How to Cook Quinoa

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Measuring cup of red quinoa

Quinoa is such a versatile grain (that’s technically a seed!) that packs a nutritional punch with its high fiber and protein content.

It’s a great alternative to rice if you’re looking to switch things up. Plus, cooking it is extremely easy, especially with these few helpful tips I’ll share.

You can choose to soak your quinoa ahead of time to speed cooking time and increase digestibility (see notes!). Or, buy sprouted quinoa at the store to save time (my preferred).

Let me show you how to make perfect quinoa every time.

Bowl of freshly cooked quinoa prepared using our favorite method for fluffy quinoa

How to Cook Quinoa

How to cook perfect quinoa tutorial with soaking tips, a step-by-step guide, and an instructional video to help you get fluffy, tender quinoa every time.
Author Minimalist Baker
Measuring cup of red quinoa for our How to Cook Quinoa Tutorial
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 (1/4-cup servings)
Course Side
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Vegan
Freezer Friendly 1 month
Does it keep? 5-6 Days




  • If using sprouted quinoa, add quinoa to a small saucepan and toast over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to burn. If using quinoa that’s not sprouted and you’d like soaking instructions, see notes*. Otherwise, proceed to step 2.
  • Then add salt, curry powder (optional), and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed. Be sure the quinoa isn’t boiling, but cooking at a gentle simmer.
  • Set aside off heat, uncovered, to cool – at least 10 minutes. Then it’s perfect for use in things like salads, bowls, falafel, spring rolls, veggie burgers, stir-fries, and more!
  • Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator up to 5-6 days, or in the freezer up to 1 month.



*Soaking grains helps to remove some of the naturally occurring phytic acid in the grain, which helps improve digestibility and speed cook time. To soak: Rinse quinoa thoroughly then add to a large mixing bowl or pot and cover with twice the amount of lukewarm water (2 cups water, 1 cup quinoa). Soak uncovered at room temperature for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Then drain and rinse once more. For cooking soaked quinoa, you’ll add 1.5 times as much water as quinoa to a saucepan, which in this case would be 1.5 cups. Bring water to a boil, then add quinoa and bring back to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook until water is completely absorbed and quinoa is tender – about 12-18 minutes. Drain off any excess water if there is any. I like to turn off the heat and remove the lid for 10 minutes so the quinoa gets fluffier. Then return the lid to keep warm until serving.
*Prep time reflects soaking for 2 hours. If using sprouted quinoa or not soaking your quinoa, prep time is 0 minutes.
*Recipe as written yields about 2 cups cooked quinoa.

Nutrition (1 of 8 servings)

Serving: 1 quarter-cup serving Calories: 78 Carbohydrates: 13 g Protein: 3 g Fat: 1 g Saturated Fat: 0.15 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7 g Monounsaturated Fat: 0.34 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 10 mg Potassium: 119 mg Fiber: 1.5 g Sugar: 1.3 g Vitamin A: 2.98 IU Vitamin C: 0 mg Calcium: 12 mg Iron: 0.97 mg

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  1. Vijayalakshmi T says

    Can we soak combinations like quinoa and oats or quinoa and brown rice or quinoa and millets together and cook them together?

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hm, perhaps it would work with grains with similar cooking times, like millet + brown rice. But quinoa and oats cook faster, so we wouldn’t recommend those.

  2. Faith Bloome-Krupnik says

    I really thought I’d hate it (from TWO past tastings) but this recipe is absolutely delicious! Sometimes, I Sautee chopped onions, carrots, garlic & Scallions and it’s WOW!

  3. Rosette Moss says

    Hi! Your website and recipes are my “go-to!” I soaked and sprouted my quinoa (didn’t purchase pre-sprouted). One cup dry expanded to 1.5 cups of soaked/sprouted. It was unclear to me from your recipe and notes what proportion of quinoa to water to cook AFTER soaking/sprouting. I tried using 1 cup pre-soaked quinoa to 1.5 cups water, but after 20 minutes of cooking there was a lot of water so I had to drain it off. Quinoa was also a bit mushy. Can you please clarify? Thanks!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Rosette, sorry for any confusion and that it ended up mushy! For best results, we’d recommend measuring while the quinoa is still dry. We’ll revisit the ratio for soaked quinoa and see if it needs adjusting.

  4. Brandi says

    Hi! Do you ever do an overnight breakfast quinoa in mason jars? How does this work if I pre-soak my quinoa? Would you do a 2 hour soak and rinse, then go ahead with the overnight recipe in the jars? Thanks for your help!

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Do you mean overnight oats without cooking? I wouldn’t recommend NOT cooking quinoa. It benefits from soaking and requires cooking.

      • Lucy says

        I think maybe there are quinoa flakes which are a bit like rolled oats and may be eaten in the same way, without further cooking (though I think even so they are better cooked into porridge than used raw). Maybe this is what Brandi means?

        • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

          Ah, perhaps! We haven’t tried quinoa flakes in that way, but fear the texture would be unpleasant if not cooked.

          • Lucy says

            Having looked a bit on-line, it seems rolled quinoa flakes are best used for baking, I can’t imagine it being very nice done like overnight oats, in a mason jar or anything else!

            Anyway, I just cooked some quinoa grain just as you direct here, and mixed it with the remainder of a tin of brown lentils, and had it in a Buddha bowl with all kinds of salad and other leftovers – tofu, avocado, roast aubergine (eggplant)… it was so good! I live in France and this quinoa was grown in the Anjou region, where they also now grow sweet potatoes! It’s good to be able to get this such things ‘home grown’, so we’re not depriving the people in countries they’re imported from, and surely making for better food security. I’ve not come across French grown avocados yet though…

  5. Cathryn Potvin says

    I use this soaked quinoa for mock “Mary’s Gone Crackers” recipe – so healthy and shockingly yummy! I realize how important it is to soak anything with phytates; otherwise they pull minerals from the body.

  6. Rachel says

    I agree with you particularly on how to prepare quinoa. I have been experimenting with different ways of cooking this delicious dish lately. Just in addition to what you have already stated, quinoa can also be cooked in a rice cooker for those who have one.
    Thanks for a great and informative article!