Cooking The Perfect Quinoa

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Recently I was given the task of cooking quinoa, but not just cooking it, perfecting it. Now personally I would consider myself an expert at cooking rice. The art of rice cooking is something I’ve spent endless days and nights mastering, so with quinoa being well known as a rice substitute, I felt like I had a slight advantage over the average quinoa chef. But even with the rice cooking experience that I’ve gathered throughout the years, there were still so many unanswered questions. How much water do I need to add? How can I tell if the quinoa is fully cooked? Does the quinoa need to be washed? What goes well with quinoa? If you were like me, a quinoa cooking beginner looking to create the perfect quinoa, then I now have the answer to those questions, and I’m more than happy to share my experience with you!

Things To Keep In Mind

So, let’s get to the basics or the questions that probably should be answered before we get started. Let’s answer the questions that you rice cookers may have that came up from your experience with cooking rice.

Do I need to wash the quinoa?

From what I’ve learned, there isn’t a mandatory rule that says you MUST wash quinoa every time you cook it, however, I definitely like to wash mine just to be safe. There is actually a bitter coat on the outside of each tiny quinoa seed, so for the best flavor, I’d suggest rising well! For this, you can just use a mesh strainer to rinse your quinoa for around 15-20 seconds, and then drain it out completely. Simple! Make sure you keep the strainer nearby, you might end up needing it again later down the line after you’re done cooking the quinoa.

How much water do I need to add?

I’ve heard of many methods to getting the water to quinoa ratios just right from the finger method to even starting extremely low and just adding in as you go. To me, these methods aren’t really consistent, but I’ve actually found the perfect amount that will always set you in the right direction. My general rule of thumb for making the perfect quinoa is just about the same as the ratio for rice, for every cup of quinoa add about 1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups of water. Obviously, if more needs to be added in later down the line feel free to throw in more, but from my experience, this usually works and won’t leave you with a mushy, gummy product. For me, two cups of water, and one cup of quinoa is a little too much.

Additional tip: Try using your favorite broth instead of water to add flavor!

How do I know when the quinoa is finished cooking?

So your quinoa has been cooking for a good amount of time, but you have an issue… You don’t know what cooked quinoa is supposed to look like! One great way to tell if the quinoa is done is if the quinoa looks like it has popped open, and you see what is called the “germ” separating from the seed, and kind of curling around it, then your quinoa is just about done!

Can I cook the quinoa in a rice cooker?

Of course, you can always use a rice cooker or an instant pot, but where would the fun in that be? For me it always just feels a lot more rewarding when I cook flawless quinoa in a pot.

Where can I find a good bag of quinoa?

I’m glad you asked! Head over to the Andean Star shop for the highest quality quinoa on the market!

Andean Star Quinoa

Cooking The Quinoa

Now that you’ve gotten the basics out of the way and you have a general idea of what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s time to start cooking!

First, start off by boiling your water in a pot. Note: It isn’t necessary to boil the water before you put in the quinoa. You can actually put them both in at the same time, but I personally like to have everything hot and ready to go beforehand. That way the cooking time should stay consistent, and if you added in two cups of water, which might be a bit too much, this may help even out the water levels a bit and give you a better texture.

Once the water has come to a boil, add your cup of rinsed quinoa and reduce the heat to low. It’s extremely important to let the quinoa steam, so put a lid over your pot and let it sit for 15 minutes. A huge difference between quinoa and rice is you can’t necessarily check it while it’s cooking due to how small it is, and if you keep coming back and checking on it then that’s going to let a lot of the steam out and slow down the process, so just set your timer and relax.

If you’ve followed along perfectly so far there shouldn’t be any water left, and you should see the quinoa sprouting just like how I mentioned earlier. Since quinoa does tend to absorb a good amount of water, I’d suggest transferring it over to the mesh strainer again just to be safe.

After you’re done draining whatever water that may be left over, transfer your quinoa back to the pot. This is another important part that gets left out a lot. Make sure you fluff the quinoa and let it rest in the heated pot for around 5-15 minutes. This is just another measure that will help you stay away from wet quinoa and maintain the perfect texture.

And that’s it, you’re done! Now you have delicious quinoa with endless possibilities! Again, I would definitely suggest adjusting the recipe to your preference and doing what you personally prefer to cook the best quinoa for your tastebuds. If you’d like to know where to go from here, or what other recipes you can make with your cooked quinoa we have you covered! Check out the rest of the recipes on our site, and you may find something you love.

Here are a few links including our quinoa bowl, and quinoa salad to get you started.




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