Here's how to cook quinoa perfectly every time, on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot. Plus, your storage and recipe questions answered.
Why this recipe works
Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse and highly versatile ingredient. It's quick and easy to cook, but a few clutch tips make all the difference in the result. We:
- Rinse any remaining saponins from the quinoa to remove all traces of bitterness
- Infuse it with flavor from broth (if you like), a bit of salt, and a little bit of butter or olive oil (which also prevents sticking)
- Tailor the liquid ratio to the cooking method
These days I almost always use the Instant Pot method, since it's wildly consistent and even more hands-off than the stovetop. Both methods produce beautiful results.
I first published this method and five related recipes on Food 52 in an article called 1 Pot of Quinoa, 5 Dinners way back in 2013. The Instant Pot instructions (now by far my favorite way to cook quinoa) have been added, and the content of this post has been updated, in the ensuing years.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- Quinoa acts like a grain in the culinary world, but it's actually a seed. It's both gluten-free and packed with protein. I've pictured the white variety here, but you can use any color or combination of colors interchangeably. Regardless of type, it's important to rinse it very well until the water runs clear.
- I like a little bit of butter, but you can use olive or coconut oil to keep it vegan and meet your other dietary preferences.
- Vegetable, chicken, or bone broth adds tons of great flavor, but it's 100% fine to use water. Check the recipe card carefully for measurements, which depend on your cooking method.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to cook quinoa perfectly every time, whether you use the Instant Pot or a regular pot on the stovetop. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Place the dry quinoa into a fine-mesh sieve and rinse extremely well under warm running water, agitating it with your hand, until the water runs perfectly clear. Although a lot of commercial quinoa these days has been rinsed to remove the bitter saponins, it still makes a big difference in the taste to rinse again before cooking.
- To the Instant Pot or a medium pot with a lid, add the butter or oil, quinoa, salt, and broth or water. In the IP, you'll use a 1:1.5 ratio of quinoa to liquid. On the stovetop, you'll use a 1:2 ratio.
- On the stove, bring liquid to a boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. Let sit for 10 minutes off the heat. In the IP, close the vent and cook on high pressure for one minute. (The pot will take several minutes to come up to pressure before the timer starts.) Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before performing a manual release.
- Fluff with a fork. Quinoa is ready to eat or use in recipes.
Expert tips and FAQs
Stored in an airtight container in a nice cold fridge, quinoa will keep for a week. Freeze it for longer-term storage.
You sure can. Place cooked quinoa into a zip-top bag or other airtight storage container and freeze for up to a year. Defrost overnight in the fridge, reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop and serve or add to recipes.
As with all frozen foods, the texture will soften a bit, but frozen grains hold up very well and shouldn't give you any trouble.
Favorite ways to use quinoa
- Fava bean burgers with quinoa, spinach, and feta
- Warm quinoa and lentil salad with cauliflower
- Green vegetable quinoa salad
- Bowls with squash, spinach, and cilantro-lime dressing
- Or buy the quinoa book I contributed to
- 1 cup (180 grams) dry white quinoa
- 1 tablespoon (14 grams) butter or olive oil
- 2 cups (475 ml) water or stock (for stovetop cooking) or 1 ½ cups (355 ml) (for Instant Pot)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Rinse the quinoa extremely well in a fine mesh sieve under warm running water, using your hand to agitate it as you go. Keep rinsing until the water runs perfectly clear.
- Place quinoa into a medium pot along with water or stock, butter, and salt.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until liquid is almost completely absorbed.
- Remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes more.
- Fluff with a fork and serve or use in a recipe.
Instant Pot instructions
- Place butter or oil into bottom of IP. Add quinoa, water or stock, and salt.
- Position the lid and set the vent to the sealing position.
- Cook on manual, high pressure, for one minute. The pot will take several minutes to come up to pressure before the countdown begins.
- Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before perorming a manual release.
- Fluff with a fork and serve or use in a recipe.
- Raw quinoa is coated in bitter-tasting saponins. Although it's often rinsed before packaging these days, it still pays to rinse it very well before cooking.
- Whether you're cooking on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot, you can double this recipe without making any further changes. I usually do. Use the same cooking time in the IP.
- Stored in an airtight container in a nice cold fridge, quinoa will keep for a week. Freeze it for longer-term storage.
- To freeze, place cooked quinoa into a zip-top bag or other airtight storage container and keep frozen for up to a year. Defrost overnight in the fridge, reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop and serve or add to recipes. As with all frozen foods, the texture will soften a bit, but frozen grains hold up very well and shouldn't give you any trouble.
I first published the stovetop method along with five recipes on Food 52 back in 2013. I've updated this post for clarity and added the Instant Pot method in the ensuing years.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 104Total Fat: 1.7gCarbohydrates: 18.2gFiber: 2gProtein: 4g