How To: Cook Quinoa

Megan Myers | Stetted Updated
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Learn how to cook this essential grain in this easy to follow video.

Quinoa is one of the hottest grains around these days. It’s with good reason — this grain, which is technically a seed, is a versatile ingredient and a great swap-in for those looking to avoid wheat or make a change from the standard rice.

Because it’s high in protein, quinoa is a wonderful option for anyone who wants to add more meatless meals into their diet. It also contains beneficial calcium, iron, and other minerals. It’s so much more than a plain grain!

If you’re new to quinoa, or even if you’ve been using it for a while, you might be unsure how to prepare it. It cooks similarly to rice, in that you simmer it in water or broth, for extra flavor. Quinoa can be ready in under 30 minutes, making it ideal for weeknight dinners.

When preparing quinoa, one of the most important things to remember is to rinse it before cooking. Many people skip this crucial step, and it results in undercooked, bitter quinoa. Rinsing the quinoa before cooking helps to remove the coating on the seed, called saponin, which is what makes quinoa bitter. While most quinoa in stores is supposed to already have this coating removed, an extra rinse takes only a moment and ensures a great final dish. Rinsing quinoa also helps the outer shell begin to break down, making it cook more easily and taste better, too.

Quinoa is available in red, black, or brown, and each color has a slightly different flavor. Try a bag of “rainbow” quinoa to experience all the varieties together!

We like to use quinoa in place of rice in stir-frys, add it to salads, mix it into muffins and cakes, use it as a base for vegetarian burgers, stuff it into peppers, and even eat it for breakfast. When it comes to quinoa, you really can’t go wrong with this complete protein! 

Get our favorite recipes using quinoa.

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Megan Myers

About Megan

Megan is known for her commitment to eating local, fresh food and leading a well-fed life, as documented on her blog, Stetted. Around these parts, though, she's known for her commitment to phenomenal breakfast recipes.