How to Cook Quinoa
With a few easy tips, learn how to cook quinoa and make it a nutritious and tasty addition to your regular repertoire.
Do you know how to cook quinoa? Have you ever tried it? It sounds like some weird health food, right? Well, quinoa is quite nutritious. It’s chock full of goodness, like protein, iron, potassium, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and 9 essential amino acids (just to name a few). But quinoa is surprisingly satisfying too, with a lovely nutty flavor. Plus, it is super easy to prepare. If you can cook rice, you can cook quinoa.
Even though quinoa is technically a seed, it is treated as a grain in cooking. Quinoa has a light texture, but is quite filling too, which makes for a lovely side dish, or a hearty main entree. Typically quinoa can be used interchangeably with rice or barley recipes, and is perfect as a substitute for pasta in salads, like a fresh Cucumber and Tomato Quinoa Salad.
Quinoa is adaptable in the flavor department as it easily absorbs flavors from spices and different liquids, like broth or wine, making it a versatile staple in any kitchen. I do like to experiment with different flavors, but generally when cooking quinoa, my go-to combination is chicken broth with salt and bit of garlic powder. So simple, yet hard to resist.
Although there are many types of quinoa, you’ll typically find white, red or black readily available in most stores. Red and black tend to have an earthier flavor than white. Try them all to see what you like best.
How to Cook Quinoa
As I mentioned before, it is easy to learn how to cook quinoa. Begin by rinsing the quinoa in cool water in a fine mesh sieve. Most quinoa has been pre-rinsed to remove bitterness, but I always rinse it again just to make sure.
Once rinsed, I like to toast the little seeds in a pan before cooking them. It takes a few more minutes, but it really brings out the nuttiness in the quinoa. Simply heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of the skillet, and then add the quinoa, stirring continually for 5 minutes or so until you begin to smell the wonderful nutty aroma. With white quinoa it’s easy to tell when it’s toasted as it turns slightly golden, but with black or red quinoa, you’ll have to put your nose to work. Pay attention to avoid burning.
Almost there! Quinoa is cooked just like rice, with the same ratios: 2 parts liquid to 1 part quinoa. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then add the toasted quinoa along with salt and any seasonings, like garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. It takes about 15-20 minutes. Then remove from heat and let sit covered for another 5 minutes. The quinoa should be able to be fluffed with a fork.
That’s it. See how simple it is? Once you cook quinoa a couple of times, you’ll be a quinoa cooking ninja. You’ll see.
How to Cook Quinoa Recipe
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa*
- olive oil
- 1 cup chicken broth** (vegetable broth may be substituted)
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon garlic powder
- Rinse quinoa in cold water in a fine mesh sieve. Shake out excess water.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add just enough olive oil to coat bottom of skillet. Add drained quinoa and cook, stirring continually, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes.
- Add broth and water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add toasted quinoa, salt and garlic powder. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Quinoa should be able to be fluffed with a fork. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
* White, red or black quinoa may be used. If you’re new to quinoa, red and black tend to have a more earthy flavor than white. ** Vegetable broth may be substituted, or use all water and no broth.