How To Cook Quinoa

Before cooking this high protein seed, it is important to rinse it well. Rinsing removes the bitter resin-like coating, called saponin. Store-bought quinoa has been rinsed before packaging; however, it is still a good idea to go through this step just to make sure no saponin or residue lingers.

To rinse, simply place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and flush thoroughly with water, while rubbing your hands through the seeds. Be sure to remove any black grains, as these will not get tender.

When cooked, quinoa swells to three or four times seed size, similar to rice. Cooked seeds become tender and feature an al dente texture. You can toast the seeds before cooking to enhance their pleasantly nutty, roasted flavor.

2 Ways of Cooking Quinoa

Boiling

This method is quick and simple. Just toss in your quinoa into a large pot of boiling water (just like you would boil pasta.) Cook the quinoa uncovered for 10-12 minutes, or until it is done and then drain it well.

Absorption

First, measure out the dry quinoa. Remember it doubles in size during cooking. The quinoa to water ratio is 2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa. Rinse the quinoa well and then place into a saucepan and add the correct amount of cold water.

For extra flavor, you can add spices or chicken bullion. Toss in a dash of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. As soon it starts to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. Set the lid ajar in order to prevent boiling over. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the water has all been absorbed. Fluff with a fork.

You can also use a rice cooker to cook quinoa. Just use two cups of water to one cup of quinoa.

You can tell when the quinoa is fully cooked because it goes a bit transparent, and sprouts a small “tail”. If the quinoa is cooked and there is still water in the bottom of the saucepan, leave the lid off completely for a few minutes until the water evaporates. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff it up.

If uncooked seeds are used in a recipe, expect a bit of a crunchy texture and a flavor that can often surprise you, as there isn’t much of a way to gauge this without cooking. Flavor can range from mild to slightly bitter.

A helpful tip for cooking quinoa: One cup of dry quinoa will make 2-3 cups cooked.

Both the flavor and the texture of this protein rich seed compliment many dishes quite well. The taste is never too bold and therefore compliments a variety of dishes, from rice and beans to stews. Even sweet desserts, breads and cereals made with fruit juice or fresh and dried fruit, syrup and sweet spices can handle the nutty flavor that comes with the quinoa seed.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen

I just cooked Quinoa for the first time. I made a big pot of vegetable soup with Quinoa. There is hardly any liquid. Did the Q absorb 8 cups of water? Should I heat extra vegetable broth and add it to the heated Q and veggie?

THanks for your help.

Lisa Bishop

Absolutely. The quinoa absorbs liquid much like rice does when it cooks. So if you are cooking soup, be sure you have lots of extra liquid!

Sara R

I add about 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar when soaking quinoa, then I rinse it before cooking it in fresh water. It removes the bitter tannins and gives it a sweet flavor. I am still working on the water ratio. It is difficult to know how much water to add when you presoak grains since they already absorbed some water. Do you have any tips?

Lisa Bishop

Hi Sara!
I will have to try the vinegar! Thanks for the tip! When you presoak grains, the normal cooking time gets cut down, so they cook more quickly. I haven’t tried presoaking quinoa, but I would think it to be somewhat similar to presoaking rice. Let us know what you figure out!

Lucinda Bishard

You article is well written. I enjoy reading your blog.

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