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!


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.


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:

How to Cook Quinoa

rate this recipe:
5 from 63 votes
Prep Time: 2 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 27 mins
Serves 4
Use this easy foolproof method to make perfect light, fluffy quinoa every time!


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


  • 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.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Kimberly

    Awesome recipes thank you so much

  2. Layne

    5 stars
    This recipe is the best I have found. It’s not bitter, mushy, or too dry. So tasty and versatile.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you quinoa was perfect!

  3. Bailey

    I made perfect quinoa using your instructions! Thank you, thank you!! Your page has been bookmarked for future reference.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was perfect!

  4. Gentiana

    Thank you!!
    The proportion of water to quinoa was perfect!
    Ik made an eggplant lasagna (tomatoes, bell peppers, courgette, onions) and served it with this quinoa recipe on the side :).

  5. angie

    Thank you for sharing your recipe and your insight. I have never bought quinoa and I don’t know which one to buy. For example., there different types of rice and some come parboiled and others appear precooked and sold in boxes with seasoning. What type or brand did you use for your recipe?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Angie, the only varieties of quinoa I’ve seen are different colors (regular, red, and black). Any will work in this recipe. At the store, the bagged quinoa should just say “quinoa” or you can find it in the bulk bins at some stores.

    • Chris

      If one doesn’t have a small mesh screen or cheesecloth, try using a coffee filter. Easey peasy! Very little loss.

  6. Shirley

    What do you hold the quinoa in to rinse? Even my mesh stainer let’s them slip through.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I rinse mine in a regular fine mesh strainer with no problem, maybe your strainer has bigger holes?

    • Doug

      I had to use cheesecloth to add a barrier since my stainer’s holes were too big as well.

  7. Kari

    I use quinoa instead of bulgar for tabuleh and instead of rice for fried rice. It’s my favorite grain.

  8. Sophia

    How do i make the quinoa not taste dirty?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      rinse it well before cooking it and then season it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper or another dressing from our list of recipes.

    • Kari

      Rinse very well and add salt when cooking.

  9. AA

    5 stars
    Perfect! I made this with homemade vegetable broth and added a diced onion, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper! Super flavorful and tasty! The proportion of water to quinoa was perfect!

    • Jeanette from

      5 stars
      I just made it, added some herbs and simmered for 15 minutes then took off the heat to sit for 10 minutes. It was perfect!

  10. Teresa

    Are the measurements the same if you want to double (2 cups quinoa to 3.5 cups water)?

  11. Debbie

    5 stars
    I used this method with homemade chicken broth and the quinoa turned out perfectly! Thank you for this. Finally, fluffy quinoa!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was perfect!

  12. Janet

    5 stars
    Best outcome for all the quinoa I have tried to cook!
    Thank you

  13. Shelley

    Please forward these wonderful recipes to me – I am excited to try them.

  14. Lou

    5 stars
    Great quinoa recipe. That’s how I cook my white rice. I mixed cooked diced onions AND one boullion cube DELICIOUS THANKS FOR YOUR INFO (glad to know to rinse before I will ✔ my box because I saw a lump of film that I removed) I mean I had to google to pronounce it correctly

  15. Terry

    5 stars
    came out perfectly; thank you very much!

  16. MArie Cannatella

    What to do if you cook quinoa too long or had too much water? It is just too soft! How can I use it?

    • Carol

      Try using it as a filler in making meatloaf Salmon patties or what ever you would bread crumbs in.

    • Mary Ann

      5 stars
      So if it has to much water you are going to fry it in grapeseed oil or Avacado oil till it dries and fry a little.

  17. Holly

    5 stars
    My first time cooking quinoa and it did turn out perfectly! I used chicken broth instead of water for added flavor. My family loved it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      yay! I’m so glad it was perfect!

    • Lou Ann

      I also added chicken broth instead of water. For vegetarians, you could use vegetable broth.

  18. Adam from

    Have you tried quinoa with coconut and raspberries? Gorgeous and so simple.

  19. Susan

    Thank you for your expertise on cooking quinoa. I had previously settled on using 1-⅞ cup water, but 1-¾ makes good sense to me. I’ll try that next time I cook quinoa. By the way, the stuff I buy (from Costco) is pre-rinsed.

    • Kim

      5 stars
      I have cooked quinoa many times, this was the most successful, perfectly cooked quinoa, thanks!

    • Shlomit Glaser

      5 stars
      Thank u! That is very valuable knowledge- I managed to lose half the quinoa while trying to rinse it.

  20. Sabrina

    great quinoa resource, thank you!

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.