Quinoa 101: How to Cook Fluffy and Nutty Quinoa

Update: This blog post is so popular we decided to make fluffy, nutty quinoa even simpler to achieve! Introducing our new Toasted Quinoa - pre-toasted for the tastiest quinoa in just minutes. 

We heart quinoa, everyone knows that. So it's not surprising that every day, people ask us for tips on cooking quinoa. Our way is just one way of many suggestions out there, but we distinguish ourselves by adhering to three unconventional principles for the fluffiest, nuttiest tasting quinoa ever. 

 
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1. Pre-toast

Pre-toasting quinoa before you cook it is the single most import way to enhance the flavor of the seed. Just imagine the sort of magic that occurs when you toast sesame seeds to unlock their flavor; with quinoa its the same. We pour the quinoa seeds right out of the box (no pre-rinsing at this point... More to that later) into the sauce pan and roast over medium heat. No oil. No salt. No water. Just heat + seed, and some frequent stirring to make sure nothing burns. Roast for 5-8 minutes until the seeds start to pop and the aroma of roasted sesame starts to fill your kitchen.

Tip: No time to toast? No worries! We've done it for you. Check out our new Toasted Quinoa

2. Rinse

Before you move to boiling the quinoa, you are best off pre-rinsing. The rinse vs. No-rinse debate wages on in the quinoa community. Most commercially available bulk quinoa is now pre-rinsed, so gone are the days when you had to rinse a half a dozen times to remove the naturally occurring bitter saponin on the seed. Some folk recommend to rinse and then toast; we're going to be controversial here and suggest the reverse: roast then rinse. Why? Because: first, chances are your quinoa is pre-washed anyway; second, your quinoa won't roast as well if it is soggy and not fully dried; and third, roasting helps remove any residual saponin on the seed anyhow. We put our roasted quinoa in a fine sieve and rinse 2-3 times. Then you're ready to boil.

3. Boil and then walk away

The less work you do, the better the quinoa will taste. Combine 1-cup water to each 1/2 cup of quinoa in your saucepan. 

Option 1 (Classic Method). Bring water to a boil and then turn down heat. Simmer quinoa in water on low for a solid 15 minutes. Then set aside, covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. 

Option 2 (Lazy Method). Bring water to a full and rigorous boil; let boil for 5 full minutes, and then set aside, covered for 15 minutes. That's right, turn off the heat at the 5 minute mark, and walk away. When you return, the quinoa will have evenly absorbed the water. Fluff with a fork. 

Salt to taste (it's important not to salt before the quinoa is done cooking, otherwise the seeds won't open fully). Garnish with some butter or olive oil or vegetables (mushrooms, peppers and onions are a good start) or whatever you choose to do. 

Less is more, here. And cooking quinoa shouldn't be that hard. The simple take-away: pre-toast, then rinse, then cook. And you should have amazingly nutty and fluffy quinoa. 

Want to learn more? Check out our video about cooking quinoa! 

Curious how this method stands up to the rest? We tested three common ways of cooking quinoa, including the stove top, rice cooker and pre-toasted vs not toasted. Read the results here