How to Cook Quinoa (Stove or Instant Pot) + Quinoa Recipes

Learn how to cook quinoa on the stove top and in the Instant Pot. This nutritious seed is packed with protein and is extremely versatile – see my easy quinoa recipes below. Cooking perfect quinoa is quick and easy!

How to cook quinoa: cooked quinoa in a pot with steam.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is one of my favorite healthy ingredients because it is quick and easy to cook and extremely versatile. You can make so many different healthy meals with quinoa! The possibilities include breakfast cereal, egg frittatas, soups, salads and casseroles.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa is a nutritional superfood and a great protein source for vegetarian meals. Quinoa contains all nine of the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. Quinoa can take the place of whole grains in many recipes that you make. However, quinoa is actually not a grain at all – it is a seed.

Quinoa has a nutty, earthy flavor and can be slightly chewy. There are three main types of quinoa that you may find in your local grocery store: white quinoa, red quinoa and black quinoa. White quinoa is the mildest in flavor and the softest in texture. Red quinoa is a bit crunchier and has more of an earthy flavor. Black quinoa is the strongest in both flavor and texture. All three types of quinoa can be prepared similarly.

Quinoa is naturally gluten-free. It is a great substitute for rice and is just as easy to cook. You can make quinoa ahead and refrigerate it for up to 3-4 days, so it is a great option for meal prep.

Red and white quinoa seeds in jars.

How to cook quinoa on the stove top

Cooking quinoa on the stove takes less than 20 minutes. It’s simple!

I tested different quinoa to water ratios when cooking quinoa on the stove. After cooking many batches of quinoa, I found the perfect water to quinoa ratio for stove top quinoa. I use 1 ¾ cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. Many recipes will tell you to use a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. I have found that this produces quinoa that is slightly mushy and almost gummy in texture. Not good. Reducing the amount of liquid to 1 ¾ cups per cup of quinoa produces perfectly fluffy quinoa with just the slightest bit of chewiness.

Rinse quinoa to remove bitterness before cooking.

1. Rinse Quinoa: Quinoa seeds have a bitter coating on them called saponin. Rinsing quinoa under cool running water will remove this bitterness. Place your quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse for about 1 minute. Let the excess water drain out.

2. Cook Quinoa: You can cook your quinoa in water or broth. Using vegetable broth or chicken broth flavors the quinoa as it cooks. If you cook your quinoa in water, I recommend adding ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt for flavor. Do not add salt if using broth or your quinoa may turn out too salty.

Place the quinoa, liquid and salt (if using) in a pot. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot and cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed. This will take anywhere from 10-18 minutes, depending on how much quinoa you are cooking.

3. Rest and Fluff: Once the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid, remove the pot from the heat. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Then use a fork to fluff and separate the quinoa.

You will notice that it looks like the quinoa seeds have popped open as they cooked. This is normal.

How to make quinoa in the Instant Pot

How to cook quinoa in the Instant Pot.

I love cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot because it couldn’t be easier. It’s the most foolproof, hands-off way to cook quinoa!

The quinoa to water ratio is different for Instant Pot quinoa. You will use a 1:1 ratio of water to quinoa. You need less water than stove top quinoa because there is less evaporation with Instant Pot cooking.

1. Rinse Quinoa: As described above, you want to rinse your quinoa to remove the bitter saponin that coats the seeds.

2. Pressure Cook Quinoa: Place an equal amount of quinoa and water or broth in your Instant Pot. If using water, add ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt for flavor. Close the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the steam valve to the sealing position.

Cook on manual/high pressure for 1 minute. Yes, just ONE minute! The one minute is the actual cooking time and does not include the time that it takes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure and then release pressure. All together, your quinoa will be in the pressure cooker for a little over 20 minutes.

3. Natural Pressure Release: When the Instant Pot beeps a few times to let you know that the cook time has ended, let the pressure release naturally. This means you just leave the Instant Pot alone and wait for the pin to drop. Once the pin drops move the steam valve to venting just to be sure all of the pressure and steam have released. Then carefully remove the lid to find your perfect fluffy cooked quinoa!

Cooked quinoa in the Instant Pot.

Notes about cooking quinoa

  • Be sure to rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve before cooking. This will remove the bitter coating on the seeds called saponin.
  • When cooking quinoa on the stove, the quantity you are cooking will affect the cook time. A smaller amount of quinoa will cook faster than a larger amount. Check on your quinoa every few minutes. It is done when all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • When cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot, the cook time remains the same no matter how much quinoa you are cooking.
  • Make Ahead: You can refrigerate or freeze your cooked quinoa. Cool quinoa completely and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Fluffy cooked quinoa in a pot.

Easy ways to flavor cooked quinoa

  • You may toast your quinoa in a pan on the stove or in your Instant Pot before cooking it to develop its nutty flavor. Stir the rinsed quinoa until you smell a nutty aroma.
  • Cooking quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth gives more flavor to the quinoa than cooking it in water. If you use salted broth, do not add extra salt to the pot.
  • You can add dried herbs and spices to the pot as you cook quinoa. I often add chili powder and cumin to make Mexican spiced quinoa.
  • You can flavor your warm quinoa after cooking by mixing in minced garlic, fresh herbs or lime juice. Or try adding cinnamon, pure maple syrup and vanilla extract to make quinoa porridge for breakfast.

Also try these easy meal prep recipes:

How to cook quinoa: fluffy cooked quinoa in a pot.

How to Cook Quinoa (Stove or Instant Pot)

Learn how to cook quinoa on the stove top and in the Instant Pot. This nutritious seed is packed with protein and is extremely versatile - see my easy quinoa recipes below. Cooking perfect quinoa is quick and easy!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Peruvian
Keyword how to cook quinoa, instant pot quinoa, quinoa, stovetop quinoa
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings 4 cups
Calories 78kcal

Ingredients

To Cook on the Stove:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 ¾ cups water or low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt optional (omit if cooking quinoa in broth)

To Cook in the Instant Pot:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup water or low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt optional (omit if cooking quinoa in broth)

Instructions

To Cook on the Stove:

  • Rinse quinoa under cold running water for about 1 minute. Drain.
  • Place quinoa, water or broth, and salt (optional) in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until all of the water is absorbed. This will take between 10-18 minutes, depending on how much quinoa you are cooking. My 1 cup of quinoa took 14 minutes to cook at a low simmer.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff and separate the quinoa.

To Cook in the Instant Pot:

  • Rinse quinoa under cold running water for about 1 minute. Drain.
  • Place quinoa, water or broth, and salt (optional) in Instant Pot. Close the lid and turn the steam valve to the sealing position.
  • Cook on high pressure/manual for 1 minute.
  • When the Instant Pot beeps a few times to let you know that the cook time has finished, let it do a natural pressure release. This just means leave the Instant Pot alone until the pin drops down. Move the steam valve to the venting position to make sure all of the steam has escaped and then carefully remove the lid.
  • Use a fork to fluff and separate the quinoa.

Notes

  • Recipe may be scaled up or down to cook more or less quinoa. When cooking quinoa on the stove, the quantity you are cooking will affect the cook time. A smaller amount of quinoa will cook faster than a larger amount. Check on your quinoa every few minutes. It is done when all of the liquid has been absorbed. When cooking quinoa in the Instant Pot, the cook time remains the same no matter how much quinoa you are cooking.
  • Make Ahead: You can refrigerate or freeze your cooked quinoa. Cool quinoa completely and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  • Nutrition information is for quinoa cooked in water without salt.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g
Nutrition information is an estimate.
Tried this recipe?Mention @kristines_kitchen or tag #kristineskitchenblog!

Best Quinoa Recipes

  1. Southwest Quinoa Salad
  2. Quinoa Tabouli Salad Recipe
  3. Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  4. Balsamic Garlic Roasted Mushrooms and Quinoa
  5. Spinach and Quinoa Salad with Apple
  6. Greek Quinoa Grilled Zucchini Boats
  7. Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili with Quinoa
  8. Kale Quinoa Salad with Blueberries
  9. Quinoa and Roasted Broccoli Lunch Bowls
  10. Healthy Quinoa and Sweet Potato 7 Layer Dip
  11. Ham, Cheese and Veggie Quinoa Frittatas
  12. Quinoa Enchilada Stuffed Delicata Squash
  13. Quinoa and Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole
  14. Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

Perfect quinoa, stove top or instant pot.

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