Light and Lean: How to Cook Quinoa Perfectly Every Time

light-lean-cook-quinoa-perfectly-time Credit: CC0/2074413/Pixabay

Quinoa is high in protein and has a full flavor, making it an ideal side for a variety of dishes. However, when it's not prepared correctly it can taste bitter. Luckily, by heeding a few easy tips for quinoa, it comes out perfectly every time. Serve it on its own as a side or mix it in with other ingredients for a complete meal.


1. Choose a variety of quinoa. Like rice, this grain comes in many different varieties and each of these has a slightly different flavor. The most common varieties in the U.S. are white, black and red. As is the case with many other white grains, white varieties tend to be milder, which makes them blend easily with other ingredients. Black and red varieties have stronger flavors, which can make them excellent choices for serving them alone as side dishes.

2. Measure out one cup of quinoa and add it to a sieve. Rinse it under cold tap water for several seconds. This is an important step that can make or break the final result. Quinoa naturally includes a coating called saponin, which protects the grain. However, saponin has a soapy, bitter taste, which can be unappealing once the dish is cooked. Rinsing the grain removes this coating and leaves the other delicious flavors intact.

3. To give the quinoa a fuller flavor, heat up one tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a saucepan and lightly toast the quinoa before cooking it. This step is optional but the flavor is rewarding.

4. Pour the liquid into the pot. Any liquid will do, as long as it's double the volume of the quinoa in the recipe. Water creates a neutral taste that blends well with other foods, whereas broth adds a fuller flavor. Spices and seasonings such as garlic, pepper and rosemary can also work well with quinoa.

5. Salt the water and bring it to a boil. Turn down the temperature, cover the pot and let the mixture cook.

6. After 15 minutes, remove the quinoa from the heat. Use a fork to fluff the grains before serving it or using the cooked quinoa in another recipe.


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter (optional)
  • 2 cups water, stock or broth
  • Salt to taste