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:
4.97 from 214 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.

 

150 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Dawn
    07.09.2023

    5 stars
    BAM !!
    This is only my second time making quinoa. First time was a mushy clumpy mess. This time , following your instructions was a success !!!!!
    Thank you !!

  2. Sara
    07.08.2023

    5 stars
    Thank you! The quinoa came our perfectly with this grain to water ratio!

  3. Jacques Lavoie
    06.07.2023

    Do you bring to boil UNcovered?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      06.08.2023

      yes, bring to a boil uncovered.

  4. Diane from dianeschuller.com
    05.30.2023

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this. After we became vegan I was learning the best ways to cook multiple sorts of grains. When I found this method for quinoa it has made all the difference — perfect every time!

  5. Cathy
    05.25.2023

    5 stars
    My first time cooking quinoa! Followed your recipe instead of the one with Jennifer Aniston salad. It came out perfect! I’m so pleased!
    Thank you!

  6. Anthea Nair
    05.20.2023

    5 stars
    Amazing recipes, simple and easy ingredients. I can taste it already! Thank you so very much for sharing. God bless you!
    Amen!

  7. Pimmy
    05.20.2023

    Quinoa comes out perfect every time. Thank you for posting it! 💜

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.22.2023

      I’m so happy to hear!

  8. Jenn
    05.08.2023

    5 stars
    Really good! The texture is perfect! I seasoned mine with butter, olive oil, salt, Mrs. dash, & garlic.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.09.2023

      I’m glad you loved it!

  9. ES
    04.06.2023

    5 stars
    This is the best quinoa recipe I have cooked to date. The quinoa comes out perfect every time. Thank you!!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      04.07.2023

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

  10. J
    03.28.2023

    Do you use 1 & 3/4 cu0s of water for every cup of quinoa? Or is it 3/4 of water to 1 cup. Please advise.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.29.2023

      It’s 1 3/4 cup water for every 1 cup of quinoa.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.29.2023

      (1 cup plus 3/4 cup)

  11. Tina Gosha
    03.11.2023

    5 stars
    Thanks a million!! I almost gave up on cooking quinoa. I wanted to cook less than a cup. I’ve tried several times and never came out well. I was excited to see if it worked. Yayy! Came out perfect. Now i have the secret. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      03.12.2023

      I’m glad your quinoa came out perfect!

    • Andrea mastrorocco
      05.09.2023

      Hi I must have missed how to make less than a cup of dry quinoa. Please share

      • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
        05.12.2023

        Hi, if you want to cook less quinoa, the time and method will be the same, but you’ll just use less water. We use 1 3/4 cups water for every 1 cup of quinoa. Start by measuring your quinoa and then multiply that quantity by 1.75 to get the water amount. Alternatively, you can make the full cup and freeze the leftovers. They reheat perfectly!

  12. Arjun Singh
    02.28.2023

    5 stars
    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      03.03.2023

      So glad it came out well for you!

  13. Zoe
    02.23.2023

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe it came out perfectly first time!! Thanks so much for this!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      02.24.2023

      So glad you loved it!

  14. Shery Sullivan
    02.06.2023

    First time I’m ever making or eating quinoa. Thank you for for an easy recipe. But I’ll now try your other recipes., for sure. Thank you.

  15. Donna K
    02.01.2023

    5 stars
    Perfect every time. I use chicken broth & bouillon cube instead of water. When it’s ready, I add butter, lemon, and a mixture of whatever fresh herbs I have. I double it up and it lasts for the week.

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      02.02.2023

      Sounds fantastic! So glad you love the recipe.

  16. Claire
    01.21.2023

    Excited to try this. Can the recipe be doubled? Same cook time?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      01.26.2023

      Yep, you can double it! The cook time will be the same.

  17. Zane
    01.12.2023

    5 stars
    Excellent.😎😎😎 This info article was so helpful. Thank you.

  18. Dan
    01.12.2023

    5 stars
    The perfect recipe! Even better than the instructions that came on the box. Thank you loads x

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      01.13.2023

      So glad it came out well for you!

  19. Aly
    01.09.2023

    5 stars
    I have used this recipe successfully many times. I have tried other recipes with varied results, but this recipe consistently gives me fluffy quinoa. Yum!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      01.13.2023

      So glad you love it!

    • Liz
      01.19.2023

      5 stars
      Right on the money with your directions for the quinoa!
      Thank you

      • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
        01.20.2023

        So glad it came out well for 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.