How to Make Perfectly Cooked Quinoa

Sound the alarm!  I’m finally sharing my not-so-secret-anymore trick for how to make perfectly cooked quinoa.  It is easy and quick (which are my two favorite things when it comes to cooking methods these days).  No more soggy quinoa, crunchy undercooked quinoa or burnt quinoa for you!  This “trick” is magical.  I never do it any other way.  Your quinoa will be light and fluffy just like it should be.

I stumbled upon this method accidentally one day when I was cooking dinner while one of my girls was napping.  I had just started making quinoa on the stove when she woke up from her nap, so I turned the burner off, put the top on the pot and went upstairs to get her.  By the time I got back to the stove I lifted off the top and voila!  The quinoa had absorbed all the liquid the way couscous does when you leave it covered in water that was boiling.  I started moving it around with my fork and there were no “wet spots” or any liquid to be found.  Just fluffy, golden quinoa that was dry and not crunchy.  No burnt spots.  The beauty of this method is you basically turn the burner off and forget about it for 20 minutes or more.  When you return you are good to go.  So you can start your quinoa and then move on to other things since the burner is off.  Freedom!

Another key part of this method is the ratio of water to quinoa.  I go with a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa – meaning 4 cups of water with 2 cups of dry quinoa.  This yields about 8 cups of cooked quinoa total.  You could make a smaller batch and do 2 cups of water with 1 cup of dry quinoa.  This yields about 4 cups of cooked quinoa.  You get the idea.

Anyone who knows me or follows my blog knows that quinoa is my go-to food.  It is light and absorbs flavor wonderfully.  It adds great texture to salads and can even be hidden in baked goods.  I love it as a side to almost any entree.  It is so easy to prepare and offers such amazing health benefits.  It is loaded with fiber (one serving has over 5 grams) and is considered a complete protein with all eight essential amino acids.  This makes it a great source of plant-based protein for vegans.  In fact, it has more protein than any other grain.  Quinoa is a good source of folate, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and many phytochemicals.  It also offers important minerals such as calcium, potassium, copper and zinc.

I’ll walk you through the method here with some visuals and then condense the instructions in the “recipe” below.

First step is to measure out your water and quinoa.  For me, I like to make a big batch and use throughout the week.  I tend to use 4 cups of water with 2 cups of uncooked quinoa.  Place 4 cups of water in a large pot on your stove.  I use a 3 quart pot for this amount of quinoa.  You will need room for the quinoa to expand but you don’t want the pot too big or the trick might not work well.  Bring the water to a rolling boil on high heat.  Then add the quinoa and stir.  Let the quinoa boil uncovered on high heat for 5 minutes.

Next, turn your burner OFF.  Completely off.  And immediately cover the pot so it is sealed.  Set a timer for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes you can check on it.  No peeking or you will release the magic!  I actually find leaving it on for 30 minutes ensures an even fluffier quinoa.  You really cannot leave it on too long.  The longer the lid is on the pot the longer the quinoa has to absorb all the liquid.

After your timer goes off, remove the lid!  You will then have perfectly cooked quinoa ready to eat, cook with or store for the week ahead.  I keep extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.  You can also store in an airtight container in the freezer.  I thaw it out by placing it the refrigerator the day before I plan to use it.  It is just as perfect and fluffy after frozen/thawed.

So now that you know how it is done, I’ll leave you with some of my recipes that use cooked quinoa:

Roasted Veggies & Crispy Chickpeas over Quinoa with Garlic Maple Tahini Drizzle

Quick & Easy One-Pot Curried Quinoa & Chickpeas

Plant Powered Fall Quinoa and Arugula Salad with Apples and Figs

Mediterranean Zucchini Pasta Salad

Vegan Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Avocado

Roasted Beet Noodles Over Quinoa with Parsley Pesto

One-Pan Mexican Quinoa and Black Beans

One-Pot Sweet & Spiced Quinoa Lentil Salad

Quinoa Cauliflower “Rice”

Pecan Encrusted Delicata Squash and Quinoa Kale Salad with Creamy Maple-Garlic Tahini Dressing

Berry-Cherry Quinoa Salad with Candied Walnuts and Balsamic-Shallot Vinaigrette

Watermelon Arugula Mason Jar Salad with Quinoa, Avocado, Pine Nuts & Mint

Mango-Avocado Quinoa Salad with Toasted Pepitas

Protein-Packed Slaw with Cilantro and Lime (No Mayo!)

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Boats with Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie “Taco Meat”

Fall Quinoa Buddha Bowl with Apple Cider Maple Dressing

No-Bake Quinoa Energy Bites

Carrot Quinoa Protein Muffins (vegan + gluten-free + nut-free)

Baked Broccoli and Quinoa Falafel

No-Bake Fudgy Quinoa-Chia Bites

Pecan-Cranberry Quinoa with Garlic-Maple Dressing

Spring Quinoa Arugula Salad Bowl

Crispy Quinoa Cakes with Arugula & Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Acorn Squash with Cranberry Pecan Quinoa

Print
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How to Make Perfectly Cooked Quinoa


  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x

Description

This quick and easy method yields perfectly cooked quinoa every time. Your quinoa will be light and fluffy and the envy of all other quinoa lovers. Never deal with burnt or undercooked crunchy quinoa again. And forget about those wet spots that are mushy when extra liquid just won’t absorb evenly. This method is a sure thing.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups quinoa

Instructions

  1. Bring water to a boil on high heat in a 3 quart pot.
  2. Add the quinoa and stir.
  3. Allow the quinoa to boil on high heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn burner off.
  5. Cover the pot tightly with a well-fit lid.
  6. Let the pot sit covered for 20 minutes or more until water is fully absorbed. Do not remove or even slightly lift the lid prior to 20 minutes. You can leave it on longer if desired. I find 30 minutes yields even better results. But 20 minutes will work if you are pressed for time.
  7. Remove lid after 20-30 minutes and fluff quinoa with a fork.

Notes

You can store extra quinoa in the freezer and thaw out a day before using in the refrigerator. It will be just as perfect when frozen/thawed out.

  • Category: Quinoa

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6 Comments

  1. Kim

    Do you leave it on the burner?

    Reply
    • Elaine Gordon

      Yes, the first five minutes the burner is on and then you cover it with the lid, turn off the burner but leave the pot on the burner (while covered). Does that make sense?

      Reply
  2. Pam

    You do not recommend the rice cooker?

    Reply
  3. Tracey

    What about electric burners? They remain hot when turned off. Do you still leave i5 in the burner? Thank you for all your recipes!

    Reply
    • Elaine Gordon

      I haven’t tested with an electric burner but I imagine it would be the same. If you are concerned you can move it off the burner. With gas burners it stays hot as well after you turn it off. But I’m not sure how quickly the each cool when compared to one another. The key with this recipe is to keep the lid on to lock in the steam. This is a hard one to mess up and a pretty forgiving method. Please let me know if you give it a try on your electric burner.

      Reply

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