Quinoa is a versatile, nutritious, and tasty whole grain food. In this post, learn how to prepare quinoa three different ways: on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in a rice cooker. You’ll have perfect fluffy quinoa ready to eat in 30 minutes or less!

cooked quinoa in a white bowl with fork

Have you been wondering “what is quinoa?” and how to prepare it? You’ve come to the right place! In this post, learn all about quinoa and how to make quinoa three different ways: on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in a rice cooker.

Quinoa, pronounced “keen-waa”, is a gluten-free whole grain food that is part of the amaranth family. Similar to other whole grains, quinoa is prepared with water or another liquid to hydrate the grains. You can use quinoa interchangeably with other whole grains like rice, farro, or barley.

As a Registered Dietitian, quinoa is one of my favorite foods to make at home because it is a highly nutritious food. Some of my favorite quinoa recipes include my red quinoa salad with feta cheese, cilantro lime quinoa salad, Mediterranean gluten free quinoa salad, beet quinoa salad, and vegetarian gyro bowls.

Quinoa nutrition & health benefits

If you are curious “is quinoa good for you?” I am here to assure you YES! Quinoa is a nutritious food to include in your diet. Whether you eat a plant-based diet or not, quinoa deserves a spot on your plate!

One thing I love about quinoa is that quinoa is higher in protein than other whole grains. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8.1 grams of protein! Even better, quinoa is a complete plant-based protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids that your body cannot make on it’s own.

In addition to protein, one cup of quinoa provides several other nutrients:

  • 5.2 grams of dietary fiber (19% of your daily needs)
  • 2.8 mg iron (16% of your daily needs)
  • 2.02 mg zinc (18% of your daily needs)
  • 77.7 mcg folate (19% of your daily needs)
  • 0.198 mg thiamin (16% of your daily needs)
  • 0.204 mg riboflavin (16% of your daily needs)
  • 0.228 mg Vitamin B6 (13% of your daily needs)

Is quinoa healthier than rice?

Comparatively, quinoa is more nutrient-dense than both white rice and brown rice. Quinoa has more protein, more fiber, more iron, and more zinc than brown rice and white rice. Quinoa, brown rice, and white rice have comparable amounts of B Vitamins.

If you enjoy the mild, nutty flavor and fluffy texture of quinoa, it is an excellent substitution for rice!

silver measuring cup with dry white quinoa

How to cook quinoa on the stovetop

To make quinoa on the stovetop, all you need is a saucepan with a lid! I use a 2 quart saucepan to cook 1 cup of dry quinoa. The quinoa to water ratio for cooking quinoa is 1 cup of dry quinoa to 2 cups of water, which can be doubled, halved, or multiplied as needed. 1 cup of dry quinoa makes about 4 cups of cooked quinoa.

  1. Add dry quinoa and water to a saucepan.
  2. Bring everything to a rolling boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes until the quinoa grains have absorbed all the water.
  4. Fluff with a fork and serve!

Does quinoa need to be rinsed?

Quinoa naturally produces a compound called saponin, which acts as a natural insecticide to protect the plant. It is perfectly safe to eat, but can have a bitter flavor. So, some recommend rinsing dry quinoa in a sieve before cooking it.

I personally never rinse quinoa before cooking it. Most quinoa sold in stores today has been cleaned enough to remove the saponin, and I have never prepared quinoa that tastes bitter!

How to cook quinoa in the microwave

Cooking quinoa in the microwave is convenient and even quicker than cooking it on the stovetop! To make quinoa in the microwave, you need a deep, microwave safe bowl (I use a 2.5 quart bowl), a dinner plate that covers the bowl, and a spoon for stirring.

You’ll use the same quinoa to water ratio (1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water) to microwave quinoa.

  1. Add dry quinoa and water to microwave safe bowl.
  2. Cover the bowl with an upside-down dinner plate (or a lid, if your bowl has a lid).
  3. Microwave on high for 6 minutes.
  4. With a towel or oven mitts on, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and remove the plate from the bowl
  5. Give the quinoa a good stir.
  6. Replace the plate on top of the bowl and microwave it again for another 5 minutes.
  7. With a towel or oven mitts on, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and the plate from the bowl.
  8. Stir the quinoa again to ensure all the water is absorbed. If the water is not fully absorbed, microwave for another 1 minute.
  9. Fluff quinoa with a fork to serve.

How to cook quinoa in a rice cooker

If you own a rice cooker, you can make quinoa in it! You’ll use the same quinoa to water ratio (1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water) to cook quinoa in a rice cooker.

  1. Add dry quinoa and water to your rice cooker bowl.
  2. Close your rice cooker.
  3. Choose the white rice setting on the rice cooker. The rice cooker will do all the work now!
  4. Fluff quinoa with a fork before serving.

It usually takes quinoa about 30 minutes to cook in a rice cooker.

How to store cooked quinoa

Let cooked quinoa cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

How long does cooked quinoa last? Stored in the fridge, cooked quinoa lasts 5-7 days. You can freeze cooked quinoa in airtight containers or baggies once it has cooled completely. Store cooked quinoa in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Healthy quinoa recipes

Looking for some quinoa recipe inspiration? I’ve linked some of my favorites, below:

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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cooked quinoa in a white bowl with fork

How to Cook Perfect Quinoa: Stovetop, Microwave, or Rice Cooker

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  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 16 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups cooked quinoa 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: stovetop, microwave, rice cooker
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Quinoa is a versatile, nutritious, and tasty whole grain food. In this post, learn how to prepare quinoa three different ways: on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in a rice cooker. You’ll have perfect fluffy quinoa ready to eat in 30 minutes or less!


Ingredients

Scale


Instructions

Stovetop

  1. Add dry quinoa and water to a 2 quart saucepan.
    Saucepan with quinoa and water on a electric burner
  2. Bring everything to a rolling boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer.
  4. Cover the pot and cook for 12-15 minutes, until quinoa grains have absorbed all the water.
  5. Fluff with a fork to serve.
    hand fluffing a pot of cooked quinoa with a fork

Microwave

  1. Add quinoa and water to a deep, microwave-safe bowl.
    Quinoa and water in a white bowl
  2. Cover the bowl with an upside-down dinner plate.
    Upside down dinner plate covering a bowl
  3. Microwave on high for 6 minutes.
  4. Using a towel or oven mitts, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave. Remove the plate.
  5. Stir the partially cooked quinoa well.
    Hand stirring up quinoa and water in a white bowl with a spoon
  6. Replace the plate and put the bowl back in the microwave.
  7. Microwave on high for another 5 minutes.
  8. Using a towel or oven mitts, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave. Remove the plate.
  9. If there is still water left in the bowl, return to the microwave for 1 minute.
  10. Fluff quinoa with a fork to serve.
    Hand fluffing quinoa with a fork in a large white bowl

Rice Cooker

  1. Add quinoa and water to your rice cooker.
  2. Close the rice cooker.
  3. Select the White Rice option.
  4. Your rice cooker will do all the work now!
  5. Fluff with a fork to serve when quinoa is done cooking.
    cooking quinoa in a rice cooker steps

     

Notes

How to store cooked quinoa

Let cooked quinoa cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

How long does cooked quinoa last? Stored in the fridge, cooked quinoa lasts 5-7 days. You can freeze cooked quinoa in airtight containers or baggies once it has cooled completely. Store cooked quinoa in the freezer for up to 3 months.