How To Cook Quinoa Perfectly Every Time

quinoa in pot-6834

Quinoa is one of the most delicious,  gluten free, high protein seeds out there. This power packed super food has a lovely neutral flavour, with earthy undertones that makes the perfect canvas for just about any dish you want to create. What I love about it is that quinoa is quick to cook, around 15 minutes so you can create a healthy meal without any fuss in the kitchen.  It has a delicate and nutty flavour which is very addictive and I often can’t put down the spoon once I’ve started eating it.  I love to use any leftover cold quinoa as a base to salads and fold through lemon, olive oil, massaged kale and fresh chopped garden herbs.

What’s great about it:
Technically quinoa is not a grain but a seed that a relative of green leafy vegetables like spinach. It’s gluten free and has a low GI of 53.  Quinoa is also  a complete protein which means that it contains all the 9 essential amino acids that the body needs for repair. Quinoa is also a good source of lysine, an amino acid important for tissue growth and repair and the formation of collagen which is important for healthy skin.


STEP 1 – Measure out your quinoa
I normally use 1 cup of quinoa to 1 ½ cups of water. My advice is to make more so that you can enjoy it the next day and create an awesome high protein salad for lunch.

STEP 2 – Wash the quinoa
Wash quinoa well under cold water in a fine strainer, gently rubbing the seeds together with your hands to ensure that any saponins have been removed. Saponins are just a natural insecticide that forms naturally to protect the seed and can give the quinoa a slight bitter taste if not removed. It should be noted that harvesting methods used in the commercial cultivation remove much of the saponins that can coat quinoa seeds, but it’s still a good idea to thoroughly wash the seeds to remove any remaining residue.

STEP 3 – Cook the quinoa
Combine 1 cup of washed quinoa to 1 1/2 cups water and place them both into a pot.
Add a very small pinch of sea salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low and place on a lid.

STEP 4 – Simmer
Over a low heat for 15 minutes or until all the water has absorbed then turn off the heat.

STEP 5 – Rest for at least 10 minutes
This is probably one of the most important steps.
Fluff up the quinoa lightly with a fork.

Notes + Inspiration
If I’m serving as part of a main course side dish, I often drizzle in a little olive oil or fold through a little cultured butter.
Mushroom + Quinoa Risotto w/ Brazil Nut Parmesan.
Quinoa w/ Roasted Pumpkin, Zucchini + Basil Pesto.
Quinoa Salad w/ Pomegranate Dressing.

Store raw (uncooked) quinoa in an airtight container in the fridge.

Per 50 g serving of raw quinoa

Protein: 6.8 g
Total fat: 3.9 g
Saturated: 0.5 g
Carbs: 28 g
Sodium: 1 mg
Calories: 189

quinoa in pot-6821

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29 Responses to “How To Cook Quinoa Perfectly Every Time”
  1. Adrienne says:

    Are there special instructions for cooking it in the rice cooker?

  2. You cook quinoa in a rice cooker, same as you would rice. Measure your quantity – add to rice cooker – turn it on and in 15 minutes it will be ready. :)

  3. Carol says:

    Thank you for getting the proportion of quinoa to water just right. So many recipes use more water and the quinoa ends up soggy.

  4. Tara says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Thank you very much for this :-)

    I tried to make some quinoa a few weeks ago and, not having a fine mesh strainer, I had to rinse the quinoa in the actual saucepan (rubbing together in the water, draining and then adding more water). I rinsed it 3 times thinking that should be fine but, after cooking a big batch of the quinoa, myself and the family found it inedible as it tasted like grass?!

    I was not quite prepared for the grass taste as I usually see quinoa desribed as nutty, so I am assuming that I didn’t adequetly remove the saponins?

    • Tara says:

      Hi Teresa,

      Just wondering if you have any insight into my problem indicated above? I would love to try and cook quinoa again because of all of the health properties, but don’t want to waste my money buying more if it tastes like grass?

      Many thanks!

      • Hey Tara quinoa is an acquired taste. You can’t compare it to other grains such as rice. Rinsing should wash off any bitter taste. it may just be that your palate is not accustomed to the taste and would take you a few goes to get it right your family used to the new flavour. Folding through aromatics, dressings, oils, herbs etc.. and vegetables also works well. T:)

  5. Emma says:


    I used the quanties suggested (actually slightly more liquid than suggested) in a rice cooker and it wasn’t fully cooked when it was done. I added another cup and a half of water and put it on again and it came out ok. I was using red quinoa and vegetable stock, is it possible that affected the required liquid?

    • Ahh Emma, this is a good point you bring to my attention. Red quinoa is not commonly used and it does take a little longer to cook than your traditional white variety. It has a slightly firmer texture too. Be careful when using commercial veg stock…as they are high in Sodium. If this is the case use half veg stock and half water. :)

  6. Laura says:

    Hi Teresa,

    Thank you for all your great recipes!! I’ve been a little put off buying quinoa before as I wasn’t sure exactly how to cook it, but this is fantastic…can’t wait to try with roasted veg for dinner and as porridge for breakfast!

    Any chance of opening a cafe over in England for your UK fans! Would also be great to see you on British tv…we certainly need more great healthy chefs promoting healthy eating in England.

  7. Tracey says:

    I just used your method for cooking white quinoa and it worked beautifully. Previously I hadn’t turned the heat down low enough and the water evaporated away before the quinoa was fully cooked.

  8. k broderick says:

    theresa i have just found out i have iron deficiency is quinoa a good source of iron

  9. Amy says:

    Can this be used as a substitute for rice ? if not what is some good substitutes, i have tried brown rice but not a big fan Thanks :)

  10. Sally says:

    We just made this for the first time and had it as a cous cous alternative under a beef tagine and it was DELICIOUS! We followed the instructions and it was really easy, the only thing we did differently was we left it to cook for 20 mins. Thank you so much Teresa, your recipes are amazing! X

  11. Jess says:

    Hi Teresa
    You suggest ‘cooking a batch’ of quinoa to use some the next day also. How long can you keep quinoa once cooked (and I assume it should be stored in the fridge?)

    • Yes store in the fridge….you know quinoa only takes 15 mins to prepare and cook up….so it’s very simple to make. I normally just make enough for the next day….so I can use for porridge, make into a paella, make my Earth burgers or a salad for lunch. It can normally keep refrigerated for about 2 – 3 days. Tx

  12. Camille says:

    Thanks for this article. Could you please tell me if organic quinoa has to be washed?

    • kylea says:

      absolutely. organic means it’s not grown with chemicals but the insecticide you are washing off the quinoa, organic or not, is a natural property of most seeds. Nature is so smart :)

  13. Tammy says:

    I put 1 cup quinoa and 3 cups water in a decor rice cooker for 15 mins in the microwave and it turns out perfectly every time. I would like some recipes that do not contain anything poultry at all (ie egg, chicken, turkey), as I am allergic to them. Almost every recipe has chicken or egg or both these days. I can’t eat pork either, but I can eat bacon if well cooked and ham.

  14. Linda Caines says:

    Hi Teresa
    Used this method of cooking my quinoa for the first time tonight and just wanted to say it’s one of the easiest things ever, so thank you!
    I also just had a question if you don’t mind – I am thinking of buying your app but wondered if it has a lot of veggie recipes or mainly aimed at meat and fish eaters?
    Thanks again x

    • Hi Linda,
      Glad you are enjoying the quinoa cooking method :)

      The Healthy Chef app is mostly vegetarian recipes, similar recipe style to The Healthy Chef website – have we have just pushed another update so there is an extra 10 free recipes! thats over 150 recipes! we are also working on healthy bundle which we expect to be out before Christmas – Hope you love it as much as we do!

  15. Debbie says:

    I’m changing the way i’m eating food, I don’t want to call it a diet, just changing up things. No sugar or artificial sweeteners, eating only healthy fats and protein. Thank you for the info on how to cook the Quinoa.

  16. Avril Judd says:

    My Quinoa and goat’s cheese salad

    1green apple sliced
    2 fresh mushrooms sliced
    Red onion to taste (sliced)
    Red capsicum sliced
    Bunch fresh rocket
    1-2 fresh figs sliced
    1 cup cooked quinoa
    Juice 1 lemon
    1 tblsp apple cider vinegar
    Chopped walnuts
    Goat’s cheese crumbled and mixed through

    Combine and enjoy:)

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