How to Cook: Quinoa

By : | 12 Comments | On : March 19, 2013 | Category : Food Preparation, Food Storage, Foods, Nutrition

Following on from our recent post about how wonderful and nutritious quinoa is we thought we should fill you in on how best to prepare and cook this super seed.

 In addition to the health benefits of quinoa there are also many practical benefits to using quinoa in the kitchen.

  • It’s quick and easy to cook.
  • It’s great in savoury and sweet dishes.
  • You can enjoy quinoa for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • It can be used to thicken sauces and puddings etc.

While it may be a few dollars more expensive in the supermarket compared with pasta or rice, quinoa does fluff up and expand to 3 times it’s original volume and provides more energy and nutrients.  

Quinoa Seed Cooking Instructions: Cook 1 part quinoa with 2 parts water (or salt-reduced stock):

Uncooked Quinoa Amount of Water Cooked Quinoa
1/4 cup 1/2 cup (125 mL) 3/4 cup
1/3 cup 2/3 cup (160mL) 1 cup
2/3 cup 1 1/3 cup (330 mL) 2 cups
1 cup 2 cups (500 mL) 3 cups


Stove-top Absorption Method:  Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Turn the heat off, leave the lid on and allow the quinoa to sit on the burner for a further 5-7 minutes.  Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

Rice Cooker Instructions:  Cook quinoa according to the manufacturer’s instructions combining 1 part quinoa and 2 parts water in the rice cooker.   When cooking quinoa in a rice cooker you can lift the lid and stir the quinoa to prevent burning on the bottom of the pan.

Dry Roasted Quinoa:  This variety of quinoa requires a few minutes less cooking time.  Combine 1 cup dry roasted quinoa with 2 cups of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.

Important Cooking and Preparation Notes:

#1: Rinse quinoa thoroughly before cooking: Saponin is a soapy like substance that coats the quinoa grain, protecting it from birds and insects and can give quinoa a bitter taste.   Most quinoa comes pre-washed, however rinsing the grain thoroughly prior to cooking will ensure any saponin residue and bitterness is removed.

#2: There is no need to stir or lift the lid during the cooking process.  If water still remains in the saucepan leave the saucepan on the stovetop covered for a further 5 minutes.

#3: Cook more than you need:  Cooked quinoa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month so its ready when you need it.   

One Handed Cooks Quinoa Recipes

Baby food

Green chicken quinoa puree

Chicken and bacon quinoa dinner or couscous

Lamb quinoa and veggie dinner

Chicken, mushroom, veggie and rice or quinoa

Finger food

Crispy baked quinoa balls

Chicken quinoa balls

Lamb and quinoa rissoles

Cheesy quinoa puffs

Vegetable quinoa patties

Roly, poly salmon with quinoa and veggies

Crispy baked vegetable quinoa fingers

Quinoa, chicken and broccoli nuggets

Sweet snacks

Date and coconut slice

Quinoa, almond, coconut & blueberry pikelets

Carrot and quinoa muffins

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  1. posted by Rebecca on April 8, 2013

    Any recommendation on brands? I use the Woolworths Macro stuff, but it seems that, no matter how much I rinse it, it still has a slightly bitter taste. I wonder if it’s the brand, or something I’m doing wrong.

    • posted by Jess on April 9, 2013

      Hi Rebecca, Yes – we do find with some brands you do need to rinse quinoa multiple times. I’m not sure where you live or what brands you have access to but often smaller supermarkets or health food stores have a greater variety and will be able to give you some recommendations. You could also try using dry roasted quinoa. It is lightly toasted which helps to eliminate the bitterness and also helps to reduce the cooking time too. I find it has a lovely nutty taste and is a lot less bitter. You should be able to find some at your local health food store. Alternatively you could look online to find specials on good quality quinoa. Good Luck! Jx

  2. posted by Hayley on September 6, 2013

    How long would you recommend keeping cooked quinoa in the fridge for? I always cook too much then go to use it in another recipe the next day but end up throwing it out as I’m unsure how long it keeps for. Thanks!

    • posted by Jess on September 10, 2013

      Hi Hayley, if its refrigerated straight away and kept chilled, quinoa should be fine for up to a week in the fridge. Alteratively, freeze excess quinoa in small portions and defrost as needed. It’s always handy having some cooked quinoa available to use in cooking or include in salads. I hope that helps, Enjoy! Jx


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