How to Cook Quinoa

Cooking quinoa should be pretty simple, right? Well, it is.

Quinoa is simple to prepare if you know how. It’s cooked like most other whole grains, in a pot of lightly salted water, with a 1:2 ratio of grain to water.

But it took me a surprisingly long time to figure out how to make quinoa at home. The first few times, I skipped the rinsing step, thinking I was saving time. Turns out, quinoa is really bitter if it isn’t rinsed. You can also end up with bits of gravel or rock in your pot if you don’t rinse thoroughly. It’s also important to use just the right amount of water, and avoid under- or over-cooking.

After I figured those things out, I could make a pot of quinoa pretty easily, without even thinking about it.

This post is a how-to for those of you who maybe haven’t made quinoa at home yet, and would like to avoid the mistakes I made. Here’s a primer on how to cook quinoa the right way.

There will also be a recipe later this week featuring quinoa, so now is a good time to learn to cook it!

Start with 1 cup of quinoa.

Measure the quinoa into a pot.

Rinse the quinoa in cold water. Rinse well, agitating with a spoon or utensil. Quinoa tends to be bitter if you don’t rinse it thoroughly. I like to rinse mine twice.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer.

Return the quinoa to the pot. Add 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry quinoa. Toss in a generous pinch of salt.

Cook the quinoa, covered, over medium heat for 20 minutes.

When done, it should look something like this. The grains will be swollen, and you’ll notice the small white band around each seed. Taste a spoonful, and you’ll find that the quinoa is firm but evenly cooked through, no longer crunchy in the center.

Remove from heat, fluff, and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving. You want to wait for the excess water to evaporate or be absorbed. If you find that there’s a huge amount of excess water, you can once again use a fine mesh strainer to remove it.


How to Cook Quinoa

  • Servings: 4
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  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • salt


  1. Measure out 1 cup of quinoa into a pot. Rinse with water, agitating the seeds well with a spoon or by hand. Strain with a fine mesh strainer. Repeat the rinse a second time.
  2. Return the quinoa to the pot. Add a generous pinch of salt, and stir in two cups of water.
  3. Cook the quinoa covered over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Taste the quinoa to ensure it has cooked until fully tender. The seeds should be firm, but not crunchy. (If the quinoa is not fully cooked, add a tablespoon or two of water to the pot, and return to heat for five minutes.)
  5. Fluff the quinoa, and let stand 5-10 minutes before serving. Allow the water to evaporate or be absorbed. If there is water standing at the bottom of the pot when the quinoa is done, strain with a fine-mesh strainer.

Cooked quinoa can be stored in the fridge for several days. This works for all kinds of quinoa. Some sources (especially bulk bins) sell quinoa that may have small rocks or impurities. To make sure your quinoa is clean and ready to eat, pick out any small rocks or gravel in the rinsing step.


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