How to Make Perfect Quinoa (Every Time!)

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We’re walking you through how to make perfect quinoa (every single time!) and giving you 3 tips to make it *seriously* delicious!

perfectly cooked tri-color, red, and white quinoa in circular glass bowls on a marble surface

If you’re anything like me, getting perfectly fluffy quinoa has been a real struggle. It seems like no matter what I do, my quinoa is either clumped together (ugh), soggy (ugh), or BOTH (double ugh!) I want SO badly to love this protein-packed seed, but I have a firm standard that I only eat things that taste good, and sadly, clumpy, soggy quinoa does not. 

Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse: it is rich in protein, has all nine essential amino acids, plus fiber, B and E vitamins, magnesium, iron, and the list goes on and on. When cooked properly, it’s also super tasty! Delicious + nutritious is where I like to hover on the food spectrum! 

How to Make Quinoa Taste Good 

  • Soak it. Because quinoa is a seed (still so strange to me!), it contains bitter-tasting saponins that keep birds from eating it. Because of their bitterness, the saponins need to be soaked + rinsed from the quinoa for optimal taste. Soak your quinoa for 2 minutes and then thoroughly rinse it before cooking.
  • Use broth instead of water. To amp up the flavor, we recommend cooking your quinoa in broth (chicken or vegetable will do) instead of water. 
  • Opt for white quinoa. White quinoa has the mildest flavor profile of the 4 varieties (white, black, red, and tricolor), so if you aren’t sure about the taste of quinoa, or you just don’t want it to be the star of your meal, opt for white quinoa. 

What is the right ratio of water to quinoa?

Typically, the package instructions call for a ratio of 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa, but we disagree! We say 1 ½ cups of liquid (water or broth) to 1 cup of quinoa. This is a GAME CHANGER in the world of fluffy quinoa. Soggy, mushy quinoa is almost always the result when using the 2:1 water to quinoa ratio, but perfect, fluffy quinoa is the consistent outcome when using the 1½:1 ratio. 

perfectly cooked tri-color, red, and white quinoa in circular glass bowls on a marble surface

How long do you cook quinoa?

Perfect quinoa doesn’t take long to cook – less than 20 minutes, actually! You’ll need to soak the quinoa for two minutes first (don’t skip this step!), and then let it cook in a pot on the stove for 15 minutes. To keep things efficient, get your pot ready and the water boiling while you’re soaking + rinsing the quinoa.

How Much Quinoa to Make

Quinoa increases in volume by about 3 times when cooked. So, if you cook 1 cup of dry quinoa, you’ll end up with 3 cups of cooked quinoa. A serving of quinoa is ½ cup cooked, but it’s pretty rare that you’ll cook ONLY that amount. In one serving of quinoa, you’ll find about 21 grams of carbs (making it a great option for those following a moderately lower-carb lifestyle), about 4.5 grams of protein (I told ya, it packs a punch!), and almost 3 grams of fiber (we could all use a little bit more fiber in our diet!) 

If you’ve got leftover quinoa, and you aren’t sure what to do with it, these Harvest Quinoa Bowls make for a ridiculously delicious lunch or dinner!

Flavor Variations

If you're having quinoa often, it can get boring quickly if you're sticking to eating it plain. Here are a few ways to spice up your quinoa!

  • Cilantro Lime – Add 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin to 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
  • Lemon Dill – Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill to 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
  • Curried – Add 1 teaspoon of curry powder and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
  • Garlic Herb – add 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped herbs like parsley, basil, thyme, and rosemary and 2 cloves of crushed garlic to 3 cups of cooked quinoa.

perfectly cooked tri-color quinoa in a circular glass bowl on a marble surface

Can you freeze cooked quinoa?

Surprisingly, yes! Quinoa freezes really well and having it on hand is a major time-saver when you’re in a pinch. To freeze, simply let your cooked quinoa cool to handling temperature, and then scoop it in a freezer bag or airtight container, squeeze as much air out as you can (if you’re going the bag route), and then freeze! Thaw overnight in the fridge and give it a quick heat in the microwave when you’re ready to eat it!  

Nobody should have to suffer through mushy, soggy, clumpy anything, so we hope this post guides you in how to make perfect quinoa! Cheers to fluffy, delicious, protein-packed quinoa every single time! 

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How to Make Perfect Quinoa (Every Time!)

perfectly cooked tri-color quinoa in a circular glass bowl on a marble surface

This recipe will give you foolproof, perfect quinoa on the stovetop every time!

  • Author: Amber Goulden
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 cup white, red, or tri-color quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Soak the quinoa for 2 minutes, then rinse it thoroughly and add to a pot with the broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon oil.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, then fluff with a fork and serve!

Keywords: quinoa, stovetop, fluffy

Comments

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  1. Erin says:

    Thanks for this article, I want to like quinoa since it’s so good for you but I always get a mushy mess that tastes blah! I’ll give it another go though with these tips!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      SAME! These tips really do make all the difference!!

  2. Tammy says:

    Love this!! I never liked quinoa because of the mushiness but this is soooo much better! Thank you!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      So glad you had success using these tips, Tammy!

  3. Ona says:

    When I make quinoa, I always do the 1.5:1 or even a touch less water or a touch more than a cup of quinoa. I would. AND a real game changer is using better than bouillon since you can totally control how much flavor you care adding.

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      That ratio is key! Good tip…thank you!

  4. Jessica says:

    I always soak my quinoa 12-24 hrs so I used a 1:1 ratio. I think I could actually use a bit less liquid and it would be even better. I’ll try that next time! Thank you for the tips!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      Of course! Enjoy!!