A complete guide to all the different types of quinoa! Plus an overview of quinoa nutrition facts, it's health benefits and ways to use each type of quinoa.
We haven't done one of these 101 style posts in a while, so I'm excited to be writing one again. I like to think of these posts as a complete guide. An “everything you need to know” type of post. And today we're focusing on one of my favorite ingredients: quinoa!
Now before we dive into talking all about the different types of quinoa, I thought it might be fun to give you my origin story. Promise I'll keep it short!
Why I Started Simply Quinoa
I started Simply Quinoa (back then it was called Queen of Quinoa), the year that I went gluten- and dairy-free. It felt like I was completely at a loss for what to cook and kept finding inspiration on blogs. I was never a blog reader, but the big publications and cookbooks weren't making food I could eat. So I turned to bloggers. And from there, I decided to start my own blog.
Quinoa was one of the first gluten-free ingredients that I tried and I was instantly smitten. I loved the texture, the flavor, the nutritional profile, and how quick it was to cook. It instantly became a staple in my gluten-free diet. And yet, there weren't many recipes out there using this awesome little seed.
So I made it my mission to share tasty, gluten- and dairy-free creations that centered around quinoa!
Fast forward 8.5 years and we're here. We rebranded to Simply Quinoa 5 years ago and have expanded beyond just quinoa at this point. But quinoa still holds a super special place in my heart. And it is still a big part of my diet today!
Health Benefits of Quinoa
One of the main reasons why I love quinoa are the nutritional benefits. I have a whole post about quinoa nutritional facts, but for me, it comes down to a few key metrics:
- Protein: quinoa is considered to be a complete source of plant-based protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It's higher in protein than rice, but can be used very similarly, so it's a great substitute! 1 cup of cooked quinoa has about 8g of protein.
- Fiber: quinoa is also high in fiber which means it helps to keep you fuller for longer, as well as supporting your digestive system and keeping you regular. 1 cup of cooked quinoa has 5g of fiber.
- Vitamins & minerals: quinoa is also chock full of trace vitamins and minerals – more so than most other “grains”. Quinoa contains high levels of magnesium (30%), manganese (58%), phosphorus (28%), zinc (13%), copper (18%), and even iron (15%). (note: all percentages are based on 1 cup of cooked quinoa/1 serving)
- Complex Carbs: and finally, I love that quinoa is a complex carbohydrate! This means that it digests more slowly in the system, again helping to keep you fuller for longer, more satisfied and with longer-lasting energy!
How to Cook Quinoa
There are actually lots of ways to cook quinoa! And it also depends on the types of quinoa that you're using.
For regular quinoa, I recommend checking out my post all about how to cook quinoa. If you're using quinoa flour, I have a post about how to use quinoa flour! And if you're a fan of quinoa flakes, we've also got you covered with this post about 10 ways to use quinoa flakes.
Basically, quinoa is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a ton of different ways! Which is why I think it's a great ingredient to add to your diet.
Different Types of Quinoa
Alright so now that we've kind of touched on all the amazing benefits of quinoa as well as the nutritional benefits, let's talk about quinoa itself.
There are actually quite a few different types of quinoa out there. I picked to highlight the 7 that I could think of, but there very well might be more! When it comes to the different types, four on my list are the whole seed and the other three are manipulations of that seed (if that makes sense).
The types of quinoa we're talking about today are:
- White Quinoa
- Red Quinoa
- Black Quinoa
- Tri Color/Rainbow Quinoa
- Quinoa Flour
- Quinoa Flakes
- Quinoa Crisps
Of all the types of quinoa out there, white quinoa is by far my favorite. I find that it has the best texture – it's super light and fluffy – and has the most versatility. I use white quinoa as a rice replacement, I use it as a base for grain salads, stir it into baked goods and so much more. White quinoa also has the mildest flavor!
Ways to use white quinoa:
- Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake
- Quinoa Power Breakfast Bowls
- Life Changing 5-Ingredient Quinoa Pizza Crust
- Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Slow Cooker Coconut Quinoa Curry
The next most common form of quinoa is red quinoa. Red quinoa can be used just like white quinoa in most cases, but I find that it doesn't work so well for sweet applications. It's great in salads, grain bowls or as a rice replacement, but not so good in baked goods. The texture of red quinoa is super crunch, it has a nuttier flavor and it's just more in your face than white quinoa. Still delicious though!
Ways to use red quinoa:
- Red Quinoa Salad with Roasted Veggies
- Roasted Potato & Red Quinoa Salad
- Vegan Ginger Quinoa Bowl
- Maple Lime Triple Berry Quinoa Salad
Black quinoa would be considered the most “rare” kind of quinoa – although I am starting to see it more and more (Whole Foods has it in their bulk section!). I think that black quinoa is super similar to red quinoa. It's crunchy, it's nutty, and I'd use it in the exact same applications as I'd use red quinoa.
Ways to use black quinoa:
Tri Color/Rainbow Quinoa
The last type of quinoa in its whole form is rainbow or tri-color quinoa. I feel like it needed its own section because it's sold pretty widely across the US and the globe. Rainbow quinoa isn't actually its own kind of quinoa though – it's a blend of all three colors above. It's sold as a mix of white, red and black quinoa. I think tricolor quinoa can be used similarly to red and black quinoa because of the crunch factor, but it also works well for morning porridge.
Ways to use rainbow quinoa:
Now we're getting into the types of quinoa that aren't the whole form. The next three types are made from white quinoa and manipulated into different forms. The first being quinoa flour! Quinoa flour is by far my favorite gluten-free flour to bake it. I love its texture, its structure and what it adds to baked goods. I also think it's super easy to work with, incredibly versatile and just all-around awesome! Quinoa flour is made by milling the whole white quinoa into a super fine powder!
Ways to use quinoa flour:
- Best Quinoa Flour Pancakes
- Quinoa Flour Pizza Crust
- Quinoa Flour Tahini Brownies
- Chai Spiced Oat & Quinoa Flour Muffins
- Gluten-Free Quinoa Flour Naan
- Best Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you love oatmeal, you're going to love quinoa flakes! They're the oatmeal version of quinoa, and they're made the exact same way. You can also buy quinoa flakes at most natural supermarkets – they're found in the baking or cereal aisle. I love using quinoa flakes in my baking, but also for a quick breakfast cereal. They take about 90 seconds to make, are full of protein and have an almost cream of wheat like texture!
Ways to use quinoa flakes:
- Mango Overnight Quinoa Flakes Parfait
- Zucchini Bread Quinoa Breakfast Cookies
- Maca Maple Quinoa Granola
- Lemon Blueberry Overnight Quinoa
- Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Quinoa
- Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Overnight Oats
The last type of quinoa we have on our list are quinoa crisps or quinoa puffs! Think of these as a quinoa version of rice crispies. They're the whole quinoa seed that has been puffed into these crispy little balls. They're seriously delicious! I like to use them in my granolas, as cereal, in toppings to things like mac and cheese, and even as a crunchy coating. If you don't want to buy them, you can actually also make quinoa crisps at home. Here's a full post all about how to make quinoa crispies!
Ways to use quinoa crispies:
- Turtle Cookie Energy Bites
- Superfood Chocolate Quinoa Bars
- Crispy Tofu Tacos with Vegan Crema
- Crispy Honey Quinoa Cereal
What's Your Favorite Type of Quinoa?
I'd love to know what type of quinoa you like best! Leave us a comment down below that shares what you'd pick out of all these different types of quinoa and how you like to use it!