How To Cook Perfect Quinoa (Tutorial)

Quinoa (Pronounced – Keen-wah) has made quite a statement over the last 8-10 years. Before that most people (other than the Mayans who used to trade quinoa like gold) were unaware of what this ancient grain even was, and then all of a sudden (as most new trends seem to be born) quinoa was EVERYWHERE! If you have not heard of quinoa yet, or have been too afraid to try it, now is the best time! Quinoa is kind of an amazing grain. It’s no wonder it got so popular so quickly. It’s incredibly healthy for you. It’s a great source of protein, fiber, and many other vitamins and minerals. It also happens to be a rare vegetarian “complete protein” which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids that make up protein. Most vegetarian proteins are missing some amino acids that humans can only acquire through food, but quinoa can supply all of them on its own. It’s naturally gluten-free which is great for people who are on gluten-free diets, and unlike rice, its carb to protein ratio is quite acceptable. (source

Quinoa makes a great rice substitute for people who are looking for a healthier way to eat. You can pretty much substitute it in any rice dish. The flavor is a little bit nuttier than rice, probably closer to brown rice. Also, obviously the shape is different, so the mouth feel of quinoa to rice is different, but if you can get past that, you can be on your way to eating much healthier and nutrient rich meals! Quinoa is also surprisingly easy to cook. Rice is very temperamental. You need to get all the measurements and times right in order to get rice to cook properly. If you don’t cook it enough, it is inedible. If you cook it too much, it turns into mush, which some would argue is also inedible. Quinoa is not like that, yes you can definitely undercook it, but its super easy to fix that. And even though I have tried, I have never overcooked quinoa. There is a large window of forgiveness when it comes to quinoa. Nobody should be afraid to cook it! =)

A year or so after I graduated from college, I was pretty sick. One of the doctors I saw suggested going on a limited diet to see if that helped any of my symptoms. Almost everything was cut out. At least that’s what it felt like. All sources of sugar, gluten, dairy, eggs, some fruits and vegetables, nuts, rice, soy, and a bunch of other stuff I can no longer remember (I did have shakes that they provided that were supplementing my nutrition). I was on this diet for a month. Because of that, quinoa became an integral part of my life very suddenly. I have to be totally honest, I don’t cook it now as much as I used to, but every so often me and my husband will go on a healthy streak, and we will eat a lot of quinoa for a few weeks. I often make lunches for my husband using quinoa. Rice tends to make him really tired generally speaking, so eating it in the middle of a work day is difficult for him. Eating quinoa though has no negative effect, so he enjoys the quinoa in dishes that would normally contain rice, like in stir fry’s and with homemade seitan. It’s much healthier than anything else he would be eating in the middle of the day. =)

Since there are so many recipes that use quinoa that I wanted to share with you I figured it would be best to share with you the basic mechanics of cooking quinoa first so that you can use it as a reference in all of my future recipes! =)

Now that I have hopefully convinced you to try quinoa for yourself let me walk you through how easy it is to cook! 

First thing you want to do is start out with some white quinoa. I like to buy my quinoa in the bulk section at whole foods so I can just take whatever I need for that week, and store it in mason jars at home. But you can also find quinoa on amazon here.  

You’ll want to  measure it out into a Mesh Strainer with a fine enough mesh to prevent the quinoa from passing through.

The next step is to rinse the quinoa with water. This is a really important step. Rinsing the quinoa not only washes it (which is important) but it also removes some of the bitterness. If you did not wash the quinoa it would not taste as good. Just rinse it for a good minute or 2. Make sure every grain gets some good contact with the water.

After washing I like to leave my strainer over a bowl so that any remaining water can fall into that.

Once the quinoa is washed, heat up some oil in a 2qt pot on medium heat. Once the oil is hot you can add your drained quinoa. I also normally add half a Bouillon Cube for flavor, along with a little bit of salt. Mix everything around until the bouillon cube is dissolved and the quinoa is coated in the oil.

Then you want to add the water. I don’t always measure it since quinoa is so forgiving. I usually just make sure that the quinoa is covered by 1in of water. But I have the exact measurements in the recipe card below. Once you add the water turn the stove on high and bring the water to a boil.

Once the water has come to a boil, immediately cover it and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Leave it like this for 20 minutes.

If you have a clear lid, after 20 minutes it should look visibly cooked. If your lid is not clear just trust me that if you’ve followed my directions it is. Without removing the lid, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for another 10-15 minutes to continue steaming. 

After steaming off of the heat for 10-15 minutes, you can then remove the lid. The quinoa should look something like this! =)

After fluffing around with a spoon or form it should also visibly increase in quantity. =) If for any reason at this point you don’t think the quinoa is cooked enough, just add 1/4 cup of water, heat up the pot real quick on medium high heat for a minute or 2, and let it steam off of the heat for another 10-15 minutes.

That’s it! Now you are ready to serve it immediately, use it in another dish, or store in the fridge for later! =)


I hope you give this recipe a try for yourself! Please be sure to let me know in the comments if you do! I would love to hear what you thought of it! Be sure to subscribe so that you can be notified when I post new recipes! (link in the sidebar). Follow me on Instagram @saltyoversweet (I also post a lot of Instagram stories of what I am making that day) and find me on Facebook (the link is in the sidebar). You can also tag me on Instagram @saltyoversweet if you make any of my recipes I would love to see! =)


How To Cook Perfect Quinoa (Tutorial)
Serves 3
The best and easiest way to Cook Perfect Quinoa every time =)
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1 cup - Uncooked White Quinoa
  2. 1 3/4 cup - Water
  3. 1/4 teaspoon - Salt
  4. 1/2 - Bouillon Cube
  5. 1/2 tablespoon - neutral cooking oil
  1. Measure out quinoa into a fine mesh strainer. Rinse under water for a couple minutes making sure to wet all of the quinoa grains.
  2. Heat a 2qt pot of water on medium heat. Add oil. Once hot, add the washed quinoa, bouillon cube, and salt. Mix around the pot so that the bouillon cube dissolves into the quinoa and the quinoa is coated in the oil.
  3. Then add the water. And increase the heat to high - and bring to a low boil.
  4. Once the water begins to boil, lower the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Leave like this for 20 minutes.
  5. After 20 minutes, turn the heat off, and remove the pot from the heat. Without removing the lid, let sit and steam off the heat for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. After that time, then you can remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork or spoon.
  7. If for some reason it seems undercooked, add an additional 1/4 cup water, put back onto the stove on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Cover then remove from the heat and let steam for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Now it should be ready to serve as is, use in another recipe, or store in the fridge for later!
  9. Enjoy! =)
  1. Different colored quinoa's take a little bit longer to cook. If you are cooking another color quinoa you should add an additional 1/4-1/2 cup of water and cook for an addition couple minutes on the heat and let steam for longer off of the heat.
  2. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free.
  3. Quinoa is naturally vegan.
  4. Quinoa can be substituted for rice in any recipe that calls for it.
  5. Quinoa is a great source of vegetarian protein.
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