how to cook quinoa

Quinoa. We can’t live without it in this house.

Before he met me, Danny had never eaten quinoa. Now, he can’t imagine that. We eat it at least 3 or 4 times a week, especially at breakfast. In fact, I’m pretty sure my favorite breakfast in the world is a small pile of fluffy quinoa, a mound of wilted kale, and a couple of poached eggs. I never grow tired of it. Danny and Lucy love that breakfast too.

However, a number of readers have asked us how to learn to love quinoa. “I know I should like it but I just don’t.” Danny believes this: learn to cook it well, perfectly seasoned, and you’ll be eating it all the time.

Here’s how. It’s easier than you think.

p.s. There are a number of sources that insist we have to rinse our quinoa before cooking it. We’ve never found that necessary. Quinoa in its original form has a bitter outer layer called saponin. Rinsing off the saponin made quinoa palatable. However, since quinoa has risen in popularity in this country, more and more companies are selling quinoa with the saponin already polished off. (We’re big fans of this quinoa , for example.) Try it with the quinoa you are buying. If you taste any bitterness, rinse it before following the technique Danny demonstrates in this video.)

54 comments on “how to cook quinoa

  1. Cari

    I am in that other camp, just can’t get myself to like it. I try over and over but it just doesn’t do anything for me. It really is as easy and is a great substitute for couscous so I wish I could learn to like it more. That being said, love the video!

    1. Marla

      You may try ‘toasting’ it in pan first until golden brown, then using coconut milk and stewed tomatoes as the liquid. This is how I got hooked 🙂

  2. Vickie

    I love quinoa for breakfast. My favourite is to re-heat cooked quinoa with a little oat/quinoa/rice milk (1 cup cooked quiona + 1/4 cup milk) in a small pot, then add spices (cinnamon, ginger), fresh or stewed fruit, LSA…whatever I’ve got really. I goes a bit creamy & is a lovely light breakfast.

    love the video 🙂

  3. JeanELane

    Folks shouldn’t feel guilty about not liking quinoa. Not everyone likes everything!

  4. Cassie

    I will eat quinoa for any meal. I love it with eggs, veggies, fruit, honey, etc. Thanks for your recommendation on brand too!

  5. Aimee

    I’m glad you added the note about not rinsing. I bought my first bag of quinoa and the directions said to rinse it which just caused a mess and frustration. I’ll try it without rinsing next time. Thanks!

  6. Val

    i love quinoa but i’m on the other end of the spectrum. i soak it, like you would beans. if i know i’m having it for breakfast i’ll start soaking it the night before– by morning it has sprouted (this only takes a couple of hours actually). then i rinse and cook. no bitterness and a fluffiness that i don’t get when i don’t soak…

  7. Gracia

    We eat it for supper a lot. I throw in a gf chicken bouillon cube, curry, thyme, and a touch of Nigerian pepper, top it off with easy over (seasoned) eggs, sometimes daiya pepperjack cheese, and occasionally ketchup. It’s quick, easy, and nutritious. All of which are greatly appreciated after a long commute!

    My favorite quinoa experience was when my (allergy free) 16 year old son called and asked me if I would pick up some quinoa on the way home as he had discovered we were out!

  8. Jennifer

    I love quinoa, and I make mine in my rice cooker, because I would burn it otherwise!

  9. AmandaonMaui

    I buy my Quinoa in bulk at Costco. It’s Bob’s Red Mill brand and it is pre-washed as well. I’m serving quinoa with chunky vegetable pasta sauce tomorrow night. No need for expensive processed gluten free pasta!

  10. Nicole

    I also make quinoa in the rice cooker but I usually use gluten free chicken stock instead of the water. I like how it tastes better. I will have to rethink that to see if I would like it in a breakfast context. Thanks for the video.

  11. Katie

    Oh man. Quinoa is my favourite!

    Can I tell you a secret, though? I -intentionally- buy the brands that require soaking or rinsing. As it turns out, the saponin makes a REALLY effective natural shampoo!

    I usually have quinoa for lunch. I’ll start soaking it the night before, because as one reader mentioned, it gets SO fluffy that way! I’ll drain the saponin mixture into an old shampoo bottle before I shower, and then put the quinoa in the fridge until I’m ready to cook it. In the shower, I rinse my hair with the saponin mix (it lathers really nicely, which is sort of freaky the first time around), then condition. My hair has perfectly happy curls every time! I could keep going about how awesome this is, but this isn’t a beauty blog… so instead, I’ll say THANK YOU for mentioning the quinoa/kale/eggs combo. It’s a fav in our house, too!

  12. Elizabeth

    Love quinoa. Our favorite way to have it is mixed with chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and parsley. Simple and delicious.

  13. Nakajo

    When you make quinoa in the rice cooker what ratio of water to quinoa do you use? Is it the same 2:1 water to quinoa as on the stove or…?

  14. Sarah

    You motivated me to try it again! But I missed Shauna’s laugh and the silliness that was embedded in previous videos!!!!!!

    1. shauna

      Thanks! I’m sure you’ll hear it again. Silliness? That’s always going to be there.

  15. Sue

    Another huge fan of quinoa here. I use quinoa as a substitute for bulger in tabouli. Although I am not allergic to gluten, my life is much better without it.

    That kale/quinoa/egg combo sounds scrummy. But personally, my favorite grain for breakfast is brown rice farina (Bob’s Red Mill). I top it with a sunny-side-up egg and some nori goma furikake generously (Japanese seawead/sesame seasoning) sprinkled over all. It’s my favorite way to start a winter morning.

  16. Ana

    You’re getting better at these videos. This one by far looks more professional than the others. Keep growing, Shauna! :o)

  17. Sarah G

    Haven’t thought to try the quinoa with eggs! Great idea! We are in love with it in my house, and our favorite is to cook it with gf bouillon and kale or collards. My celiac husband will happily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Amazingly, the one thing i haven’t read in all the comments so far… the most delicious perfect addition to the quinoa & greens (or just quinoa) is AVOCADO!!! The textures and flavors are clearly soul mates.

  18. CC

    Quinoa happily appears in my kitchen on a regular basis. . .however, I more interested in the fabulous little pot you were using. Acorn topped — please tell me that I will be able to find one as well?

  19. Sharon McGrath

    Read this post yesterday and couldn’t get the idea of Quinoa, kale and poached eggs for breakfast!!! Thank goodness the farmers market opened up today in Copley Square here in Boston, I bought some kale and went home and made this for breakfast! I think it is now my favorite breakfast as well!! Thank you!!!!!!!

  20. Jacquelyn

    Oh heavens! We bought quinoa in bulk and have grown to dread that bitter taste and weird smell. After watching Danny I put on some water to boil, did it his way and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Knowledge is power. Quinoa is eatable (and enjoyable) after all! Thanks! Keep those videos coming, I’m learning so much!

  21. Maggie

    I don’t really like quinoa cooked in water, but cook it in vegetable or chicken broth, YUM! HUGE difference, trust me.

  22. Rebecca

    Mmmm quinoa. But who knew you didn’t need to rinse it anymore?! Thanks for that tip! One of my favorite things to make for my toddler son is coconut quinoa millet pudding with currants. I use a can of Chaokoh coconut milk, about 1/2 cup of almond milk, 1/2 cup of grains (equal parts millet and quinoa), a sloosh of agave nectar, and a happy sprinkle of currants then let it cook for a while. Sorry. I don’t really remember what “a while” is, but because I’m using 4:1 liquid to grain, it takes longer than the usual 15-20 minutes quinoa and millet usually take to cook. Watch out though, it easily simmers over and I’m always making messes but this is a really soothing yummy breakfast on a bone-chilling drizzly Seattle day and it freezes really well too if you portion it out in little cups. I know Lucy is old enough now that she probably eats more than those little toddler cups, but for future reference….

  23. loverstreet

    i too love quinoa and have spread the quinoa love around since i went GF.
    we have two rules in our house:
    1) no sticks in the house (for the dog)
    2) no quinoa at the computer.
    rule 2 is the result of a nasty spill of the sticky little jems on our brand new keyboard and it took weeks (yes weeks) to de-quinoa our computer. we have had to enforce this rule with a few guests even. it is quite fun to yell out, “hey, no quinoa at the computer!!!” 🙂

  24. Dee

    quinoa is one of my all time favorite grains! it is so perfect as a base for salad, or just a nice bowl of nuttiness in the morning mixed with fruit and nuts!

  25. JeanC

    LOVE quinoa and am looking to add it to my repertoire on a regular basis. I simply use the same technique I use for rice and I haven’t had a bad batch yet. I do rinse, just put it in a fine mesh strainer and run cold water thru it.

  26. ellen johnson

    In our house, with a minute to go, we open the lid and add 1/4 cup of each of these…raisins, goji berries and sunflower seeds. Lid back on for last minute. Open lid and toss together and viola…pretty and a bit sweet and yummy. And, quinoa, sauteed kale, scrambled eggs and raw kraut is everyday breakfast around here too!

  27. Alicia

    Anyone who doesn’t like quinoa might want to try the red variety. There isn’t much difference, but I prefer the red 🙂

  28. InTolerantChef

    I just love it too, so very versatile indeed! I make a compote with juice and dried fruit for summer breakfasts, my version of tabbouleh, as a rice or cous cous substitute… there are just so many delicous uses!

  29. Deanna

    Just tried this method tonight so I could use quinoa in a new recipe. After my last experience cooking it, I was worried. I should have known better! It was fluffy, tasty, and perfect for what I needed. Thanks for sharing…I’m now a true quinoa convert.

  30. Kathy

    As usual, I loved your video. And, that copper sauce pan and lid is beautiful! Must have lids so artfully done for my copper pans!

  31. Grubarazzi (@Grubarazzi)

    I love quinoa and usually prepare it for dinner; however, I am not inspired to see what I can do with it and a poached egg! Have a great time in Tuscany. Wish I could come and take one of your classes 🙂

  32. alison

    Danny, how much salt are you using there? I used your tips the other night and it was good, but I think I overshot on how much salt I added to the pot.

Comments are closed