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Quinoa is nutritious and tasty, but such a hassle to handle sometimes! Don’t fret over how to cook quinoa, though, ‘cause we’ve got a slew of great quinoa hacks that’ll save you time and effort. Our tips and tricks for quinoa will make it super easy to pump out potfuls of this healthy and delicious meal-time option.
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Tip 1: Try a little before you buy a lot
Did you know that there are actually over 100 different types of quinoa (source: Huffington Post)? Usually, though, you’ll only come across a few of the variations. The ones you’re most likely see are:
Each of them have a slightly different flavor and mouthfeel, so it’s worth trying them all to see if you have a favorite.
Before you buy an entire bag, though, go somewhere like Whole Foods or Trader Joes to purchase just one or two servings from the bulk bins. This way, you can find the one you like most without having to eat through a whole lotta portions of the runner-ups.
Wondering how much quinoa does one cup make? You can essentially get two servings if you are making it a main starch (like in a stir-fry bowl). You can maybe stretch it to three or four servings if the quinoa is one of several side dishes you are serving.
Tip 2: Steer clear of the stovetop!
What is the best way to cook quinoa? For us, definitely not the stovetop because that means you have to keep an eye on it and remember to stir the pot.
Plus, the results can be so inconsistent. By the 15-minute mark, sometimes it’s too watery and other times it’s already burnt on the bottom.
Fortunately, there is a waaaaaay easier method to cook quinoa: use a trusty rice cooker! Pick the same setting that you would for white rice, then sit back and let it do its thang. Go ahead: enjoy your Netflix binge uninterrupted, no judgment here.
Tip 3: Buy pre-washed quinoa
If you’ve ever tried to wash quinoa, you know that it is a totally pain in the you-know-what because the tiny quinoa grains get EVERYWHERE and stick to everything! If you try to scoop the last bits out of the strainer, they come out…and stay stuck on your hand! Gah!
Now, we only buy quinoa that is pre-washed. For the record, it certainly doesn’t hurt to wash it yet again if you want, and some people even report that they like the taste or texture after another washing.
However, there is nothing wrong with just cooking the pre-washed quinoa as is and honestly, we don’t think it is worth the hassle.
Tip 4: Use the right ratio
Don’t worry, the math isn’t hard on this one. A simple ratio to use is 2 cups of water for every cup of uncooked quinoa. This will yield quinoa that’s just slightly moist, which ends up settling at a good texture once you mix the pot and let the steam aerate out a little.
If you prefer drier or fluffier quinoa, another popular ratio is 1.75 cups of water for each uncooked cup of quinoa. Just experiment with both ratios and see which one you prefer.
Tip 5: Cooking spray keeps the bubbling at bay
Whether you cook quinoa on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, the excess starch causes the water to bubble and spit. A really simple hack that keeps your pot from boiling over or your rice cooker lid from spewing out quinoa residue is to add a spritz of cooking spray to the water. Voila! No more out-of-control bubbles!
Bonus: Your pot or rice cooker will be way easier to clean too!
Tip 6: How to meal prep quinoa
Quinoa is awesome for those of you who like to meal prep. You can cook large batches of quinoa at once, let them cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers for about a week.
Tip 7: Toast your quinoa for extra nutty flavor
If you’re a super foodie who ponders “How do you make quinoa taste good,” this is the hack for you. The answer to that question, luckily, isn’t difficult at all. Just as roasting nuts adds a complexity to their flavor profile, you can do the same for quinoa. You can either toast your quinoa to enhance its flavor before cooking it the normal way, or you can just toast it all the way through and eat it as such. Here’s how to toast it right:
Step 1. Moisten your quinoa. If it was pre-washed, rinse then drain the water so that it is as moist as if you had washed the quinoa. If you did wash the quinoa already, then it should be the right level of moistness after you’ve drained the water.
Step 2. Heat a non-stick skillet pan on medium-low. To avoid overcrowding the quinoa, you’ll want to use a 12” pan or larger for 1 cup of uncooked quinoa.
Step 3. Use a wire whisk to gently stir the quinoa until the water is absorbed and the quinoa starts popping.
Step 4. At this point, you can choose to stop here and cook the quinoa like you normally would, or continue toasting until the quinoa browns and you smell the nutty aroma. This is a matter of personal preference.
Amp up the natural flavor of quinoa by toasting it first to bring out a nutty aroma. Then, we show the best way to cook quinoa hassle-free!
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- cooking spray
Moisten your quinoa. If it was pre-washed, rinse then drain the water so that it is as moist as if you had washed the quinoa. If you did wash the quinoa already, then it should be the right level of moistness after you've drained the water.
Heat a non-stick skillet pan on medium-low. To avoid overcrowding the quinoa, you’ll want to use a 12” pan or larger for 1 cup of uncooked quinoa.
Use a wire whisk to gently stir the quinoa until the water is absorbed and the quinoa starts popping, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the quinoa to your rice cooker and add the two cups of water.
Add a spritz of cooking spray to the water, then set the rice cooker the same way you would for cooking white rice and let it start.
When the quinoa is done, stir the quinoa and let the steam aerate a little to cool it before serving.
Use our quinoa hacks to show those grains who’s boss. Take the hassle out of mealtime when you learn how to cook quinoa properly using our tips and tricks. Learn how to cook it smart, meal prep it right, and amp up the flavor so that quinoa can get a regular spot on your dinner table.