How to Make Fluffy Quinoa (and Quinoa Tabbouleh)

4.84 from 25 votes

How to Make Fluffy Quinoa

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 to make fluffy quinoa 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 Quinoa

Cover 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 Quinoa

Remove 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!

How to make fluffy quinoa
4.84 from 25 votes

Quinoa Tabbouleh

By: Jackie Dodd
After learning how to make best fluffy quinoa, this is the perfectly delicious meal you should make first!
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • 1 cup fluffy cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup peeled Cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped Red Onion
  • 1/4 cup Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs. chopped Chives
  • 1 cup chopped Parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil


  • Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Enjoy.


Calories: 411kcal, Carbohydrates: 62g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 347mg, Potassium: 834mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2795IU, Vitamin C: 61mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 6.4mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About the Author

The Craft Beer Bites CookbookJackie Dodd’s beer-infused recipes earned her a spot as a finalist for Saveur Magazines Best Original Recipes, 2014 as well as crowned winner for Best Beer Coverage in 2015 (yes, craft beer is unprocessed). The Beeroness was also a finalist for Better Homes and Gardens Best Food Blogs, 2015. She has been seen on The Today Show, Lifetime Network, CBS News, as well as interviewed in print publications such as Imbibe, Bite and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also writes for Parade Magazine, Draft Magazine and Whisk Magazine. Jackie is the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook and The Craft Beer Bites Cookbook, and you can connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

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October 18, 2011 4:37 pm

Did anyone else find this quite salty? I’m not sure if I am doing something wrong, but I added a tsp of salt and was glad that I had made extra quinoa so that I could add it to reduce the saltiness. When you say 1 cup fluffy quinoa, is that one cup after it is cooked, or before it is cooked?

Reply to  Emma P
October 19, 2011 4:18 pm

I just fixed the recipe. 1/4 tsp. salt sounds much more appropriate! Thanks to both of you. 🙂

science guy
October 14, 2011 1:19 pm

I believe that, in keeping with the 1.5 part grain to 2 part liquid ration, 2 cups of quinoa would call for 2 2/3 cups of liquid, not 3 cups.

Math teacher
Reply to  science guy
February 9, 2012 7:04 am

I’m glad I read down the list of comments. I’m not the only one obssessing as I teach classes of 7th and 8th graders about proportions!

October 8, 2011 7:48 am

I learned from Cooks Illustrated to put a clean dishtowel over the pot and then put the lid back on top of the dishtowel after the quinoa is finished cooking and the heat is turned off. Let it sit this way for about 10 minutes. It’s another way to avoid mushy grains.

Mark Parsons
October 8, 2011 4:26 am

I love the red quinoa from Trader Joe’s. Consider trying it in the same context as cous cous…use some toasted almonds, diced apricots, some thinly sliced scallions and sweet spices with just a touch of olive oil!

Rebecca ~ Sweet Baby Yams
October 7, 2011 11:23 pm

I’ve been trying to find the best way to cook quinoa and this post explains more than what I have found online. Thanks for posting this.

Rachel Winder
October 6, 2011 1:50 pm

Sweet. I’ve got a small mason jar of quinoa that was given to me that I’ve been wanting to make. Not much of a fan of tabbouleh, but thanks for sharing a recipe. Any others that anyone will share would be greatly appreciated!

Richard I McAlister II
Reply to  Rachel Winder
July 7, 2020 10:20 am

Rachel, try adding a cup of cooked quinoa to any favorite salad that you might toss with dressing before serving. For example, I just mixed a cup of quinoa in with an Asian salad kit. to this I added 3 celery ribs, diced; a cucumber, seeded & diced; 1/2 lb. of leftover smoked turkey, diced, 2 Tbs of balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, and a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. You’ll also want to add salt and pepper to taste.

October 6, 2011 10:38 am

Wow, this was really helpful. I was missing some of these steps for prepping and cooking quinoa. I know what to do now. Thank you!

Diana R. Smith
October 6, 2011 10:36 am

5 stars
Bought some bulk quiona and no good instructions how to prepare so thanks for posting this. Read somewhere it had to be “washed” and really didn’t know what they meant. We love tabbouleh,tooso definitely will try it this way.

October 6, 2011 9:00 am

This is the most comprehensive set of directions for quinoa…thank you!

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