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How to Cook Quinoa

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook quinoa, this article is for you. From the ingredients you need to all the methods for making it, this is everything you need to know about cooking this tasty and healthy ingredient. 

Close up of a bowl of quinoa with a sprig of thyme on top, with a spoon in it

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but quinoa is one of my favorite ingredients. If you haven’t noticed, I have a lot of recipes with quinoa in them, and it’s right there in the website name! I love quinoa for a bunch of different reasons. It tastes good, it works in almost every cuisine, it’s easy to make, it’s affordable, and it’s healthy. But a lot of people don’t know how to cook quinoa. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide to my favorite ingredient.

Cooking quinoa is really easy. It barely takes any time, equipment, or skill. And once you’ve cooked your quinoa, you have an amazing ingredient that you can use in a million different recipes. So let’s dive into quinoa, and how to cook it. 

What Equipment Do You Need?

You barely need any kitchen equipment to make quinoa. All you need is a saucepan and a fork, and you’re ready to make this fluffy, healthy, protein-packed recipe.

Overhead view of a pyrex of water and a bowl of uncooked quinoa, labeled.

Ingredients Needed

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need to make quinoa at home. Make sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of the article to see the exact amounts of the ingredients. 

  • Quinoa
  • Water – Make sure to use filtered water when cooking quinoa. 

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa really couldn’t be any easier to cook. Here’s how to do it. 

  • Combine the ingredients. Add the quinoa and the water to a saucepan.
Side by side of a pyrex pouring. water into a saucepan with uncooked quinoa, and an overhead view of a saucepan with water and uncooked quinoa
  • Boil. Heat the quinoa and water over high heat until the water is boiling.
  • Simmer. Lower the heat, put a lid on the saucepan, and simmer the quinoa until it’s absorbed all the water. This should take between 8 and 12 minutes. 
  • Rest. Turn the heat off and take the lid off the saucepan. Let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff. Use a fork (or a rice paddle) to fluff the quinoa, then serve. 
A saucepan full of quinoa with a fork in it

Alternate Methods

Cooking quinoa on the stovetop is the easiest and best method, in my opinion. But there are other ways to cook quinoa if you prefer. Here are 3 more ways to cook quinoa.

  • Rice cooker. You can cook quinoa in a rice cooker the exact same way that you would cook rice. However, I would keep a close eye on the quinoa as it gets close to being done. Because quinoa is more delicate than rice, sometimes the rice cookers will overcook quinoa, and it will get burnt and stuck to the appliance.
  • Boil and drain. This method is similar to the stovetop method, but you don’t have to pay as close of attention to the quinoa. Double the water, and cook the quinoa until you see the germ start to separate from the quinoa seed. Then drain the quinoa through a fine sieve to get rid of the excess water. 
  • In a slow cooker. I love to add quinoa to my slow-cooker meals. It’s a great way to add extra protein, nutrition, and flavor easily. All you have to do is add the quinoa to the slow cooker halfway through the cooking process. Make sure also to add some extra water so the recipe doesn’t dry out. I like to add equal parts quinoa and water to the slow cooker. 
Close up of a spoon taking a spoonful of quinoa out of a bowl

How Much Water Should I Use? 

The quinoa-to-water ratio is very important, but thankfully it’s straightforward and easy to remember. When cooking quinoa on the stovetop or in the rice cooker, add 1 3/4 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. It’s that simple! You can also use 2 cups of water if you want softer quinoa.

Types of Quinoa 

Believe it or not, there are at least 7 different types of quinoa. There are probably even more than that, but there are 7 types that I regularly cook with: white quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, tri-color quinoa, quinoa flakes, quinoa flour, and quinoa crisps. They’re all delicious and good for you. For white, red, black, and tri-color quinoa, the cooking process is exactly the same. 

Is Quinoa Healthy? 

Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods around. In just ¼ cup of dried quinoa, you’ll find 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, 30% of your daily value of magnesium, 28% of your daily value of phosphorous, 15% of your daily value of iron, and so many more nutrients and minerals. Yet despite having all of those amazing health benefits, ¼ cup of dried quinoa has only 222 calories, 33 grams of carbs, 4 grams of fat, and 0 grams of sugar. 

How to Store

You can store uncooked quinoa in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 1 year. Just make sure to keep it out of direct sunlight. If you need to store it longer than a year, it will last in the freezer for 3 years. Cooked quinoa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for as long as a week. 

Overhead view of a bowl of quinoa topped with thyme and pepper, next to a napkin and a fork

Recipes to Try 

Now that you know how to cook quinoa, it’s time to make some recipes. Here are 10 of my favorite recipes to make with quinoa. They’re all easy to make, super healthy, and incredibly delicious.

  1. 5-Ingredient Mexican Quinoa
  2. Easy Coconut Lime Quinoa
  3. 10-Minute Quinoa Fried Rice
  4. 5-Ingredient Quinoa Pizza Crust
  5. Tropical Kale & Quinoa Power Salad
  6. Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quinoa Chili
  7. Blueberry Quinoa Breakfast Bars
  8. Slow Cooker Coconut Quinoa Curry
  9. Quinoa Power Breakfast Bowls
  10. Creamy Coconut & Mushroom Quinoa Soup

How to Cook Quinoa

4.7 from 11 votes
Everything you need to know about quinoa, a cheap, healthy, and easy ingredient. It barely takes any time to cook, and it's great in so many different dishes!
author: Alyssa
yield: 4 servings
cooked quinoa on a spoon
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 12 minutes



  • Add you water and quinoa into a small saucepan.
  • Turn on high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer for 8 – 12 minutes (depending on how much quinoa you are cooking).
  • The quinoa is done cooking when the water has been absorbed and the germ has separated from the seed.
  • Remove from the heat, remove the lid and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and enjoy!


Serving: 0.25cups | Calories: 156kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 239mg | Fiber: 3g | Vitamin A: 6IU | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 2mg
cuisine: American
course: Side Dish

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