How to Cook Fluffy Quinoa

Learn how to cook perfect quinoa every time with my tried & true method. Then, use it in bowls, salads, or one of my 17 favorite quinoa recipes below!

quinoa

For a lot of you, back-to-school season is meal prep season. As you get into a new routine at work, at home, or at school, having meals ready to grab & go in the fridge can be a life-saver. One of my go-to meal prep tips is having a cooked grain on hand to bulk up salads or add to bowls. Quinoa is one of my all-time favorites: it’s SUPER healthy, it pairs well with a wide range of flavors, and it cooks in under 30 minutes!

Everyone has their own method for how to cook quinoa, but I’ve been using this one for years, and it always comes out perfect. The grains are light, fluffy & soft, but not mushy. If you want to get a head start on the coming week, cook up a big batch and store it in the fridge for easy lunches and dinners! You’ll thank yourself later.

What is quinoa?

While I often use quinoa interchangeably with millet, farro, rice, and other grains, it is not actually a grain, but a grain-like seed hailing from South America! Not only does it have a delicious nutty flavor, but it’s healthy, too. 1 cup quinoa contains over 8 grams of protein, as opposed to 5 grams in brown rice. Plus, it’s a good source of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, and copper. You can read more about the health benefits of quinoa here, but the bottom line is that adding even a small amount of it to your diet can be good for you.

Quinoa

You can find it in a variety of colors, like black, red, white, or a mix of all three, but each variety cooks in the same way. Lighter varieties have the mildest flavor, so if you’re trying it for the first time, I recommend starting with white before venturing on to red or black.

And one final note before you cook: Quinoa is coated in naturally occurring insecticides called saponins. They can give the grain a bitter taste and make it difficult to digest, so make sure to rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before putting it on the stove. Once you’ve rinsed it, you’re ready to cook!

How to Cook Quinoa

When I cook rice, I add oil and salt to the pot, but cooking quinoa is even simpler. All you need is quinoa and water! If you look at different methods for how to cook quinoa, you’ll find a range of water ratios. Some recipes call for as high as a 2:1 water to grain ratio, while others go as low as 1 1/2:1. In my experience, the sweet spot for light, fluffy quinoa is right in the middle. I use 1 3/4 cups water for every cup of quinoa. Any more water, and the quinoa gets mushy. Any less, and it’s too dry. 

Once you’ve measured both, follow these easy steps:

  1. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes more.
  3. Then, remove the lid and fluff with a fork!

Now, your quinoa is cooked to fluffy perfection, but it’s plain on its own. If you’re serving it as a simple side, season it first. At the very least, toss it with salt, pepper, lemon or lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. To kick it up another notch, stir in chopped herbs, minced garlic, toasted nuts, or crumbled feta cheese, or use it in one of the quinoa recipes below!

How to cook quinoa

17 Favorite Quinoa Recipes

Once you’ve made a batch of quinoa, you have endless options for using it. Make it the base of your next grain bowl, toss it into a salad, or stuff it into squash or sweet potatoes. It’s also at home in soups & wraps, and it pairs nicely with sweet flavors as well as savory. Try topping it with cinnamon and fresh fruit in the morning, or mix it into a batch of breakfast cookies! Here are a few of my favorite quinoa recipes to get you started:

  1. Cinnamon Spiced Breakfast Bowl
  2. Carrot Breakfast Cookies
  3. Vegan Seven Layer Dip
  4. Kale Quesadillas 
  5. Tomato & Kale Salad Wrap
  6. Best Black Bean Burger
  7. Big Green Kale Salad
  8. Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad
  9. Kale Pesto Mushroom Bowl
  10. Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl
  11. Simple Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl
  12. Taco Bowl with Jalapeño Ranch
  13. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
  14. Butternut Squash & Kale Stew
  15. White Bean Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
  16. Spinach Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash
  17. Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa recipe

Love quinoa recipes?

Try making any of these basic grain recipes next:

How to Cook Quinoa

rate this recipe:
5 from 72 votes
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 27 mins
Serves 4
Use this easy foolproof method to make perfect light, fluffy quinoa every time!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups water

Instructions

  • Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered for 10 more minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork.

 

65 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Koi England
    08.28.2022

    5 stars
    This was the most perfect quinoa I’ve ever made, and I used my cast iron pot! At first I was concerned because some of the quinoa was half cooked, buy allowing it to rest for a little while, it was perfect!! I’m very thankful for this recipe.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.29.2022

      I’m so glad your quinoa was perfect!

  2. Melissa
    08.26.2022

    Ever try golden quinoa? This recipe worked great for tri-colored quinoa, but now I have golden quinoa and first I followed package directions and then I tried this method. Both times it turned out the consistency of Cream of Wheat. Is it this quinoa? Any suggestions?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.28.2022

      Hi Melissa, I would try adding a little less water, or make sure it’s not too wet after you’ve rinsed it. This ratio works perfectly for me with all types of quinoa.

  3. Aida
    08.17.2022

    If you cook quinoa with almond milk is it the same ratio as water? My first time cooking quinoa!! Wish me luck.

    Thanks,
    Aida

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.19.2022

      Hi Aida, it should be.

  4. Molly
    07.22.2022

    I just doubled the recipe and it came out a little sticky. Is there anything I can do to fix it?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.25.2022

      Hi Molly, I’d try straining the excess water and/or spreading it on a clean baking sheet to let it dry out a little and not mush together.

  5. Nicola
    07.11.2022

    Hi there,

    How many cups would you need per person?

    Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.12.2022

      Hi Nicola, this batch will serve about 4. It’ll be about 3 cups once it’s cooked.

  6. Kacie
    06.26.2022

    5 stars
    Can attest, this recipe is perfect! And so simple!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.27.2022

      I’m so glad your quinoa was perfect!

  7. Sarah
    06.03.2022

    5 stars
    This is the best method for cooking quinoa that I have ever used. It came out perfect and fluffy. Thank you!!!

  8. giuliana boscarino
    05.27.2022

    Hi could you please indicate the ratio in gr and ml please ? I am in Italy and using cup it’s impossible 🤣

    • Jo
      05.29.2022

      I’m just making some and my 1 cup weighed 185 g. Google tells me 1 3/4 cup of water is 415 ml.

  9. AK
    05.24.2022

    Is Quinoa meant to be soaked or washed before cooking?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.26.2022

      Hi, just rinse it before cooking, no need to soak.

    • Dr. B.
      09.08.2022

      You can soak it in water with 1-2 T. of ACV for up to 24 hours. This will assist in removing the naturally occurring phytic acid that is hard to digest for some and tends to inhibit nutrient absorption. If you have GI issues or are on a low FODMAP diet I suggest giving this method a try. I usually just do it overnight and it comes out great, just rinse it again before cooking. I also tend to cook it in broth instead of water for a little extra kick of flavor.

  10. Pam
    05.21.2022

    Perfect water/quinoa ratio, perfect timing and directions for non-mushy quinoa. At last!!! Many [email protected]

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.23.2022

      Hi Pam, I’m so happy your quinoa turned out perfectly!

  11. Jael N Santos
    05.19.2022

    5 stars
    Excellent!!! 👍🏻

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.20.2022

      So happy to hear!

  12. Ken
    05.15.2022

    Turned out a little soupie??
    Not the best first time experience 🙁

    Also added a little mango, carrot slivers, broccoli, pecan, sea salt and pepper

    At least the flavor was good but had to use a strainer spoon to transfer to plate

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.15.2022

      Hi Ken, did you add the extras to the cooking pot or did you add them at the end after the quinoa was finished?

  13. Judy
    05.06.2022

    what kind of pot should I use?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.07.2022

      A medium sized saucepan – a stainless steel pot is fine even though I have a cast iron pot in the photo.

  14. Annie
    05.01.2022

    5 stars
    Thank you so much, it was easy to make.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.01.2022

      I’m so glad!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.