If you want to learn how to cook quinoa that turns out perfectly fluffy every time, this trick is for you.
Quinoa is absolutely delightful when it turns out fluffy and full of flavor. However, soggy, flavorless quinoa is the worst.
Fear not! I’m going to teach you how to cook perfectly fluffy quinoa that’s full of flavor and will keep you coming back for seconds.
Quinoa is naturally gluten-free and full of protein and fiber. It cooks like a grain but it’s technically a seed. Quinoa is super filling, so a little goes a long way in a salad or side dish. In case you’re wondering, there is no difference in nutrition between the different colors of quinoa.
Quinoa almost doubles in size when cooked. See the printable recipe card below to see the quinoa to liquid ratios for cooking. Print it, bookmark this page or pin it to Pinterest for easy reference in the future.
How to Cook Quinoa (Tutorial)
Quinoa is great in both savory and sweet dishes. Use this technique to have perfectly fluffy quinoa every time.
Step 1: Rinse Quinoa before Cooking
Most people are tempted to skip this step but I recommend it for better flavor and texture.
Grains and seeds like quinoa are stored in large barrels and can contain a bitter flavor or dust on the outside if not rinsed. Rinsing your quinoa will yield better flavor. However—and this is part of the trick in step 3—when you rinse it you’re adding water to the dish. Read on to step 3 for what to do to avoid soggy quinoa. Let as much water drain out as possible after rinsing. I let it sit in the fine mesh colander for 30-60 seconds to let the water properly drain out.
Step 2: Use the Correct Size Pan
Using the right size pan is important in all cooking techniques, but especially here as the quinoa needs to absorb all of the water without cooking too slowly or too quickly. I use a 3-quart pan for anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1 cup quinoa, and a 4-5 quart pan for more. Use a 6-quart pan for 2 cups of quinoa. There is some wiggle room there, just don’t try to cook a small amount of quinoa in a huge pot, or a large amount of quinoa in a small pot as it will either overcook or undercook.
Step 3: The Trick! Add The Correct Amount of Water
Here’s the trick to cooking your quinoa to turn out fluffy and not soggy:
The water to quinoa ratio is 2:1, so you’ll need 2 cups of liquid (water or stock) for 1 cup dried quinoa. However, since we rinsed it, there is a little water in the quinoa already. Use just shy of a 2:1 ratio for perfectly fluffy quinoa.
See the measurements and ratios in the printable recipe card below.
Step 4: Bring to a Boil, Reduce to Simmer
Now for the easy part! Set the stove to high and bring it to a boil, then cover and reduce it to a simmer. Depending on your climate, elevation, and stove, it can take 2-5 minutes to bring it to a boil.
Step 5: Cover, then Set a Timer
Once you reduce to a simmer, COVER the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and set a timer for 10 minutes.
Covering the pan prevents too much water from evaporating out. Your quinoa should take 12 minutes to cook, but I say set a timer for 10 minutes to start checking it then.
The quinoa is done once all of the water is absorbed.
Step 6: Let Sit for 15 Minutes, Then Fluff with a Fork
Once the water is absorbed, remove it from the heat. Give it a stir and cover and let it sit for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff it with a fork. Voila! Perfectly fluffy quinoa.
I sometimes let mine sit for a few hours on the stove to cool to room temperature while I’m cooking other things. You can use your quinoa hot, warm, room temperature, or cold.
If storing in the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Recipes to Use Your Perfectly Cooked Quinoa
- Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Berries
- Curry Quinoa Salad
- Black Bean & Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa Tabouli
- Lemony Chicken & Quinoa Soup
- Healing Butternut Squash & Carrot Curry Soup
Dry quinoa almost doubles in volume when cooked. The general ratio for how to cook quinoa is 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa. Using this trick, use just slightly less liquid than the 2:1 ratio calls for as there will already be water in the quinoa from rinsing it. Use water for plain quinoa to use in sweet or savory dishes. Use veggie stock or chicken stock to give your quinoa more flavor in savory dishes. Use bone broth to add even more protein to your quinoa.
For 1/2 cup total cooked quinoa (2 servings):
- 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup (minus 1 tablespoon) filtered water or stock
For 1 cup total cooked quinoa (4 generous servings):
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 cup (minus 2 tablespoons) filtered water
For 2 cups total cooked quinoa (8-10 servings):
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 3/4 cups filtered water (that’s 2 cups minus 4 tablespoons)
- To prepare the quinoa, rinse it well in a fine mesh colander and let it drain until no more water runs from the bottom of the strainer. This takes just about a minute.
- Add the rinsed quinoa to a pot and add double the amount of filtered water or veggie stock, minus 1 tablespoon or so since there is liquid in the rinsed quinoa. (See example ratios above.)
- Set a timer for 12 minutes.
- Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed and the little ‘tail’ of the quinoa has sprouted out. Check the quinoa at 12 minutes (the first time you make it check it at 10 minutes). If the water is all absorbed it’s done. If there is still water in the pan let it continue to simmer until the water is absorbed.
- Once the water is absorbed, remove from heat. Stir once then cover again and let it steam for 15 minutes—the quinoa will continue to absorb more water and become more fluffy.
- Fluff with a fork and use in a recipe, or let it come to room temperature and store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.
Always set a timer and/or stay by your pan. Since we’re cooking all of the water out of this dish it can burn and stick to the pan. The timer is a great reminder to check it. At the very least, stay in your kitchen or near the pan to prevent burning it.
Keywords: How to Cook Quinoa, Perfect Quinoa, Fluffy Quinoa