This photo tutorial will show you how to make fluffy quinoa that’s perfect every time. Enjoy it as a healthy side dish or add it to soups, salads, and even desserts. Making delicious, fluffy quinoa is easier than you think!
Quinoa is one of our all-time favorite grains here at home and we eat it at least two times a week for lunch or dinner. Sometimes we’ll go with Classic Rice or low-carb Cauliflower Rice, but quinoa is always my family favorite. This quick and easy Quinoa Salad is one of my tried and true recipes because I can make it in bulk and enjoy it as a hearty meal or healthy side dish. For more quinoa recipes and inspiration, be sure to check out these 9 Healthy Fresh Quinoa Salads.
There are several methods for cooking quinoa, but I like this one the best. It only takes about 20 minutes and comes out light, fluffy, and delicious every time.
If this is your first time cooking quinoa, remember to be patient – it takes a little bit of practice to get it just right. To help you along the way, I put together this tutorial with step-by-step instructions, expert tips, and my favorite recipe pairings.
How To Make Fluffy Quinoa
- Quinoa — There are different types of quinoa to choose from, including red quinoa, black quinoa, white, or tri-colored. I typically prefer white quinoa for its mild, slightly nutty flavor.
- Water or broth — I’ll often use water for simplicity’s sake. Feel free to go with beef, chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth for added flavor.
- Garlic — To make things easy, I leave the garlic cloves whole and remove them once the quinoa is finished cooking.
- Salt and pepper — I like to season quinoa with a little salt and pepper to taste.
Instructions to How to Make Fluffy Quinoa
Rinse the quinoa:
- Place 1 cup of dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cool water.
Boil and simmer:
- Add 2 cups of liquid (water or broth) to a pan and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the quinoa, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper.
- Reduce the heat to medium/low. Then, cover and simmer until the quinoa is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. The quinoa is done when it has popped open.
Rest and fluff:
- After it’s done cooking, allow the quinoa to rest for 5 minutes.
- At this point, remove the lid and discard the garlic cloves.
- Fluff the quinoa and separate the grains with a fork before serving.
- Remember to always rinse the quinoa beforehand. It has a naturally occurring coating called saponin that can be bitter tasting.
- For more flavorful quinoa, I recommend cooking it in broth or adding bouillon to the water.
- Allow the quinoa to rest once it’s done cooking. This will help make it nice and fluffy.
- For the best texture, be sure to use the right ratio of liquid to quinoa. My rule of thumb (water ratio) is 1 cup of dry quinoa to 1 3/4 cups of liquid, water or broth for each cup of quinoa. Adding additional water can result in mushy quinoa.
How To Store Fluffy Quinoa Leftovers
- To Store: Allow the cooked quinoa to cool and store it in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. I love having grains ready to go for quick lunches throughout the week.
- To Freeze: Fluffy quinoa is a very freezer-friendly grain and will last for up to 6 months in the freezer. I recommend storing it in a freezer-safe bag to save space, but a freezer-safe container will also work just fine.
- To Reheat: I typically reheat quinoa in the microwave with a splash of water if needed.
What To Serve with Fluffy Quinoa
- Grilled or roasted meat: Gluten-free quinoa is my favorite grain to serve alongside grilled chicken, steak, or fish, or with roasted meat like pork or lamb. A couple of my go-to’s are this fresh chicken quinoa salad or flavorful shrimp quinoa bowl.
- Soups and stews: I’ll often add a serving of fluffy quinoa to soups and stews to make them heartier and more flavorful. I absolutely love quinoa with my Instant Pot Southwest chicken soup.
- Fresh vegetables: When I need a quick and healthy meal, I’ll gather up a few veggies that I have on hand and make a delicious quinoa stir-fry or salad. This fresh carrot quinoa salad is a staple in my house!
- Hearty greens: The nutty, slightly sweet flavor of quinoa pairs so well with warm, hearty greens. During the winter months, I can’t get enough of this warm quinoa Brussels sprouts salad and warm collard quinoa salad.
- Mediterranean: If I had to choose an all-time favorite quinoa recipe, it might be this Mediterranean quinoa salad. It’s healthy, easy, and full of bright, bold flavors.
- Cilantro lime: For a fresh, zesty twist, I’ll add the juice of one lime and a handful of fresh chopped cilantro. If you like spice you could also add a diced jalapeno.
- Garlic and herb: If you love garlic as much as I do, feel free to add an extra clove or two. You can also customize the flavor with fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, or thyme.
- Fresh fruit: Quinoa is more than just a savory grain! It’s also a great way to add protein and fiber to fresh fruit. I like to make this cranberry apple quinoa salad in the fall and winter months, and this fresh mango quinoa salad in the spring and summer.
- Medium pot: I recommend using a good, medium-sized pot with a lid.
- Fine mesh strainer: Always rinse your quinoa before you cook it. I’ve found that the best tool for this is a fine mesh strainer.
- Measuring cup: At this point, I’ve made so much quinoa that I could probably eyeball the measurements, but I still always use a measuring cup to make sure I have the right ratio of liquid to grains.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although it’s classified as a whole grain, quinoa is actually a seed indigenous to South America. Quinoa is a complete protein because it provides all 9 essential amino acids, and it is packed with beneficial nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and iron. One cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Yes, you need to rinse quinoa before cooking it because it has a naturally occurring coating called saponin on it. Saponin can be bitter-tasting, and some people may be very sensitive to it. I recommend rinsing the quinoa for about 3 minutes or so under cold running water before you cook it.
You certainly can! I love having quinoa on hand for a quick and easy side dish or to bulk up salads, soups, and bowls. I’ll often make a double batch and freeze or store the other half. Once the quinoa cools, I’ll transfer it to an airtight or freezer-safe container and store it for up to 4 days in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Quinoa is packed with essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. As a complete protein source, it provides all nine essential amino acids.
Being gluten-free and versatile, quinoa is suitable for a range of dietary preferences and can be used in diverse recipes.
- Prepare your quinoa by placing 1 cup of it in a fine mesh strainer and rinsing thoroughly under cool water.
- In a pan, add water and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the quinoa, garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium/low. Cover and simmer until tender and all the liquid is absorbed (about 15 or 20 minutes). The quinoa will be done when it has popped open.
- After cooking, just let the quinoa rest for a total of five minutes.
- After that time, you can remove the cover. Discard the garlic clove, fluff and separate the grains with a fork.
- Always rinse the quinoa beforehand, as some quinoa can be bitter.
- For more flavorful quinoa, cook it in broth.
- Allow the quinoa to rest as it helps with making the quinoa fluffy.
- Use a 2:1 ratio, so two cups of water or broth for each cup of quinoa.
- To store: Store cooked quinoa in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- To reheat: You can reheat quinoa in the microwave with a splash of water if needed.
- To freeze: Frozen cooked quinoa will last for up to 6 months in the freezer in a freezer-safe bag or container.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.
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