How to Cook Fluffy Quinoa

Learn how to cook perfect quinoa every time with my tried & true method. Then, use it in bowls, salads, or one of my 17 favorite quinoa recipes below!

quinoa

For a lot of you, back-to-school season is meal prep season. As you get into a new routine at work, at home, or at school, having meals ready to grab & go in the fridge can be a life-saver. One of my go-to meal prep tips is having a cooked grain on hand to bulk up salads or add to bowls. Quinoa is one of my all-time favorites: it’s SUPER healthy, it pairs well with a wide range of flavors, and it cooks in under 30 minutes!

Everyone has their own method for how to cook quinoa, but I’ve been using this one for years, and it always comes out perfect. The grains are light, fluffy & soft, but not mushy. If you want to get a head start on the coming week, cook up a big batch and store it in the fridge for easy lunches and dinners! You’ll thank yourself later.

What is quinoa?

While I often use quinoa interchangeably with millet, farro, rice, and other grains, it is not actually a grain, but a grain-like seed hailing from South America! Not only does it have a delicious nutty flavor, but it’s healthy, too. 1 cup quinoa contains over 8 grams of protein, as opposed to 5 grams in brown rice. Plus, it’s a good source of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, and copper. You can read more about the health benefits of quinoa here, but the bottom line is that adding even a small amount of it to your diet can be good for you.

Quinoa

You can find it in a variety of colors, like black, red, white, or a mix of all three, but each variety cooks in the same way. Lighter varieties have the mildest flavor, so if you’re trying it for the first time, I recommend starting with white before venturing on to red or black.

And one final note before you cook: Quinoa is coated in naturally occurring insecticides called saponins. They can give the grain a bitter taste and make it difficult to digest, so make sure to rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before putting it on the stove. Once you’ve rinsed it, you’re ready to cook!

How to Cook Quinoa

When I cook rice, I add oil and salt to the pot, but cooking quinoa is even simpler. All you need is quinoa and water! If you look at different methods for how to cook quinoa, you’ll find a range of water ratios. Some recipes call for as high as a 2:1 water to grain ratio, while others go as low as 1 1/2:1. In my experience, the sweet spot for light, fluffy quinoa is right in the middle. I use 1 3/4 cups water for every cup of quinoa. Any more water, and the quinoa gets mushy. Any less, and it’s too dry. 

Once you’ve measured both, follow these easy steps:

  1. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for 10 minutes more.
  3. Then, remove the lid and fluff with a fork!

Now, your quinoa is cooked to fluffy perfection, but it’s plain on its own. If you’re serving it as a simple side, season it first. At the very least, toss it with salt, pepper, lemon or lime juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. To kick it up another notch, stir in chopped herbs, minced garlic, toasted nuts, or crumbled feta cheese, or use it in one of the quinoa recipes below!

How to cook quinoa

17 Favorite Quinoa Recipes

Once you’ve made a batch of quinoa, you have endless options for using it. Make it the base of your next grain bowl, toss it into a salad, or stuff it into squash or sweet potatoes. It’s also at home in soups & wraps, and it pairs nicely with sweet flavors as well as savory. Try topping it with cinnamon and fresh fruit in the morning, or mix it into a batch of breakfast cookies! Here are a few of my favorite quinoa recipes to get you started:

  1. Cinnamon Spiced Breakfast Bowl
  2. Carrot Breakfast Cookies
  3. Vegan Seven Layer Dip
  4. Kale Quesadillas 
  5. Tomato & Kale Salad Wrap
  6. Best Black Bean Burger
  7. Big Green Kale Salad
  8. Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad
  9. Kale Pesto Mushroom Bowl
  10. Roasted Veggie Grain Bowl
  11. Simple Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl
  12. Taco Bowl with Jalapeño Ranch
  13. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
  14. Butternut Squash & Kale Stew
  15. White Bean Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
  16. Spinach Salad Stuffed Acorn Squash
  17. Avocado Black Bean Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa recipe

Love quinoa recipes?

Try making any of these basic grain recipes next:

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How to Cook Quinoa

rate this recipe:
4.99 from 201 votes
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Serves 4
Use this easy foolproof method to make perfect light, fluffy quinoa every time!

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 3/4 cups water

Instructions

  • Combine the quinoa and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and let it sit, covered for 10 more minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork.

 

144 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Nicky
    02.18.2024

    5 stars
    Is it 1 and 3/4 cups of water of just 3/4 cup of water – sorry, I’m confused! Look forward to trying this.

    • Jared
      02.20.2024

      Definitely use 1 3/4 cup, and let it “simmer” at 2 om your stovetop, should be perfect, if you want it softer add a couple tablespoons of water.

  2. Kathy
    01.29.2024

    5 stars
    Skeptical that it would work without drying out, bring soggy or burning.
    I have to say spot on- it is indeed perfectly fluffy!!
    I followed it exactly after reading all the comments.
    Same measurements, after boiling turned it right down with the lid on, turned heat off and left – again didn’t peak and viola – magic!
    I have Quinoa coming out of my ears as I only needed it for one but dare not mess with the measurements yet so guess I will be having Quinoa and bean salad all week 😂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.30.2024

      Hi Kathy, I’m glad your quinoa was perfect! When I have extra, I like to freeze some.

  3. Glenda
    01.25.2024

    5 stars
    Cooked up nice and fluffy! Thank you!
    More of an incentive to eat quinoa lol
    I made a bowl with veggies, hummus and quinoa😋

  4. Diana
    12.20.2023

    Hello – when you state to ‘reduce the heat’ I’m not clear by how much…ie simmer on medium or to the lowest setting on the stove. I’ve tried cooking quinoa numerous times with little to no success (it always turns out mushy). But definitely want to give your recipe a go with thanks.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.21.2023

      Hi Diana, nearly the lowest setting on your stove – not medium.

  5. Shayini
    12.03.2023

    5 stars
    Perfectly cooked for my salad. Thank you! 🙏

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.05.2023

      I’m so glad your quinoa came out perfect!

  6. MELIA
    11.27.2023

    5 stars
    Girl I try it and it was amazing thank you for the tips

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.28.2023

      Hi, so glad you loved the quinoa!

  7. Karen
    11.25.2023

    How long do you rinse the quinoa for? I’ve never made it before. Thanks.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.28.2023

      Hi Karen, I usually rinse it for about 30 seconds, shifting the grains in the strainer so that the water runs evenly over them.

  8. Cindy
    11.25.2023

    5 stars
    I have been struggling with making quinoa and your ratio is the absolute best! Thank you so much.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.28.2023

      Hi Cindy, yay! So glad the quinoa came out well for you.

  9. 5 stars
    I’ve been cooking quinoa in an Instant Pot. Not anymore! Your way of cooking it on a stovetop is far superior! I just added a squashed garlic clove to flavour it a little. It was wonderful. Thank you!

  10. Angela
    10.30.2023

    This is the first time I’ve tried quinoa and thanks to you, it won’t be the last! Didn’t know what to expect, but the texture was exactly how I like my rice and pasta…not mushy and not hard.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.31.2023

      Hi Angela, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  11. Susan Green
    10.20.2023

    Hi
    Where did you buy your super fine mesh strainer to rinse your pre-cooked quinoa?
    Thank you

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      10.20.2023

      OXO makes a great one! It’s available on Amazon, at Target, or directly from OXO.

  12. Dawn
    09.14.2023

    5 stars
    Was hesitant to try cooking quinoa but this was so easy! Mine turned out perfect! Great way to add nutrients to my salad

  13. DJ
    09.11.2023

    5 stars
    Thank you for this, it’s my go-to and perfect every time!

  14. Connie
    09.09.2023

    5 stars
    Turned out perfect 👍 Love it ❤️

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.11.2023

      I’m so happy to hear!

  15. Walter
    08.17.2023

    I ran across a Beef/Barley soup Crockpot recipe. Would like to add Quinoa to this. Recipe calls for adding quick cooking Barley last half hour of cooking time. Would Quinoa cook in the last half hour?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.22.2023

      Yep, it would!

  16. Sehar
    08.08.2023

    5 stars
    i just tried this recipe . . looks quite good . . not mushy at all and the grain is cooked completely. I will have this with cucumber and tomatoe salad and some bell peppers.
    thank you for sharing this .

    Happy Healthy Living

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      08.11.2023

      Hi, I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  17. Ivy
    08.03.2023

    In normal consumption, how many cups of quinoa would be good for 1 week?
    Its my first time to cook Quinoa. Thanks in advance for the reply.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      08.04.2023

      Hi Ivy, 1 cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked. An average serving size is about 3/4 to 1 cup cooked, so if you plan to have more than 3 or 4 servings in the week, I’d scale the recipe up. Hope this helps!

    • alex
      09.26.2023

      5 stars
      Quinoa. Thanks in advance for the reply.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.