An Easy Guide On How To Cook Quinoa And 15 Of The Best Recipes

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Last Updated: 11th October 2016

Quinoa: that "who knows how to pronounce it" food that has become the darling of vegans, vegetarians, and clean eaters alike!

FYI: You say "keen-wah," not "kee-no-wah."

Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, as it's a perfect combination of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and carbohydrates. A plate of quinoa is a complete meal, making it one of the best foods to add to your diet.

But how the heck do you cook it? Do you just drop it into a pot, add water, and cook? Well, if you want bland goop, sure. If your goal is to have delicious quinoa for your meals, you have to do more than just add water and heat. Below, we've got the step-by-step process on how to make your own delicious quinoa, as well as 15 of our favorite quinoa recipes. Read on to find out everything you need to know about cooking quinoa the easy way…

How to Cook Quinoa

Most people think of quinoa as just one grain, but did you know there are over 1,800 different types? Thankfully, they're all easy and quick to cook, and they make delicious nutritious meals.

So how the heck do you cook it?

The first step is to wash the quinoa. There is a natural coating on the quinoa grains that contains saponin, a compound that can make your quinoa taste soapy or bitter. Rinsing the quinoa before cooking it helps to eliminate the saponin and its nasty flavor.

Note: Quinoa that comes in a box is usually pre-rinsed, but you can give it a quick wash to ensure there is no saponin left.

You may want to soak the quinoa for 30-60 minutes to soften it. This will make it easier to cook, and the quinoa grains will be softer when you chew it. However, soaking it isn't necessary.

Cooking Facts

  • 1 cup of dry quinoa will produce around 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa requires a little over 2 cups of water to cook properly.
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa will cook in around 20 minutes.
  • Quinoa can be made in a rice cooker, with the same liquid ratio (2:1) as rice.

The Steps

Here is how to cook quinoa like a boss:

  1. Rinse the quinoa. Spend a few minutes rinsing the quinoa to get rid of the saponin.
  2. Place a stock pot/saucepan on the stove. Turn the fire up to medium high.
  3. Add a bit of oil into the bottom of the pan. Add in the quinoa and toast lightly for 3-5 minutes (this helps to add flavor and speed up cook time).
  4. Add in 2 cups of liquid. For unflavored quinoa, use water. To make your quinoa more delicious, use chicken stock, beef stock, or veggie stock.
  5. Bring the quinoa to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling, turn down the heat to low, cover, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  6. Once the quinoa is cooked, move it to a cool burner. Turn off the fire and let the quinoa cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  7. Fluff. Remove the lid and use a fork to stir the quinoa. This separates the germs from the quinoa seeds and will make the quinoa nice and soft.

Nice and easy, right? In just 30 minutes, you can have a full pot of delicious quinoa ready to eat!

Below, we've compiled a few of our favorite quinoa recipes for you to try at home. Happy cooking!

Fresh Quinoa Salad


(Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn)

This delicious salad makes the perfect summer dinner, and you'll find it's beautifully zesty and fresh--ideal for when you want a cold dinner.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 cup golden quinoa
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 8 small red radishes, well-cleaned and tops removed
  • 1/3 cucumber, about 1/4 pound, unpeeled
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2/3 lightly filled cup dill fronds, without stems
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced about 1 1/2 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (omit for a vegan adaptation)
  • Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado, to serve

Preparation

  • To begin, rinse the quinoa and drain it. Toast the quinoa with olive oil, add the broth, cover, and let it cook. Once cooked, scoop the quinoa out of the pan and place it on a tray to cool.
  • As the quinoa is cooling, dice the radishes, cucumber, and shallots. Chop the dill fronds very fine.
  • In a glass bowl, mix the quinoa with the radishes, cucumber, shallots, and dill. Add in the parmesan, dates, almonds, and season with salt and pepper. Dress with the oil, vinegar, and lemon, and top with avocado chunks.

Black Bean Quinoa Chili


(Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn)

If you want a hearty meal, nothing beats good old-fashioned black bean chili! Served over quinoa, it's a complete meal that's amazing for your health.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound dried black beans, rinsed well
  • 1 chipotle chile from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt + more to taste
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

Preparation

  • To begin, place a stock pot on the stove with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Fry the garlic and onions, and stir in the chili powder and coriander. Cook the spices for 60 seconds and add in the tomatoes--juice and all. Drop in the beans, chipotle, and oregano adds 4 cups of water and let the mixture cook to a boil. Once the chili is boiling, turn the heat down to the lowest, cover, and let it sit. Add salt and pepper for flavor.
  • The chili will need to cook for at least 2-4 hours. An hour before serving, rinse the quinoa well and set it to soak for about 25 minutes. Add it to the chili with another cup of BOILING hot water, cover, and let it cook for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with cream, green onions, and cilantro as a delicious topping.

Fancy Omelet


If you want a hearty breakfast, you'll love this omelet! With quinoa, spinach, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes, it's the food lover's delight.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup of quinoa
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 handful of baby spinach
  • Goat cheese

Preparation

  • To begin, rinse the quinoa well and set it to cook--toasting it lightly and using chicken stock to add flavor. The quinoa will take less time to cook thanks to its small quantity. Once it is cooked, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  • Dice 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes and cut the baby spinach into smaller pieces.
  • Place a skillet on the stove to heat, with a bit of olive oil. Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk vigorously, and pour into the skillet.
  • Once the egg is cooked enough to flip, flip it and quickly fill with the sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach, quinoa, and 2 tablespoons of goat cheese (spread around). Fold the omelet in half, flip once to ensure that it's thoroughly cooked, and serve. No bread needed!

Quinoa Tabbouleh


(Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn)

Tabbouleh is a delicious Middle Eastern vegetarian dish that is served as a pre-meal appetizer, and you'll find the rich combination of quinoa, spices, and herbs makes it the perfect appetite-opener.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups parsley (1 large bunch)
  • 1/2 cup mint (1 small bunch)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra to taste
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

  • To begin, rinse the quinoa well, soak in water for 5 minutes, drain, and toast in a stock pot. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.
  • As the quinoa cooks, dice the onion and set it in a water-filled bowl to soak. This will help to reduce the onion's bite and make it softer. Dice the tomatoes, parsley, and mint.
  • Once the quinoa is cooked, let it cool before fluffing it with a fork. Let it cool for 15 minutes, then pour it into a glass bowl. Mix in the onions, tomatoes, herbs, and garlic. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add more flavor as desired.
  • Serve cold.

Quinoa Pancakes


(Recipe Courtesy of Health)

Looking for a healthy savory breakfast? These pancakes are a way better version of the typical sweet-cakes!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves

Preparation

  • To begin, rinse the quinoa, toast it, and add in 1 ½ cups of water, the garlic, and salt. Cover with a lid and let it cook until soft. Transfer it to a bowl and let it cool.
  • As the quinoa is cooling, turn the oven to 350 F.
  • Mix the egg whites with the Parmesan, pepper, basil, and quinoa. Set a skillet on the stove with a bit of olive oil. Form pancakes with your hands and fry them lightly until they are golden (usually 2 minutes per side).
  • Put the cooked pancakes on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes, or until they are properly cooked. Serve with the spinach on the top, and with a bit of salsa for added flavor.

Lemony Quinoa


(Recipe Courtesy of AllRecipes)

If you want fresh, zesty quinoa to serve as a companion to beef, chicken, or pork, this is the dish for you!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley

Preparation

  • To begin, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. Keep stirring to prevent from burning, and cook for about 5 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
  • Cook the quinoa using water and salt. Once it is cooked, let it cool and fluff with a fork.
  • Pour the quinoa into a serving bowl and add in the toasted pine nuts, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, cumin, and salt. Chop the celery, onion, and parsley, and add in. Add more salt and pepper as desired.

Quinoa Pick-Me-Up


(Recipe Courtesy of Health)

For a delicious, hearty quinoa dish, you'll find that few can out-yum this bad boy! It's fresh, rich, and tasty, and beautifully easy to make.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/3 cup canned low-sodium black beans
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper

Preparation

  • To begin, cook the quinoa with salt and vegetable stock. Remove 1 cup of the cooked quinoa and place it on a plate to cool. Cover the rest and set in the fridge for later.
  • Drain the black beans and rinse to remove most of the liquid. Add the drained beans to the plate with the quinoa.
  • Dice the tomato, and add it into the mix with the scallion, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Enjoy the fresh, zesty dish!

Curried Quinoa


(Recipe Courtesy of AllRecipes)

If you want a spicy side dish to serve with flavorful Indian cuisine, this is the dish you'll want to try.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

  • To begin, rinse and toast the quinoa with a bit of olive oil, add the chicken broth and cook. Once the quinoa is cooked, uncover it and let it cool for 5 minutes to absorb the excess water. Fluff with a fork.
  • Heat a skillet with more olive oil, and dice the onions and garlic. Add the aromatics into the pan to cook. After 5 minutes, add in the curry powder, ancho chile powder, salt, and pepper as desired. Add in a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth, turn the fire onto low, cover, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Without turning off the flame, mix the quinoa into the spices mixture, heat for 2 minutes, and remove from the fire.

Quinoa Veggie Burgers


(Recipe Courtesy of Health)

If you want a vegetarian/vegan alternative to classic hamburgers, you'll love this recipe!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup white quinoa
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 small slices whole-wheat bread
  • 1 14-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 small red chile
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 small whole-wheat pitas, for serving
  • Salad greens, sliced avocado, sliced tomato and mayonnaise or yogurt, for serving, optional

Preparation

  • Cook the quinoa with the veggie broth, fluff, and let cool.
  • As the quinoa is cooling, throw the bread into a food processor and turn it into bread crumbs. Add in the quinoa, egg, chickpeas, cumin, chile, cilantro, pepper, and salt. Turn on the processor in short bursts to turn the mixture into a finely chopped paste.
  • Using your hands, shape the paste into patties. Brush the patties with oil and cook in a non-stick skillet until the patties are golden. Serve with the pita and the assorted toppings.

Berry Healthy Porridge


(Recipe Courtesy of My Recipes)

This delicious berry-loaded quinoa porridge is the perfect start to your day. It's rich and filling, with just enough zing to bring a smile to your face.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 4 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds
  • 8 tablespoons almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons loosely packed lemon zest

Preparation

  • Mix the milk in a stock pot with the quinoa, sugar, cinnamon, water, salt, and almond extract. Keeping the fire on medium, bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down to low and cover. Let the porridge simmer for 15-20 minutes. Scoop into bowls, and sprinkle the blueberries, almonds, a bit of brown sugar, and lemon zest on top for flavor

Hearty and Healthy Meatloaf


(Recipe Courtesy of AllRecipes)

Instead of using fatty beef, you have lean turkey and quinoa to make this delicious, heart-smart meatloaf!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 (20 ounces) package ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of water

Preparation

  • Cook the quinoa until soft and set aside to cool.
  • In a skillet, brown the onions until they are translucent. Add in the garlic and cook until aromatic.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, kneading with your hands until properly combined. Form patties with your hands and cook in an oiled non-stick skillet until the center is no longer pink.

Quinoa Pudding


(Recipe Courtesy of MyRecipes)

Looking for a healthy dessert? This fiber-rich sweet treat is the perfect healthy alternative for those with a sweet tooth.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1-star anise• 4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded reduced-fat unsweetened dehydrated coconut
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preparation

  • Rinse the quinoa and drain thoroughly. Use your hands to rub the grains together to soften.
  • Place the drained grains in a saucepan, and add the water, salt, star anise, cinnamon, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Bring the mixture to a boil, turn down the heat, cover, and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes to soak up the liquid. Add in the sugar and milk, return to high heat until the mixture boils, then turn to low head. Let the mixture simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, then stir in the raisins and coconut. Keep the porridge simmering for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Once the porridge is cooked, scoop out the spices and pour a cup of the hot pudding mixture into a large bowl with the egg. Keep whisking the mixture as you transfer it back into the pan, and stir until everything is well-blended and hot.

Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies


(Recipe Courtesy of MyRecipes)

Looking for a healthy dessert? This fiber-rich sweet treat is the perfect healthy alternative for those with a sweet tooth.

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups Nutty Whole-Grain Granola
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate mini chips

Preparation

  • Mix the flours with salt and baking powders. In another bowl, mix the oil, butter, and sugars, and use an electric mixer to combine. Add in the egg and vanilla, and keep mixing until properly blended. Add in the dry ingredients. Once combined, mix in the granola and chocolate chips. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it chill for 45 minutes.
  • Turn the oven to 350, and let it heat. As the oven is heating, use your hands to form small balls. Place the balls on a greased baking sheet, put in the oven, and let cook for about 15 minutes.

Parsley Quinoa Salad


(Recipe Courtesy of MyRecipes)

Try this low-calorie salad as a side dish for a juicy steak!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pumpkinseed kernels, toasted

Preparation

  • Cook the quinoa, fluff with a fork, and let it cool. Spoon it into a bowl, and mix all the ingredients together. Top with seeds.

Quinoa Buffalo Burgers


(Recipe Courtesy of MyRecipes)

Who doesn't love the classic "hot wing" flavor? This vegetarian alternative is the best way to eat green!

Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped peeled carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups canned unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg•
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

Preparation

  • Saute the garlic, onions, and carrots in a stock pot for 3 minutes, add the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to medium and let it cook for 15-20 minutes. Once the quinoa is cooked, scoop it onto a plate to cool.
  • Mix the cooled quinoa with the panko, salt, chickpeas, egg, and pepper in your food processor, and pulse to mash the peas. Use your hands to form quinoa patties roughly half an inch thick.
  • Pour oil into a non-stick skillet, and cook the patties until lightly browned.
  • In a separate bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of oil with your favorite hot sauce, and use the mixture to coat the burgers with the Buffalo flavor.

Quinoa is one of the healthiest ingredient you can choose to use daily.

It can be added to meals, salads and desserts without affecting the taste too much. This means you should be able to get all the nutritional benefits it has while still enjoying your favorite food.

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