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Quinoa is a staple grain in my kitchen. Here are my best tips for cooking quinoa perfectly every time, PLUS three different delicious ways to season cooked quinoa!

how to cook quinoa and 3 ways to add flavour

If there is one ingredient that has been a staple in my kitchen since I first started cooking, it’s quinoa. Why? I love how easy it is to make (somehow so much easier than rice?!), how versatile it is, how awesome it is for meal prep, and also how good it tastes.

As a registered dietitian (RD), I also love how nutrient dense quinoa is. It’s an awesome source of plant-based protein, dietary fibre, and lots of essential minerals. There’s more info on quinoa’s nutrition benefits below!

Today I’ll be sharing how to cook quinoa perfectly every single time, 3 different ways to season and add tons of flavour to cooked quinoa, as well as a bunch of different recipe ideas for you to use it in.

What Is Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH) is a “pseudo-cereal” that originates from South America. From a nutrition and culinary standpoint, we tend to view, prepare, and eat quinoa like a whole grain, but technically it is actually a type of seed!

You may be familiar with 3 different colours of quinoa, as the seed is available in red, white, and black versions. Quinoa spiked in popularity in 2013 because of it’s nutritional value, and it’s definitely one trendy food I can get behind.

uncooked quinoa in a measuring cup

Quinoa Nutrition Benefits

What makes quinoa unique in the “grain” world is the fact that it is a complete protein, meaning that it provides all 9 essential amino acids your body can’t make on its own. One cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein.

Unlike quinoa, the majority of grains are deficient in certain essential amino acids, meaning that they aren’t complete proteins. This makes quinoa an excellent food for anyone following a plant-based diet!

Quinoa is also rich in micronutrients, particularly some minerals and B-vitamins. One cup of cooked quinoa will provide:

  • 58% of your daily manganese needs
  • 30% of your daily magnesium needs
  • 28% of your daily phosphorus needs
  • 19% of your daily folate needs
  • 18% of your daily copper needs
  • 15% of your daily iron needs
  • 13% of your daily zinc
  • PLUS smaller amounts of some B vitamins

Quinoa is also naturally gluten-free, making it a great carbohydrate option for those on a gluten-free diet.

Speaking of carbohydrates, one cup of quinoa also provides 5 grams of dietary fibre. Fibre has many health benefits, including improved cholesterol levels, glycemic control, weight management, and gut health.

turmeric cumin and parsley quinoa

How To Cook Quinoa Perfectly Every Time

Now that you know all the nutrition benefits of quinoa, let’s talk about how to cook it! As I mentioned, I’ve been cooking quinoa for years and below is my foolproof way of preparing it so that it is light and fluffy (not mushy or overcooked).

  1. Start by rinsing and draining the dry quinoa in a sieve. This removes the layer of “saponins” from the seed. Saponins are naturally-occurring plant compounds that help to ward off insects. They give a bitter taste and make cause some GI issues, so definitely give your quinoa a good rinse! 
  2. Transfer the rinsed/drained quinoa to a medium-sized pot.
  3. Next add water. While most sources recommend adding 2 parts water to every 1 part quinoa, I actually find that doing a TINY bit less means my quinoa is never mushy. Typically, I’ll do 1 cup dry quinoa to 1.75 cups water! I tend to just eyeball this so that the measuring cup doesn’t quite hit 2 cups.
  4. Then, heat up the pot with the quinoa/water on high until it starts to boil.
  5. As soon as the water starts to boil, cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat down to a simmer.
  6. Let the quinoa cook, covered and on low, for about 15 minutes. Feel free to give a tiny peek to see if it’s absorbed most of the water.
  7. Once it looks done, turn the heat off completely and leave the lid on. Let the quinoa steam for about 5 minutes. This part is key!
  8. After that, remove the lid, fluff the quinoa with a fork, and it’s ready to be served!

How To Store Leftover Cooked Quinoa

Do note that you will get 3 times more cooked quinoa than you started with uncooked quinoa. So for every 1 cup of dry quinoa, you’ll end up with 3 cups cooked.

While that may be more than you plan to use at one time, quinoa stores beautifully in the fridge. Just keep it in an airtight container, and it will be good for 5 days. I always make more than I need – it’s one of my favourite ingredients to add to meals! Keep scrolling for 11 different ways to use it.

coconut giner and lime quinoa

How To Flavour & Season Quinoa

While plain cooked quinoa tastes great in so many dishes, sometimes it’s fun to add some flavour to it (especially if you’re having it as a side dish). One of my favourite way to season quinoa is by using different herbs, spices, and oils. Keep scrolling to see THREE different (yet simple) quinoa recipes, including:

  • Turmeric, Cumin + Parsley Quinoa
  • Lemon, Garlic + Basil Quinoa
  • Coconut, Ginger + Lime Quinoa
lemon garlic and basil quinoa

What To Do With Cooked Quinoa?

So you’ve got a pot of cooked quinoa, now what? As I mentioned, I find quinoa one of the most versatile ingredients out there! Below are some different ways to eat quinoa:

  • In a veggie stir fry or fried “rice”
  • Added to a salad to make it more filling
  • In a grain bowl or Buddha bowl
  • Added to a veggie frittata
  • In a wrap, taco, or burrito
  • As a breakfast porridge
  • In a tabbouleh salad
  • Added to soups for more texture + heartiness
  • In stuffed peppers
  • In quinoa/veggie burgers
  • …or, just as a simple side dish to some protein + veggies!

Now you know why quinoa is one of my fave ingredients to meal prep EVER! It’s so versatile!!

how to cook quinoa and 3 ways to add flavour

More Easy Quinoa Recipes

Did you give one of these Quinoa Recipes a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: How To Cook & Season Quinoa: 3 Recipes

Learn how to cook quinoa perfectly, and try 3 simple but delicious ways to add flavour!
how to cook quinoa and 3 ways to add flavour
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Ingredients

Turmeric Cumin + Parsley Quinoa:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed + drained
  • 1.75 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric, ground
  • 1/2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Lemon Garlic + Basil Quinoa:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed + drained
  • 1.75 cups water
  • 1/2 a lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil (optional)
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Coconut Ginger + Lime Quinoa:

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed + drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Zest from 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp shredded coconut (optional)
  • Salt + pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Start each recipe by rinsing dry quinoa in a sieve. Drain well and add to a medium-sized saucepan.
  • For the Turmeric Cumin Quinoa: bring water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover quinoa with a lid and lower heat to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and leave covered for 5 minutes to let the quinoa steam. Remove cover + add all ingredients, being sure to stir everything together well. The quinoa should become a nice yellow colour from the turmeric! Adjust seasonings to taste, as desired.
  • For the Lemon Basil Quinoa: bring water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover quinoa with a lid and lower heat to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and leave covered for 5 minutes to let the quinoa steam. Remove cover + add all ingredients, being sure to stir everything together well. Adjust seasonings to taste, as desired.
  • For the Coconut Ginger Lime Quinoa: add water and coconut milk to saucepan with quinoa. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, cover quinoa with a lid and lower heat to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for 15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Remove from heat, and leave covered for 5 minutes to let the quinoa steam. Remove cover + add all ingredients, being sure to stir everything together well. The coconut oil will melt when combined with the hot quinoa! Adjust seasonings to taste, as desired.

Notes

*Each recipe will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
*Enjoy cooked quinoa as a side dish to protein and veggies. Or, use quinoa in things like stir-fries, buddha bowls, salads, stuffed peppers, burritos, and more!
*Cooked quinoa will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
*Do note that the coconut quinoa will need to be heated up, and cannot be enjoyed cold like the others. The reason for this is because the fats in the coconut oil harden at room temperature!

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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