think those huge cans from the church cannery) and toasted almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg and brown sugar. It is the yummiest and most filling breakfast! We also eat it in place of couscous and make salads out of it, etc. So good for you!
    Looking forward to your recipe …..

  41. I read in a magazine that you can cook it with orange juice too-then add some craisins and walnuts for a yummy breakfast. I haven’t tried that yet, but it sounds awesome!

  42. I tried to cook quinoa once and it was such a pain. I was watching Melissa d’Arabian on the Food Network and she microwaves it. I’m excited to try it that way. (She rinses 1/2 c. quinoa really well and then puts it in a microwaveable bowl. She adds 1 1/4 c. water and covers it. She microwaves it on high for 9 minutes and lets it sit for 2 minutes before stirring).

  43. The reason your blog is amazing, and that I’m always confident serving your recipes to my family, is that you use REAL food. “Diet” food that comes in a box or can with a million preservatives is *not* food that I want to raise my kids eating! Thanks for ALL you do to help me teach my family that balance should start with home-cooked food!

  44. Oh! This was a perfect side for tonight’s grilled chicken. Only I didn’t have most of the ingredients, but with your recipe as inspiration, I totally winged it! I used quinoa, corn, a peach, tomato, fresh chives, a few cilantro leaves, and a drizzle of pomegranate balsamic vinegar and eureka lemon olive oil (from Delicious!! Thanks!

  45. Just wanted to say thanks for the directions! I made quinoa tonight with Glazed Pork Chops with Apricot Ginger Sauce from the cookbook. Both of my picky kids loved the pork chops! Keep up the good work!

  46. Is there a trick for rinsing and draining the quinoa? I seem to lose a lot of quinoa every time I attempt this step.

  47. I know this is an older post, but wanted to share that one of our favorite uses for quinoa is quinoa porridge, for breakfast. We make it fairly normally, and mix it up with some almond milk, peanut butter or brown sugar, and fruit. One of my kids’ favorites — since not all of them will eat oatmeal, this one ends up being our go-to warm breakfast cereal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.