How to Make Fluffy Quinoa (and Quinoa Tabbouleh)

Jackie Dodd is a California-based food blogger whose passion for local ingredients began during her years growing up on farm in Eastern Washington surrounded by apple orchards and peach trees. She is now happy to focus on California produce, and has a passion for baking. Her website is Domestic Fits, and you can also catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Quinoa (pronounced Keen-Wa) is a spectacularly impressive grain. For such a tiny little guy, he’s packed with nutrients, and it’s even been said that you can survive on nothing but quinoa, although I wouldn’t recommend trying it. Quinoa is not only a complete protein, it is also packed with iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, folate, lysine, and other essential amino acids. Along with a dose of fiber and zero saturated fat, quinoa is an incredible addition to any diet.

So, now that you are completely on board with a heaping spoonful of quinoa, how can you cook it without making a bowl of mush? I’m so glad you asked.

There are a few basic steps that, in most cases, are inexplicably left off the package directions.

For this lesson in quinoa cookery, I am making 2 cups. Quite a large amount, but in the interest of saving time throughout the week, I like to make a large batch on Sundays and have it ready to go for the next 3-5 days.

First, don’t forget to rinse your quinoa. Think of this like remembering to wash your hands before eating, you really have no idea what could be on those little grains.

Put 2 cups of quinoa in a bowl that will hold at least 6 cups.

2 Cups of QuinoaCover the quinoa with cold water, rinsing it thoroughly.

Rinsing Quinoa

Then drain through a fine mesh strainer.

Draining Quinoa
Allow to drain and dry for 20 minutes to remove all the water. Skipping this step will lead to mushy grains.

Drying Quinoa

Once your quinoa has dried, toast in a dry pan until you can smell the nutty flavor that has now been brought out in your quinoa, about 5 minutes. This also removes any additional water that may have been left behind by the rinse.

Toasting QuinoaRemove the quinoa from the pan, set aside.

Cooking quinoa with the same liquid to grain ratio as rice (1 cup grain, 2 cups water) is the biggest culprit in the battle for fluffy quinoa. It’s just too much water, and will leave you with mush. Cook instead with a 1 part grain to 1.5 parts liquid ratio. For the purposes of this post, that would be 2 cups quinoa to 3 cups liquid.

As for the liquid, you can use broth, vegetable juice, water, or any combination of those to achieve to taste you want. I use at least half broth most often, but for the sake of simplicity, I used water for this post.

Bring 3 cups of water/broth to a rapid boil in sauce pan.

Then add your toasted quinoa and cover the lid with a slight vent, allowing the steam to escape.

Reduce your heat to medium-low, and maintain a strong simmer.

Cook for 16 minutes or until all of the water is gone. Remove from heat and remove the lid.

Allow to cool and rest for ten minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Cooked Quinoa

So what can you do with that nice fluffy quinoa you just made? You can make yourself a nice bowl of quinoa tabbouleh!

4.8 from 19 reviews
Quinoa Tabbouleh
  • 1 cup fluffy, cooked Quinoa
  • ½ cup peeled Cucumbers, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped Tomato
  • ¼ cup chopped Red Onion
  • ¼ cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs. chopped Chives
  • 1 cup chopped Parsley
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Enjoy.

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81 Responses to How to Make Fluffy Quinoa (and Quinoa Tabbouleh)

  1. Katie April 23, 2015 at 2:07 pm #

    This is not enough water. I followed these directions specifically and all the water was gone after about 7 minutes and the quinoa was not cooked enough. Very annoyed. The stuff isn’t exactly cheap.

  2. mapleleef April 12, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    Hi! I don’t rinse my quinoa, as I always but through organic stuff from bulk barn, however perhaps that’s why 1:2 quinoa:h20 ratio makes much? I always use 1:2 and add just a smidgen more water so those little sprouts ‘tails’ pop out and it makes perfect quinoa every time!

  3. donna pickering August 7, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    omg!!! I’m so happy I found you. I’ve tried to make quinoa before and it was horrible. this was unbelievably delicious. I will definitely make it again. thank you so much.

  4. Mercy is April 6, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    This is my first experience with Quinoa and thanks to you it went well. Thanks for yor time and effort.

    Mercy is


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